A/N: Ah, and back to the world of multi-chapters I am~ This one can kind of be taken as a sequel to my other story "Influence (Influent)", though granted only loosely. Some of the themes that this story will address pick up from that fic, but it isn't necessary to read it in order to understand them. Anyways, I was inspired for this little thing by the curiosity that was Van and Angie at Brownie Ranch. None of the other children in ToT hang out together, so I immediately assumed that these two must be an item because they did. Thus, the idea for this fanfic was born. It's my second attempt at handling the people of Waffle Town, so I hope their characterization doesn't disappoint! Otherwise, enjoy the first chapter of this series and hold its fluffiness close, you'll be missing the idyllic nature of it very soon.
"Van, you should have a fruit with that."
His small nose peeked over the book he was reading. With toast in one hand and text in the other, the boy looked up at his mother, with her quick glance at his food of choice making him quickly place the offending bread back on the table.
"It isn't healthy to only just have that in the morning. You know that."
"Yes mother," his hand quickly went out to grab the orange she'd put on the table.
The room was as immaculate as ever, its expanse clean to the point of sterility. Van knew that his father preferred it this way, as the home environment mirrored the workplace, but on this morning the boy took no comfort in the reminder. For whatever reason, the light that reflected off the polished counters, and the cleanliness, made him feel cold and detached.
"Anissa, don't smother him," his father's curt voice floated from his desk in the other room. "He should learn to deal with the consequences. If he ends up ill, he should be smart enough to put two and two together."
His mother huffed, moving back to her spot on the other side of the table, straightening a crooked place mat as she went. "He's only a child Jin; he needs a role-model. We're his parents we can't just ignore these thi-"
Now was the time to opt out of the world around him it seemed. With Anissa in full nagging mode, he buried himself back in his book and sat back in his chair, fruit sitting in hand. He'd eat it later if need be, but Professor Gill didn't permit snacks in class and Van's sticky fingers wouldn't be appreciated.
Flicking to the next page, the young boy focused intently on the writing to avoid the escalating volume of his parents petty bickering. He rotated the orange ball slightly.
Maybe he could share the treat with Angie later.
Sewing materials were strewn across nearly every surface of their home, with thread and designs waiting patiently to be taken up again amidst the fray. Books on fashion were stacked to either side of Angie as she sat down for breakfast, though she paid them no mind as she dug into her sandwich with a smile.
"Hey Angie, did you see the new designs that Daddy made for this fashion magazine?"
Her father stood beside her, eyes bright and eager. The early morning didn't cut into his energy at all. He was nearly jumping in place, he was that excited.
'No…Mommy said that you'd show me," she responded with a soft voice, a strong smile breaking through to show her delight. "…are they some of your best Daddy?"
Julius nearly squealed. "Of course!" Her father grabbed his seat, quickly placing it beside her and she eagerly pushed back her breakfast plate so he could spread the magazine. The room was just light enough to see the glossy pages, the morning light filtering in lazily through their thick curtains. He placed a dainty finger on the page closest to her.
"It's for the Alice in Fashion Land fall collection Angel. The CEO of that company really likes a spiffy and sharp look, so I worked really hard on trying to make that come across in some of the colors and designs," he spread his hands over the different men's and women's clothing, pointing to individual details which he thought were interesting. "What do you think sweetie?"
"…They're so pretty…" she said, her voice filled with awe. The black piping of the grey jacket and the bold, white A on its buttons popped out at her. She looked at the man beside her, eyes still wide after taking everything in. "Will you teach me how to make them?"
His expression softened and he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Of course Angel. They'll be a little difficult, even at your level, but I'm sure with enough practice you'll be making them even better than I am!"
Her smile grew widely at that and her eyes sparkled. She quickly wrapped her arms around her father's neck, leaning her smaller body into his much larger one as she giggled in delight.
"Oh? Did I miss something important?" Two different sets of purple hair swiveled to the source of the new voice. Two separate smiles formed at the sight of Candace, fully dressed and ready for the day, and quickly, different looks of happiness took over the father and daughter's features.
"Is it time to go to school?"
"…not yet, but we should probably leave soon," her mother moved over to kiss Angie on the crown of her head. "Finish your breakfast first." The older woman's blue eyes drifted to the magazine placed in front of her daughter. The little girl could see how impressed Candace was with her husband's designs, as she let blue orbs roam over the clothes that adorned the models on the page. "So your Daddy showed you what he's been working on?"
Angie nodded and offered another smile to her mother. She took Candace's hand in hers, gently pulling her mother between her father and herself.
"Isn't it pretty?"
A loving look entered Candace's eyes as she traced one of the more complex designs, finger lingering on the flourishes that adorned the jacket.
"Thanks Candi," Julius leant a bit out of his chair to kiss his wife's cheek. Angie saw the smile that lifted the corner of her mother's face freeze, her features hardening. She tilted her head slightly in confusion. Her mother normally loved when her father kissed her.
