Mandy Brocklehurst (mandy_b) wrote in fidelius,
Mandy Brocklehurst
mandy_b
fidelius

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August 15th, 1998

(OOC: Very, very late I know... And I can't find the last little bit that went with this (wah), so I apologise for that too!)



"Are you hungry?" Steven asked Mandy one lazy afternoon as they sat outside on their balcony, watching the scene on the street below.

Mandy didn't hear him at first, as she was intent on watching cars driving past, people walking by... Funny how one could live in a place for eighteen years and not notice these everyday occurences. Finally, she did answer him. "Somewhat, I suppose. It's been a nice while since lunch..."

Steven drew his eyes away to the street and focused them on his girlfriend. "What do you feel like?"

"Dessert, of some sort," came the immediate reply. "I never got to have any, seeing as... as you ate th-the last piece of cake last night."

"Hold on now," Steven put his hand up, "You never expressed any interest in what remained of my Mum's cheesecake..."

"No, I didn't," she admitted. "But I wish I had. It looked rather good."

Steven shook his head. "You cannot complain if you didn't tell me in the first place!"

"Well, next time she sends one over, I claim... at least a slice, all right?"

"I'll give you the whole thing, how's that?" asked Steven, giving her a wink.

Mandy grinned. "If you do th-that, it'll be gone within m-minutes, I bet... But I accept, of course."

"Good...now, how about right now?"

"Right now?"

"What do you want to eat right now?" he repeated.

She giggled. "Oh, right. Oops... Well, um... Dessert, like I said. Cake would be nice..."

"You want to make a cake?" he asked, almost not believing her.

"I can bake! Well, somewhat...."

Steven laughed softly. "And I can't. At all. Whatsoever."

"You can learn..."

"From who?"

"The lady next door.... From me. you prat," she added, once she saw the look on his face.

"You are going to teach me?" His voice was skeptical.

"You make it sound like I'm incapable!"

"You're not incapable," he argued.

"Th-then why do you sound skeptical?"

"I don't!" he lied.

"You do!"

"Don't make us get into this circular argument again...."

"You started it."

"What?!"

Mandy sighed. "Look. I'm going to go on in and make th-this cake, and you are welcome to join m-me if you so wish..." She whirled around, and headed inside.

Steven sat there, blinking for a moment, before following after her.

"Decided to join me after all?" She asked, slipping out of her sandals as she made her way through the bedroom.

"Yes," he said, slightly pouty.

Mandy merely smiled, even though he couldn't see, and soon emerged into the kitchen. She began a hunt for things she'd need, and was soon pulling bowls and measuring cups and ingredients from various cupboards.

"What are you doing?" he asked her suspiciously.

"Taking out eveyth-thing I need to make this cake..." She said, giving him a funny look.

"...why are you taking out so much?" Steven picked up a beater and began to crank it by hand, amused.

"'Cause I need it all!" Mandy exclaimed, making room on the counter for a large bowl.

"What?!"

"I do!"

"I've seen my Mum make cakes before...and she didn't use so much..."

"I'm not your mother..."

"Thank god," Steven muttered.

Mandy merely raised an eyebrow as she went about seeing if she had forgotten anything.

"Would you like a piece of heavy machinery with that?" asked Steven in a catty tone.

"I th-think I can manage, thanks," Mandy responded with a wry smile.

"What sort of things go into a cake, anyway?"

She stared at him as if he had ten heads.

"What?!"

"...You m-mean to say that you don't know?"

"Well...I know there's sugar and flour and eggs and water."

"Amongst other th-things, yes..." Mandy opened the sack of flour, and measured out two cups of it to put in the bowl.

"What else?"

"Well, it all depends on the type of... of cake you're m-making..." She replied, moving onto the sugar,

"And what kind of cake are you making?"

"Chocolate, of course."

"Of course," he nodded.

"Pass me a couple of eggs, would you? Please?" Mandy asked Steven, as she tried to find the egg beater in the pile of stuff she had taken out.

Steven opened the refigerator and took out two eggs, pulling out two buttlebeers while he was at it. "Drink?" he offered.

Mandy nodded, and reached into the sink for a glass she hoped was clean. "Sure... Thanks," she took the eggs, and then the bottle of butterbeer from him. After taking a few gulps of the drink, she began to beat up the eggs, which had been cracked and placed into the bowl with sugar. She accidentally turned the mixer on too high, causing flecks of the batter to go flying out of the floor, covering the counter, the floor, and her.

Steven's eyes widened at first, and then he had to cover his mouth. "Areyoualright?" he muttered, the sight of her covered in batter causing him to burst into laughter.

Mandy nodded. She began to laugh too, knowing she must look a sight. She smiled as she wiped the egg and sugar mixture off her cheeks. "...Oops," she said, giggling.

"I thought you knew how to do this!"

"I do! I probably neglected to m-mention that I'm not exactly th-the cleanest person when it comes to baking..."

"Yes," said Steven dryly," that little tidbit was surpassed..."

Mandy giggled again, and grabbed some towels to clean up the mess on the floor.

Steven stuck his finger in the bowl and watched it run off. "Is it supposed to be so...runny?"

Mandy frowned as she tested the mixture herself. "Hmm. Perhaps I didn't put in... enough flour," she mused, dumping in the now properly mixed sugar and eggs. "It's not supposed to be like th-this..."

