A/N: On the "Ask the Squishykins" tumblr, Twinings and I recently offered ourselves up for two full weeks of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to a thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em.
Prompt: Edward Nygma does something fatherly for Kitten
Notes: This takes place in th CATverse, sometime in Arc 7. I'll figure out the exact placement later. To find the CATverse story listing, hit freewebs dot com slash catverse. Yay!
Edward Nygma stood in the bakery section of what may well have been the dingiest grocery store in all of Gotham City in the most incognito street clothes he could possibly find. He stared blankly at the humming refrigerator case in front of him and tried very, very hard to focus on what was in front of his eyes.
Big? Little? Round? Square? Rectangular? With plastic figures or without?
He may have been one of the smartest men in the city—if not in the top hundred of the world—but even he didn't know the first thing about…this.
"May I help you, sir?"
Edward's head jerked up. The middle aged male clerk behind a bakery case to his left looked at him with kindly eyes.
"I…um…" He shuffled his feet a little. "I'm looking for a…a birthday cake?"
"Boy or girl?"
"I—" Edward wondered what that might have to do with it but answered anyway, "a girl."
"What's her favorite color?"
He brushed his hand through his hair, trying to combat his awkwardness. "I don't know."
The clerk seemed not to notice Edward's discomfort—or else he was doing his best to be kind. "Does she like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry?"
"I don't know." He thought for a moment. "Strawberry, maybe? Or maybe I mean vanilla. Or chocolate."
"Is she allergic to nuts?"
"I…" Edward hung his head. "I don't know that, either."
The clerk folded his arms on the bakery case and looked at Edward sympathetically. "Divorced, eh?"
"Something like that." The Riddler looked around, wishing very badly that there were some sort of birthday-cake-dispensery-machine instead of having to interact with a real live human being with eyes that were compassionate and knowing in ways he didn't understand.
"I've been there. How old is she?"
"Oh, that's rough," the clerk said with a nod. "But she's young yet, you'll have plenty of time to get to know her better."
Edward seemed unsure. "Will I?"
"Sure, the second she rebels against your ex, you're her best friend in the whole wide world." The clerk winked and stepped away from the case. "Tell you what, I've got a little cake back here that nobody ever picked up this afternoon—vanilla, sparkly purple frosting—that's just the right size for a two year old to smash her face into. You should take it."
"I can't do that, I'll pay for my own," Edward protested.
"Nah, we just chuck the cakes that don't get picked up by their deadline anyway." The clerk seemed to be trying to make life easier on him—save him from having to make too many decisions. "I'll even pipe her name onto it for you."
"No, really, I can't—"
The clerk was already moving behind the bakery case and turning his back to Edward as he surveyed the icing rack. "Pick a color."
"You got it." Grabbing an icing tube, he disappeared from sight for a second and came back with a small round lavendar cake. "What's her name?"
"Actually…" Edward hesitated "Could you…maybe…put…a…um…"
"A question mark?" The clerk's eyebrows rose over the eyes he kept fixed on Edward's.
Not being one of the rogues who carried any kind of debilitating toxin or even any weapons when he was on the street, Edward broke out in a cold sweat. Sure, he was brilliant, cool, confident and calculating when he had a plan, but…not so much when he didn't. "I don't know what you're taking about."
With a sweep of his hands, the clerk piped the green incing on top of the glittery purple and then handed the cake to Edward. "Of course you don't."
Since he didn't know what else to do, Edward took the cake. "Thank you."
As it turned out, purple was Kitten's favorite color, and vanilla her favorite flavor, so the cake—what little of it that she ate and didn't throw excitedly—was a huge success.
Query never told Edward that her brother worked at a bakery, Quiz kept quiet about why she chose to drive him to that particular grocery store, and neither Captain, Al nor Techie let on that they'd leaked any information about Kitten's favorite kind of cake to his henches.
There were some things better kept secret amongst henchgirls.