Candace quickly pulled back from the table, not that Angie's father paid attention to the fact. He just beamed at his wife, gazing at her with what Angie understood as all the love in the world.
"Finish up quickly sweetie; you don't want to make Mommy worry about having to get you to school on time," Her father pushed himself to his feet, forcing two sets of blue eyes upon him. "I'm off to work, so have a good day okay pumpkin?"
"Okay," she replied softly in return, moving quickly to comply with his request. Trying to finish her food as quickly as possible without making a mess, she took a second to look at her father with pleading eyes. "Please be home early today?"
"He'll be home before dinner Angie," her mother walked up to the two, Angie's backpack in hand. "We'll still get to see Aunt Luna tonight, don't worry." A content smile passed over her lips. "I'm sure she's just as excited as you, so even if we're a few minutes late, her and great-gran won't mind waiting."
"Good," her father nodded his agreement, still not moving from his place beside the table. "Have a good day then Daddy." He beamed, placing another kiss on her head and went to say good-bye to her mother. Having started on their usual good-bye routine, Angie watched the two interact happily. It was always a good day when she got to see her parents act lovey-dovey. It made her feel all warm and loved.
A few minutes later, with emptied plate put away and her father now gone, Angie and her mother finally started on their way toward town hall.
"Are you doing anything after school today?"
Angie gripped her mother's hand tightly as they crossed the gate into town, the area always made her self-conscious. A cool spring breeze left her purple locks tussled. "I'm going to Brownie Ranch with Van after school."
"Are you?" Candace cooed softly at her daughter. "Are you going to see the animals?"
"Nope, we're going to the hill," as they crested the steps to the town square, Angie looked up at her mother with a confused look. "Should we go see the animals?"
"You can do whatever you want," Candace let go of the small hand within her grasp, placing it on the smaller girl's head instead. "Just have fun with Van. Tell me about it when you get home?"
Angie nodded animatedly, before quickly adjusting the straps of her knapsack. Candace stroked her hair once before patting her back quickly, signaling that she should probably be on her way. Giving her mother a quick hug, she ran toward the double-oak doors.
Another school day had begun, and she couldn't wait to see what adventures her and her friends would have.
Professor Gill had let them out for the day, saying that he'd felt satisfied with the material they'd covered and that nearly everyone had been 'perceptive and diligent' (whatever that meant) enough to grasp. He'd looked pointedly at Dakota and Matt while saying it too, but Angie wasn't entirely sure what that meant. Maybe Dakota and Matt were just so smart, that they were ahead of everyone else? She'd have to discuss it with Van soon.
She hurried along the path that led towards Allan's tree, her small shoes slapping against the rough dirt of the trodden path. As she rounded the bend to Brownie Ranch's barn, a shock of dark black hair entered her line of vision.
"Van!"Angie called, attempting to gain the black-haired boy's attention from the small distance that separated them. The little girl gave herself a moment to study her friend, as she waited for a response, jogging the remaining distance.
He had his hands wrapped around another book, this one about birds, and he was seated at the top of the hill. He gave a small wave at her approach, barely looking up to greet her as she plopped down in front of him. He couldn't pull himself away from the printed words before him, too drawn into the world of letters and figures to be distracted by reality. Angie waited by his side, used to her friend's focus, twisting the short strands of grass around her.
Still without looking up, Van pulled an object from his bag, holding it out for Angie's inspection. She plucked it from his hands slowly, timid but curious about the hidden contents.
"I thought you'd like it," he muttered, as she un-wrapped the napkin around it. She saw him fidget out of the corner of her eye, making her eyebrow twitch with the need to raise a brow. He wasn't usually shy about sharing things with her.
The sight of the orange fruit made a high pitch squeal escape into the quiet of Brownie Ranch, echoing in the crispness of the spring air. Excitement practically oozed from the girl, she being unable to take her eyes off the delightful little ball. She took a second to admire the luxury, which was an uncommon enough sight within her own home.
"I love oranges!" Angie said happily, turning bright, sparkling eyes on the boy beside her. "How did you get a hold one?"
"Dad happened to pick up some in city," Van mumbled, turning over another page. "Mom told me to bring a fruit this morning."
"So you…you thought you'd bring one and share it with me?" She smiled, cradling the ball within her two palms.
Brown eyes finally flitted up to gaze over at their friend. A barely perceptible smile raised a corner of his lips. He gave a curt nod.
"Thank you Van," the young girl leaned forward, and with a soft smile, encircled her friend in her arms, squeezing him tightly. "It was nice of you to think of me."
The boy cleared his throat slightly, setting his book off to the side. "Y-you're welcome," He gave a slight shrug. "It isn't anything special really."
"Still, it was nice that you did something like that."
He hummed in agreement, which Angie took that as a sign to detangle herself. She had his full attention now, so the fun could finally begin.
"So what kind of game are we going to play today?"
They played on until the late hours of the afternoon, but that wasn't that uncommon either.