"Perhaps you should mix it more," he suggested.

"That might work," she murmured, following his suggestion. And just like the last time, the mixer was turned on a couple speeds too high, and more batter was sent flying. Some landed on Steven, this time around, much to Mandy's amusement,

"You're horrid at this!" he exclaimed, wiping his face with the back of his hand.

"Thanks for your encouragement," she muttered, dumping more flour into the bowl and flicking some his way.

"Watch it!"

"Watch what?"

Steven knew getting clean was hopeless at this point. "Your food!"

"Oh, that. Sorry," she said, not meaning it at all.

"Don't say it if you don't mean it," Steven pouted, leaning his back against the counter.

"...Then I take it back," Mandy grinned, pushing a few strands of hair off her face. Seeing as she had flour all over her hands, the white substance was now streaked across her cheeks and in her hair, where it made a stark contrast.

"You look like an old person," commented Steven, looking at her.

"...What?" She asked in bewilderment, not realising she was covered in flour.

Steven reached up and ran his fingers over her hair, "You've gotten white hair."

"Ack..." Mandy muttered under her breath, attempting to get rid of the flour. However, she had forgotten to wipe her hands clean of the flour that remained on them, and this only made her problem worse.

"Just leave it," he laughed in reply/

She cursed lightly, and immediately wiped off her hands in a nearby towel.

"You weren't ever...good...at this, were you?"

"Well..."

"Well what?"

"I wouldn't call myself good at th-this, no..."

"What would you call yourself, then?"

"Able?"

"Jesus, Mandy, everyone's able." Steven shook his head.

"..Then you try."

Steven took the beater from her. "Fine. I will."

Mandy stepped out of the way. "Th-this should be interesting..."

Steven looked at the beater in his hands for a moment, before looking up at Mandy. "Err...how do I turn it on?"

Mandy refrained from laughing. "Erm... You flick th-that little red button that says 'on/off' perhaps?"

"Shush, woman," he hissed.

"You asked, I told..."

Steven pushed the red button and batter flew everywhere.

"You're supposed to adjust th-the speed on it first!" She cried, attempting to shield her face.

"How to I turn it off?!"

"Press the button again!"

"I can't find the button!" he shouted, eyes closed.

Batter was continuously being splattered over everything in sight. And Steven made things worse then, by accidentally flicking the speed switch up to the highest it could possibly go. Darting around him, Mandy reached over the counter and yanked the plug out of the wall.

Steven stepped back, breathing heavily. He turned and gave Mandy a sheepish grin.

Mandy giggled, not able to hold it back any longer. "And you think I'm horrible?"

Steven shook the beater at her. "Yes!"

"Well, I'm certainly not as... horrible as you!"

"But you're much more messy," said Steven triumphantly.

"Erm... Take a look around th-the kitchen... Most of the mess was your doing... On th-the account that you have no idea... whatsoever on how to operate a mixer..."

"What?! I am perfectly competent when it comes to mixers..."

"But apparently your understanding lacks knowledge on how to use th-the on/off button..."

"It was NOT clearly labeled," he argued.

"It is so!" Mandy shot back. "Not to mention, it's bright red!"

"I'm colour blind!" Steven lied.

"And I'm the Queen."

Steven bowed to her.

"Ha. I wish."

"You're my queen," he said.

"Don't change the topic."

"I'm not, Queen Mandy!"

"...I must admit, th-that does have a nice ring to it..."

"That make me the King," Steven said happily.

"By default."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, if I happen to be Queen, th-then that automatically makes you King."

"Yes, but I'm not Kingish?"

Mandy grinned. "Define 'Kingish'" she replied, making an attempt to clean off cake batter from the face of the fridge.

"I dunno," he shrugged.

"We can figure that out later... But I don't suppose you;d thi-think it beneath you to help m-me clean up your m-mess a little?"

"MY mess?! Since when is it MY mess?"

"Since you turned on th-that bloody m-mixer up on full blast!"

"That's YOUR fault," he argued.

"MY fault? How?"

"It just IS!"

"Th-that's not a valid reason!"

"Is too!"

"Is not!"

"I'm not going to fight with you about this..."

"No. You're not."

Steven made a face.

Mandy grinned and flicked more batter at him.

Steven's eyes went wide. "You didn't."

"Didn't what?"

"Flick that at me."

She shifted her gaze away from him. "May-be...."

"Mandy!"

"...What?"

"You're evil."

"T-that's nothing new..."

"Why are you so evil?"

She merely shrugged. "No clue."

"Is this a woman thing?" Steven cocked his head to the side.

Flick. More batter sent his way. "No," she replied.

"Is this a Canadian thing?"

Mandy shook her head.

"What is it, then?"

"Being around Lisa too much?"

"Fine. I blame Turpin."

Mandy grinned again, going back to stirring the seemingly forgotten cake mixture. "I'm sure Lisa'll be happy with th-that..."

"Will Lisa be happy with this?" Steven reached over, got some batter on his finger, and then spread it on Mandy's nose.

"With you blaming here for someth-thing? I reckon not... Hey! Watch it!"

Steven laughed and did it again, getting it on Mandy's left cheek.

