I offered to post this short one-shot fan fic to my readers and reviewers of my novel, Cavern Of A Million Colors, and plenty responded that they liked the idea and that they'd like to read it. So I edited it a little bit from its original version, to make it better and fix a few mistakes, and decided to post it. I didn't originally post it after I wrote it because I wasn't sure if it was, well, good enough. When I wrote it, I had to make a deadline (so it's not as long as my other pieces) and I only wrote it for my family to read (see the dedication below). Anyway, I'm posting it now, so I hope that it brings at least a few laughs the way that The Tennis Racket…did, since I'm not much of a comedic writer. (By the way, this isn't full-blown AAML, but it has hints. It also has hints of two other of my favorite shipping; see if you catch it! …And also something that is definitely a one-way ship!) Enjoy!
Dedication: This story was written solely for my mom's birthday back in February. Besides a music CD, this story was my present to her for her birthday, and let me tell you, she loved it ('cause she loves all of my writing ). So, of course, this story is dedicated to my mom, Lapras, because she is my best friend in the entire world! (I also have to give a thank you to my awesome World Civilizations teacher because she taught me tons about my favorite subject - history - and totally made me remember the French Revolution. Thanks! Can't wait to have you next year!)
Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon, Ash, Misty, Brock, Tracey, May, Max, Delia Ketchum, Professor (Samuel) Oak, Gary Oak, Pikachu, Togepi, Staryu, Mr. Mime, all other Pokémon, or Pallet Town. Also, I don't own Marie Antoinette or France or even History for that matter (though that would be cool). …Oh! And I also don't own confectioner's sugar either...
"Let Them Bake Cake"
By Eeveebeth Fejvu
There was a short moment of uneasy silence.
"What?" he muttered meekly, trying to sound innocent. However, he knew he had been caught red-handed… or white-handed, as it were.
"What do you think?" Misty replied slowly, hands on her hips, leering at him in the doorway.
"Um…" Ash glanced around the room. Things hadn't been going exactly right for the last fifteen minutes. He knew that they only had another half an hour at the most to complete the major undertaking, which had caused a lot of pandemonium already, and Ash couldn't understand why the instructions hadn't called for a six hour completion time. The room was another catastrophe in itself, one that Ash cringed to look at. He glanced over at the corner by the back door, where Pikachu was cowering, terrified. Pikachu flinched, and backed further into the corner at Ash's glance, trying to look insignificant. Ash turned back to face Misty. He felt cornered, too. "Um…" he glanced down at his unhygienic hands, then back at the girl, looking for any excuse, "…um, I… didn't get to eat breakfast this morning?"
"Ugh," Misty groaned, putting her hand to her face. After a moment, she peeked at Ash between her fingers, and surveyed his figure, his clothes already tarnished with splotches of white. Yet it was true; none of them had gotten to have a 'formal' breakfast. "You could have eating that sausage, huh? You eat plenty of burned things. You have a stomach like a Gulpin."
Ash cringed again. "I couldn't eat that…" At Misty's stare, he lied quickly, "Uh, Pikachu licked it! …And didn't want to eat it after that…" The truth was, he had accidentally dropped it on the floor and then accidentally stepped on it, too fast to realize what had happened and far too fast to call out a ten-second rule.
Misty sighed again. Finally, she said, "Well, wash your greedy little fingers off and let's continue, okay?" Seeing him eyeing the jar of sugar, she added ominously, "And if you stick your saliva-cover nasty sticky hand into that clean sugar bowl again, I will personally hack it off with that butcher knife in the knife rack over there, sugar and all. Got it?"
As she sauntered past him to the counter, Ash sighed, glancing down at his fingers, stained white as they were by granulated sugar, which he had been pillaging from the open sugar bowl on the table. Quickly, he gave a final lick at the granules, then hurried to the sink to wash it off. Though Misty threatened him with something or other everyday, he had learned yet another lesson from this catastrophe: the worse place to be threatened, whether the threat it real or not, is in the kitchen. There were too many potential weapons there.
The plan: to bake a simple cake. The reality that came from the plan: to try to learn to bake a real and edible cake on his first try… with no assistance, except from the rather culinary-challenged Misty.
Today was the all-important birthday of Ash's mom, Delia. Ash had made plans to be home from training a month ahead of time, just especially for this day, for he had missed her birthday the last few years, with all of his long journeying. So he and his friends had made it home to Pallet Town in time, a week ahead of time, in fact, which wasn't a problem, of course. The problem had occurred when, yesterday, Ash realized that the next day was her birthday. He had though it was not for some time a bit farther into the future. He had been too wrapped up with training his Pokémon left at Professor Oak's lab to remember the dates of the days he spent at home.
