Lady Fanny Button was enjoying her last few hours of peace and quiet. She had spent the last week or so interviewing potential new tenants for her large estate (upkeep was so hard when you were a lonely unemployed old woman), and Fanny was fairly certain she’d found the best possible group. Of course, “best” and “quiet” weren’t always synonyms.
Certain interviews had gone smoothly (like the polite gentleman who assured her his service dog wouldn’t be any trouble), but others had just barely passed her standards and had her, quite frankly, concerned (like the man who clearly came to his interview drunk but presented himself quite well in spite of that). Regardless, she needed the money, and so most interviewees had been accepted, and they were all arriving today.
Alison sighed as the curtain rod fell from the window once again. “Do you think the curtains are too heavy?”
“Uhhhh… no, I’m sure it’s fine. Just try again, maybe?” Mike finished making the bed and began opening another moving box.
“Mike, are you certain? It’s fallen three times already!”
“Sure I am!” He was not, in fact, certain, but he wasn’t going to tell his wife that. She sighed in response and set the curtains down on a chair.
“Have you seen our housemates yet? They’re all so… eccentric.”
“The housemates have moved in?” Mike hadn’t seen or even heard any sign of them.
Alison looked at him, shocked. “Yes, Mike!”
“Well, I didn’t see them!”
“Well, they’re here! One of them even introduced himself to me, Thomas? He’s so weird. Caught me off guard for a second. Even asked for my number. I had to tell him I’m married.”
Mike looked over at her. “So what you’re saying is one of them has already made it awkward?”
“I wouldn’t say awkward, it was sweet if anything. Just… unexpected.”
“Well, you should learn to expect it. You’re beautiful.”
Alison tossed a throw pillow at his head.
Captain looked up from the clothes in his hands and glanced at the door. Did he really just say ‘knock knock’? He didn’t even actually knock— “Come in?”
The door opened to reveal a short stout man, one hand already raised to wave to him. “Hi! I have the room beside you, I’m Pat Butcher?” He noticed Bunty, Cap’s sheepdog, on the bed. “You have a dog!”
“...Yes. Bunty is my service dog.”
Pat was staring at her with sparkly eyes. “She’s a big girl. I know most service dogs can’t be pet but—“
“I’d rather you not. You’re a stranger.” Captain glared at him.
Pat held up his hands by his head to show he wasn’t going to touch anything or anyone. “Understood, Mr…?”
“Doe. You can just call me Captain, though, most people do.”
Pat smiled. “Captain. It suits ya.”
“That’s why people call me it, yes,” He replied straightforwardly.
Pat cleared his throat. “Right… Well, lovely meeting ya!” He took off quickly before the other man could reply, leaving Cap there to play the awkward interaction over again in his head.
“Is this a dress?” Thomas stood, holding out a black minidress in front of him.
“No…” Humphrey glared at him. “Obviously, it’s a dress!” He fell back onto his bed, surrounded by piles of his clothes as Thomas went through them.
“But- you don’t wear dresses… or skirts. I’m the one that wears those things!”
“Well, I read this fashion blog, it said an essential of every wardrobe is a little black dress—“
“Yes, when you actually wear dresses. You’re never going to use this!” Thomas held it up to himself and looked in the mirror. “It’s mine now.”
“Hey, I might need it in case, you never know.” He sat up and held out his hand for it.
Thomas rolled his eyes and dropped it into Humphrey’s outstretched palm. “Poppycock, sir! You’re not going to need it.”
“Fine! I’ll put it on right now, just to prove it to you!”
Thomas gasped. “You wouldn’t!” Humphrey dropped his trousers and Thomas gasped again, covering his eyes. “Alright, alright, you would—“
Julian sighed contentedly as he screwed the top back on his flask, slipping it into his pocket.
“What is that?”
“AAA-“ He jumped and turned around to see a teenage girl in a big pink dress watching him intently. “WHO ARE YOU?”
“I’m Kitty Heron! I have the room to the right, between you and the Captain?” She smiled brightly.
“You’re- You’re a child.”
“What? No, I’m 16, silly.”
