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October 1, 2011
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It was Adam and Ashley's father's birthday. In the kitchen, an orange teenage cat wearing an apron was gathering ingredients and placing them in a bowl. The counter had already looked like it had just barely survived an intense battle between a gang of eggs and a mob of flour. The cat herself also looked like she had been caught in the crossfire of this intense battle, but still looked in excellent health and in quite a cheerful mood regardless.

"Ashley!" A young voice shouted from above.

Ashley stopped what she was doing, with a half of an egg shell in each hand, glanced upwards trying to spot the source of the voice. Having found nothing, she assumed she imagined it and continued with her business.

"Ashley!" The voice shouted again, this time sounding even more desperate.

Ashley turned around this time, but still saw no one. "Yes?" She shouted back.

"Where are you?" The voice shouted again, still coming, barely audibly, from above her.

"In the kitchen!" She shouted back, now confident of who the voice belonged to, but unsure as to where it was coming from, though likely from her brother's bedroom upstairs.

"Okay!" The voice shouted back. "I'm coming down!"

Ashley smirked, always enjoying every opportunity she gets to spend time with her little brother.

As she turned back to the counter and returned to her business, she heard noises coming from directly above her, stomping, and some banging sounds. She assumed it was Adam, her brother, making his way down. The stomping sounds were then followed by some cracking sounds. Then she could feel dust particles falling on her. She looked above her and saw that the ceiling was cracking, and the crack was getting bigger and bigger, until suddenly, a small reddish cat came falling into the kitchen through the ceiling.

The cat, about half of Ashley's hat, had landed on the floor just behind Ashley, covered in dust and concrete dust, or whatever you'd expect to be covered in if you just fell through the floor. Debris now covered the floor.

"I am not sweeping that up." Ashley told him.

"What are you up to?" Adam asked her, innocently, still brushing powder from off his shoulders.

"Just baking a cake." Ashley answered. "You know, for dad's birthday."

"Yeah, I just saw that on my calendar this morning." Adam told her, looking a tad bothered by it. "It completely snuck up on me. I have nothing prepared. I don't know what to do."

"This situation sounds familiar." Ashley noted, as she added milk to her concoction.

"Yeah, I keep doing this." Adam admitted. "I was hoping you could bail me out?"

"I don't know what you expect me to do." Ashley told him, coyly. "I don't have a big gift for dad either. I was just going to bake him this super delicious cake for him, like I do every year. Do you expect me to share credit on my one gift for dad so you won't look bad?"

"Kinda." Adam answered sheepishly.

Ashley gave him a very serious looking stare, but didn't let it drag on for too long. "Of course I will. What are big sisters for? But you've got to help."

"What do you need?" Adam asked, able and willing.

"Taste this." Ashley held out her stirring spoon with some of the batter on it to Adam's face. He licked a bit of it. "What do you think?"

"Something's not right with it." Adam told her.

"I had a feeling." Ashley said. "For some reason, it's just not as thick as it should be."

"Maybe you forgot to add something?" Adam suggested.

"No." Ashley denied. "I never forget anything. Yet, it's still too thin."

Ashley continued to stir, looking distraught into the bowl. Suddenly, an idea bulb popped over Ashley's head.

"I know what that means." Adam smiled, noting the light bulb shining brightly just a few inches over his sister's noggin.

"I know what to do." She said, looking over at her brother. "But I need you to help in a very important way."

"Anything." Adam told her.

"This will sound weird." She warned him. "But I need you to climb into the batter."

"Climb into the batter?" Adam repeated.

"Yes, climb into the batter." Ashley repeated again. "Use your body to thicken the batter, then I'll pull you out before I begin baking."

"That's a great idea." Adam noted.

He climbed onto the kitchen counter and looked into the bowl. He began to climb inside, but then stopped himself. "Wait a minute!"

"Something the matter?" Ashley asked, innocently.

"This makes no sense." Adam said. "You're going to stir me into the batter to make it thicker, but if you pull me out, the batter wouldn't be thick no more." He reasoned. "And besides, you wouldn't be able to pull me out, because by that time, I'd already be mixed in with everything else. You won't figure that out until it's too late, so then you'd decide to go ahead and bake the batter with me in it, perhaps convincing me into letting you by telling me that I would add flavor to the cake. And by the time I'm done baking, I won't even get a chance to protest as you frost me and then serve me to dad without him even realizing that the cake is me. And do you know what I think. I think that's your intent all along. I think you're purposefully trying to manipulate me into letting you bake me into a cake."

