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Conflict and Cupcakes

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Dori had to say, he was nowadays very happy to open the door to find unfamiliar teenagers behind it.

There had been a time when he had more or less dreaded such experiences, when Nori had somehow always found himself one disreputable friend or another to hang around, causing Dori to worry endlessly about all the bad influences. Somehow, though, Nori had grown to be an adult with rather delightful acquaintances, for all that Dori still wasn't entirely sure about this whole age gap thing, and the numbers of suspicious teens lurking about their home had dropped more or less to zero. Or perhaps they now lurked about the place Nori shared with Dwalin, Dori couldn't know, but either way they weren't coming to his door anymore.

And now, the strange teenagers were here for Ori. Which was nothing but a delight after years of worrying about whether Ori would ever find friends of his own age that weren't hidden behind a computer screen.

Of course, it rather helped that while he had never met this particular teenager before, she didn't exactly look unfamiliar. Sure, her hair was dark as opposed to the gold Dori was used to seeing, but there was quite enough resemblance in the features that he lifted a hand before she could say anything.

"No, let me guess. You are Fíli's sister, right? Kíli? I've heard a lot about you."

"That obvious, huh?" Kíli tilted her head to the side, giving him a small smile. She really looked a lot like her brother, except with somewhat finer features and more unruly hair. "Is Fíli around? His phone is turned off so mom couldn't reach him, and since I was in the neighbourhood I thought I'd check in."

Well, wasn't that interesting. "Yes, he is. Do come in." Dori stepped back to allow her into the house. "You may want to wait a minute, though. He and Ori are not exactly in the mood for visitors right now." As she lifted her eyebrows, he chuckled and shook his head. "No, nothing quite like that. It's just, well. They seem to have worked themselves into a fight."

"A fight?" Kíli blinked, looking genuinely surprised. "Really? Fíli rarely fights with anyone, and from everything I've heard he adores Ori to death. And believe me, I hear a lot about Ori."

"I suppose you should see for yourself." Dori beckoned her to follow him, walking further into the apartment. They hadn't even gotten to Ori's room when the crux of the problem became all too apparent, angry voices carrying out of the partly opened door of the room.

"I can't believe you still go on with that eighty-three nonsense! It's just a copyright mark, that's all. You ever hear of reruns? Or video games? The graphics definitely look like one of the minigames."

"Oh, don't you dare say that to me! You're the one who believes that ridiculous dream theory." Even before he peeked in, Dori could tell Ori was frowning in that adorable way of his that drew his mouth into a pout. "That's just a cheap twist, and if Scott had actually meant for that to be the answer, he wouldn't need to drop mysterious hints in the middle of streams!"

"Yes, well, the theory just so happens to fit those clues! And don't you start going on about Chica's missing beak, the dream theory explains it all more than well enough." Neither of the two seemed to notice as Dori looked in, Fíli too busy defending his position and Ori glaring at him indignantly.

"Except that's the clue everyone gets the wrong way around! The clue asked why the beak was missing in the minigame, remember? And everyone takes that to mean that the minigame is the reason it was missing in the second game! Nobody has explained why it was missing in the minigame in the first place, except to say that toys fall apart, and that's obviously far too simple an explanation!"

"And you have a better explanation, then?" Fíli sniffed.

"As a matter of fact, I do." Ori clicked his tongue. "She took off the beak from the toy, because she had seen Toy Chica leaving the stage. Which means the crying child isn't the only one who witnessed something terrible!"

"Then why would she be playing with the toy? Wouldn't she be too traumatised and want nothing to do with it?"

"Uh, hello? The crying child has all those toys that he calls his friends, and we know for a fact that he saw something horrible that makes him afraid of the actual animatronics! Kids don't think like adults." And oh, Dori had to resist the urge to march right in and just pat Ori on the head, he was just being absolutely adorable in all his teenage annoyance.

"Well, even if we assumed that to be true, that still wouldn't explain why the original Toy Chica's beak goes missing in the first place."

"Except that wasn't the clue! Clearly the actual toy is the important part here, not the animatronic!"

Kíli, having caught a glimpse of the two, stepped back from the doorway and turned to Dori. "You make any sense of that?"

"Some of it, yes. I have watched all of Ori's videos, after all, so I am quite familiar with the original game series and all its spin-offs." Dori shook his head. "I've never seen them get quite that vehement about any of it, though."

"Yeah, this isn't really like Fíli." Kíli glanced again toward the room, where voices were getting even louder. "You going to do something about that?"

"I suppose I should." Dori sighed. "Would you like to help me for a bit?"

"Sure?" Kíli blinked. "What do you want me to do?"

"Oh, I just need you to carry a tray for me." Dori lead the way to the kitchen, where he put the tea kettle on and started arranging cupcakes and cookies on the tray. By the time he was done, he let Kíli carry the treats to the dining table while he handled the tea kettle, then headed to the door of Ori's room and rapped his knuckles against the door, peeking in.

"Boys?" And oh, his heart would probably never stop melting at the way that simple word made Ori sit up just a little straighter. "Now, I don't want to be the old man getting all involved in your business, but I think if you still want to record that co-op session later today without anyone getting hit over the head with a controller, it would be good to take a break."

"Uh. Right." Fíli looked rather sheepish, all fight escaping him the moment the argument was interrupted. "Ah, sorry. We got a bit loud, huh?"

"It happens. Now, there's some tea if you are interested?" Dori smiled. "For what it's worth, I happen to believe the toy beak has fallen off because it's a prototype and older than regular toys, hinting at the girl's connection to the actual company, which in turn ties to her similarities to Baby." He could see they were both ready to launch some sort of answers to that, prompting him to lift his hand. "No! Break, remember?"

There were some mumbles about how he was being unfair, but at least they weren't yelling at each other anymore. They both followed him into the dining area, where Fíli stopped dead in his tracks. "Kíli! What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you." Kíli grinned around a cookie in her mouth. "Your phone was off, and you know how mom gets when she can't reach us. I figured you'd probably be here, so I asked her for the address so I could tell you to let her know when you'll be home."

"Damn, it must have run out of battery, I forgot to charge it last night." Fíli sighed. "Can you just tell her I'll be home by ten?"

"Sure! Assuming your boyfriend doesn't kick you out before then."

"Ah, I don't think that will happen." Ori looked rather embarrassed as he sat down at the table and took the offered cup of tea. "We just got… kind of carried away."

"Right." Fíli and Ori exchanged sheepish glances, and Fíli offered him a faint grin. "If it was all obvious and not up to debate, it wouldn't be nearly as interesting, right?"

"Precisely." Ori leaned in to press a small kiss to Fíli's cheek, and that, that was what Dori liked to see. They were lucky indeed, he mused, not to have dealt with bigger and more serious arguments just yet, though that would probably all come in time.

"So, Kíli. Your mother sent you here, huh?" Dís had first visited him not long after Fíli and Ori started dating, wanting to meet the mysterious Dori who now had two brothers dating people close to her. This had soon evolved into regularly irregular meetings for tea and gossip whenever Dís's work schedule would allow. She was a thoroughly sensible woman, Dori found, which was a blessing in coordinating their ground rules for the two lovebirds.

"Yup." Kíli nodded enthusiastically. "I knew the general area where you live, and was already nearby when she called asking about Fíli's whereabouts, so I just asked her for directions."

"I see." Dori nodded in thought, pouring himself some more tea. "And you are aware she has my phone number, right?"

"Of course!" Kíli grinned at him, utterly shameless. "She also said you make the best cupcakes she's ever tasted."

Well. Could he truly complain about such devious schemes?