The Utonium Triplets in:
By Deus Ex Procella
It was a warm spring afternoon at the Utonium residence. Within these white washed walls, the family was in a tizzy, trying to prepare for the night's event. Rather, the father of the household, James Utonium, was rushing around frantically to put the finishing touches on dinner before his wife returned home. The Utonium Sisters, themselves, where lounging in the living room.
Buttercup lay sprawled on the couch, arm dangling off the edge, holding the remote as she flipped through the channels, scarcely waiting a few seconds before moving on. Bubbles was set up on the floor, crayons scribbling meticulously over construction paper. She bit her tongue, tilting her head back and forth as she hummed a happy little song. Blossom, the last of the triplets, was sitting at the other end of the couch, pouring over their dad's dilapidated copy of Moby Dick. She furrowed her brow every so often, using a finger to carefully sound out words she had never seen before. Still, she plunged on valiently for a five year old. Eventually, Buttercup's refusal to stay on a channel began to grate on her nerves.
"Buttercup, can't you just find something to watch? It's hard to concentrate with you clicking all the time!" Blossom whined, glaring at her sister. Buttercup stuck her tongue out, and proceeded to flip through the channels faster. Blossom huffed and curled up with her book, reading it with a huffy pout.
"You're so immature," she muttered. Buttercup glared at her, but before an actual fight could break out, their darling father walked into the room, wiping his hands off. Bubbles looked up with a bright smile, sniffing the air.
"Mmm, are you done Daddy? Dinner smells really good!" James laughed and took a seat in his recliner, groaning happily and sinking into the soft leather. He chuckled as Bubbles hopped up in his lap, bouncing her and glancing up at the clock.
"What time is Mommy supposed to be home?" Blossom asked without looking up from her book. James rubbed his chin.
"It should be soon, she said her meeting shouldn't go too long," Right as the words left his mouth, the door clicked and swung up. The sisters jumped up, rushing around the corner, their father hot on their trail. Cassandra Utonium giggled as she caught her little angels in a big hug, lifting them up in her arms.
"Hi there, girls! Oh I missed you so much!" She kicked the door shut, giving James a kiss on the cheek that made the sisters giggle scandalously.
"Mommy, you saw us earlier today!" Bubbles pointed out. Cassandra took a seat on the couch, letting the girls slide off her lap.
"Well that's true, but I had to be Mrs. Utonium then!" The girls giggled, slowly returning to their previous distractions. Though Bubbles slid to the floor to keep drawing, and Buttercup begrudgingly handed the remote over to James, Blossom stayed close to Cassandra, eagerness painted on her face.
"Did you finish grading our spelling homework? How did I do, Mommy?" Cassandra laughed and patted her back, glancing up to catch the news. Peaceful as ever, Townsville was the perfect place to start—and raise—a family.
"You got a perfect score, Blossom. Just like always," Blossom giggled excitedly, and beamed. James chuckled, climbing out of his chair once again as headlights flashed in the window. Buttercup cocked her head, trying to get a better look out the window.
"Why is everybody coming to our house for dinner? Why can't they cook for themselves?" The four could hear James greeting the guests at the door. The moment they entered the living room, Bubbles squealed and leapt into the arms of the short man standing next to her dad.
"Uncle Joey! Uncle Joey!" Joseph, Joey, Johenson laughed heartily, hugging the excited little girl. Joey was James' old lab assistant, and coincidentally the girls' godfather. After meeting his future wife, Sara Bellum, he had gone on to become a very successful Zoologist, specializing in primates.
"There's my little Bubbles! How are you, dear?" He chuckled as she planted a wet kiss on his cheek, flying into a rattling explanation of her day—from the moment she woke up—at a hundred miles an hour.
"Hi Uncle Joey!" Blossom and Buttercup chorused. Joey waved at the girls, carrying Bubbles to the guest rocker, where he was wont to sit—Bubbles typically on his lap.