Ashley stared up at him, her cheerful demeanor now completely gone, replaced with a look of complete disappointment and confusion. "So, are you going to let me?"

Adam gave this some thought. Then he gave it some serious thought. Then he gave it some really serious thought. Then he came to a conclusion. "No." He told her. "That would be stupid of me."

Ashley shook her head in disbelief, but didn't look too terribly upset, only mildly agitated. "You figured all that out on your own?"

"Well, it's the same thing you did for dad's birthday the last three years." Adam told her.

A smile returned to Ashley's face as she looked up at her brother. "You're finally catching on." She said with some pride. "I must admit, that stunt has been getting stale. I'll figure out another way to get you some other time, but for now, let's bake a cake."

"But what are you going to do about the batter?" Adam asked as he climbed down from the counter.

"Just pass me that egg over there that I left out." Ashley instructed. "That should fix it."

"I thought you said you never forget anything." Adam told her as he handed her the egg.

"I didn't." Ashley said with a smirk.

That evening, the family sang songs and told jokes around the table, celebrating their patriarch's special birth. The cake served was the most beautiful cake their dad had ever received for any of his birthdays. It was a chocolate cake decorated with reddish frosting, and Ashley, Adam, their mom and dad all enjoyed a piece. They then finished the night singing karaoke in the living room.
The third Adam and Ashley story to date. This one is a tad nontraditional as it breaks the formula set up by the first two stories.

SPOILERS BELOW! READ STORY FIRST!

Ever since writing the first Ashley and Adam story, I had a lot of questions about the relationship the two shared. Even as the writer, it's hard to tell how exactly they feel about each other. Is Adam so dumb that he can never catch on that his sister is always trying to abuse him? Does his admiration for her really overshadow his judgment that much? Or does he have valid reason to trust his sister? Does Ashley only see Adam as a toy to be played with or manipulated? Is the affection she seemingly shows him all just an act? Or does she truly love her brother and just have an odd way of showing it?

At the moment, I would say that their relationship is layered, and very complex. I would say that although the stories typically highlight the darker moments, that the two siblings occasionally spend some good moments together too. And in some twisted way, Ashley does what she does to her brother as a result of her love for him. She probably views it as training for the real world, helping him to realize that you simply can't trust people who tell you that they're on your side and flatter you, and that to survive in the world, you must be able to think for yourself and act quickly.

I think this story demonstrates that side of Ashley's personality. After Adam finally wises up and stands up for himself, Ashley backs off and agrees to just have a good time with Adam at the birthday party. I'm thinking she probably holds off on any cruel pranks on Adam for at least a week after this, first, for believing that he deserves the break, and second, to give her time to come up with a really clever one.
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:icondaynar:
Great story.
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:icontmaneea:
Tmaneea Oct 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. Glad you like it.
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:iconsonicinterface:
...Well done. To be perfectly honest I kind of expected Adam to agree to it anyways even after he'd figured it out.

I can't help but be reminded of Trash Compactor from my own series.
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:icontmaneea:
Tmaneea Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Similarities are bound to occur since we do enjoy writing about similar subject matter. And in any series when a victim and an oppressor are in a relationship long enough, the victim standing up for himself is inevitable.

I certainly don't think it would be in Adam's character to agree to be baked into a cake then eaten. He certainly shouldn't enjoy it, or else Ashley's role in these stories will be completely pointless.
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:iconsonicinterface:
Eh... true enough. That may have something to do with why the Kane series seems to be getting a little boring, now that Indigo has been relieved of her role as antagonist.
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:icontmaneea:
Tmaneea Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Unfortunately, conflict creates interest, so removing conflict will remove interest. Although characters don't necessarily need to be antagonistic to create conflict, it just makes it easier to find conflict if there is a designated bad guy. Maybe you could make it so that the rich lady from the last story becomes a regular antagonist.
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:iconsonicinterface:
I did have a few ideas to that effect. I've considered giving the two fox kits from Troublemakers more appearances, too.
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