Note: This was written for the Zexal Flash Bingo challenge, for the prompt, "dense".


"This isn't how it was supposed to happen."

Michael Arclight looked from his brother to the mess on the kitchen counter and back again.

"I give up," he said. "What was supposed to happen?"

"It was supposed to be food!" Thomas complained, glaring as if his failure to produce edibles was Michael's fault. He seized on a cardboard box lying amid the general chaos and thrust it at Michael. "See? It's cake mix. All you have to do is follow the directions. Why didn't it work?"

Michael read aloud from the back of the box. "Dense, moist chocolate cupcakes... Well, they certainly are dense." He picked up one of the greasy-looking lumps that were sitting on the stove and dropped it. It landed with a heavy thud.

Thomas scowled. "You're a big help."

"I'm sorry," said Michael, "but honestly, these look more like one of Chris's science projects than food. Why were you making cupcakes, anyway?"

Thomas looked away and mumbled something.

"Could you repeat that?" Michael asked.

"They were for Father, all right?" Thomas snapped. "I know he likes sweet things. I just... wanted to do something for him, to let him know that... you know..."

Michael set a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I know. We finally have him back. It's natural to want to celebrate. Tell you what - let's try again, and this time I'll help."

Thomas took a moment to consider before nodding. "All right, fine. But let's not invite Chris. That will guarantee the next batch ends up looking like a science project."

"You're probably right!" said Michael with a laugh. "All right, just the two of us."

"And no one has to know what happened to the first batch," said Thomas, with a hint of challenge. Michael only nodded agreeably.

"That goes without saying," he said. He picked up the cake mix box. "Maybe we can still salvage the frosting, at least."

Thomas looked blank. "Frosting?"

"The box says it includes a packet of frosting mix," said Michael. "Didn't you see that part? You mix it with the cream cheese and shortening." He indicated the bits of wrapping on the counter that indicated there had been such ingredients in the kitchen at some point.

Thomas flushed slightly. "I didn't read that part. I just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed them up."

Michael stared at him. "And you didn't realize they were ingredients for two different things?"

"No! I thought cake mix was just cake mix! I was going to use frosting out of a can!"

Michael didn't reply. He just stared thoughtfully at the tray of not-exactly-cupcakes.. Thomas watched him, growing visibly more impatient.

"What?" he demanded. "What are you frowning about?"

"I'm trying to decide which is more dense - your cooking, or you."

Then he ducked, as a cupcake went whizzing over his head. He decided that his brother might not be much of a cook, but he definitely had a good arm.