He also realized that he was not ready for it, either. He had a present, all right (he knew she would love it because the girls had helped him pick it out), and it was wrapped and all, but he didn't have anything else that normally accompanies a birthday. His friends had told him that this was all right, for she would just be glad that he was home, but Ash insisted it wasn't okay. She did, and had done, too much for him throughout his whole life so far, and it constituted more than a few presents. Because they were short on time and resources, Ash felt he had to settle for only two other things: a 'breakfast in bed' and… a cake.
One had failed, and one was going downhill quickly.
The 'breakfast in bed' had been a disaster. Ash had been late getting up and waking his friends up (that stupid alarm clock was always his downfall), so Brock had to rush, and take as many cooking shortcuts as he knew, to fix anything. All would have turned out okay, but so many people had been hastening around the kitchen that it caused Brock to lose focus, and practically everything that was being fixed on some heat source was burned… even the toast, but especially the sausage. By the time that they had all cleaned up the kitchen and disposed of the burned food, Delia had come downstairs to fix all of them breakfast, so they had to let her, because otherwise their cover would have been blown. The thing was, Ash was doing this all in secret. His mom didn't know that this day was why he had come home from training at this particular time. She had no clue.
The vanilla cake was slowly becoming a disaster, too. Ash hadn't realized that Misty knew almost as much about the kitchen and cooking as he did… practically nothing. He had just wrongly presumed that all girls knew, as a part of feminine instinct, how to make a cake look like the one on the recipe. He had wondered slightly to himself if her tomboy-ness had robbed her of any hope for cooking skills, but he just wasn't sure. At any rate, the cake was only half mixed at the moment, not in a pan or baked, and they had no icing, either. Plus, the kitchen they had already salvaged from wreckage this morning was only good now for a junkyard. It was a very good thing that Mr. Mime was taking a nap upstairs, for sugar was spread halfway across the floor (their shoes were making tracks in it) and all across the counter… and on the head and ears of a frightened Pikachu. Ash didn't know how this had happened, but it wasn't important now. He just wanted a cake.
Ash slowly washed his hands in the sink until Misty threw a towel at his head, knocking his daydream right out of his brain. He grabbed it, pulled it off, and viciously wiped his hands. He sent Misty's glare right back at her, but her mighty coldness beat his frustration. They weren't at one of their high points in their weird relationship today, so it was just making things worse.
"Well, are we going to fix this thing or not?" Misty questioned, an edge to her voice.
"Whenever you're ready," Ash hissed back, the same mocking edge in his speech.
Misty nodded bluntly, then stalked over to the counter to check the recipe. Ash made his way over to the recipe, too, and both of them leaned over the counter, silently read the remaining ingredients. After a pause, they both glanced at each other at of the corner of their eyes. After a moment of staring, they both glanced over at the half-filled bowl. Misty straightened up. All she could really see in the bowl was a ton of sugar. Too much sugar. She wasn't even exactly sure if the cake was supposed to have sugar in it. The ink at the bottom of the recipe had run together by some water from the few cups of water that had been put in before the sugar. Somewhere down there was also a small amount of vegetable oil… too small an amount, in fact. Ash had put in a few teaspoons of oil where there should have been a few tablespoons, for he hadn't thought that the capitalization of a single letter on a measuring cup would make any difference in what it measured. However, it was too late to fix it, since Misty didn't know exactly what Ash had measured out, and feverishly hoped that it really didn't matter whether there were teaspoons or tablespoons of oil in a cake. Misty sighed. "Did you put the eggs in it while I was gone?"
Ash racked his brains. He kind of remember putting eggs in, but he had been involved in some scrambled egg issues that morning, so he wasn't sure if the eggs he was thinking about were those or not. "I… don't think so," he muttered. Misty motioned for him to add some while she checked the recipe again, so he took three out of the carton in the refrigerator, and cracked them on the edge of the bowl. Being able to get egg, and not shell, into a bowl successfully (and not get any raw egg on his hands so he would have to wash them again) seemed to be his only kitchen ability. As Ash walked over to deposit the shells in the trash can, Pikachu finally peeked out at the scene from his corner. He wondered to himself why Ash was throwing three more eggshells away, as he had already thrown away three shells before he had added sugar. It didn't seem logical to Pikachu not to add all of those eggs at the same time.
"Now what?" he asked Misty after returning.
"Flour. All-purpose flour," Misty muttered, glancing over at the mountain of raw ingredients, "which we are substituting for cake mix, since we don't have any."
"It looks the same as cake mix," Ash assured her.
