Page 186: Ways of Winning
Ways of Winning
Summary: Alek annoys Hardwicke.
Date: January 20, 2012
Related Logs: No Directions Here, I guess.
Alek Hardwicke 
Kitchens — Four Eagles Tower
The kitchen is usually alive with activity but for the latest hours of the night. Stone counters with wooden tops line the interior except nearest the large brick ovens. Open fire pits in the center have iron bars across them for grilling as well, the hot surfaces on the other side of the room from the tables in the center used for final food preparation. Huge cabinets have been carved out of the walls to store the dishes and utensils for serving the meals to the House Lords and Ladies. The few exits lead towards the Servant's Quarters as well as the Throne Room and Entrance Hall.
January 19, 289

The smell of meat fills the corners of the kitchen, mingled with the rarer scent of freshly baked bread that holds the slightest touch of sweetness to it. It is this last that seems to be Alek's goal, his lips pressed to the ear of the current guardian of the bread, a homely young girl that flushes red at whatever he may be currently saying. Finally, she peels off a piece of that bread, popping it into his mouth as he shifts back with the casual prop of his elbow on the prep table. He drawls, "Delicious, but more tantalizing for not being a full share." "I will cut you off a slice, but only if you'll let me get back to work," the servant bargains, doing so quickly before she loads her tray with the rest of the meal and moves to leave.

Perhaps slinking it to steal a snack of his own, Hardwicke quickly gains a particular dour expression at the sight of Alek seducing himself a slice of bread. "What are you doing?" he says in a flat tone of voice, the edge of his glare flicking disapprovingly to the servant.

The servant mumbles something like "He is a knight" before she disappears quickly in the face of Hardwicke's displeasure, melting away to her other duties. Alek only pinches the bread between his fingers with a crooked smile, popping a piece into his own mouth this time as he says, "I am having lunch."

"Do you have to do so in such a thieving manner?" Hardwicke wonders, moving past him to eye what looks like it might be available for — /him/ to thieve. But that's different, because he's the Captain.

"First you hit me and now you call me a thief. I feel as if I am going to come to regret helping fight for the Roost's freedom with this welcome," is pointed out with a slow build of humor, Alek's lazy smile flashing all the brighter as he takes another bite of his stolen bread.

"Perhaps if you did not make yourself wholly insufferable to be around, you would receive more of a welcome," Hardwicke replies in a low grumble before moving closer to one of the kitchen workers to ask a low question about perhaps a quick bite maybe? (He's the Captain.)

The kitchen staff is more than happy to help fix Hardwicke a meal, delivering it quickly to him without the Captain needing to resort to Alek's wheedling. It even contains a slice of that freshly-baked bread that smells so tantalizing, served with the roasted meat. "Oh, like you?" he questions with a laugh, eyes crinkling with easy amusement. "I will endeavor to do so."

That's because Hardwicke is so lovable. And likely prone to forgetting to eat and then taking meals at odd hours. He scowls at Alek's joking and stuffs some of the bread topped with meat into his mouth. Shut up, Alek.

Mercifully, Alek does shut up for once. Instead, he watches Hardwicke with idle curiosity to steel-colored eyes, chewing slowly at his bread with fingers lingering at his lips.

Unfairly, Alek's silence seems just as aggravating as his talking. Hardwicke swallows a mouthful of food and snaps, "What?"

"I am wondering how much food you plan to try to eat at once," Alek confesses easily, his brow lifting briefly upward as he tosses the last of his own thin slice of bread into his mouth to finish off. "Or if you were planning to get any ale with it."

"Only what I'm able," Hardwicke says with grouchy defensiveness. "Don't you have anything better to do than stand around and harass people in the kitchens?"

Shoulder lifting without a touch of offensive, he only replies. "Not until we march, really. Though, that will likely be sooner than later, we all hope." But, Alek does wipe his hands off together, neatly dislodging flaked bread as he straightens.

That is enough to earn a less aggressive sort of sigh. "Aye, I'm sure it will be," Hardwicke agrees.

"I'm a much better man to have beside you in the field, you'll find, then idle anywhere else," Alek pauses to admit in wry self-deprecation, words rolled carefully under his tongue as his smile softens for Hardwicke.

"I'm sure you'll acquit yourself very honorably," Hardwicke says in a bland voice before taking another full bite of what has basically become an open-faced sandwich.

A chuckle slipping warmly from his lips, Alek doesn't bother to hide the sound as he jerks his chin in agreement, replying, "You can be sure of that." Then he turns to go, calling easily over his shoulder, "You will see."

"I'm sure I will." Hardwicke watches him go with a vaguely aggravated expression.

That just means Alek wins.