Cupcake

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 05:46 pm
unstablekitten: (photos)
[personal profile] unstablekitten
Title: Cupcake
Characters: Muck (an OC), Chloe (an OC)
Summary: How Chloe earned her nickname of 'cupcake'.
Notes: Muck is 9 and Chloe is 7. This takes place before Glimpse Inside.
Rating: G

That first Saturday after school let out for the summer was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky and a light west wind that kept the children in the park from getting too warm while they played. Muck had been later than the others in getting there for a game of roller hockey. There had been chores to do first and breakfast to eat before his parents drove into town. They had dropped their son off before heading off to take care of a few errands they needed to do. Hockey stick in hand and rollerblades slung over a shoulder the nine year old made his way towards the corner of the park he knew was where they all liked to play best. The smooth concrete slab was large enough and out of the way from most everything else. An ideal location to slap the ball around without fear of it hitting anyone. Once there Muck sat down on the grass, removed his tennis shoes, slipped the rollerblades on and laced them up.

There were no teams, no keeping of score. The boys simply played and chased each other around, slapping the hard plastic yellow ball as they skated. Among those present was Jace, as was usual. The nine year old typically spent his weekends at the park, playing with others who showed up or doing nothing in particular. As Jace skated past a tree his mouth turned down in a frown. Perfectly happy sitting under the tree was his seven year old sister Chloe. Why had she followed him? He certainly didn't need her around. Who cared if she was lonely or wanted to be included. If she wanted someone to play with she should have found her own friends. That's what Jace kept telling her, always ignoring the pained expression on her face when he said it.

Unlike most days Chloe decided she didn't care if her older brother wanted her around or not. She wanted to be outside, enjoy the nice weather and at least be able to hear others around her, even if they didn't interact with her. So the girl had woken extra early, gotten dressed, ate a bowl of cereal quickly and grabbed a favorite ragdoll. When her brother left the house she had followed, making sure to stay a couple of feet behind him so as not to annoy him further. His sour mood at her appearance hadn't dampened her spirits at all. Chloe was all sunshine and smiles as she skipped along thoroughly enjoying the early summer day. And now here she was sitting under a shady tree playing with a ragdoll while the older boys made a general racket as they played their game. This didn't bother her in the slightest. The background noise was welcome and such a change from the usual quiet she was accustomed to.

After an hour most of the boys had dispersed, heading off for home or lounging around as they caught their breath. Jace and Muck were still going and had a duel going for control of the ball. Their hockey sticks slapping against one another as they both tried to move the ball further away from their opponent. After a couple of minutes Jace managed to get his hockey stick under Muck's and with a tap he sent the ball just enough away that both boys scrambled to reach it first. Having the advantage of being closer to where the ball stopped Jace reached it first. A split second before Muck reached him Jace hit the ball, hard. It went sailing past the other boy and straight towards the tree and Chloe.

"Look out!" Muck warned.

Chloe looked up just in time to get hit on the lower half of her right cheek by the ball. Tears welled in her green eyes from the pain. Blinking rapidly she fought to keep the tears in check. Tears were a weakness and she couldn't let them fall. Jace always poked fun of her for crying, calling her a crybaby. Biting the inside of her left cheek she sat quietly as she waited for her eyes to refocus from the blurriness of unshed tears.

"Bet she cries!" One of the boys called out from where a handful of them sat on the grass a ways away.

Jace gave a little snort as he said, "She always cries. She's a big, stupid crybaby. Just ignore her and maybe she'll go home."

Several of the boys let out a laugh at this. If Jace was laughing why shouldn't they? It wasn't like they should care about someone else's little sister, especially not if the one whose sister it was didn't care himself. Muck ignored the others and moved closer to Chloe. The girl was looking downward, twisting the dress her ragdoll wore between her fingers.

"Are you all right?" Muck asked leaning down to get more on eye level with the younger girl.

Blinking again to keep the tears at bay Chloe looked up and nodded her head yes. Why did he care? Jace didn't. Even if she had told her parents wouldn't have. So why did this perfect stranger care? It made no sense to her.