"Hey!" She exclaimed again. "...This calls for retaliation!" Mandy dipped a couple fingers of her own into the batter, and brushed them over his nose and cheek.

Steven grabbed her hand as she pulled it away from his face. "You didn't..."

"I did..."

"You'll pay."

"...Oh?"

"Yes!"

"Show m-me your worst."

Steven grinned eviily, and then leaned forward and licked the batter off her nose.

Mandy pretended to yawn. "Bor-ring..."

"What?!" he cried, pulling away.

"That was completely expected..."

Steven made a face. "Well, so-r-ry."

She smirked a little, secretly enjoying every minute of this. "C'mon... That can't be all you can th-think of..."

"Yes...it is."

Steven remained stubborn.

"Tsk tsk... I'm disappointed in you..."

"I'm pouting."

"...And?"

"No snoggage for you," he said.

At this, Mandy copied his actions. "Wah."

"Ha. Ha."

She stuck out her tongue at him.

Steven copied her action.

Mandy flicked more flour at him.

"Mandy! Stop that!"

"Make me!"

"I will!"

"I'd like to see you try," she said, darting away from him.

"What?!" Steven lept at her suddenly.

Mandy giggled as stuck her fingers in the bowl again, and flicked more cake batter his way. "Bet you can't..."

Steven picked up the whole bowl and began to take a few dangerous steps towards her.

Her eyes widened a little. "You wouldn't..."

"Oh, I would," he winked.

Mandy continued to back away. "Don't you dare..."

Steven took a giant step and was inches from her in a moment. He turned the bowl upside down over her.

Mandy immediately let out a shriek as the entire contents of the bowl were poured over her head.

Steven stepped back and watched the batter slowly drip down Mandy's body. "Told you so," he snickered.

She frantically tried to wipe her face clean, glasses included. "You. Are. DEAD!" She exclaimed then, lunging after him.

Steven put his hands up innocently and tried to step out of the way, but was easily taken down to the ground by Mandy.

She glared down at him, batter dripping off the ends of her hair.

"You made me so it, I swear!" he squeaked.

"I made you do it?"

Steven nodded vehemently.

"...Look at the mess you've got me into!"

"I'm not much cleaner now that you've dripped everything onto me!" exclaimed Steven.

"Serves you right."

Steven made an indignant noise.

"What? It does!"

"Are you just going to lie on top of me dripping sweet sugary goodness onto me all afternoon?"

"Yes."

Steven made another face.

"Better on you than me..."

Steven opened his mouth to say something, but batter dripped off her nose into his mouth and he began to cough.

"M-Merlin! You all right?" Mandy asked, sliding off him.

"Fine," he coughed, before grabbing her face and kissing her forcefully.

She gave a muffled sound of surprise, before managing to gather herself together enough to kiss back, somewhat. "...What was that for?" Mandy murmured, once they had broke apart.

"I wanted to see how you taste," he replied innocently.

"...And what do I taste like?"

"Liquid cake."

Mandy giggled. "So do you."

"Want more," he whined, "Come back."

Mandy obliged, leaning forward a little.

Steven leaned up on his elbows and kissed her.

"Mmm... Th-that batter really does taste good," she murmured, running her tongue lightly across his lower lip.

"A smashing success," he murmured agreeably against her lips.

"Of course, th-the fact that th-the both of us are now wearing it is irrelevant..."

"New wardrobe..."

"A rather sticky and chocolatey one, at that..."

"And. This. Is. Bad?" Steven kissed her after each word.

"Did I say... it was?"

Steven paused and then shook his head.

Mandy smiled and gently pulled him back for another kiss.

Steven slid his hands up Mandy's arms, smearing the chocolate.

She didn't much care, seeing as she was already covered head to toe in the stuff. "Well... Th-this wasn't exactly what I had in m-mind when I said I wanted to bake a cake..."

"We could put ourselves in the oven," he joked lightly.

Mandy laughed. "Um... how about we not..."

"Only joking," he said after a moment.

"I know you were..."

Steven leaned up and kissed her nose.

Mandy didn't pull back this time. "Hopefully you got all th-the batter off..." She said, half-joking.

"That would take awhile," he laughs softly, kissing her again.

"Off my nose, you prat..."

"Only your nose?" he pouted slightly.

"...You have anywhere else in mind?"

"Here," Steven kissed her cheek, "And here..." Then he did the same to her forehead.

Mandy smiled. "I m-must look quite th-the sight..."

"And I'm so much better," he snorted.

She laughed. "Good point. You're not."

"Gee, thanks, love."

"...Anytime," she replied, leaning forward a smidge and kissing him once more on the mouth.


Steven smiled against her lips and attempted to pull her closer.

They were interrupted a few minutes later with the ringing of the doorbell.

Steven pulled away and sighed heavily, slipping out a curse.

"M-my thoughts exactly," Mandy muttered, wondering who on earth could be visiting. "...Omigosh! Neither of us are fit to answer the door!"

"I'll answer it," Steven laughed, trying to struggle out from under her, "if I can get up..."

Mandy took that as a cue to get off him. "Hopefully it's no one too important..."

Steven groaned as he got up from the floor, not taking care to not drip on the wooden floor as he shuffled to the door.

Mandy stood up as well, and hurried into the bedroom in search of her wand. Things desperately needed to be cleaned up.