"Well," she said, biting her lip, "let's hope it works the same." Ash nodded, then pulled the flour jar out from its place on the counter. Misty glanced demurely down at the recipe, and gave a great flinch as she heard a yell.
"AHHHHHH!" Ash screamed, closing the lid quickly, and holding it tightly on as if something was trying to get out. Though he wanted the lid to stay on, he didn't seem to want to be touching the jar. His expressive russet eyes were wide in shock and fear. "Misty," he managed to choke out in a horrified whisper, "…The flour is… green! …And it has little… white things crawling around in it."
Misty sighed in irritation and rolled her eyes. "Yes, Ash. I know that some bizarre bacteria has gotten a hold of all of the flour, which is why I called in backup." At Ash's puzzled look, Misty rolled her eyes again. "I called Tracey up at the lab, and he's bringing us some flour from there as we speak. So don't worry, it'll be here soon." Ash exhaled in relief and replaced the flour jar on the counter, scooting the toxic cooking ingredient away quickly. Misty just prayed that Tracey wouldn't wreck his bike and spill the flour all across Pallet Town.
"I FOUND ONE!" Ash and Misty almost lapsed into heart attacks at the joyful screech that emitted from the kitchen doorway. Pikachu hit the back of his head on the wall as he jumped at the noise. Both spun around, Misty's hands over her heart, to find Max standing in the doorway gleefully, holding up a single red cake candle.
With a groan, Ash and Misty both sighed. Misty glanced at the young boy's face. It was full of triumph, as much triumph as his clothes and ragged hair held dust bunnies. "One?" she asked, tired and hassled.
"Oh, you just don't know," Max muttered darkly, almost hysterically, shifting his glasses on the bridge of his nose, "This house has absolutely no candles. I have looked everywhere. I looked in the kitchen, I looked in the living room, I looked in the bathroom, I looked in his mom's room, I looked in the guest room. I looked upstairs and downstairs, and finally, FINALLY, found this one right here underneath Ash's bed. Far underneath it. In the very back. Against the wall. Underneath a pair of his dirty un-"
"Oh, okay, Max," Ash interrupted quickly, chuckling nervously. Misty already knew what Max had been about to say, though, and gave Ash The Look. He flinched.
"Thank you, Max, for enduring everything you have so far to find us a birthday candle," Misty muttered respectfully, "I know what a disaster area Ash's room is, and how radioactive the underside of his bed probably is, too. But perhaps…" she hesitated, "would you be willing to try to… find any more?"
"That flour's radioactive," Ash muttered under his breath, but no one heard him.
Max paused, his eyes widened at Misty's question. Then, depositing the red candle in Misty's hand, he spoke, hysteria clearly in his voice. "Oh, yes. I will. I will find you some more candles. Yes, more candles." Suddenly he stopped again, and abruptly put his hands to his face. He was trying to clear his mind of the frustration-induced madness. Then, removing his hands and staring up at the two in front of him, he began to rant in his normal voice. "Yes, cakes need candles. Cakes haven't always had candles though, you know. You know what? Keep baking. It's like… it's like Marie Antoinette said, when she was queen. The women of Paris were on the twelve-mile march to Versailles, through terrible weather with no shoes, to protest the rising price of bread. They just couldn't afford it anymore. When they got to the castle in Versailles, Marie Antoinette looked down at them and said, 'Then let them eat cake'. Can you believe that? 'Let them eat cake'! They couldn't afford bread, and she told them to eat cake. …Though historically, she probably was talking about the crust on bread, not cake as we know it now, which was probably a bigger insult-"
"Candles?" Misty interrupted quickly.
Max blinked. "Oh. Okay." He glanced over at Pikachu in the corner, trying to find a sugar-free pathway out of the kitchen. "…You know what, Pikachu?" Pikachu glanced up at him, pausing. "You know what you should do," He pointed to Ash and Misty, "no matter what else happens in this kitchen?"
" 'Let them bake cake'! "
Brock felt extremely nervous. He glanced up at the clock on the store wall. He didn't know how much time he could stall for, much less how much time he needed to stall for. He could try to give Ash and Misty a half an hour (they'd need it), but he'd need May's help to do it. It was hard to get May's attention, though, because she was really getting into all of this grocery shopping.