Glancing at her cheek Muck could see it was already beginning to swell and turn a glorious blue tinted black, "You should put some ice on that when you get home. It might help to get the swelling down."

Chloe simply nodded her head in reply before looking back down at the ragdoll in her hands.

"Come on!" Jace yelled, "Let's play. Forget her, she's fine."

Muck looked at his friend and then back at his friend's little sister. Was she fine? It had surprised him to find her fighting back tears and refusing to cry. She hadn't even made a sound when the ball had hit her. That didn't seem normal. Since he didn't know the little girl though he had no idea of knowing what was or wasn't normal for her. Maybe this was and it just seemed odd to him. Standing back up Muck returned to the game getting underway as the other boys had gotten up to play again.

Refusing to look up, to rub at her eyes or anything else that would cause a sneer or comment from Jace the little girl sat quietly. The stinging feeling in her face hadn't stopped completely but it had subsided a little. She could feel the ache starting and knew what the other boy had said was true. Her cheek was swelling and the ache told her it was nicely bruised. For the next hour Chloe didn't move, didn't dare to do anything. As the boys left one by one to head home for lunch she waited until Jace turned to head home himself, not bothering to say so much as a word to her about his leaving.

Muck noticed and called after the other boy, "Hey Jace. Your sister's still sitting under the tree."

Turning half around Jace shrugged a shoulder as he replied, "So? She knows how to get home."

Not knowing what to say the other boy said nothing as Jace left leaving the two alone. Plopping down in the grass Muck removed his rollerblades and put his tennis shoes back on. The sun was warm and the breeze felt nice. Stretching out on the grass the nine year old lounged, perfectly content to stay where he was. After a couple of minutes he heard a slight scraping sound. Propping himself up on elbows he saw Chloe was standing and moving away from the tree. When the younger girl saw Muck watching her she froze. Sitting up he said nothing as she remained motionless. It was like watching a deer in the headlights; scared and uncertain of what to do or where to go. This girl was an odd one.

"How's your face? Still smarting?" Muck asked as he stood and picked up blades in one hand and the stick in his other.

"It's okay." Chloe replied softly, not daring yet to move.

"Sure looked like it hurt when it hit you." When the girl said nothing Muck added in, "I don’t think I could have been so quiet about it. Not like you were. You're pretty tough."

This brought a small smile to the girl's face and she visibly relaxed. He wasn't making fun of her and he wasn't calling her names. Maybe he was all right? This was more than could be said for most of Jace's friends as they seemed to think like her older brother did about most things, particularly her.

"Are you hungry?" Mucked asked before stating, "I sure am. Want something to eat?"

Chloe eyed him a little warily. No one ever asked if she was hungry, not even her parents. Why was he? Was this a trick?

"Come on." The older boy encouraged and took off walking in the opposite direction of where Chloe lived with his blades slung over one shoulder.

Curious she decided to follow. What harm could it do? At worst she would find it had been nothing but a cruel joke. It wasn't like it would be the first time one of Jace's friends had done something like that to her.

In silence the two walked, Muck a couple of feet ahead of her and Chloe trailing behind like an uncertain puppy. When they reached the edge of the park the boy stopped, which caused the girl to stop too before reaching him.

"We have to cross the street." Muck explained and held out his free hand to her.

Chloe looked at the offered hand then at Muck and back to the hand again. She knew about holding hands while crossing the street, the sad reality was though she'd never done so. The girl was used to doing so alone. He seemed determined though and kept his hand out waiting for her to take it in hers. Hesitating for a few more seconds she finally decided to trust him and placed her small hand in his larger one. With a smile the boy waited until the light changed and signaled they could cross. Once on the other side of the street he loosened his fingers allowing her to remove her hand if she wanted to, which she did quickly. There was a small café half a block down the street and it was here that Muck stopped. Opening the door he waited until she stepped inside before following in himself.