"Good evening, girls! Cassie, you're looking lovely tonight," Joey nodded politely to his best friend's wife. Cassie laughed and returned the gesture with a smile.
"It's great to see you, Joe, you're looking fantastic," Bubbles tugged on Joey's collar, practically bouncing with excitement.
"Uncle Joey, do the funny thing you do with your voice! Please, please?" Joey laughed and shook his head, glancing at James. The father chuckled, glancing at the clock.
"We still have time before Mako arrives," he said with a wry grin.
"Ah very good, things are in order, perfectly placed, set in a way most befitting our situation! Which is to say that circumstances are pointing in a positive direction, things are looking up!" The girls all giggled wildly. Joseph had once had a crippling speaking disorder which he had managed to turn into a rather amusing talent. Bubbles was especially fond of his "funny talk". While Joey amused Bubbles, Buttercup also went over to visit with her uncle, Blossom turned to her parents with a concerned gaze.
"What's Mr. Mako like, Daddy?" James joined his wife and daughter on the couch, putting his arm around the former while leaning closer to the latter.
"Well, Mako Uka is a friend of mine from Japan. He was...something of a mentor to me while I was studying there. He helped me adjust to the Japanese culture, helped me with learning the language, and was actually able to help me with my work!" Blossom gasped, grinning from ear to ear.
"Wow! He sounds so smart!" James nodded, sitting up and rubbing his chin. He'd taken up the habit after he quit smoking when Cassandra was pregnant with the girls.
"Oh he is, he's a college professor, actually. He teaches history at one of the most prestigious Japanese universities," Blossom's grin got bigger as she dozed off, daydreaming about the mysterious guest. Cassandra glanced at James, lowering her voice.
"Jim, didn't you say Mako was a bit...strict? Are you sure the girls won't get on his nerves?" James laughed and gave his wife's hand a reassuring pat.
"Don't worry, Honey, Mako loves kids! He may seem a bit stiff, but I know he'll be happy to meet the girls," He said comfortingly. Cassandra sighed and nodded, smiling as she turned to Joey and James left to check on dinner.
"So Joe, how are Sara and the boys?" Her question seemed to have interrupted some kind of intense story because Bubbles and Buttercup both whipped around, irritated.
"Mommy! Uncle Joey was just getting to the good part!" Bubbles whined.
"Yeah Mom! He was telling us about the monkeys at the zoo! Two of 'em were fighting today!" Buttercup seemed a little too excited. Joey shook his head.
"No, no, that's alright. I can tell you more later. They're doing fine, Cassie. They'd have been here but you know," He trailed off and Cassandra nodded. Someone had to take the boys to Little League practice. There came a sudden, sharp knock on the door and something in the kitchen toppled over. James came barreling through the hall, stopping only long enough to clear his throat and smooth out his shirt. He flashed the group in the living room a thumbs up, then calmly answered the door.
Typically, it would have been polite to sit and wait for the guest to enter, but Blossom was just too excited and quickly rushed to the edge of the doorway, peeking around to get the first look at Mr. Uka. Mako Uka was a very tall man, taller than her dad—which Blossom had trouble believing, Daddy had always looked like the tallest person ever—with sharp red eyes, a pointed red beard, and shaggy red hair.
'Just like me!' Blossom thought with a blush. Mr. Uka wore a sharp black suit, everything about him was prim and perfect, from the shine on his shoes, to the knot on his tie. Blossom gasped, quickly ducking back into the living room. Mr. Uka had looked right at her! Nervous, she rushed back to the couch, sitting up next to Cassandra, though she sat on her knees practically poised to pounce with excitement. When the two entered the living room, it was all she could do to not jump up.
"Everyone, I'd like you to meet Uka-san. Uka-san, this is my wife, Cassandra," Uka bowed slightly. He wore a stony, droll expression. Cassandra winced, unsure of how to react.
"It's...very nice to meet you, Uka-san...James has told us a lot about you," Mr. Uka nodded, turning his attention to Joey as he climbed to his feet, bowing.
