((Collab between Scarifar and Letter Bee.))
Three days after the Galbrek/Meredith/Ascot Brothers Battle, Two Days before the Galiere Chat
Michael Angie would receive a message from William Ascot, saying: Wanna just hang out? No ulterior motives or greater purposes, so it won't be worth a favor. Want to hang out anyway?
An invite to simply hang out. Michael gave it some thought, wondering if it was a good time to do so. Looking back on past events, most of his time was spent researching and experimenting, with substantially less focused on mere social gatherings. In addition, the recent events were certainly not doing wonders for his health. Perhaps it was time for a break.
Michael responded with, Sure. Tell me the time and place.
William would give him the location of a nice Bretonnese* Cafe that sold coffee, hot chocolate, and crepes, a French Cafe overlooking the park where the Midnight Tournament had been held. The meeting would be in... the late afternoon the next day; just after school. No weapons, of course.
Once he had Michael's response, William would take the time to smile; he needed to relax after such a stressful ordeal.
Michael checked the time when he arrived: about 12 minutes early. Plenty of time left. Michael was quick to get a seat and began looking through the menu. He began wondering what he should order, and settled for a hot chocolate. When it arrived, Michael took a sip. It tasted better than he expected.
Indeed it was; Bretonnese cuisine was just that good. Shortly after that, William arrived in casual clothes, and walked over to where Michael was before sitting down in front of him and saying, "Hello; I see you're enjoying the hot chocolate?"
A smile graced the young man's features, but also some hint of stress at the edges of his eyes; clearly, William's quest had not been good to him. He would then ask further, "So, how's the painting?"
At first, Michael was confused, but the memory quickly came back to him. "Oh, right!" Michael exclaimed, gently slapping his forehead. "I finished that the day after, but it must've slipped my mind. It's at home right now; I'll send it to you after this."
William's grin widened. "Thanks, Michael; you're a treasure. Now, your turn to ask me how my days are going?"
A cheeky expression afterwards.
"Alright then," Michael said. "How... are your days going?" It was fairly obvious that among the skills Michael had, social skills were not part of them.
"Well," William answered, "I've been resting, eating, and devoting myself to combat training under Mom's tutelage. I've also been catching up to the latest works of fiction, the latest video games, and of course, books of Rhean History. Can you imagine how many historians got the origins of Yekaterina wrong? Oh, I've also been researching various cuisines; call me a busy bee as well as a busybody..."
Michael nodded before taking another sip of his drink. "Sounds eventful," Michael responded, rather impressed with the large list. "How do you find the time for it all?"
William responded, "Oh, well, the most common things people do after school is just hang out with their friends at a cafe, like I am doing now. Same for arcades, game nights, and other social stuff. Let's just say I don't do those common things unless it's once every two weeks with Vernon where we date, or like now, with you. The special permission I get to skip class to hang around in the library also helps; I ace all my quizzes and tests so my scores are still passing to mid-high. That's another thing about me; my scores are only just at the level needed to stay in St. Laurel's."
In essence, the boy was saying that he deliberately underperformed.
Michael raised an eyebrow at William's last statement. "'Only just at the level'? That doesn't seem like a good practice, William. That may catch up to you, and I'm sure neither of us would like to see that happen." Having been in a continuous state where he's had to use all his energy to survive, Michael was not keen on trying nothing less than his best, and the thought of doing so baffled him.
William's response was a slight nod and a smile, before he said, "Well, the problem is that I need - or want - to do so many things. I'm curious about a lot of stuff and easily entranced."
Michael sighed and shook his head, then said, "Well, I suppose your family can help prevent the worst from happening." Michael drank another mouthful of hot choclate, then asked, "By the way, are you not going to order anything? This cafe is quite nice."
A series of eye blinks, before Will ordered hot chocolate, water, and a blueberry and mango crepe, which once those arrived, would smell delicious. As he ate, Michael might observe that the young man seemed to be having a good time, and enjoying it as a surprise...
Michael took the opportunity to also order a strawberry crepe and a refill on his hot chocolate, both of which tasted wonderfully. In fact, the two items seemed to create a tasteful harmony together. "I should come here more often," Michael remarked. "This is really good."
"I know, right?" William said. "I come here with Vernon once in a while, although the latter prefers restaurants owned by his family." A bright smile. "I love Vernon. I really do. And, with technology and magitech advancing each day, it might even be possible for us to have a clone-son."
His smile grew brighter. "I mean, I'll have to raise said clone-son almost by myself because of Vernon's own obligations - and that is all I'll say about those - but that's all right."
Michael wanted to ask about some of Vernon's "obligations", but he figured it would be rude to do so. Instead, Michael said, "A clone-son, huh? If the day comes, then I'll wish you two the best."
"Thank you," William said. "And, thanks too for this day; I really need to do this more." A pause. "Oh, and my new relative is doing well, by the way."
This was an obvious reference to Christine II.
"Oh really?" Michael asked, immediately understanding. Who could forget about the little girl, after all? "That's good to hear. With your family, though, I expected nothing less, really."
Will chuckled at that. "That's a high compliment. Alexander's a protective person." Well, except for that time where he expected me to save myself from that falling airship, but this day is too good to discuss it.
The crepe and hot chocolate were soon finished, and Michael was feeling rather full.
"Hey," William said, "A question, if you don't mind. How is your mother?"
"She's doing well," Michael answered. "Work's not the greatest thing in the world, but it puts a roof over her head and food on the table. I send her any money I can spare as well."
A smile from William. "And you keep saying you're not that good a person." Some light banter.
"Hmph," Michael said, trying to maintain an indifferent expression but failing and cracking a small smile as well. "Heard that from Alexander, did you?" Michael asked rhetorically. "Regardless, it's still true. Family's just a different story. We're all we've got, my mother and I. The last thing I want is for that to go away."
The smile grew fainter, sadder, with happiness being tinged with melancholy. "Yeah, I heard that from Alexander. Any other reply might risk turning things 'serious' again."
And with that, he grew quiet, quiet for the rest of the meal.