Characters: Meriel, Nosy, Ianto.
Summary: Meriel is hungry and her Taddy is busy on the phone; what’s a girl to do but get her own snack? And of course she’ll have to share it with her bestest friend in the whole world.
Word Count: 1342
Written For: Challenge 199: Divide at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Meriel knew she shouldn’t, she wasn’t supposed to have snacks so close to dinnertime, but she’d had a very busy day at school, her after-school snack had been forever ago, she was hungry, and daddy wouldn’t be home for almost a whole hour. Taddy hadn’t even started preparing dinner yet; he was on the phone talking to someone, and he didn’t sound happy or she would have interrupted him to ask if it was okay for her to have a chocolate biscuit or something. As it was, she thought it would probably be best if she kept out of his way, just until he finished his phone call.
The hungry hole in her tummy wasn’t going away though, so she wandered into the kitchen to see what sort of snack she could get for herself. She thought of chocolate biscuits, they were so yummy, or maybe one of the chocolate chip muffins in the cupboard, but the packet hadn’t been opened yet and she didn’t want to get into trouble. The last time she’d tried to open a packet like that the cakes had gone all over the floor and Taddy had been very cross.
Suddenly she had a thought; maybe if she had something healthy for her snack Taddy wouldn’t mind as much that she hadn’t asked him first. Climbing onto one of the chairs at the breakfast bar, she reached for the fruit bowl and studied the contents, quickly deciding on a big orange; Taddy didn’t see because he had his back to her and was looking out the French windows. Orange in hand, Meriel hurried through the nearest of the archways leading to the back of the flat and went to her room, where her bestest friend Nosy was waiting for her.
The Fluff looked at the orange in Meriel’s hand and hummed questioningly.
“I know I’m not supposed to, but Taddy’s busy and I’m so hungry I’ve just got to eat something, and Taddy says oranges are good, they’re full of vittymins, whatever they are.” Placing the orange on the carpet, Meriel rolled it about beneath her hand the way her daddy had shown her to loosen the skin before starting to peel it, carefully dropping the bits of peel in her rubbish bin. “Besides, I’m not going to eat all of it by myself. We can share it. You like oranges too don’t you?”
Nosy hummed agreement; oranges were very tasty.
Fetching a couple of plates from her dolls’ tea set, Meriel set them on the floor side by side and started to divide the orange into segments, sharing them between the two small plastic plates.
“One for you and one for me, two for you and two for me…” Meriel was good with her numbers; she’d already learned to count up to a hundred by the time she started school. She only needed to count up to seven this time though; seven segments of orange each, plus one left over, which she carefully tore in half, her fingers getting sticky with the juice. After putting one half on Nosy’s plate the popped the other bit in her mouth and licked her fingers clean. “Oooh, it’s very juicy, isn’t it?”
Delicately picking up a segment in its mouth, Nosy chewed appreciatively, humming approval.
“I like fruits,” Meriel said, picking up another segment. “Specially oranges.” She paused in thought as she ate the segment. “And plums, and strawberries, and mangoes, and cherries…” Trailing off, she plucked up another segment. “I think I like all kinds of fruits. Well, except for figs, and olives, and that smelly thing Daddy brought home once. That made the whole flat stink; it was awful! I don’t think I’d want to eat anything that smelled that bad.”
Nosy wrinkled its snout, remembering, and Meriel smiled sympathetically. Uncle Owen said Fluffs had a much better sense of smell than human people did, maybe even better than dogs. She knew some dogs were really clever at sniffing out all kinds of things; they were specially trained to do it, but nasty smells must be even nastier for anyone with a nose that good.
Meriel was just about to eat her last orange segment when a voice came from the doorway.
“I thought I could smell oranges. What’s going on here?” Taddy was standing there, leaning against the doorframe. “Eating before dinner?”
“I’m sorry, Taddy.” Meriel ducked her head, feeling guilty. “I was just reeeeally hungry, and it’s such a long time until dinner, and I was going to ask, but you were on the phone. I only ate half; I shared it with Nosy.”
“So I see,” Taddy said, looking at the two plates.
“Are you mad at me?” Meriel gave her Taddy her best pleading look.
“I should be, but you were sensible, you didn’t stuff yourself with biscuits and sweets, and I wasn’t available to ask. Anyway, it’s probably just as well, dinner might be a bit late tonight, I had to forward that phone call to Daddy to deal with. The new Prime Minister is an ass…” Taddy bit his lip. “Let’s pretend I didn’t say that last bit.”
Meriel giggled. “Okay. Can I finish my orange?” She held up the last segment.
“Yes, and I’ll get you a glass of milk in a minute; that should keep you going until Daddy gets home for dinner.” Taddy came and sat on the floor with Meriel and Nosy. “How many segments did you have each?”
“Seven and a half,” Meriel said promptly. “I shared them out but then there was one left over so we had half each.”
Taddy nodded. “Good girl. So how many segments were there altogether?”
It was a game Taddy liked to play, and Meriel knew it was helping her to understand the stuff she was learning in school.
“Um…” Meriel thought hard. “That’s seven, plus another seven, plus one. Let me see…” Meriel started to count on her fingers then stopped, realising she didn’t need to do that anymore, she just had to remember her times tables Taddy had been teaching her. “One seven is seven, two sevens are… fourteen?”
“That’s right.” Taddy smiled at her.
“And another one makes fifteen!”
“Very good. So what’s fifteen divided by two?”
Meriel laughed; that was a trick question because she already knew the answer. “Seven and a half, of course!”
“Exactly right! You are a very clever girl.”
“Daddy says I get that from you.”
Taddy laughed. “Well, Daddy is quite smart too, he just pretends he isn’t so people don’t bother asking him hard questions.”
“It is a bit, but it means he understands a lot more than people think he does. Sometimes that’s useful at work, because it means people underestimate him.”
Meriel didn’t understand what that meant, she was only five after all, but if Taddy said it then it must be true. Taddy was always right and he knew everything. Daddy said so.
“Come on, how about I get you your milk and then you can help me decide what to make for dinner.”
“Okay.” Meriel jumped up then frowned. “I have to wash my hands first; it was a very juicy orange and my fingers are all sticky.”
“You do that and I’ll pour your milk. I’ll be in the kitchen.” Taddy got to his feet, picking up the two empty plates. “I’ll take these for washing, shall I?”
“Yes please, Taddy!”
Ianto smiled as he left his daughter’s bedroom, once again reminded why he and Jack had decided to divide their work and home duties equally, each of them alternating, going to the Hub one day and staying home the next. It meant that they both got an equal share of the stresses of work and the joys of raising their daughter. The PM’s phone call had been an unwelcome and unwanted intrusion into his day at home but already his annoyance over it had evaporated thanks to Meriel. Surely being a parent was the most rewarding job in the world.