With a lot of motioning of people into a corner to converse without his mom hearing, Ash had managed to organize things a little more for this phase of the birthday plan than breakfast had been organized. He had managed to divide the five people into two groups, one staying at home, and one going with Mrs. Ketchum to the store. Ash was already steadfast that he was going to help bake the cake, as it was for his mom and he had forgotten about it. Brock had volunteered to go to the store immediately for two reasons, the main one being that he didn't like the idea of more cooking today (the breakfast fiasco had worn him out more than usual). Misty was suspicious, as she thought Brock just wanted to go so he could be with Ash's mom some more (it was his second reason this time), so she volunteered to go to keep Brock 'in line'. Brock, however, negotiated so that May could go with him instead, seeing as Misty and May had about the same level of cooking skills (very low) but Misty's age superiority, and the fact that he knew her Water Pokémon wouldn't let the house burn down if the oven caught on fire, made her the better choice for staying. Max volunteered to stay at the house and do any odd thing that needed being done. He hated shopping, especially with his sister (who was a shopaholic) and no one protested, so he stayed.
Brock glanced at May, who was happily getting some produce off a shelf, which Ash's mom dictated from the shopping cart where she had her list of items. He tried to get May's attention from behind Mrs. Ketchum's back, but it didn't work.
Delia glanced down at her list and crossed another item off with a pen as May placed it in the basket. She sighed to herself. This wasn't the way that she had wanted to spend her birthday, but they had been short on a lot of breakfast foods today, for some reason. Delia didn't particularly mind, though, because her birthday had just seemed to be less important with each passing year. Perhaps it was just an adult thing. She wished that her own son hadn't forgotten about it, though, for she knew that Ash knew the date, but that was Ash for you. She hadn't been completely forgotten though. Professor Oak and Gary were on a two-week research trip with Professor Elm in New Bark Town, Johto, but Samuel had called last night to wish her a happy birthday and promise that he would bring her a present when they got back. That thought made her feel better, and the thought that Ash would probably wake up a few days from now begging for forgiveness because he had forgotten did, too. He would remember eventually, she was positive, and she just wasn't going to come out and say it, because that just wasn't her way.
"Do we need anything else, Mrs. Ketchum?" May chirped, hanging onto the basket excitedly. Delia smiled. Perhaps the best birthday present she could ever get was having Ash and his friends (who often felt like her own children) staying at home with her for as long as they had stayed all ready. She checked the list.
"Well, I need some more all-purpose flour," she muttered, "because something peculiar happened to the last bag I bought."
After a moment, Brock and May both inwardly jumped and glanced over at each other in horror. Both of their lips formed the word 'flour' in dismay. If Mrs. Ketchum said that there was no all-purpose flour at home, then how was Ash and Misty supposed to bake a cake? (They had told Brock they might make the cake from scratch, so he let them at it. He just wondered what kind of cake it was supposed to be.) Brock could just see an image of a deflated mess covered in icing, or worse, some culinary monstrosity where Ash suggested adding more sugar to replace the flour, because they looked so much alike. Brock flinched. Ash and Misty were definitely going to need all of the extra time they could get.
"Well," Brock said, trying to sound as if nothing was bothering him, "Maybe you need to get a different brand of flour this time. I'm sure there are, uh, …plenty to choose from, but we should check all of them to see which is best." Seeing Brock's quick gesture behind Mrs. Ketchum's back, May finally glanced up at the clock on the wall and blanched. She turned to Brock and nodded vigorously, to acknowledge that they needed to slow the shopping trip down.
"Yeah," May quickly piped up, slightly unsure, "You have to choose flour carefully. You'd never guess all of the differences… in flour… between brands." She slowed her last words down, feeling very embarrassed. Mrs. Ketchum seemed not to notice, however, and if Brock didn't know any better, she looked preoccupied, too. As she and May wheeled the cart around to go down the next aisle, Brock followed close behind. It wasn't flour that they needed to buy; it was time.
Misty stirred the bizarre-looking contents in the mixing bowl vigorously. She had the bowl wedged between her knees as she sat in a chair next to the kitchen table. She sighed. Not only was the mixture in the bowl too wet, but she had also spotted the yolks of not three, but six eggs. There was no way this cake mix could get any worse. She continued to stir with the wooden spoon as if using a Gust attack.
Ash sat in the chair next to her, watching by trying to look over her shoulder, and sometimes peeking a glimpse at the sugar bowl still on the table. Slowly, he let the finger he had just licked make its way towards a pile of sugar that was on the tabletop, but wasn't supposed to be. "Knife," Misty said calmly and suddenly, not even glancing at him, and Ash jerked his finger away as if he'd pricked it on a needle. Misty chuckled to herself. She liked keeping Ash on a short leash. Ash made a face at the back of her orange-haired head, but lucky for him, she didn't see… or act like she had seen, at least.
Abruptly, from the foyer came the sound of the doorbell. Misty jumped in her seat, and swung around towards the kitchen doorway that went into the living room, unintentionally smacking Ash in the face with the mixture-dripping spoon. "Ow!" Ash complained, as the spoon left a smear of yellowish-white across his left cheek.