"It's wonderful to meet you, Uka-san, I am Joseph Johenson," Mr. Uka bowed, very slightly. His eyes fell on the girls and Blossom swore she saw his lips twitch. Had he almost smiled? James chuckled and knelt down beside the girls.
"And these are our little angels. This is Buttercup," Buttercup stared up at Mr. Uka, unsure exactly what to think of him. After a tense moment of silence, Uka apparently never blinked, she swallowed and held up her hand.
"Um...hi, nice to meet you," Mr. Uka nodded, again his lips twitched, and turned to Bubbles. Before James could introduce her, Bubbles politely bowed and beamed at Mr. Uka.
"Hajimemashite, Bubbles desu!" Mr. Uka chuckled and bowed, noticeably lower than he had for any of the adults. Blossom blushed and glared at Bubbles. James shook his head, chuckling and lightly patted Blossom's head.
"And this is-" Blossom jumped forward, blushing as she bowed.
"Ni hao! Hajimameshite, Blossom desu! Hěn gāoxìng jiàndào nǐ!" Blossom winced and swallowed nervously, keeping her head bowed and her eyes closed. Mr. Uka chuckled and bowed, just low enough that she could hear him whisper.
"I believe you meant to say Hajimemashite, Blossom-chan. Your Chinese, however, is most impressive," Blossom's heart skipped a beat. She looked up, catching the faint sight of Mr. Uka's grin as it disappeared, once again replaced by his stern facade.
"It is most honorable to meet you all, Jimmy-san has spoken very highly of each of you," Blossom glanced at her sister. Bubbles looked both angry and confused. She leaned closer.
"Why did you do that?" Bubbles whispered. Blossom blushed and looked down, glaring at her.
"Why did you have to show off?" Bubbles blinked and huffed, crossing her arms and sticking her nose up.
"It's not my fault I know Japanese and you don't!" She hissed back. Blossom blushed darker and pouted as the adults finished their introductions. She shot at glare at Buttercup; the third Utonium sister was covering her mouth, laughing at Blossom's screw up.
"Well I believe it's about that time, why don't we move into the kitchen for dinner?" James offered, gesturing down the hall. Mr. Uka waited while the others filed in, making it difficult for Blossom to pinpoint which seat to take. After everyone had entered, he stalked into the room, staking out the seat at the furthest end of the table, away from the door. It took a bit of fighting with Buttercup, but Blossom made sure she snatched the seat closest to him. There was plenty of time to redeem herself. Buttercup snorted as she took the seat next to their mom, glaring at Blossom, who was too busy watching Mr. Uka to notice.
"I couldn't quite remember what you were fond of, Uka-san, I hope this is alright," Mr. Uka laced his fingers, leaning his elbows on the table. He glanced at the food and nodded.
"You need not create such a stir on my account, Jimmy-san, everything is quite fine," James scratched his head and chuckled as he sat down. Cassandra glanced at him, raising an eyebrow, but James just shrugged. Joey shook his head, hiding a wry grin.
"Well then um...alright! Let's eat, everyone!"
"Itadakimasu!" Bubbles chirped from her seat next to Joey. Mr. Uka chuckled, repeating the phrase in a low mumble. Blossom flared up, glaring at her sister, who was enjoying her meal too much to even notice her auburn-haired sister's fury. Blossom glared at her plate. She swallowed nervously and glanced up at Mr. Uka. Her oddly-shaped pink eyes met his equally odd red ones, and her face turned three shades darker than his beard. Mr. Uka blinked, taking an oddly silent sip of his soup. Blossom swallowed and wracked her brain, both to find the courage to speak and the words to speak.
"Um..." She started, only to be cut off by her mom.
"So Uka-san, how was your flight?" Mr. Uka dabbed his mouth with his napkin, gently setting it down. He didn't turn away from his food, nor even raise his eyes.
"It was...ten hours of listening to an irritating child scream and cause a raucous the entire flight. She was a most unpleasant companion. It would be no exaggeration to say that the flight was...appalling," Cassandra sighed and shook her head.
