4195/The New Help

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The New Help
Date of Scene: 07 June 2016
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: Janine has a new butler, by the name of Emily Branford. Certainly nothing unusual here.
Cast of Characters: Janine Liberi, 999

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Silber Nadel Apartments, for upper class accommodation in the booming town of Alberichstadt. Many well-to-do urban professionals and small families live their lives in this 15-floor building, boasting many modern luxuries.

    And among them is a certain sour Persona user and her butler. After all, she had to live /somewhere/ after her apartment burned down. This place wasn't quite as nice as the last, but it met her parent's standards for a new place. Nothing but the best for their little girl, after all. And that extends to the hired guardian she has to have while receiving her education overseas. Up until now, they had a butler who was formerly Special Ops watching over her.

    But then the butler agency sent them a file on someone new. A female butler, who came very highly recommended. Given Janine's age, the two felt that another woman might be best suited for helping her with more feminine issues. And so the former Special Ops gentleman goes off to new pastures, probably to his great relief. Janine has quite a tongue on her.

    She and her tongue are travelling on the elevator in Silber Nadel right now, in fact. Just having returned from school, she knew that a new butler would be awaiting her in the apartment. Someone else she would have to lie to, sneak around... she's used to it by now.

    Her key rattles in the lock, the door lightly kicked open...

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    The apartment is spotless. Absolutely, utterly spotless. It was probably left clean by Janine's previous manservant, but not on this level. Corners, moulding, even the ceilings seem to have been dusted. It's as pristine as if an entire cleaning crew had been over every inch of it with a fine-toothed comb. But it doesn't smell of any of the cleaning agents one might associate with such an absolutely in-depth, fervent cleaning, oh no. More than anything, it smells of tomato, garlic, herbs, and is that a hint of red pepper? It's the smell of a fine meal, or at least one of the components thereof.

    And waiting inside the apartment, just past the entryway so as not to crowd her new mistress, is the new butler in question. "Ah, there you are, milady. Welcome home." Her voice is crisp and smooth, the unmistakable received pronunciation of a proper Englishwoman. "I'd have been there to pick you up myself, but I had a bit of tidying up to do. Emily Branford, and pleased to be in your service." A bow, formal and respectful.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine steps in, and looks down at the floor. The welcome mat... was several shades lighter than it was when she left. Who the hell actually cleans the welcome mat? Looking around, she takes a slow sniff, expecting to be hit with the strong smell of lemon cleaner the old butler loved to spray all over.

    Janine hates lemons. So so much.

    But instead... her eyes actually go wide. That's her mother's recipe cooking. She would recognize it anywhere. She looks of into the distance, hit by a barrage of intense nostalgia, when Emily makes herself known. Janine flinches and stares at her for a moment.

    "... right. Right, yeah. Okay Jeevette," she starts, recycling 'Jeeves,' her title for the previous butler. "Let's make things clear. Don't think that because you skimmed my mom's recipe book that we're going to be chums. Let's just keep our heads down and get through our time together with no fuss."

    Pretty cold, but Janine doesn't want to get close to someone who is literally being paid to be around her. They leave the fastest.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "My own twist on the recipe, as it happens. Similar, but not quite the same. I do like to set myself apart." The coldness seems to wash over Emily without so much as ruffling a single metaphorical feather. She simply stands with her arms behind her back, her expression best described as 'tranquil'. "And being chums would rather complicate things, don't you think? I've a certain standard of service to uphold as a butler." She takes a step or two to one side, putting herself out of the entranceway just slightly. Clearing herself out of Janine's path. "I've got dinner set to be ready at six. Other than that, everything should be seen to. Can I take your bag, ma'am?"

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine gives Emily a withering look. Somehow, her changing the recipe is worse than just copying it. But, at least she intends to keep her distance emotionally. That's fine then. "Sure," she says, shrugging off the backpack she carries with only one shoulder. She lets it drop, catches it and offers it to Emily, with an ease that implies a lot of practice.

    Yes, she literally just said that she doesn't want to get close to this woman, but looking around at the place... "What time did you get here? The place is spotless... must have taken you hours." She certainly wasn't here when she left for school...