"Oh, I hope it's not your mom," Misty worried aloud. Glancing around, she quickly shoved the spoon into Ash's hand and the bowl into his lap, and commanded, "Mix." She got out of her chair and quickly sprinted through the living room to the foyer, passing an exhausted Pikachu lying prostrate on the couch. She opened the door so fast that it scared the person that was standing on the other side.
"Oh, uh, hi," Tracey chuckled nervously, breathing heavily. In one hand was a Pokéball, and in the other was a bag half full of flour.
"Good, you're here," Misty breathed a sigh of relief, taking the bag of flour from him and looking inside. This flour looked normal enough. "What took you so long? Did you encounter any difficulties? Or any traffic?" she muttered sarcastically. Pallet Town's roads were notorious for not knowing what a car was.
Tracey sighed wearily. "No traffic. But let's just say a… black Meowth did cross my path. At least, one Meowth did, with his two cohorts."
Misty looked dully appalled. "What on Earth would those three want with a bag of flour?"
"Who knows?" Tracey shrugged, "I guess if you're hungry enough… well," he glanced down at the Pokéball he was holding, "at least it gave Scyther a chance to have a bit of a workout. Anyway, what do you need flour for? I hope that's enough, because I came with a full bag, but those three knocked my bike so off course that it probably looks like it snowed along the path."
"There will never be enough flour on this whole planet to fix the mess that has occurred," Misty muttered enigmatically, "so this will do. Anyway, we're making a cake for Ash's mom, because it's her birthday today."
"Oh, I knew that!" Tracey exclaimed, putting a hand to his face, "Professor Oak told me before he left for New Bark. So, you and Brock are baking a cake?"
"Me and Ash."
Tracey blinked twice. "Ash? …Baking a cake?"
Misty sighed, propping herself against the doorway with a free hand. "…Yep."
"Uh, well," Tracey said, glancing around nervously and sweatdropping, "I think I'll go ahead and vacate the premises, and let you all get back to work. Uh, good luck."
"Thanks," Misty replied dully. Suddenly, Max appeared beside Misty in the doorway. His face was even more maniacal than before.
"Do you have any candles, by any chance?" he muttered, his voice low. Tracey shook his head slowly. Suddenly, Max disappeared, running back up the stairs, screaming, "CANDLES!" There was a moment of silence.
"Uh, bye," Tracey said quickly, and vacated the premises. However, if he had stayed until Misty went back into the kitchen to see how Ash's stirring was doing, he would have heard a voice scream, "KNIFE!" and a large clatter as a spoon fell to the ground.
Mrs. Ketchum, Brock, and May were standing in the checkout line at the store waiting for their turn. Delia glanced over at her two assistants. Both Brock and May looked extremely stressed and nervous, but seemed to be trying hard not to show it. Brock glanced up at the clock on the wall, then, a moment later, May glanced up at the clock herself. Delia frowned. She felt, and had felt for a while, that something she didn't know about was going on, but she had no idea what it could be. However, she didn't ask. If she needed to know, she knew they would tell her. It probably didn't have anything to do with her anyway. Delia sighed. She wanted to get home so at least she could spend her birthday in her own house and not some store.
Misty carefully slid the cake pan into the oven, closed the door, and set the dial to the right temperature. Through the glass in the oven door, she could see the mess that she and Ash had whipped together. It certainly was a mess. Misty had added more flour than normal (everything that Tracey had brought them that hadn't spilled) to compensate for the extra sugar and eggs, but now she wasn't sure if that had been a good idea. The pan was filled to the brim with the white mixture, so she hoped the cake wouldn't rise too much. She wasn't sure if cakes rose or not the way bread did.
"All right," she turned to Ash, who was sitting at the table vigorously licking the cake spoon Misty had finally allowed him to have, seeing as they were done with it now. "If all goes well, the cake will have a hard enough top to spread icing on, so we need to make some icing now." Ash's eyes lit up at the word 'icing' and he nodded enthusiastically. Misty rolled her eyes, then started towards the refrigerator, treading carefully across the sugar- and flour-strewn floor. "I'll get the stuff. Just finish up with your spoon."
As her back was to him when she was getting out the milk, Ash carefully got out of his chair and checked the temperature on the oven dial. His eyebrows furrowed together. That temperature was too low to be able to bake the cake fast enough. Ash carefully turned the dial up higher, so that it was on a number twice as high as the one Misty had set it on. It was all just logic, Ash reasoned. If you set the dial to twice as much as normal, then the cake would bake twice as fast. Ash felt proud of his logic. It would save them a lot of time, and Misty would be pleased with him when it was ready so quick. He smiled to himself, then quickly went back to his chair after setting the spoon down in the sink.