Happily, Steven reached down and opened the door. He did a double take as he saw who had rung the doorbell.

"...You'd be Steven, I presume?" asked the woman at the door in a voice that clearly indicated she didn't hail from this side of the ocean. Fair skinned and haired, she wore a look of distaste as she noticed the state the eighteen-year-old was in.

"Err...yes...and you are?" Steven raised an eyebrow. Who was this woman and why was he looking at her as if he'd answered the door naked.

The woman opened her mouth to reply, when Mandy came back into the living room, batter-free. She froze when she saw who had come calling. "Mother?" She asked, in disbelief.

"Mother?" Steven squeaked in repetition, looking from Mandy back to the woman at the door.

"Yes... Your girlfriend happens to be my daughter..."

"Err..." Steven projected a very "deer-caught-in-the-headlights" look, "Nice to meet you?"

"Wish I could say the same," came the muttered reply, as Mandy's mother expressed obvious displeasure at Steven's appearance.

"We were making a cake," said Steven dumbly, knowing that he was blushing underneath all that chocolate.

Mandy nodded in confirmation, still trying to find her voice.

"I see..." Mrs. O'Neil (as that was the new last name of Mandy's mother) said coolly, her gaze drifting over to a still frozen-in-place Mandy. "Aren't you going to invite me in?" she asked her daughter, who in turn, looked to Steven.

"Come in, please?" he squeaked, only his mouth moving.

He received no response to that as Mrs. O'Neil brushed past him into the living room to stand in front of Mandy. "...About time you told me about your change of address," she said. "Actually, I had to worm it out of your cousin, who swore that you told her I already knew."

Steven looked quite nervous and didn't know what to say.

There was a reason Mandy had accidentally-on-purpose forgotten to inform her mother about her new living quarters... She didn't want her mother to come in barging in like she currently was doing. "Erm..." She finally said, avoiding her mother's calculating gaze. "I th-thought I did... but I guess it slipped my m-mind..."

"Maybe the owl got lost," interjected Steven.

"Yes... Th-that's it..." Mandy murmured, even though that wsan't the case.

Her mother raised an eyebrow, but said nothing more on the subject. She took a look around the flat, and voiced her opinion on its size. She was surprised that her daughter had chosen to live here, instead of the spacious penthouse she had grown up in.

"Will you excuse me?" Steven asked after a moment, "I think I'll go and get cleaned up..." And with that, he disappeared back into the kitchen, where his wand was located.

Mother and daughter were left alone, and Mandy's mother began to interrogate her on why she had come to live here (with her boyfriend, no less), a talk that quickly escalated into shouting between the two.

Steven rushed back into the front room (mostly clean) with a puzzled expression on his face. "What's going on here?" he asked, panting.

"I'm trying to explain to her th-that I'm perfectly capable of capable of m-making m-my own decisions nowadays," Mandy said, sending another glare her mother's way.

Steven didn't want to get into the middle of this, but he knew sooner or later he would have to defend one of the two women: it might as well be his girlfriend. "With all due respect, Mrs. O'Neil, Mandy and I are both adults..."

"A fact I'm well aware of... Technically you are, yes. But that doesn't mean the two of you should go about making rash choices, so soon out of school..."

"This choice was NOT rash, I assure you," Steven argued.

"Oh no?"

"I've - we've - had it planned for months, ma'am," he said.

"Months," remarked Mandy's mother, still somewhat unconvinced. "And you've only been seeing each other for how long?"

"That's irrelevant!" Mandy exclaimed. "How long we've been together has nothing to do with this..."

"I've known Mandy for seven years!" Steven exclaimed.

Mandy decided that her mother didn't need to know that they had argued constantly for six of those years. "It's true! I've known Steven practically forever..."

"And we've loved each other for almost a year!" Steven blurted.

Mandy nodded in confirmation as her mother's gaze slid to the ring on her finger.

"My..." Mrs. O'Neil murmured, taking a closer look at it. "This does appear serious..."

Steven shifted his weight nervously. That's JUST the thing her mother needed to see...

Mandy bit her lip and tried to jerk her hand away, chiding herself for neglecting to replace the concealing charm on it. Too many people had asked questions. "...So what if it does?" She boldly asked, after swallowing several times.

"You're awfully young..."

"We're old enough to make out own decisions, Mrs. O'Neil," Steven said solemnly.

"But... marriage?"

"It's not like we're getting married tomorrow," Steven's voice was quite low, "Or even next month."

"But still..."

"How old were you when you got married for the first time, if you don't mind me asking?" Steven raised an eyebrow.

"I beg your pardon?"

"How old were you when you became Mrs. Brocklehurst?"

"I don't see why that's any of your business..."

"Please answer my question..."

"...Nineteen." The reply came after several moments of silence.

Steven's face grew quite triumphant. "Well, there you are, Mrs. Brocklehurst. I do not see how your situation was any different from Mandy's. We don't even plan on marrying for at least a year....and by then she'll be over nineteen..."

"That's Mrs. O'Neil to you, Mr. Cornfoot. And I don't know if Amanda-"
"That's not my name," Mandy interrupted, glowering.