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Once again, Emily seems not bothered in the least by the withering look, nor does even a hint of amusement show on her face. The mask of calm is forged of iron, apparently. And her reflexes are good. She's there to take the bag the moment it's offered, as if she'd been doing it for years. "Perhaps three or four hours? To be truthful I didn't look at the time. I had only enough to get my things in my own room and the apartment cleaned to my satisfaction. And you needn't worry about restraining yourself, either. Now that I've got it pristine, the upkeep will be fairly simple." The bag is set on the kitchen table for the moment. "Is there anything I can do for you before dinner? Any errands that need running? The fridge seems to have been left well-stocked enough for the time being."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine can deal with implacability. Her previous caregivers were pretty much the same. The venom isn't to make them feel worse, it's to make her feel better. But the amount of time threw her off-guard. It's a pretty big apartment... how could she have done all this in that time? And get dinner started?

    She bites her lower lip, and stares hard at Emily, eyes wary. No, there's no way. She might just be really good, or cheated somehow. "... nah. Nothing. Call me when dinner's ready. " And with that, she vanishes into her bedroom like the antisocial teen she is. The first thing she does is start looking around, seeing what Emily has done in here.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Of course, ma'am. If you need anything, let me know." Somehow, she manages to make that sound more than just perfunctory words. As weird as it is, Emily seems to mean it.

    And where the rest of the apartment is entirely pristine, Janine's room is entirely untouched. Emily has not so much as set foot past the door; it has been left entirely as Janine's own personal fortress. In a way, it's an unspoken message - the new butler knowns well enough not to tread her charge's private space unbidden.

    Emily herself, in the meantime, seems to be busying herself in the kitchen. Pulling a package of some meat or other out of the fridge, setting it on the counter, and then checking something else in there before finally closing it. There's a light nod of satisfaction, before she sets to work preparing the meat.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine brushes off Emily's words. No matter how they sound, she knows the truth. The moment things get rocky, she'll be gone. To be honest, that might be for the best, considering what happened to her last nanny...

    She slams her bedroom door a little harder than intended, swallowing hard to push down the lump forming in her throat. And then she looks around at the dark, dingy bedroom, ground messy with sweet wrappers, desk cluttered with homework she's leaving to the last minute...

    She might want to let Emily have a go in here. But first...

    Given how thorough the new butler seems to be, she'll have to take extra steps to hide things from the Multiverse. To that end, she opens a deskside cabinet and shoves aside textbooks to reveal a gold brick and several drake teeth, mementos of her involvement in a drake-purging initiative in Lordran. They had survived the fire due to being kept in a lockbox, but the box itself was ruined.

    Looking around, she notices that air vent that's a little loose and smirks. It takes a bit of doing, unscrewing it with a coin, but she soon has it open, and the foreign items concealed around the bend. There's no way she would go that far... right?

    Either way, she does eventually come out around dinner time. Emily's keen eyes might catch the dust that got on her clothes from the vent though. "Clean my room tomorrow, okay?" Not even a please.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Of course, ma'am." Without skipping a beat.

    When Janine emerges from her room, it's to find that the smell of cooking pork has been added to the scent of spicy tomato sauce in the air. It's just about perfect timing, in fact; the sliced pork is just being drizzled with sauce, as is the pasta that's been put on the plate with it. "And here you are. Herbed pork chops and penne pasta, with a homemade arrabbiata. Dig in at your leisure, but I do hope you keep at least a little room. I've a dessert ready for when you're finished." With the plate on the table, the blonde butler immediately turns to go about the business of cleaning up after herself, with brisk and efficient movements.

    As for the meal itself? It's good. Very good. 'Three-star Michelin rating' good. It's got subtle differences to the recipe Janine's mother might have provided, and somehow manages to have just the right degree of spiciness to give the flavor kick without overpowering it.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine stares down at her plate for quite a while before getting started. It really does remind her of home. That lump rises up in her throat again... time to push it down with food. She takes up the special utensil, a fork with one of the ends sharp enough to easily cut food and slowly begins to eat.