After a moment, Misty set all of the items they needed to make the icing on the table: a bowl, a spoon, the gallon of milk, a measuring cup, and…
"Is that… Oh, yes, it is!" Ash exclaimed excitedly, a sliver of drool running out of the side of his mouth as Misty set a bag down in front of him along with the other items. "CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR!"
Misty eyed his lolling tongue with distain. "Oh, Ash! You almost ate the whole bag of plain sugar, so don't you even think about eating anymore!"
"But, Misty!" Ash whined, his shoulders drooping, "You wouldn't let me eat any of the sugar! You only just let me lick the spoon!"
"Ash, you do not need any more sugar!"
"Misty! It's… it's calling to me! It wants me to eat it! It's so captivating! It's so… so… seductive!"
Misty blinked. "…I can't believe that word just came out of your mouth. …Where did you hear that?"
Ash shrugged completely innocently. "Brock."
"Ugh!" Misty put a hand to her head, as Ash began to whimper under his breathe, staring unblinkingly at the bag, "Why does it seem like this cake is supposed to be for me? I feel like your mom."
"Well, if you were my mom, you'd let me lick some sugar," Ash reasoned stubbornly, crossing his arms mulishly, "especially since it's confectioner's sugar."
"What's so special about confectioner's sugar," Misty spat back, crossing her arms. Then, before she knew it, Ash had (in one extraordinarily swift movement) reached into the bag with his bare (and sticky) hand, scooped out a small scoop of fluffy confectioner's sugar, and smeared it across Misty's lips. With a small gasp, she stumbled backwards a bit, loose sugar scattering down onto her shirt, shorts, and suspenders.
"ASH! You nasty…" Misty started into a tantrum, and then stopped, for her tongue tasted the white powder. She paused for a second, then her eyes closed in ecstasy as she licked the sugar off of her lips happily. Just as Ash hadn't, she hadn't eaten any breakfast either. Ash, grinning naughtily, took her distraction as a chance to scoop himself a palm-full of sugar and lap it up quickly. After a moment, Misty opened her eyes, and a small grin formed on her face.
"All right, Ash… you won… it… it tastes too good…" Misty slowly acknowledged, her voiced pained but happy.
"It's even better," Ash said slyly, waving the spoon back and forth, "when you mix it with milk…"
Misty glanced heavenward, but the grin was still on her face. "Peer pressure," she muttered, then giving in, quickly sat down next to Ash at the kitchen table.
Soon, there was a large bowl of creamy-colored icing mixed up sitting on the table between them. There was nothing left in the bag of confectioner's sugar, and not a lot of milk left either. Ash and Misty were vigorously licking the icing, and because they had just one clean spoon left, they each took one of the sides to lick, so as to not spread any more germs than they already were. Ash dunked the spoon once more into the bowl, a muddled smile on his face. He chuckled for no reason, and Misty giggled even harder at his laughter. It was all quite bizarre.
After a moment, Max stumbled into the kitchen doorway. His arms were loaded down with candles… but they weren't birthday cake candles. They were thick candles, tall candles, short candles, scented candles, and candles with hardened wax down their sides. Regular, normal, everyday candles. He picked his way gently across the powdered kitchen floor, and set the candles in a jumbled pile on the edge of the table. He glanced over at Ash and Misty, who were both trying to lick the spoon at the same time.
"My Ho-oh," Max muttered, slightly astounded, "…You're both high."
"It's just…hee hee… sugar," Ash chuckled, as Misty said slyly, "It's very… seductive." This clearly confirmed Max's assumption that they had been eating way too much sugar for way too long a time.
"I'm sure it is," Max muttered dryly, in answer to Misty's comment. Suddenly, he sniffed the air and muttered in mild surprise, "That's funny. I haven't lit any of these candles yet, but I think… I think I smell something burning."
After a moment, Ash and Misty's sugar-induced stupor disappeared at they glanced at one another in dismay.
May hurried to get a firmer grip on the grocery bags she was holding as they started to slip out of her hand. She glanced over at Brock, who was walking beside her, nervously, and he returned the strained face himself. Brock repositioned his grocery bags in his arms, too. Luckily, their checkout line had taken a long time, because Mrs. Ketchum had seemed to get a little suspicious as Brock and May had staged a fake debate over which kind of flour to buy, their only plan for a time killer.
Delia walked in front of them, her arms also loaded with grocery bags, her eyes blinking sadly at the ground. She had wished so hard that Ash would remembered what day it was, even though she knew that Professor Oak's lab had been a major distraction and that Ash would probably remember later. She shook the thought from her head. Delia, birthdays aren't so important anymore, she thought, scolding herself, you're an adult. And remember, you aren't completely forgotten! Samuel is going to come by for tea when he and Gary get back, which will be wonderful, and Ash is sure to remember… someday. She wondered a bit if she should say anything, but yet again, she decided not to.