Her mother continued as if Mandy hadn't spoken. "-has informed you of the circumstances surrounding the marriage of her father and I, but was I able to turn back time, I wouldn't have done so. Marrying young... hugs mistake."

"Contraceptives were just as available then as they are now," he said coldly, glaring at her.

She stared at him, shocked that he would say such a thing to her.

"...Steven," Mandy whispered to him. "Don't push it..."

"She started it," he whispered defensively.

"You don't have to continue..."

Steven shook his hand and turned back to her mother. "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Don't you have something to spit back at me with?"

"I don't 'spit back' anything..." She replied knowingly.

Mandy laughed at that. "Hello? You forgetting me, perchance?"

"Sorry," Steven said quickly, adding, "Spit back at US with?"

"No... But I do get the impression that I'm not wanted here."

"YOU'RE the one who doesn't like ME, remember?" Steven asked, suddenly feeling slightly sorry for having said it in such a way.

"Well! I never! In all my days..." Her eyes widened. "I don't have to put up with any more of this..."

"Then why are you still here?!"

"I don't know. But you can bet I'll be leaving now. Good day." Mandy's mother whirled around, and with a flick of her blonde hair, was gone.

Steven stood there, blinking for several moments before he turned, face red, to Mandy,

.

Mandy sunk into the nearest chair, burying her head in her hands.

He walked over to her slowly, and put his hands tenderly on her shoulders. "Are you...." he trailed off, not sure of what he should ask.

"...Am I what?"

"Alright

?"

"I wish she'd mind her own business..."

"She had no right coming here," Steven fumed, pulling away from Mandy,

.

"She didn't," Mandy murmured in agreement. "But that's how she is... Incredibly nosy..."

"You can say that again," he hissed.

She sighed. "Now you know a big reason why I was so keen on leaving home..."

"I don't blame you an ounce..."

"Max couldn't handle her either... He left as soon as he was able to."

"Why anyone would want to marry her is beyond me..."

"She only acts like that towards me, as far as I know..."

Steven shook his head and mouthed the word "bitch".

Mandy leaned back in the chair, staring up at the ceiling. "I know she's m-my mother, but... I really, really dislike the woman..."

"Oh, good, at least we agree on that," said Steven dryly.

"...Can we change th-the topic, please?" She begged, wanting to forget the past while had ever happened.

"Sure," he said, face softening.

"...You're clean, finally..."

"And the kitchen is as well," he informed her.

"Thanks..." she murmured, relieved she wouldn't have to do the cleaning.

"We could go buy a cake," he offered.

Mandy managed a smile. "What, and lose out on all the fun of m-making one?P

"I don't know if we can handle it," he laughed slightly.

"Yeah... We kind of got distracted..."

"Not to mention we had a surprise visitor," Steven added.

"One I could've done gladly without..."

"And we still have no cake. Woe is me."

"You and your cake..."

"You're the one that wanted it in the first place!" he exclaimed.

"This is true..."

"Now what're we supposed to do?"

"...Well, I suppose I could m-make the most of your offer and go out and buy a cake, as I'm sure if I try to m-make one again, you'll try and dump th-the batter all over me."

"Perhaps next time," he suggested, "You should use magic."

"But that takes all the fun out of it."

"But you'll actually get to the last step that way..."

Mandy laughed. "Yeah, th-the cake would actually get baked that way..."

"And enjoyed in a solid form," he agreed.

"Although there's nothing wrong with plain old batter..."

"There's icing on a cake!"

"Mmm... Icing..."

"Yes. Icing. And sprinkles!"

"Can't forget them.... Ack, th-this is making me hungry..."

"Why don't we go out for some dinner?" Steven suggested.

"Dinner. Out. I'm liking that..."

"I'll even pay."

"Well, if you're offering..." Mandy grinned. "I'm not one to refuse..."

"Pip, pip, then," he grinned, "Want to get cleaned up...more?"

"Of course... There's no way I'm about to out to dinner dressed in th-this."

"You have ten minutes. Ready. Go."

"Ten minutes?" Mandy exclaimed, jumping up from her chair. "Well, don't expect m-much change in m-me then," she said as she entered their bedroom, joking.

"You have magic!" he called after her.

"But still!" came her reply.

"Ten minutes, Mandy!"

"I'm going as fast as I can!" she called back, quickly changing out of her tank top and faded shorts into something more dressy. She muttered a few spells that would fix up her hair as she switched her glasses for contacts, cutting it close to his ten-minute limit.

Steven was already dressed, nice and clean, and witing in the living room. "You clean up well," he commented.

Mandy blushed faintly, untwisting the strap of her sundress. "Thanks... As do you."

brb.

*nod*

brb myself, as well. Dad wants to get on for a bit.

Am back.

Wb!

"Only I don't have a pretty little dress to wear," Steven pouted.

"Thankfully..."

Steven snorted. "Gee. Thanks."

"What? That gives off some rather disturbing images..."

"You don't like girly!Steven?"

"Not particularly, no..."

"Dammit," he muttered, as if that ruined some sort of surprise he hand been working on.

"...Why?"

Steven cracked a grin. "Only joshing, love."

"Good... You had me scared there, for a while...

Steven shook his head in silent laughter. "You hungry?"

"Sure am."

"Let's go, then...before I'm forced to do the chicken dance..."