"I'm so sorry to hear that, did her mother eventually calm her down?" Mr. Uka chuckled, shaking his head as he took another stealthy sip of his soup.
"Unfortunately seventeen year old girls are not inclined to listen to the admonishment of authority figures," The adults chuckled, though the joke flew over the girls' heads. Blossom cleared her throat.
"Uh..." She only barely stifled a groan when Uncle Joey interrupted her.
"You are a professor, correct?" Mr. Uka nodded. Blossom watched him closely. He must really like the soup, she thought, he hadn't looked away from his food yet, "How long have you been teaching?" Mr. Uka wiped his mouth.
"For many, many years now. I believe that my career in teaching began long before they handed me an official title," Joey nodded, and finally Blossom saw her chance. Cassandra turned to Joey, to ask him a question.
"Um...uh...so um...I um...isn't it uh...good manners to eat loud in Japan?" Mr. Uka paused and turned to Blossom with a small smile.
"That is correct, I am impressed you've heard of such things," Blossom laughed and blushed, turning back to the table. Mr. Uka chuckled and shook his head, "However, just as you have learned my customs, so have I learned yours. It is not my place to force foreign practices upon you in your own home," Blossom looked up at him, licking her lips. Her mouth felt really dry. His voice was really deep...
"Yeah, I guess...I guess so...you um...you know Chinese?" Mr. Uka nodded, wiping his mouth and returning his napkin to his lap. Blossom nearly died when he turned his attention to her completely.
"Yes, I have studied many languages, it is important in my role as an instructor to be able to converse comfortably with my pupils,"
"Uh huh..." Blossom simply stared back at him, her cheeks red, her heart pounding. Mr. Uka laced his fingers and rested his chin on his clasped hands.
"More curious than my knowledge, is yours. Why are you learning Chinese, child?" Blossom snapped out of her revere and shrugged, stirring her soup idly.
"Um...I guess just for the fun of it. I saw a conversational Chinese book at the store and Daddy bought it for me," Mr. Uka merely nodded, a playful smile tugging at his lips.
"It is rare to find a child who learns for the mere joy of learning," He pointed out. Blossom perked up instantly.
"I think learning is a lot of fun! I get all the best grades in my class!" Bubbles and Buttercup shot Blossom a glare, but at the moment, she couldn't see very much beyond Mr. Uka. Mr. Uka laughed—not a polite chuckle, but a real laugh—and raised an eyebrow.
"I do not find this hard to believe, Sakura-chan. Would I be correct in guessing that book was yours in the sitting room?" Blossom blinked, trying to think back. Her daddy's copy of Moby Dick!
"Oh yeah! I just started reading it today, it's really hard..." Mr. Uka nodded, stroking his beard. Across the table, James happened to notice the exchange—and recognized his mentor's mannerisms.
"Indeed it is, but it is a profound novel, is it not? I do not know how far you have delved into its depths, but rest assured, the tale is worth the effort," Blossom nodded, leaning on her hands. She sighed dreamily, watching studiously as he returned to his soup. His glass of red water had gone untouched the whole time. Staring at it, she was suddenly thirsty. While Blossom sipped her glass of milk, James spoke up with a small laugh.
"So, Uka-san, I see you and Blossom have certainly hit it off," Blossom nearly choked on her milk, glaring at her father with cherry red cheeks. Mr. Uka chuckled and casually offered her a napkin. Blossom turned darker red staring at it, numbly taking it and wiping her mouth off. She looked up at Mr. Uka, who smiled and turned to James.
"Sakura-chan is a remarkable child, she reminds me of you, Jimmy-san," Bubbles raised her hand, drawing everyone's attention to her.
"Mr. Uka, sir! Her name is Blossom!" Mr. Uka, for the first time, looked flustered. He cleared his throat and sat up, rigid once more.
