Chapter 1: sugar & surprises
The soft thrumming sound of rain falling against the sidewalk and shop window was a sort of peaceful noise that filled the open air. It was well past an acceptable time for any normal person to awake. The last time Phil had checked the clock was sometime just after the clock hit midnight and since then it's been a good hour or so.
Despite the fact that the entire day had been dreary and cold and windy and without a lick of sunlight, he couldn't find it in him to care. Maybe it was the sleepless high or the warm, sweet smell of baking desserts that swirled around in the air. Maybe it was that he hadn't been this happy in so many years.
He worked hard, earned every single penny. Even the three years he spent being so frugal and the loan he got from his dad. It had all been worth it in the end because he's happy and living his dream. Slaving away for hours while he bakes raspberry cheesecake, lemon squares, and a million different types of cookies. He does it every day, over and over. And he's happy.
“Ow, ow!” He cursed under his breath, bouncing the hot pan in his hands trying not to burn himself any more than he already had. He set the pan down as gently as he could with bumbling hands and fanned over the sugar cookies for a second. He ignored the urge to snatch one of the cooling tray because he didn't fancy burning himself again.
He let the cookies begin to cool as he set out a few other things. He only had a few hours to make two dozens of red velvet cookies, peanut butter brownies, and another set of white chocolate chip cookies (and that's certainly not because he snacked on all the ones he already made). He still needed to get at least an hour of sleep because if he didn't he'd spend the entire family reunion running of sugary coffee and energy drinks that did nothing to sustain him.
A rattling sound at the front door startled him from the eggs he was grabbing and he paused for a second to listen closely. He could hear a soft whining sound and then the rattling sound again. What on earth? Phil grabbed the baseball Lucy had jokingly given him to “ward off any cookie thieves” and left the kitchen to see who was out there.
Outside was a tall man frantically pulling at the door handle in hopes of it opening. Phil couldn't seem much of him save for a bit of dark hair curling on his forehead and his bare feet, a dark colored sheet stuck his wet body for the most part. His face was covered and all Phil could see was milky skin and raindrops falling from his chin.
He jumped back at the site of Phil. He could see now that it was no man at all but a young boy with pale cheeks who paused up as he looked Phil in the eyes. Like a deer in the sight of a predator he had big brown eyes with a fearful look in his eyes and he seemed to shake like he had been out in the rain for far too long and it was starting to catch up with him.
Before he could get a word out or even look at the boy for another second the boy shot off into a random direction. Phil rushed over to the door and unlocked it before peaking his head out.
The rain continued, harder now, and he shivered as a cold wind blew over him. Outside of his bakery a few streetlights lit up the street, and the broken one two lights down flickered like it always did. The burger joint was closed just as it always was past ten. The arts & craft store next to his shop, the little flower shop opposite of him, all closed and the lights off because it well into the night and no one should be around. If it weren't for his racing heart, the memory of the boy's face stuck in his head, and the little navy sheet soaking in a small puddle outside his door he'd think he had imagined what he just saw.
“Hey!” He yelled out, “Hey, come back!”
He was pretty sure the kid was homeless (if the bare feet and what seemed like ratty clothes were anything to go by) and he probably didn't even have anything to keep him warm in the freezing weather now that Phil had scared him into dropping his blanket.
Phil sighed, leaning down and picking up the little thing. It was thin and dripping wet as he squeezed water out of it. He bundled the sheet up and brought it inside. He found himself slipping on his jacket without thinking and grabbed an old jacket no one ever claimed from the 'lost & found' basket. He thought the boy would probably be very hungry so he slipped a few different cookies and a few other small desserts into a little baggie.
He braced for the cold, wet weather as he turned towards the direction the boy had run off too. With a soggy sheet, a large jacket, and a few warm treats he wandered up the street looking around and calling out for the boy.
He looked into a small alley just in between the coffee shop that he always went to and a small little store. He walked into it despite that he couldn't really see. “Are you in here?” He called out uncertainly. A small bit of trash fell from around a dumpster and he sighed in relief once he walked over to it and seen the boy curled up in the corner, shaking and watching him.
“Hey,” He whispered softly, pushing away the gross bags of trash that the boy had around him, “I won't hurt you, I promise. Here, you left this.” He offered the sheet back to the boy who snatched the thing up and attempted to wrap the damp sheet around himself.
“No, no. Don't do that, it's wet and dirty.” He said pulling the thing away from the boy gently. He pushed it off till it fell to the floor and instead held the jacket up to show the boy it “Use this, okay? It'll keep you warm. C'mere I'll help you put it on.”
The boy didn't speak instead he glanced up at him with big confused eyes but pushed himself closer to Phil anyway, offering up his arms for Phil to put the jacket on him. Phil noticed it then – the furry little ears on top of his head. His ears were dark in color and looked matted from the rain and not being cleaned. His ears were pushed back like he was scared, and one twitched a little every few seconds.
“Oh,” He muttered softly, “You're a little Neko, huh?” The boy nodded a little and the long tail Phil had just noticed curled around his waist selfconsciously. “What's your name, kitty?” He asked as gently and nicely as he could, pulling out the sweets from his pockets.
“Dan...” He whispered softly, voice a little deeper than Phil thought it would be. He glanced down to get a better look at Dan. He didn't seem quite as young as Phil originally thought, maybe he was around sixteen or so.