    Her mom uses a bit more basil in her herb mix... but it is really good. For a short, comfortable while, Janine offers no harsh words and only works her way through her meal. Memories of big meals with extended family flash through her mind, and she finds herself chewing only her lower lip a few times. Not wanting to tear up in front of the new help.

    Eventually, her utensil hits the plate with a clatter, and she turns to stare intensely at Emily. "You met my parents. What did they tell you? What do you know about me?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Sharp-tongued and strong-willed," Emily replies matter-of-factly, just putting the last of her cooking utensils away. "They wanted to be certain I wouldn't run off in the first week, I think. And now that I've met you, there's no worry of that, unless you mean to sprout fangs and drink my blood the instant my eyes close tonight." Nothing more than a light bit of humor, as she smoothly steps over to the fridge, pulling her white gloves back on. "I didn't have the chance to meet them in person, though. We only spoke over the phone. Pleasant enough, though, pleasant enough."

    The fridge swings open, and from it the blonde pulls a plate, on which sits a beautiful, perfectly-shaped flan. This she carries over to the table and sets down with a spoon. "And, as promised, dessert. I do hope it passes muster, I haven't had practice with custards in a while."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine snorts. "Yeah, they would say that." She doesn't sound entirely unhappy about it though. She manages to smirk at Emily's little joke. "No fear of that. I'd be much more likely to stab you instead. Fencer and all. Well, former fencer." She looks aside, and adds almost like an afterthought, "... how did they seem? Okay, or...?"

    But, dessert is served! Janine looks at the chilled treat before her and takes the spoon. "You probably know, but I know my sweets. So if this doesn't past muster, you're gonna hear about it." And with that, she scoops up a tiny amount, making sure to get the topping and flan both in there, and tastes it!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Much as the main course, the dessert is exquisite. Luxurious, even. A French-style creme caramel, and whoever taught it to Emily may very well have been French. Her standards for quality would appease even the most foul-tempered head chef. "They seemed fine, on the whole, though it can of course be more difficult to discern that sort of thing over the phone. I do think they were a bit worried for you, but nothing seemed to be particularly bothering them otherwise." She folds her arms behind her back and waits with a curious eye on Janine, watching to see the girl's reaction, but she does add, "If you have any particular requests for dessert, or for that matter any meal, I shall gladly fulfill them to the best of my ability."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    ... dammit, it's really good. Janine has nothing to complain about as she eats the flan, savouring every spoonful as Emily answers the question. But the answer does not seem to please her. Her face falls, and her spoon stops halfway into the flan. "Worried... right, okay."

    She finishes off dessert slowly, looking contemplatively out the window to the streets. Eventually, the spoon clatters onto the plate. "I'm done. You're pretty good I guess."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Mentioning the concerns of Janine's parents is a bit of calculated frankness on Emily's part. Better not to bullshit her new master. It does seem to have lowered the girl's mood a bit. But for the moment, platitudes would probably just have the opposite effect; so instead, she simply settles to contented silence, quickly getting the dinner plate and utensil cleaned and put away. And as soon as the spoon hits the plate, she's there to take that one, as well. "I'm gratified that I pass inspection, milady. Once I have the kitchen seen to, I'll be in my room if you need me. And that goes for any time of day or night."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "Look, drop the 'milday' bullshit, okay? I'm a spoiled brat, but I don't want that kind of thing. Janine is fine," the girl snaps, baring her fangs again. The news really rattled her, it seems. "Yeah, okay," she mutters, getting up and going towards her own bedroom again. But she stops at the door.

    "Look out for any clubs or events or shit happening. Let me know what you find," she finally says over her shoulder before yanking the door open and... quietly closing it.

    That might be the best Emily can hope for in terms of 'thank you's right now.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "I hope you'll at least permit me a 'ma'am' now and then," is the only reply Emily has to the sudden venom. "Ingrained habit. Think of it as respect for my charge." She finishes cleaning the dessert plate and moves to return it to the cupboard as well, only to pause when Janine addresses her just before retreating to her room. "Of course, Janine. I'll have something for you first thing in the morning." The plate goes back in the cupboard; after the teen's door closes, there's a little more milling about in the kitchen, and then the sound of Emily's own door opening and closing soon thereafter.