"Something I'm sure I don't want to see..." Mandy muttered, taking the few steps over to the door.

"And why not?"

"Just... because..." She replied, opening the door and stepping out into the hallway.

"I'll show our children," Steven threatened, following her.

"...And scar th-them for life? I think not!"

"How do you know?" asked Steven indignantly, "You haven't seen it!"

"I don't need to!"

"So you're assuming?!"

"Yes..." She answered, pushing the down button on the elevator.

"I'll show you in the elevator," he said stubbornly.

"But... There m-might be other people in there!"

Steven blinked. "And your point is?"

"I think I'll take the stairs..."

I'll follow."

The elevator came at that moment, however, and Mandy decided to go in after all, bypassing the stairs.

Steven was close on her heels, and he pressed every button on the control panel.

"Steven! What're you doing?"

"Playing," he replied.

"...With the buttons?" she asked, as the elevator began its descent.

He nodded happily.

Mandy shook her head, unsuccessfully trying to hold back a smile. The elevator, thanks to Steven, now stopped on the second floor, where no one was waiting.

Steven put one foot on the second floor and kept one inside the elevator. "Where am I now?" asked he.

"Erm... Half in the elevator and half out?" She wondered what he was getting at.

"Two places at once."

Mandy giggled. "Very true."

Steven grinned and moved back into the elevator as the door began to close.

She shook her head again as they continued the descent to the lobby. "Mad, you are..."

Mad about you," Steven sing-songed.

Mandy laughed and rolled her eyes, as the elevator came to a stop and they exited, heading for the front doors of the apartment building. "Oh... What am I ever going to do with you..."

"Take me out to dinner?" he suggested.

"I thought it was the other way around!"

"You have to do something with me!" he reminded her.

"...But must it be dinner?" She asked, pretending to complain.

"....what then?"

"I'll th-think of something..."

Steven stopped walking, waiting for her answer.

"...You don't have to work or anything tonight, do you?" She inquired, pulling open the door and holding it for him.

Steven shook his head, not moving.

"Excellent... Well, are you coming with m-me or not? I'm hungry!"

Steven grinned and followed her.

"So... You have any place in particular you want to visit tonight?" Mandy asked, as they stepped out onto the sidewalk, the sun beginning to dip low in the sky

"Somewhere with food," Steven said, placing his hands over his gurmbling stomach.

"No kidding..."

"What do you want?"

Mandy shrugged. "I honestly don't care... You're paying... you pick."

Steven gave a hollow laugh. "Ah. I see. I pay - I pick. Very well. I pick McDonald's."

"Wait a minute... Let m-me clarify... Anywhere that does not serve fast food."

Steven made a face.

"Sorry, but I'm not too fond of th-that stuff... You know that."

Steven cackled. "Quite the reason I suggested it."

Mandy thwaped him in the arm.

"Ow!"

She gave him a 'Who, me?' look, and grinned.

Steven made yet another face and stopped her right before she stepped into traffic.

"Heh. I guess waiting for the 'walk' signal would a be a smart idea..." Mandy murmured, slightly embarrassed,

"I'll blame it on your injury," he nodded.

"Yeah..." This wasn't the first time somthing like that had happened.

"We can walk now," he said quietly, taking her hand.

"...Thanks," she replied, in much the same tone of voice. "I probably would've... kept right on walking had you not stopped m-me..."

That's what I'm here for." Steven tried to keep his tone light.

Mandy squeezed his hand in reply, swerving suddenly to avoid a lady walking two dogs and pushing a baby carriage.

"What would you rather have?" he asked, trying to change the subject, "Dogs or babies?"

She blinked. "...What do you mean?"

"What would you rather have?" he repeated, "Dogs or babies?"

"Well, seeing as how I'm quite scared of dogs..."
"Babies make messes."

"So do dogs..."

"And people."

"What're you getting at with th-this?"

"I'm trying to distract you," Steven admitted.

andy gave him a weak smile. "It's working..."

"Good." He squeezed her hand.

"So, just to turn th-the tables a little... What would you rather have?"

Steven looked surprised at this question. "Er."

"...You don't have to answer. I was just curious."

"Babies."

"Really?"

He nodded.

She grinned. "I can almost picture it now... A mini version of you running about...:

*"

Steven nearly facepalmed. "Oh my Merlin..."

Mandy laughed as they crossed another intersection, continuing their walk.

"Oh...dear god...Mandy...now that picture will be in my head ALL NIGHT!"

"Excellent," she replied, still laughing.

"MANDY!"

"What?" she asked, looking innocent.

"Make it go away," he moaned.

"After dinner."

Steven muttered loudly. "You're so cruel to me."

"Maybe... But it all works out in th-the end."

"For you!"

Mandy had no reply to that, smiling a little.

"Ack!" Steven put his face in his hand again.

She giggled, despite her best attempts not to."Oh come on... It can't be that bad..."

"He looks partly like you." Steven's grin was wide.

"...Who does?" Mandy asked, having a memory lapse.

"Our son."

She smiled again, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "How so?"

"His skin and hair are darker than mine, though he has my eyes..."

"Oh, good. I love blue eyes..."

At that, Steven smiled down at her. "Truly?"

"Truly."

"That works out brilliantly for me, then."

"It appears th-that way, doesn't it?"