"I apologize...there are times when I stumble...searching for the proper words," Bubbles beamed and Blossom tried to get a closer look at Mr. Uka. He caught sight of her gaze and cleared his throat, finally taking a drink of his red water. Blossom cleared her throat, her blush fading just enough to talk.
"Uh..." Joey took that moment to yawn, stretching as he got up from the table. Bubbles practically pounced from her seat. Blossom sighed and looked around; dinner was apparently over. James got to his feet, giving Cassandra a quick peck on the cheek as she cleared away the table.
"Well, that wasn't too bad, huh?" Mr. Uka nodded, climbing to his feet, offering his empty soup bowl to Cassandra.
"Arigatou, Utonium-san," She smiled thankfully, giving Blossom a wink and a smile as she passed by. Blossom frowned and gathered up her dishes to help her mom clear the table.
"If you don't have anywhere to be, Uka-san, we could always retire to the living room..." James started. Mr. Uka nodded, breaking away from the group, leaving for the living room. Blossom was quick to follow after him, nearly fainting when she saw him seated at the end of the couch, fingers laced, his chin resting on them—she was starting to really like that pose.
"Um...d-do you mind if..." Mr. Uka glanced up and smiled.
"Feel free, Sakur...Blossom-chan," It was all she could do to not sprint toward him. Blossom sat down beside Mr. Uka as daintily as possible, the others were wandering in. Uncle Joey mentioned something about a lizard, Blossom didn't exactly know what a lizard had to do with anything. Whatever it was, it was enough of an ordeal for him to be the last one in.
"Dinner was quite acceptable, thank you very much, Jimmy-san," James laughed and sat back in his recliner, Buttercup yawning and sitting on his lap. Bubbles was already in Uncle Joey's arms before he even sat down. Blossom glanced up at her mom and smiled. Cassandra smiled back.
"I hope it hasn't been too bothersome, Uka-san. I know you've had a long flight, we don't want to keep you," She said. Mr. Uka just shook his head. His arm brushed against Blossom's. She felt like melting.
"It is no trouble at all, I find that there are times when you can only truly live after the sun has gone down," Bubbles yawned, tugging on Joey's shirt.
"Uncle Joey, tell us the story about the monkeys! Please?" Joey sighed and started to shake his head, but Mr. Uka cut him off.
"Do not censor yourself on my behalf, I am...also intrigued by this tale. Please, will you share with us, Johenson-san?" Joey chuckled and shrugged.
"Well, I suppose. Okay, so as you know, I am a Zoologist at the Townsville Zoo. Well we have these two chimpanzees named Moko and Mojo. Well...there is also a gorilla named Rocko, he is quite important to this story. See, Moko is Mojo's girlfriend," Bubbles and Buttercup giggled. Blossom sighed and leaned in a pose mimicking Mr. Uka's staring at the teacher. Though he claimed to be interested in Joey's tale, Uka didn't seem to be paying too much attention. Blossom took a deep breath, unconsciously leaning closer to him. He smelled...like the stuff that went in Daddy's pipe. Maybe he had a pipe too? Blossom took another deep breath, sighing and closing her eyes.
"So Rocko and Mojo are not happy with each other, and I'm just standing there, trying to get them back under control! The crowd thought it was all some kind of show, the nerve of some people!" Joey shifted Bubbles in his arms, cradling the now sleeping kindergartener. Likewise, Buttercup had fallen asleep on James lap—the gentle rocking of his recliner definitely hadn't helped her wakefulness.
"Oh I'm sorry, Uka-san..." Cassandra apologized quietly, leaning over to move Blossom, who had fallen asleep laying against Mr. Uka. The typically stern teacher just shook his head.
"It is no trouble, Utonium-san...it is quite late, Blossom-chan is fine," Cassandra smiled, rubbing her baby's back while she slept. Blossom took a deep breath, smelling the sweet tobacco scent on Mr. Uka's suit jacket. Mr. Uka glanced down at her and smiled, returning his attention to Joey's story. She smiled and blushed, nuzzling her big comfy pillow.