Characters: Dee, Ryo.
Setting: After Vol. 2.
Summary: Dee has never had a home baked birthday cake, so Ryo promises to make him one.
Word Count: 1627
Written For: Jae’s Monthly Drabble Challenge 161 - Cake, Candle, Catch, Charm(s), Confection.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
“How come the house ape gets a home baked cake?” Dee grumbled, sprawled at the table in Ryo’s kitchen, watching his partner busily mixing cake ingredients.
“Bikky’s my foster son, and it’s his birthday tomorrow. Besides, I enjoy baking and I don’t get the opportunity that often.” Ryo shot the other man an amused grin. “Are you jealous?”
“Me? Jealous of a scrawny little kid? ‘Course not!” Dee paused to reconsider. “Well okay, maybe a little. Nobody’s ever made me a home baked birthday cake, or any other kind of cake for that matter.”
“Mother did her best, but with so many kids to look after she didn’t have time to make a cake for every birthday, and it wouldn’t have been fair to bake for one kid and not the others, so we all got a shop bought cake instead. Don’t get me wrong, it was great; she knew everybody’s favourites, and we always got the right number of candles. Hell, I still got candles on my eighteenth! We always got a present on our birthday too; only somethin’ small, but it was ours alone, not somethin’ we had to share with the other kids.”
“It can’t have been easy, growing up like that, having so little to call your own.”
Dee smiled as he remembered. “Might not have been the childhood you got to enjoy, but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. I grew up knowin’ I was loved, even if I had to share Mother’s love with all the other kids. I don’t feel like I missed out.”
“Except for the lack of home baking.”
“Well, yeah, I guess.”
“Okay then, your next birthday I promise I’ll bake you a cake.”
“You will?” Dee sat up straight in his chair, excitement making him look a lot younger than his twenty-seven years, then he sagged back again, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. “What’s the catch?”
“No catch; why would there be? We’re friends, Dee, and if a home baked cake on your birthday will make you happy, then that’s what you’ll get. I might even put a candle on it for you.”
“That would be awesome!” Dee’s smile was softer and more genuine than the brash, self-confident grin he used to charm people. Thanks, bud.” He looked pensive for a moment before hesitantly asking, “What kind of cake?”
“Anything you like; vanilla, lemon sponge, chocolate… your choice. You’ve got plenty of time to decide what you’d like.” Dee’s birthday was still a few months off.
Lounging back in his chair again, Dee watched Ryo pour the mixture for Bikky’s birthday cake into two tins and slide them into the oven. Some day not too far into the future it would be his birthday cake going in there, a light as air, melt in the mouth confection created just for him! He could hardly wait.
The intervening months flew past, but at the same time seemed to drag interminably. Dee researched sponge cakes online from time to time, trying to decide which would be the very best kind of cake to ask for, but there were so many and they all looked so good…
Finally, three days before his birthday, as he and Ryo were leaving work after their shift, his partner glanced at him as they made their way down the stairs. “So, did you decide yet what kind of cake you’d like for your birthday?”
Dee mentally breathed a sigh of relief; despite his promise all those months ago, Ryo hadn’t said a word about baking him a cake since then and Dee had almost been afraid his partner might have forgotten.
“Chocolate sponge, with chocolate frosting?” he asked hopefully, having decided that nothing said Happy Birthday better than chocolate.
Ryo laughed. “I should have guessed. You want a chocolate filling or layers of vanilla butter-cream and raspberry jelly?”
“Uh…” Dee thought about the two options, both equally mouth watering, and couldn’t decide. “Whichever you think will work best,” he said at last. “Surprise me.”
“Okay. I need to stop by the store on my way home and pick up a few things. See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah, see ya.”
With that they went their separate ways.
Nothing was said about Dee’s birthday cake the next couple of days; work was busy and all conversation was restricted to one of the cases they were working as they had a new lead to follow up. It was with a sense of satisfaction that they clocked out the night before Dee’s birthday, one step closer to catching a murderer.
“D’you have plans for tomorrow evening?” Ryo asked as they made their way across the precinct’s forecourt towards the street, both having taken the subway that morning.