Steven stopped walking and kissed her on the cheek quickly.

"What was that for?" She murmured, secretly pleased.

"Oh, nothing," he winked.

"Oh yes it was..."

Steven pulled back and smiled down at her. "Oh?"

"It's always 'something' with you..."

Steven looked mildly shocked.

You appear surprised."

"I am."

"Why?"

"Just am," he shrugged.

"Well, just to make you a little m-more shocked..." She rose up on tip toes and kissed him quickly on the mouth, well aware they were in the middle of a crowded street.

Steven's arms slid around her wais quickly, and he resisted laughing right into her lips.

"Don't know why I just did that..."

"Me either," he whispered, "but I don't hate it."

"You better not hate it..."

He grinned.

"So, listen. We ever going to get to dinnr... or what? We keep getting distracted..."

"Still hungry?"

"Well, yes, I suppose..."

"Then let us continue in our journey..."

"I don't even know where we are, anymore...."

Steven looked up at the street sign above. "Er. Me neither."

"Wait a m-minute, yes I do... Lillie Road.... I used to live here...."

"No way."

"I'm serious..."

"No way," Steven repeated.

Mandy nodded. "See that building over there?" She pointed to the one she was referring to. "Home for eighteen years."

Steven blinked several times, almost not believing her.

"I am dead serious. We could go on up if you don't believe me."

"Are you sure?" He raised an eyebrow.

"All I'd have to do is check to m-make sure my mother isn't around... And she usually goes out to th-the country on weekends..."

Steven made a face at the mention of her mother.

"So do you want to go up?"

"I guess..."

"And I'm sure Ellie can whip something up for supper, if you want to eat... Wouldn't cost you anyth-thing then."

"I'm in," he agreed.

"The temptation of free food must be greater than I th-thought," she teased.

"Not so much as if I were Kevin..."

"He'd already be halfway th-there already."

"We'd have nothing for ourselves," Steven agreed.

"Which would not be good... So, shall we?"

Steven nodded and followed her across the street.

Mandy grew nervous all of a sudden, as they walked closer and closer to her former apartment building. She wondered what Steven's reaction would be, once he saw the inside.

"Something wrong?" Steven asked, sensing Mandy's feelings.

"Not really..." She answered vaguely, as they came upon the fancy front doors to 405 Lillie Road, the Elizabeth Towers apartment building.

"Fancy," Steven breathed, tilting his head back so that he could look upwards.

"Just wait 'til you see the inside..." She muttered, opening the door and stepping into the main lobby.

"...I'm guessing it's a bit rich-ish?"

"M-more than a bit, I'd say..."

"How rich-ish, exactly?"

"See for yourself."

Steven nodded. "Alright."

They were both inside now, and Mandy stepped out of the way so he could take everything in.

Steven breathed in sharply as he looked around. "Er...Mandy...you sure this is the right building...?"

"Of course I'm sure..."

"...woah," was all he was able to say.

"Yeah... it's quite something, isn't it?" She fiddled around in her purse for the keys to her old flat that she still held onto. "Just wait until you see upstairs."

"...does it get grander than this?"

"For the top few floors it does, yes..."

"...dear, sweet Merlin," he murmured.

"...And we're going right to th-the top."

"...the top?!"

Mandy nodded as they made their way over to the elevators.

"...the whole top?"

She nodded again, after a few moment's hesitation.

"...that would make you..."

"...Make m-me what?" She asked, pushing the 'up' button on the elevator.

"Er." He paused. "Rich."

"Yeah. It would." She said, avoiding his gaze.

"...you never said anything..."

She shrugged. "I didn;t really want to talk about it..."

"But...love..this is...big," Steven argued.

"Th-the subject never really came up before, anyway..." She replied, as the elevators doors opened, and an elegantly dressed older couple stepped out.

"Well...no," Steven agreed, following her onto the elevator.

"And it's not someth-thing I like to discuss in everyday conversation," she murmured, using her key to activate the elevator button that would take them up to the penthouse suite.

Sensing this was a touchy subject, Steven closed his mouth.

They rode the rest of the trip up in silence, which seemed endless to Mandy. Finally, though, the elevator came to a stop, and opened up into what was the foyer of Mandy's flat.

Steven said nothing as they exited the lift, those his eyes widened slightly.

The place was oddly silent. "...Ellie? Sara? Anyone here?" Mandycalled out the names of their cook and housekeeper, and stepped a few feet into the spacious living room area, but there was no reply.

"Ellie and Sara?" Steven questioned, following.

"Cook and housekeeper," she explained, heading for the kitchen.

"Ah." He continued after her.

"I don't understand why they're not here... Unless they were given the rest of the day off, which occasionally happens when Mother heads out to the country..."

"That's probably it," Steven agreed.

"That's the m-most likely scenario... Which m-means we don't get to eat one of Ellie's suppers, which are absolutely delicious." She said, disappointed.

"There's always time later," he pointed out.

"I suppose..."

"Don't sound so sad, dear."

"I was looking forward to it... But I'm still hungry, so I'll guess I'll have to get someth-thing on my own."

"I could make you something," he offered.

"But you can't cook!"

"...shhh,, don't tell anyone!"

She managed a grin. "Lips are sealed..."

