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Ana ([personal profile] ana) wrote2014-03-03 01:55 am
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Couers de la Vivants (2/14/2008)

Title: Couers de la Vivants
Canon: Pushing Daisies
Pairing: Ned/Chuck

The year was two thousand and eight, the month was February, the day was the fourteenth, and the hour was precisely seven twenty three in the am. The weather was best described as cold but sunny, with a nip in the air carried on the wind. The air in the flowershop was light and sweet, and the Piemaker, it seemed, was hopelessly out of his depth.

Ned had left home before Chuck had awakened, wanting to beat what would surely be an enormous crowd at the local flowershop. He could not recall a Valentine's when he actually had a valentine; thus despite the daily barrage of ads for flowers and chocolates, he was uncertain as to what was truly appropriate. Certainly, the Piemaker thought to himself, all relationships were not the same, just as all women were not the same, and they would all like different things. His relationship which Chuck, after all, was anything but conventional. Roses and a Russel Stover's heart shaped box, he thought, just wouldn't do.

"What sort of a girl?"

Alive again. The answer floated on the surface of the Piemaker's mind, unspoken and only partially bidden. "Ahhh... she's. Chuck."

The storekeeper, to her credit, only smiled. "So what sort of boy?"

"What? No! No, no, Chuck is a girl. She's just... Chuck." The Piemaker spluttered, hands splaying helplessly in the air before him. "She's. Unique."

"Well... what colors does she like?"

"Colors?"

"Not every Valentine's bouquet has to be red roses. Tell me about her."

The Piemaker became ever more lost and confused as the florist spoke, and found himself answering in short, tense responses. He shifted his weight back and forth, his eyes darting to the clock on the wall every few moments. The story of their reunion was truncated to, 'a wake back home,' their relationship described in terms of living arrangements. 'With me.' Chuck was described as simply Chuck, as vibrant and full of life and spirit and happiness that spread to the Piemaker's smile as he talked about her. He left the flowershop with a modest bouquet of lilies and tulips and blue delphinium, a raucous assortment of color and shape. The modest size troubled him briefly on the way home, until the moment he stepped into his apartment and heard Chuck bustling about in the kitchen. It turned out that his modest bouquet was just the right size to hide behind his back.

"Chuck! Good morning! You're up early."

"So are you. Where'd you go, anyway?"

"I-- Digby ran out of food!"

"Oh? Where is it?"

"The store was out of food, too. I should go check another store. Before we open the Pie Hole. I'll be right back." The Piemaker sidestepped back towards the door.

"...Ned?"

"Yes?"

"Your eye is twitching."

"Is it? I'm just worried. About the dog food. You know he's particular and I really should hurry."

"Alright. I'll see you at the Pie Hole."

"At the Pie Hole."

"Unless you changed the name, and then I'll see you at the pie-shop-with-a-name-I-don't-know." Chuck smiled, and in that instant her beauty had never been more apparent to the Piemaker, even as she stood there in his ratty old bathrobe, curlers in her hair and cream on her cheeks.

"No. It's just the same."

His alive-again not-quite-girlfriend turned back to the toaster, and Ned shuffled back towards the door and into the hall, staring down at the flowers in his hand. Surely, there was a vase in the Pie Hole. He remembered Olive putting out flowers, some days. With a determined tilt of his chin, the Piemaker headed down the stairs and into his pie shop.

It was just as the Piemaker was placing the last lattice strip on a five and a half berry pie that Chuck entered the kitchen of the Pie Hole, her hair in bouncy curls and her feet in shiny red heels. Her eyes seemed drawn somehow to the vase of clumsily arranged lilies and tulips and blue delphinium -- which made sense, as they were sitting between the flour and powdered sugar. "What's with the flowers?"

"They're your flowers."

"I didn't know I had flowers. My bees have flowers... are they flowers for my bees? I don't think they'll pot very well."

"Chuck, it's Valentine's day."

"I know. I just had to stall while I got the plastic wrap." Indeed, stretched between Chuck's delicate fingers were two layers of plastic wrap from the industrial box the Piemaker kept easily accessible, under the countertop.

As she leaned forward, Ned clasped his hands firmly behind his back.

"I guess it's sort of nice you got me something. I made you something." Chuck's smile was as white and red as the pattern of her dress. Every time she wore that particular frock, Ned found himself staring, tracing the silhouettes of flowers as they wound their way down Chuck's skirt. He wondered how she kept the white of it so white, when the red of it was so red. He wondered how her lips remained so red, when her lipstick was smeared across the thin sheet of plastic that had served as a barrier between them only moments before. "----Ned?"

"Huh?"

"Where'd you go?"

"Flowers."

"You gave me those already."

"Right. I did. Well, I was just thinking about... the other flowers."

"It might be twenty years too late, but we should maybe look into your propensity for distraction." Chuck rested her chin on her hand and smiled again, red and white and soft and teasing. "I made you something. Don't you want it?"

"Where do you learn such big words----sorry. I mean. Did you? What is it?"

"You're stuttering a lot today. Do you have another surprise too?"

"I don't stutter. I fumble my words sometimes, everyone does that when they speak fast and I speak fast sometimes, that's when I fumble. What did you make me? You didn't have to make me anything."

"We're even, then. You didn't have to get me anything." Chuck plucked a tulip from the vase and stepped away from the counter, towards the back of the kitchen. "It's over here."

"You hid my present in my kitchen? That doesn't seem terribly stealthy."

"Trust me, you never would have found it, even if you were looking right at it." The girl who was alive again was rummaging through the refrigerator, checking the labels on the boxes for delivery. It was quite true that the Piemaker would never have checked there. His gift was hidden in a pie box, it would seem, and as Chuck drew nearer and pulled back the cover...

"Pie?"

"Told you, you'd never know from looking at it!"

"Chuck, what...?" The Piemaker was confused. He glanced from side to side, tallying the many pies that surrounded them, be they for delivery or on-site consumption. He was familiar with Chuck's considerable pie-making skill, from his encounters with aunts Lily and Vivian, but the gesture of giving someone a thing which they could not use appeared to be beyond his comprehension. Or maybe he was just staring at the hemline of Chuck's dress again.

"Happy Valentine's Day."

"But I can't..."

"Yes you can. I went to the farmer's market yesterday and bought the freshest I could find."

The Piemaker stared in shock. This was the first time since his childhood, before his mother died, that he could have his pie and eat it too. He did not, you see, partake of other people's pies, or those made en mass and shipped long distances. The sort of pies full of things the Piemaker, personally, could not pronounce.

"Ned?"

"...I love it."

Chuck chuckled. "You haven't tried it yet." She held up the box, waving it in front of his face temptingly. It smelled like strawberries and peaches, a combination he himself had never baked.

"It doesn't matter. I'm sure it's great. You're great, so your pies must be great and it's been a really long time since I had pie."

"I like your reasoning. Where's a knife?" The box was now resting on the countertop, beside the vase in the shadow of a particularly voluptuous lily.

The Piemaker reached out and plucked the tulip from between Chuck's fingers, running its petals gently across her jaw and down her neck. "I'm out of knives. All I've got is plastic wrap."

"That won't work on the pie."

"It works pretty well on you."

Chuck smiled, white and red. A pretty pink tulip's stem found itself tangled between long fingers, behind a broad back. And the Piemaker? The Piemaker found that he'd lost count of how many times he'd fallen in love.