“Not really; I mean, we all usually go out for a few drinks on each other’s birthdays…” Ryo knew that; he’d been among those celebrating Ted’s birthday a few weeks previously, and Drake’s before that.
“That’s what I thought. How about tonight then? You could come over for a sort of early birthday celebration; I’ve got beef stew in the slow cooker.”
Ryo’s beef stews were Dee’s idea of culinary heaven, big chunks of meat and vegetables in a rich gravy, everything meltingly tender and perfectly seasoned.
“Now that’s an offer I’m never gonna turn down,” he stated, following his partner down the steps into the subway station. “Lead the way!”
Dinner was every bit as delicious as Dee was anticipating, especially as Bikky was apparently away at a sleepover. He would have asked for a second helping if Ryo hadn’t told him he needed to leave room for dessert.
Once the dinner plates were cleared away, Ryo shooed Dee through to the lounge then disappeared back into the kitchen and returned with a birthday cake the likes of which Dee hadn’t imagined in his wildest dreams. It must have been at least ten inches across and looked tall enough to have three layers. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, it wasn’t just frosted on the top but right down the sides too, and decorated with chocolate sprinkles. On the top, the words ‘Happy Birthday, Dee’ had been piped in white frosting, and a lit candle flickered, its flame dancing with Ryo’s every breath as he carefully set it down on the coffee table.
“One birthday cake, as promised. Now just give me a minute to fetch plates and a knife.” Ryo left Dee staring in wonder at his birthday cake, but when he returned hardly more than a minute later, Dee had his phone out and was taking pictures. He looked faintly embarrassed at being caught.
“It’s so amazing I don’t ever want to forget,” he said quietly. “Thanks, bud; I wasn’t expectin’ anything so…” Words failed him.
“I’m glad you like it,” Ryo smiled. “Now, if you’ve taken enough pictures, why don’t you blow out the candle and make a wish?”
If Bikky had been there, Dee would have scoffed that he was too old for that kind of thing, but as it was just him and Ryo… Snapping one more picture, this one of Ryo kneeling behind the table with the cake in the foreground, Dee slipped his phone back in his pocket, leaned forward, and blew out the candle, closing his eyes to wish that from this day on he’d get to spend every birthday with Ryo, if not as lovers then at least as friends.
He straightened up again, smiling across at his partner. “Now I know why you told me to leave room for dessert!”
“You don’t have to eat it all tonight, Dee,” Ryo teased. “I thought we could have a slice each and then you can take the rest home with you. I’ll put it in a tin for you; it’ll keep for a few days that way as long as you put it someplace cool and dry. Now, d’you want to cut it or should I?”
Dee hesitated. “Seems kind of a shame to spoil it by cuttin’ into it, but…” He held out his hand for the knife and Ryo gave it to him. “Here goes!” Removing the candle in its holder and setting it aside, Dee slowly cut into the cake, then made a second cut and eased the first slice out, putting it on the plate Ryo held for him. A second generous slice followed, laid on the second plate; only then did Dee get a proper look at the inside of the cake. As he’d suspected, there were three layers of moist chocolate sponge, with a chocolate cream filling and a layer of what turned out to be raspberry jelly between each one. It smelled heavenly.
Passing one plate to Ryo and picking up the other one, Dee looked in consternation at the big hunk of cake, wondering what would be the best way of tackling it, until Ryo, joining him on the sofa again, nudged his arm and handed him a spoon.
“I was going to bring the cake forks in, but I thought spoons might be better.”
Spooning up a mouthful of cake, Dee groaned in ecstasy at the taste, the raspberry jelly giving a slight tang to offset the richness of the chocolate. “I think I’m in cake heaven!”
Ryo just smiled, sampling it himself. “Mm, not bad.”
“Not bad? Are you crazy? It’s incredible!”
Silence descended as they ate, savouring every mouthful, finally setting their empty plates aside and slumping deeper into the sofa cushions, too stuffed to even think about moving.
“Hands down the best birthday cake ever,” Dee sighed, eyes half closed. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Ryo murmured drowsily as the pair of them drifted in a sated haze. He was already wondering what he could bake for Dee next year.