"By my own?" Steven grabbed her and kissed her quickly.

"Mmm... Possibly..."

"Possibly?"

Mandy's grin grew wider. "You know I'm only m-messing around..."

Steven slid his arms around her waist. "Good."

"So. About dinner..."

"We should eat it..."

"It has to be made first..."

"Oh. Right."

"Which one of us is going to attempt it?"

"Well...considering your history with the cake..."

"Hey! You were th-the one who had trouble turning off a mixer, remember?"

Steven looked innocent.

"Face it. We're both horrid at it..."

Steven sighed, agreeing.

"So what're we going to do?"


"Do you have a microwave?" asked Steven sheepishly.

"'Course we do..."

"We could zap something."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Wonder what's in the freezer..."

"Well, only one way to find that out..." Mandy said, walking the few steps over to said freezer. She hauled open the door, and began to poke around inside.

"What's in there?" asked Steven curiously.

"Just about everything..." She answered, stepping aside so he could have a look.

"Ooo...LeanPockets!" Steven exclaimed.

"Ah yes... Dan is particularly fond of those... Likes to stock up on th-them."

"...Dan?"

"Step-brother."

"Ah. The one that isn't named like me."

Mandy smiled a little. "Yep. He's the youngest brother, Dan is. He's twenty."

"And Stephen is...how old?"

"Twenty... four, I think."

"Ah."

"Gallagher is the oldest... He's almost twenty-seven. Same age as Max would've been..."

"...I'm sorry about your brother, you know," Steven said for what probably was the hundredth time.

Mandy shrugged him off. "I've got to get over it." She continued to look around in the freezer, seeing if there was anything halfway appetising for her to eat.

"You can never get over death, you know," he said quietly.

"But I can't the spend th-the rest of my life in mourning... Even though there's days when I feel like that's... all I want to do."

"You're right," sighed Steven.

"So... See anything you want to eat?" she asked, desperate to get off the subject.

"Whatever you want is fine with me."

"Pizza," she said, blurting out the first thing she laid her eyes on. "There's a frozen one here that can be heated up..."

"Alright, sure," he agreed.

"it does have to go in the oven, but even I can m-manage that..."

"I should think so."

Said pizza was popped in the oven, and a short while later, was heated up and ready to eat.

"See...you can cook something," said Steven happily as Mandy pulled the food from the oven.

She gave a little bow. "Without burning or spilling it, either. Go me."

"Go you," he nodded.

"So where do you want to eat?"

"A table is nice."

"Well, there's several tables around here... Here, living room, my room, out on the balcony..."

"...you have a table in your room?"

"Yes..."

"Why?"

"So I could avoid eating in here."

"Makes sense," he nodded.

"Made it easier to avoid all th-the arguments, and all of mother's business people coming in and out... So, where do you want to eat?" She repeated her earlier question. "Pizza's getting cold..."

"Anywhere you want to, dear."

"You going to let m-me make all the decisions?"

"Yes." He grinned.

Mandy laughed. "You might be regretting that later on, but all right... M-my room, then."

"How can I regret my girlfriend suggesting we go to her room?" Steven waggled his eyebrows.

"Good point," Mandy replied, laughing again. "It's just habit, eating supper in there..."

"A habit you will give in to one more time."

"Th-then it's settled..." She picked up the tray their pizza was on - the food having been cooled down suffiently enough to consume - and headed out of the kitchen down the hall to her old room. "You m-mind grabbing a couple drinks out of the fridge?"

"No problem," he replied, opening the refrigerator and taking out two cans of soda. He followed the sound of her voice down the hallway.

Mandy balanced the tray in one hand, and opened the door to her room with the other, taking in a space she hadn't been in since the previous summer. Nothing had been touched, she noted with relief, stepping inside and placing the pizza down on the table she had in there.

Steven followed her in a few seconds later, looking around appreciatively.

"...What is it?" She asked, noticing the look on his face.

"I like it," he told her simply, handing her a soda.

"Thanks," she murmured, opening the can of drink and taking a few sips out of it. She then hauled over a couple of nearby chairs so they could sit and eat.

"Woo, pizza," said Steven enthusiastically as he sat down.

"Help yourself..." Mandy replied, taking a slice for herself.

Steven did so, watching hungrily as the cheese streched as he pulled off a slice.

Mandy grinned at she took a big bite, happily noting there was pepperoni on this pizza. "Mmm... Th-this is rather good..." she said, once swallowing.

"For a frozen pizza," he said, food in his mouth.

Bite, chew, swallow. "And for me m-managing to cook it..."

Steven raised his can to that.

Mandy grinned, quickly finishing off the rest of her slice.

"See...you can cook," said Steven, picking up another piece, "slightly."

"Yes... Just as long as there's specific directions written on how to cook someth-thing and there's virtually... no way for m-me to mess up..."

"You could mess up pizza," he pointed out, "but you didn't."

"Not this time, anyway," she corrected, starting in on her second slice.

Steven laughed, mouth full once more.

They continued to eat away, and it was halfway through her fourth piece of pizza that Mandy finally had to stop. "I think I'll bust if I eat anyth-thing else..." She murmured, placing a hand on her stomach.

Steven, now on his fifth piece, merely continued chewing.

She finished off what remained of her drink and waited for him to finish eating.

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