Dan's eyes fixated on the small bag and Phil smiled as Dan looked up at Phil with a hopeful expression. “Here, you want something to eat? You choose anything you like.” Phil said as he unzipped the bag and put it into Dan's hands.
Dan munched straight through two cookies and moved onto a cake pop, happily eating the sweets. His tail, a dark brown one with a furry white tip, swayed and his ears perked up as he practically inhaled the goodies.
“Do you like them? I made them myself.” He laughed a little as Dan nodded vigorously, chocolate smeared on his cheek. Phil leaned over and Dan paused his snacking to watch him wearily as he swiped the chocolate from Dan's cheek and wiped it on his apron.
“I can bring you more if you want.” Phil suggested. He didn't think he'd mind wasting his resources on someone who was as sweet looking as the little kitten before him.
Dan seemed to think about what he said for a second, hands wrapped around a bit of banana bread and mouth full of cake. He made a soft sound, a low purring sound that caught Phil off guard as he pushed his face into Phil's chest, rubbing his ears against him in a seemingly happy manner.
Phil laughed happily, fingers rubbing Dan's cold ears and flicking his ear back just to see it perk back up. “So that's a yes?”
Chapter 2: tacos
Phil has a question for Dan.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Lucy pushed Dan's hands from the glass of the cake display. “Dan,” She groaned, “I just cleaned that.” She glared at Phil when a giggle escaped his lips at the sight of Dan sticking his tongue out at her, tiny fangs peeking out mischievously.
It had been a month since he found Dan and he couldn't say he regretted chasing after the boy (“I'm not a little boy! I'm eighteen!” Dan had yelled, watchful eyes locked on his like he would pounce if Phil tried to disagree when Phil had called him 'boy' for the third time in a day).
It felt a little silly because he didn't really know too much about Dan – just his name and his age and that he had only been in that little alley for a few days, where he had been or who he was with before that Phil wasn't sure. He still never talked about his family or his owner (Phil was sure he had an owner, a good one if how he was too smart for his own good was anything to go by).
Mostly, Dan would show up just after the sun would rise and slip into the shop to help with baking and try out 'new goodies' Phil would make (and if the soul purpose of making treats he didn't sell was to watch the way Dan's eyes lit up and he tail would sway behind him as his ears perked up then, well, that was his secret). Lucy seemed to enjoy the playful company Dan brought with him and Phil was happy to see Dan smiling. By the time Phil was ready to lock up and head home Dan would disappear, only to return the next day.
“Alright, I think I've cleaned everything so I'm gonna head home now.” Lucy said, holding her bag and grabbing the extra pair of keys so that she could open up tomorrow. Dan mumbled something but the brownie he was gobbling up muffled the sounds so he offered up a wave.
“See you tomorrow! Tell the family I said hello.” Phil told her. Lucy was married to an old friend of his from college, Bryce, and they had a newborn, Rowan, and a young Neko whose name Phil didn't remember.
She smiled at him and nodded, “I will, you'll see them soon. Bye guys, be safe!”
Once she left a comfortable silence filled the air. Phil would be ready to head home soon but he was waiting for a batch of snickerdoodles that he was baking for Dan to be finished. He told Dan to wait around for a little while longer and they took turns playing Crossy Roads on Phil's phone till the timer dinged.
Dan jumped up before Phil could even get out of his seat and pulled him into the kitchen quickly, “Let's eat the cookies now.” Dan suggested as he plopped down onto a stool and watched Phil pull out the cookies from the oven.
“First off, I told you before that you have to let cookies cool or you'll burn your tongue,” Phil told him, despite the words he spoke he used a small napkin to pick up one of the snickerdoodles and blew on it gently for a few seconds. “Besides these are for you if you get hungry when I'm not around, if you eat them all now what will you have?”
Dan pouted, “But if I can't eat them with you if I save them.”
Phil smiled at him and offered up the cookie which Dan gladly took. “We do that all the time, kitten.”
Dan shrugged and held the napkin as he snapped the cookie in half. “Not enough times,” Dan said and pulled one-half of the cookie from the napkin and pushed it towards Phil's lips, “Eat.” Phil rolled his eyes even as a smile formed on his lips and bit into the warm treat, taking it from Dan's hand.
“I've been thinking about something.” He said and watched Dan's reaction. Dan made a curious sound and looked up at him, waiting for him to continue. “You probably don't eat much besides the sweets I make you and the snacks Lucy brings you, right?” He asked and Dan nodded, “Well that's no good, you can't live off sweets all the time so I was thinking that I should bring you some stuff that I make myself. Like lasagna and pizza and tacos. What do you think?”
Dan's ear twitched for a second and he began to nod, “I like tacos.” And of course he only heard what he wanted to hear. Phil laughed and nodded, happy that he could feed Dan something other than sugary sweets 24/7.
“I'm making burritos tonight and I'll bring you a few but I'll make tacos next time, alright? And you can come over and help me make them if you want.” Phil suggested, cringing at himself once he realized what he had just said. He didn't want to scare Dan off and being a weirdo and inviting him into his house was probably not the best way to achieve that.
“I'd love too!” Dan exclaimed and Phil was caught off guard by Dan's tail as it curled around his leg and Dan smiled up at him as he shuffled closer like he couldn't be happier. “Can we have sour cream on the tacos? It's been forever since I've eaten it.”
Phil nodded and smiled down at the slightly shorter boy, “Anything you want.”
as always, let me know if you liked it! this one was really short but I'll have something else up soon so don't worry :)