She had almost past her own house before she glanced up from the dirt road. She quickly corrected herself, hoping that her son's friends wouldn't notice that she was so preoccupied. She walked up the sidewalk to the porch, Brock and May shuffling close behind apprehensively. Delia was just putting the key in the lock when she heard a muffled thud coming from inside the house. She froze. In the past, when Ash was little, a muffled thud from inside the house was never a good thing, and though he was older, she still didn't see how something could not be wrong. She quickly turned the key and rushed inside the house, Brock and May quickly following and setting the groceries down beside the ones Mrs. Ketchum had left in the foyer. They stopped beside Mrs. Ketchum, who was standing frozen in the living room doorway.
From the kitchen, a frazzled and haggard Max stumbled out. All three observers flinched to see his green polo shirt and brown shorts and everything on him from head to toe covered in a mysterious white powder. Also, both lenses of his black-rimmed glasses were covered in a white paste, rendering the boy totally blind. He stumbled forward a few paces, arms stretched out, and fell over the back of the living room couch onto the cushions. He landed on a napping Pikachu, who gave a great shriek of surprise and Thundershocked that which had crushed him. Pikachu scampered off the couch, and went to nurse his tail under the coffee table, while great plumes of smoke rose from Max's stunned body and the smell of scorched hair perfumed the air. He sat still for a moment, and then muttered, almost to himself, "I hate flour. I hate flour… and sugar… and, ugh… icing. …But at least… but at least… I escaped… alive…"
Mrs. Ketchum, Brock, and May stampeded through the living room to the kitchen doorway, only May pausing for a second to see if her little brother was still breathing. He was, so she quickly joined the others, and gasped at the same time as they did.
The kitchen was something out of a culinary horror story. The first thing they noticed was the oven. The door was open and black smoke was hovering thickly inside. Great waterfalls of water were dripping out from the corners of the oven and had created large puddles on the floor. Misty's Staryu was leaning against the kitchen wall limply, its bright pink jewel blinking, a measure of fatigue. The floor was the second thing that was noticed. It was so caked in white mushy powder, which had mixed with some water, that no one could tell what color the tile was underneath it. However, the floor matched just about everything else in the room. The tabletop was covered in white powder, and at the table was where Ash and Misty sat. Both were also covered from head to toe in patches of white. Misty's ponytail was hanging limply beside her face, and there was some sticky whiteness in Ash's hair. Both were spreading some of the sticky stuff with dull knives across a gigantic mound of a bubbly something, behind which sat at least seventeen candles of various origins, all lit and burning. A single lonely red cake candle was stuck precariously on the top of the bubbly mound, also lit, with the tiniest flickering flame of them all.
Ash and Misty didn't notice the three standing in the doorway, because the observers were all stunned silent. At the sight of the wrecked kitchen, Delia's first thought wasn't anger; it was, in fact, a strange curiosity, which, after a moment, turned into a somewhat hopeful inquisitiveness. If this was what she thought it was…
Brock was completely appalled at the mess, as he loved making and keeping things neat, but he was quite curious to find out where they had gotten any flour. Seeing Staryu, he realized that he had made a good choice in convincing Misty to stay with Ash instead of May. She really didn't let the house burn down!
May was staring at the candles all lined up with their flames moving back and forth gently. She leaned over to Brock and whispered, "Look at all of those candles. It looks more like a funeral in here than a birthday party…" She glanced over at the deformed mound that Ash and Misty were icing. "Maybe it's a funeral for that thing they're putting icing on… oh, wait… is that-"
"The Cake!" Ash moaned to himself, on the verge of sobbing, "Oh, the Cake! It's-" Suddenly, Ash saw his mom standing in the doorway beside his friends, and his heart almost stopped.
Misty glanced at Ash's frozen face, then glanced up to see what he was looking at. She jumped in her chair at seeing who was there. "…Um, hi, Mrs. Ketchum…" Misty spoke softly, not knowing what else to say. She quickly returned Staryu to its Pokéball.
Ash could feel the mess looming up around him, and felt very shamed. Delia watched as her flour- and sugar-covered son's russet eyes slowly fell to the mucky floor. It was totally silent for a moment, then, Ash had the courage to say only two things, a phrase that he whispered with the most solemn and sad sincerity that any of the people in the room had ever heard.
