Summary: A year or so after the games. A different look at the
situation through someone else's eyes. We all know how kids can say
something so ironic but straight and oh so innocently.
Jenny Thornton let her breath out in a whooshing sound and leaned back against the kitchen counter, wiping a strand of blonde hair from her sweaty forehead. She glanced around, pine green gaze slowly surveying the damage. The savoury sweet scent of pork Chow Mein filled the small kitchen. Jenny pulled off the thick strawberry-print oven mitts as she turned away from the steamy hot cake she'd just taken out of the oven and strolled across to the wash basin.
The expression on her face was that of someone lost deep in thought.
From outside the kitchen window, a pair of china blue eyes watched her curiously from a swing in the yard next door; watched her expertly clean the messy kitchen counters and mop up the dirty floor. The blue eyes narrowed suspiciously and the little girl stuck out her pink sneakers out to bring the swing to a jerky halt.
She got off the swing and jumped over the fence separating her home from the Thornton's. She'd done it plenty times before when Joey invited her over for a swim. Treading onto the familiar territory, the seven year old girl crept closer to the house. She peeked through the kitchen window just as she heard a doorbell ring and Jenny rushed to answer it. The child quietly opened the back door and heard voices as Jenny greeted whomever was at the door.
"…perfect timing. Are you guys hungry? When do you think we should dish up?" Jenny's voice.
"Anytime is a good time." Michael Cohen's voice.
The child froze when a tall girl with skin as rich as coffee, and another girl with a copper halo stepped into the kitchen with Jenny. Jenny paused, surprised.
"Kaylen, what are you doing here? Joey's not home." Jenny looked slightly bewildered.
"Oh, that's okay." The girl said, stunned, running her hands through her short hair.
Jenny blinked at the child, confused, but Michael caught her attention when he dug in to the meal prepared and started dishing up for himself.
Kaylen stepped into the lounge, glancing over her shoulder nervously at the older kids. Summer Parker-Pearson was sitting cosily on one of the sofas, smiling warmly at Zach sitting beside her.
Kaylen greeted them with a faint smile when they looked at her curiously. She went to sit down on one of the footstools and wringing her hands, she watched the figure from the corner of her eye. She'd wondered where he was today. She hadn't seen him in the kitchen or outside, or anywhere for that matter – which she found quite weird. Now he was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, arms folded across his chest as he watched the people dishing up.
Kaylen had seen him every day since they moved in next door a few months ago. She'd never talked to him before, mainly out of fear. Right now he looked happy. A small smile of contentment on his lips, those eyes so soft and warm.
The doorbell rang again just as Jenny placed two plates on the coffee table. She straightened up, flashed a thankful smile when Zach offered to get the door. A few moments later, Tom Locke stepped into the room. Tall, proud and strong, a slight air of arrogance hung about him. Kaylen thought it was his arrogance that was the reason for him and Jenny only being close friends, even if he was a really nice and funny guy.
The boy was still standing in the doorway of the kitchen, now leaning languidly against the wall. One hand was shoved deep into a tight jeans pocket, the other rubbing the back of his neck in a small gesture of discomfort.
His frost white hair and the white outfit he had on - white breeches and a plain white T-shirt - contrasted immensely with his vibrant electric blue eyes, made them stand out and seem brighter somehow.
The smile he'd had on his lips before was gone, and he watched them somewhat moodily. A dark shadow fell across his beautifully chiselled features and seemed to soak into his eyes, making them darker every passing moment.
Kaylen watched him stiffen as Tom gave Jenny a peck on the cheek.
"Thank you, Th… Jenny. This is really a surprise, I didn't expect it at all." Tom was saying, smiling.
"Good." Jenny said, giving him a look. "That was the point."
The boy seemed poised, as if ready to pounce. Kaylen thought she could almost hear a low growl from the boy's throat. Then he straightened up, dropped his hands to his sides and stormed out of the kitchen. Kaylen braced herself a little, and heard the kitchen door slam angrily a moment later. Everyone else seemed to get a bigger fright than she.
"What was that?" Summer asked, eyes wide.
"I gotta get going." Kaylen got up, paused in the doorway to the kitchen. "Oh, happy birthday, Tom."
"Thanks, Kay." Tom looked at her, flashing a small smile.
Kaylen left the kitchen and saw the boy leaning against a tree outside, looking through the window from a distance. There was a look on his face that seemed more human now – a look she saw him wear on a regular basis. Kaylen had seen it plenty of times - Tom looked at Jenny like that, too.
Slipping her hands into her pockets, Kaylen struck up a casual pose and strolled right up to him. She leaned against the tree beside him. He didn't seem to take any notice of her at first. Not until she spoke.
"If you like her, you should tell her." Kaylen said, and looked innocently back up at his stunned gaze. "I can tell you really like her. Why don't you talk to her?"
The boy didn't answer. He merely stood, looking back at her blankly.
"You shouldn't be afraid. She's a nice person." Kaylen said comfortingly, looking at him sideways.
The boy looked away, narrowing those exotic eyes at the house.
"I know you don't like Tom. I've seen how you look at him. You can't stand to stay in the house when he's here. You shouldn't worry about him, though. Him and Jenny are long gone history."
For a moment, Kaylen thought the apparition was going to melt into the shadows of the tree. She reached up, afraid but determined, and grabbed his sleeve. His gaze shot to her and was sharply glaring at her now.
"If you stay in the shadows you'll never get her, you know." Kaylen said, looking up at him evenly.
The boy pulled free from her grasp, a look of complete bewilderment on his perfectly sculpted face. Kaylen smiled up at him sweetly, then turned and skipped to the fence. She jumped over, strolled to the swing and sat down again.