Part VII: Midnight Meal
I was reading by myself in the conservatory later that night, everyone else having retreated to their room, when I saw activity in the kitchen, the lights going on. I looked up and saw Yougen behind the counter, scrounging around the fridge.
“You’re still awake?”
“I’m starving, stupid black blood munchies… Do you get those too?”
I knew the blackblood increased the body’s energy need and thus had to compensate one way or another. However the dozens or so known strains did so in their own way.
“No, my body saves energy through ectothermy, so I don’t eat a whole lot either.” I answered.
“Ecto-what?” She blinked.
“My body doesn’t generate its own heat and I rely on outside temperature or heat sources, much like lizards do.”
“Cool.” She said, then there was a pause. “Wait, what happens if you get cold, like really cold? Do you hibernate like a lizard?”
“Since my body isn’t adapted to vernalization, I’d probably die…”
She swore under her breath before launching into a long series of question about my wellbeing. I was so overwhelmed by the flow of words that I could process none of it.
“I’m fine.” I put a hand on her shoulder, stopping the onslaught of questions. She didn’t seem all too reassured so I gave them a smile. “And I’ll be alright, I’ve survived winters before. My coat has pockets to keep hot packs in, make sure I stay warm when I have to be outside.”
“So, what were you making?” I asked, nodding at the food on the counter. “Seems a little involved for a midnight snack.”
“Well, after we talked earlier I totally started craving curry. So I looked up a recipe.”
I searched my mind for more information but all Erna had given me on the subject was it was a dish of Indian origin. Although I couldn’t tell who or what Indian are or was…
Yougen and I searched the fridge and pantry, finding most things but not quite everything as some of the fresher ingredients weren’t labelled and our world wasn’t known for its post-apocalyptic grocery selections.
The sound of footsteps on the wooden stairs drew our attention and Sanjay, one of our classmate came down. He was still fully clothed, obviously not having been sleeping despite the late hours. He noticed us and came toward the kitchen.
“What are you two doing?” He asked. “Isn’t it a bit late to be making food?
“We wanted to make curry, not sure it’s working…” Yougen said. “We got a recipe but we can’t find curry paste and I’m not sure what herb is what…”
Sanjay laughed. “Let me give you a hand.” He came to our side of the counter and read our recipe. He then looked around, gathering some things, chopping a few vegetables coarsely before throwing it into a machine along with herbs and spices and turning it into a paste. “Here you go.”
“Woah, you’re good.”
“My parents would’ve disowned me a long time ago if I didn’t know how to make a curry paste.” By his looks, Sanjay seemed to be Drāvida, as they were called on our Earth, were they the Indians of this Earth?
“What go you up so late too?”
“Got caught reading and couldn’t exactly go to bed because of Jaeger.”
“Because of Jaeger?” Yougen asked, brow raised.
“He fell asleep in my bed while we were chatting. And I don’t feel comfortable just lying down beside him or using his bed, feels like an invasion of privacy. I tried shaking him but he’s completely knocked out.”
“Ah. Need help moving him?” I offered.
I followed him upstairs and true to his word Jaeger had fallen asleep on Sanjay’s bed, still fully clothed. He murmured gently in his sleep but I couldn’t understand the words.
“He’s out cold from pain killers, so shouldn’t be too hard not to wake him up.” Sanjay said, speaking in a hushed tone.
He grabbed Jaeger by the torso and I took him by the legs. The two of us lifting him easily, he was much lighter than one would think a guy his height should have been. But maybe that was a chimera thing.
“Thanks.” Sanjay mouthed as he removed Jaeger’s shoes and tucked him in.
He went out of the room and back downstairs where he picked a water bottle and went for the bathroom while I went back to Yougen’s side who had continued preparing food. Before he went back to his room upstairs Sanjay came and gave us a few more tips on how to proceed, then wishing us a good night and scurrying off upstairs.
Yougen and I followed his direction and soon enough the meal was ready, filling the house with a rich spicy aroma. Once it was ready, I filled a bowl for Yougen but opted not to eat any, still energized by the meal I had taken at midday. I carried it across the room to the dining table and set it down, removing the chair so she could wheel her own into place. I took a seat beside her, my body turned to the side so I could face her. She took the first bite and her face just light up, a radiant smile forming across her lips.
“It’s amazing, even better than the one I had before.”
“Glad you like it.” Her smile was contagious, I found myself smiling too.
“I know you don’t eat lots, but you have got to try.”
“I guess I can try a little.” I answered with a smile.
She dipped a spoon in the concoction and brought it to my lips. I reached out with my mouth and put the curry into my mouth. It was nice. Soft and creamy with a rich earthy taste and a sweet tones to it.
“It’d say that is an amazing success.” I declared.
“No need to thank me, you did all the real work, I just stirred a bit.”
“I mean thank you for the company. It’s nice having someone to talk to, especially someone who understands what I go through as an infected and a dimensional expat.”
“You’re welcome. And getting to meet you was really great for me too, I’ve kind of been struggling to adapt to this new world. I’m really glad we’re friends.”
“Me too.” Her cheeks turned just a smidge pinker and she looked down at her bowl.
However on the table top her hand found mine, coming on top of it. I spread out my fingers and she laced hers with mine. I found my heart beating stronger than ever before, my own cheeks getting red and warm.