Kitty gasped. “You like music too? Here, here, me first.” She began singing a song in what Julian assumed was supposed to be A Minor, but it certainly didn’t sound like it. He shook his head, pointing at her.
“No, no, no, enough of that!”
She nodded, stopping her singing and smiling as if she didn’t just permanently rupture his eardrums. Julian sighed.
“Yes, alright, very good,” He said, waving his hands at her. “Get out.”
“Oh! Goodbye, Mister!” Kitty waved, then skipped out of the room.
“A little to the left…” It shook its head. “A little riiiight?”
Mary groaned. “It looks fine ‘ere, Robin.” They set the teddy bear down between the other plush animals.
“Nooo, it needs to be perfect!” He pouted at them, reaching over and adjusting the bear slightly. “Teddy sits in Stink Dog’s lap!” Robin pointed at the scrappy toy dog.
“Alright, you big baby,” She teased, helping him adjust the toys properly. “That it?”
Robin nodded, bouncing.
“Good, good.” Mary leaned back onto the bed and laughed. “We both know you’re gonna knock them off while you’re sleepin’ anyways.”
“Am not!” Robin jumped onto the bed beside her and one of the stuffies on the edge fell off. Mary squinted at them and pointed to the stuffed wolf on the floor.
“It’s fine, he’s my least favourite.”
She rolled her eyes, smiling. “Silly boy.”
From downstairs, a voice called out to announce that it was meal time. Mary and Robin looked at each other.
“After you?” It said, gesturing for the door.
Fanny clicked her tongue as she stared down at the dishes on the counter.
“I can’t carry all of these at once…”
Captain stood quickly. “I can help, Lady Button.” He reached for the... charcuterie board? Goodness, this woman was posh.
“Oh! Thank you, John. Glad to see some folks still value respect and hard work!” She picked up a bowl of mashed potatoes. Something about her made the Captain think she didn’t know the definition of hard work, if she thought carrying a tray qualified, but he kept that to himself.
“Wait… John?” Pat looked up from the counter he was cleaning . “That would mean—” The man gasped in shock. “Your name is John Doe?” Captain felt his whole body tense up, knuckles white around the tray handles as Julian began laughing.
“John Doe?! God, your parents must’ve really hated you, to call you the- the most basic name on the planet!” He laughed harder.
“They did, yes,” He replied emotionlessly, staring at the man doubled over in front of him. He could hear Pat inhale through his teeth behind him.
Julian immediately stopped laughing. “...What? It was a joke- I was joking!” He looked at Pat. “It was funny, wasn’t it?”
Pat looked over at the Captain, then took on a various serious expression. “No, Julian. I didn’t think it was.”
Julian looked around for support, but Lady Button had already gone into the dining room to set the table. He frowned. “Try getting a sense of humour then!” With that, he took off through the door.
The moment Julian left the room, Pat started laughing. “Oh, we really got him! Serves the bastard right.” He patted Captain on the back.
“Oh! Ha. Right.” He nodded slightly. “Indeed…” Was Patrick also joking, then?
Pat smiled. “Go on and take the tray out, I’ll meet ya there.”
Captain nodded and did so, immediately walking into a rather animated discussion about Humphrey being in a dress. He set down the tray and sat beside a lady in a red jumper who quietly introduced herself as Alison as they listened to the conversation together.
After a while, Pat entered and sat on Captain’s other side, filling the table. Fanny gestured for everyone to begin serving themselves and, after a comment from Robin, assured them that a meal of this proportion would not be common, so “they had better dig in and stuff themselves”.
As they ate, Pat noticed the young lady beside him staring at the selection of bread, her plate of food already done. He smiled and leaned over.
She nodded slightly, trying to not call attention to herself. She was quite hungry.
“Well, go on then. No one’s judging you.”
Kitty lifted a hand for a moment, then shook her head. The rest of the table were in an intense debate about some old playwright, and weren’t watching, but she felt anxious anyways.
“What do you want? I’ll grab it for you.”
Kitty whispered a few requests to him and Pat began filling both her plate and his own. Soon, they had matching meals and were eating together while making small talk about Kitty’s classes.