It was a few seconds before anybody said a word. Then, "Oh, Ash!" Delia muttered, her hands clasped together. Suddenly, she started to step swiftly across the white-covered floor towards her son. Misty quickly got up from her chair, and let Delia scoot it right next to Ash's and sit next to her son, whose eyes were still of the floor. Delia put her arm around his shoulders, and suddenly, Ash broke down into tears. "Oh, honey!" Delia felt tears well up in her own chocolate eyes, and squeezed him to her.
Anytime Ash ever cried, it always affected everyone else immensely. Abruptly, Brock bit his lip, May let tears openly slide down her face, Max (who had wiped off his glasses and stood next to his sister in the doorway) quickly put a fist between his glasses and his face to stop the tears, Pikachu (who had joined the others also) let his ears droop, and Misty rubbed at her eyes with the back of a hand until the skin under her eyes was pink.
"I ruined it," Ash suddenly spoke up, "I ruined everything. I messed up your birthday cake. I totally ruined it-"
"I helped ruin it," Misty spoke up, so Ash couldn't take all of the credit.
"-and I messed up the kitchen, and your birthday and everything's ruined," Ash sighed, tears continuing to roll down his cheek.
"Ash, honey," Delia murmured gently, "I… don't worry about all of this dear," Ash looked as if he was about to protest, so Delia went on, "I don't mind about the kitchen… it's just… I…" a small smile came to her face, "…I didn't realize that you knew it was my birthday."
Ash glanced up at his mom, looking her right in the eyes, his mouth opened slightly. "Of course!" he gasped out in a whisper. "Of course I know it's your birthday! How could I not know? I mean, I may have forgotten until yesterday, but I planned on being here for it! That's why I came home when I did, because I haven't been here on your birthday for the last couple of years, and I wanted to make it up to you…" He sighed slightly. "…Mom? …I… I'm sorry all of this happened. I'm sorry I couldn't bake you a birthday cake… I tried… but…I just… I just wanted to make you happy. I just… I just wanted to show you… how much you mean to me… because of all of the things you do for me… worry about me, take care of me, cook me lots of food… even remind me to change my, uh… you-know-what. …I just… I tried to do this because… I just wanted to show you… how much I love you. …I love you, mom."
Everyone immediately broke into a fresh batch of tears. Brock finally let go and leaned his sobbing face on May's shoulder. May rubbed the back of his shoulders, sniffling hard. Max and Pikachu, even through their tears, glanced at May and Brock, then at each other, as if to say, "Bizarre…"
"Oh, Ash, honey," Delia sobbed, "I love you, too!" Suddenly, Ash was wrapped up in the warm embrase of a contented mother.
There is no better place on Earth than that.
After a few happy/sad moments of joyful/heartbreaking tears, Delia glanced up at all of her son's friends and his favorite Pokémon. The two girls, the two boys, and the electric mouse all felt like sons and daughters to her, too, and she realized all of their parts in trying to help her birthday go right. Suddenly, she motioned for them to come to her, and one giant hug was formed around herself and Ash. Misty held onto Delia on the opposite side of Ash, and May came to hug her beside Misty. Brock hugged Delia (perhaps a little to close, for Misty was too preoccupied to stop him) from behind, Pikachu leapt into her lap, and Max kneeled in the white-powdered floor and hugged Delia's knees. They were certainly quite a family.
The family held onto one another for a long moment. Then, on Brock's quick cue, all of the children and Pokémon shouted, "Happy Birthday!" Ash added "Mom" onto the end of the phrase, Pikachu added "Mom" in Pikachuian, Misty and May and Max all added "Mrs. Ketchum", and Brock managed to slip in and call her "Delia".
"I love you, Mom," Ash whispered again, "I hope… you've learned that."
"Oh, I have," Delia whispered back playfully, "I have learned that, but I learned it again. You see, Ash, I knew it all along!"
"Yeah, well, we all need reminding from time to time," Ash insisted shyly, and Delia knew that this was true. She certainly had needed the reminder, and this reminder, though messy, had certainly made this one of the best birthdays that she could ever remember.
The disastrous kitchen became silent for a moment. The flames flickered gently on their wicks on the candles, and some icing slowly oozed off of a steep side of the demonic-looking cake. Then, Max whispered from his seat on the white-coated floor, "There's one thing I've learned… something that no one should ever let Ash and Misty do again."
"What's that?" Delia spoke softly, so as to not disturb the silence, glanced down at the boy.
" 'Let them bake cake'! "
I hope that this little fan fic can satisfy my readers and reviewers until the next chapter of Cavern is posted. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and if you haven't read The Tennis Racket (As In Commotion, Not Equipment) and like funny AAMLs, it's pretty good. Thanks again, and please, of course, review this thing! Eevee, out!