The only person in the small brightly lit restaurant was an older woman with her hair in a loose bun who smiled warmly at the children before ushering them to a little booth across from the counter. Handing them menus she told them she'd be back in a couple of minutes to take their order. Chloe looked halfheartedly at the menu. She hadn't expected a restaurant and she had no money with her. This was a cruel joke, the absolute cruelest. Setting the menu down she scooted towards the edge of the seat.

"Where are you going?" Muck asked placing his own menu on the table.

Chloe said nothing as she fidgeted with her ragdoll. Instead the girl looked at the checkered floor and her shoes.

"Aren't you hungry?"

Still nothing. What was wrong with her? It took a minute before a light went on. Money. Was she worried about how to pay for what she wanted?

"It's my treat." Muck stated, "My parents gave me ten dollars before dropping me off at the park. So anything you want."

The little girl looked up and eyed him with surprise. Just like that? He was going to buy her something to eat, without even knowing her? Who did that? He could have just told her to go home and find something herself. Jace certainly would have as would have the rest of his friends.

When Chloe had settled back onto the seat Muck picked the menu back up and said, "You know they have really great cupcakes here."

Green eyes lit up at the mention of cupcakes and she smiled the first smile he had seen since he'd arrived at the park.

"You like cupcakes?" Muck smiled a lopsided smile as he said, "Me too. They have the best chocolate cupcakes anywhere. Well except for the ones my mom makes. No one can make them like my mom."

It took a few minutes to coax what Chloe wanted out of her but once he did Muck found she was a bit of a talker, a bubbly kind of talker at that and all smiles. The two had settled on grilled cheese sandwiches, milk and chocolate cupcakes. Muck's cupcake had cream cheese frosting whereas Chloe's was strawberry and a lovely shade of pink to boot which made her smile all the more. A request of ice for the little girl's face had been made, which the older woman had brought wrapped in a towel. Even through the towel the ice had been painfully cold. She did her best to keep it pressed against her cheek as she ate. At least the cold was replacing the ache in her face with a feeling of numbness, which was most welcome.

When they had finished their lunch they stood and walked towards the register. Handing the older woman the bill and the ten dollars Muck waited a bit nervously. Looking the two children over again the owner of the café smiled. The bill had come to almost fifteen dollars, not the ten the boy had. Slightly embarrassed about not having enough Muck was looking around the café trying to see if there was something he could do to work off the rest.

"Today's your lucky day. I have a special running, half off of a second meal. This brings your total to $9.83 on the dot."

Muck's eyes went wide in surprise as he said, "Thank you. Thank you a lot."

The woman chuckled as she nodded her head. Taking the seventeen cents out of the drawer she handed it to him only to have him refuse.

"Don't you want your change?"

"Do you have a charity or something you donate to? Can't you put it in there?" Muck asked not willing to take the money he knew he didn't have coming back to him, even if it was only a few cents.

There hadn't been a special of off half a second meal and he knew it. The woman was being kind and he couldn't repay that kindness by taking something that wasn't his. Nodding her head the older woman smiled brighter at the two children and made a big show of putting the money into a donation jar by the register.

"Come again." The owner called as the children left the little café.

This time as they walked down the block towards the crosswalk Chloe walked alongside Muck. Both children were smiling and perfectly at ease saying nothing as they headed back to the park. When they reached the crosswalk Chloe took Muck's hand in hers without his offering. The boy smiled as he walked her across the street and back to the safety of the park. Slipping her hand out of his the girl clutched the ragdoll closer to her chest as they walked.

"Muck!"

Turning around the boy smiled at a couple in the truck who had pulled up alongside the park sidewalk.

"Time to go home." Mrs. Winburg said opening the truck's door to let him in.

"All right mom."

Chloe's smile faltered for a second. Of course he had to go home. Everyone always did.

Putting his rollerblades and hockey stick in the bed of the truck Muck moved towards the door.

Giving Chloe another lopsided smile he said, "See you later, cupcake."

With a chuckle he hopped in and shut the door behind him. Waving he watched until the truck turned down the street and the girl was completely out of sight. Maybe one day they would be friends too. At least the boy was willing if the little girl would let him.
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