Adventure of a Lifetime
Part XVI: Dinner Prep
Once science class ended after an unending lecture which I didn’t really get, it was time for (mundane) world history class given by the esteemed chronokinetic hero Dr. Chrononaut — who was very adamant that her history doctorate was genuine and pledged that she would whoop our butts if we dare to be one of those honorary doctorate heroes — which went pretty well. Unlike our previous class the good doctor spoke clearly, faced us and stood in one place which meant I could actually understand her.
Charlie on the other hand looked like crap. She was just looking ahead, clearly dazed if not buzzed from whatever pills she’d taken to fight her panic attack. She didn’t even pay attention to Jaeger’s short jokes anymore when we were on the way home once classes were over.
When we came in the house, the smell of the tomato sauce I’d left to simmer all day filled the house with a saliva-inducing aroma. I went to check on it quickly and found it looking just perfect. Charlie dragged her feet toward me before looking at the kitchen equipment.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to be any help in the kitchen tonight.” She muttered.
I came closer and wrapped my arms around her, which she weakly returned “That’s alright. Get better okay?”
“I will.” She said with a feeble nod.
“And get that bun some love. I think Nibbles’ been lonely with how busy we’ve been.” What with the parties and going out, Nibbles had sadly been neglected over the last few days.
“Yes mom.” She said. I couldn’t prevent myself from chuckling.
“Get to it.” I ordered her firmly.
She dragged her feet to her bedroom and disappeared behind the door. So I focused on the food, there was a lot of work required to feed our little army and it was my self appointed duty. I took out what I needed to get pasta going for the sauce. A minute or two later, Allen came closer, looking a little awkward and nervous.
“Do you always make the food here?” He asked.
“Eh, pretty much. Cooking is like my number one passion and so I cook a whole lot at home too. Kind of helps me wind down after a long day too.”
“Maybe I could help?” He reluctantly asked.
“Sure, help is always welcome.” I answered with a smile. “Do you cook often?”
“Yeah, my mom works at night a lot so I make dinner for myself often. Fresh food is better than frozen crap, y’know.”
“Yeah and that’s cool, Do you know how to make fresh pasta? ‘Cause that’s what’s for dinner.”
“No… You make your own pasta?”
“Heck yeah, my grandma’s Italian and she thinks premade pasta is of the devil. We also make some of our own cheeses, sausages, grow our own veggies, the works really.”
“Quarter Italian, quarter Scottish and half French Canadian actually. Although I only learned the French part recently.”
“You only learned about it recently?”
“I’ve never met my father, I was raised by my mom and grandparents. My mom always avoided talking about my father for complicated reasons to say the least.”
“Oh I see…”
“But now; Pasta time.”
I showed him how to make a dough. He seemed a bit impressed that I didn’t go the easy route with a mixer or even a bowl; making the dough directly on the cutting board by making a well with flour and eggs in the middle. Once I finished the first dough with him watching intently like his life depended on it, I let him make his own. Allen clearly had never worked a dough before, but he had good instincts and kept asking for directions so it came out amazingly well for a first time.
“Congrats, you’ve made your first dough. Looks great too, trust me my first was nowhere as good looking as this.” I told him with a smile, even giving him five which he sheepishly took. “Now we just gotta wait a few minutes for the dough to rest before we make it into pasta.”
“That was pretty cool.”
“I’m glad to have had you at my side. If you ever want to cook with me, just ask. Charlie sometimes tries to help, but just between you and I? You’re a thousand times better than Charlie at this.” I said with a laugh. “She’s a ninja when it comes to superhero stuff, but give her a chef’s knife and she’ll probably lose a hand.”
That made him laugh too. I went to check back on the sauce and tasted it. It was pretty good but not quite perfect yet so I adjusted the seasoning just a wee bit. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Allen sort of staring, biting his lips and just looking like he wanted to say something, but was afraid it would lead to him getting his butt whooped.
“Alright, I can see you’ve got questions you’ve been wondering about all day, you can go ahead and ask them.” I said turning toward him. “But if you ask me about my junk, I’m going to throw you out the window.”
Allen stopped and stared at me for a moment, looking quite shocked that I was giving him a chance to ask questions and be nice. He seemed to consider what to say for a moment before he finally spoke up.
“So eh… How did you know you were trans?”
“I think people think about being transgender the wrong way. It’s not about being a boy and wanting to be a girl or vice versa. It’s more like you know what you are but everyone else insist that you’re wrong, sometimes violently so…
I knew I was a girl since I was little. To me being a girl was what felt right, the very idea of being considered a boy felt so horribly wrong and grossed me out. But everyone told me I was a boy because of how my body was and it got in my head to the point I started believing it and did everything I could to try to make it fit, but it didn’t… The more I tried to be a boy, the more I hated myself, wanted to mutilate my body and just die.
When I finally transitioned and started presenting and being seen as a girl, it was like years of pain went away. I finally started feeling comfortable in my skin, sure, it’s not perfect, but I don’t hate myself or my body anymore because I don’t let it define who I am.”
“I guess it’s something you can only tell me about and I’ll never really ‘get’ it.” He said after a moment of consideration. “I’m glad you’re happier.”
I nodded and checked on the pasta, which still needed a while before it would be ready to cook.
“Do you know about intersex stuff?” Allen asked after a moment.
“I’m afraid I don’t know much on that front. Why?” It wasn’t one of those questions you just ask out of the blue so, I was fairly sure I knew why he asked, but I thought it was best if he came out with it himself.
“It’s not important…” He mumbled before looking away until his eyes went on the pasta machines. “Should we roll them out?”
“Eh it’s better to wait some more, letting the dough rest will make it less rubbery and it’ll be softer too. But it’s five on a thursday, we can definitely watch power chef in the meantime.”
“It’s a cooking competition for parahumans. You’ll see, it’s awesome. I opened the tv by the kitchen and set it to ParaTV; the world’s only channel devoted to parahumans. Allen seemed mystified by the show.
“That’s so weird…” He mumbled as one of the contestant used his chronokinetic power to slow-cook a brisket for hours within their assigned forty minutes or the duplicators becoming a one-woman brigade.
“You’ve never watched ParaTV?”
“No. We have cable at home, but not this channel…”
“It’s one of my favorite network, people focus so much on superheroes and villains that they forget that we parahumans aren’t all about violence. Our powers are useful for so much more; whether it’s to be creative or help others.”
Allen didn’t answer, instead he nodded absently, seemingly lost in his thoughts for a moment. I couldn’t help but notice that he looked sad… Even during the power party or against the Rook, he’d never shown his power… Was he ashamed of them? I didn’t feel like it was right to prod so I didn’t ask. A lot of people were parahuman-phobic, maybe Allen was still struggling with that, after all he didn’t seem to come from the most progressive of backgrounds.
“I think the dough’s rested enough. Ready to make pasta?”
“Yeah… Sure.” He said, coming out of his bubble.
“Oh and Allen?”
“If you need someone to talk to, about anything. I’m here, okay?”
There was a pause before he answered.
“Thanks. I’ll erm… try to help in return. You’re smarter than me though, probably won’t need my help.”
“You never know.”