+ Tales of the Abyss + Strawberry Shortcake

125g butter

125g sugar

1 egg

90 g self-raising flour

90g flour

220g strawberries

Luke ran his finger across the page, reading the recipe aloud carefully. His red hair was brushed back out of his eyes thanks to his trusty towel, and he had borrowed one of the maids' aprons to protect his clothes. Anise had been nice enough to loan him one of her precious cookbooks. The perky little twelve year old had also offered her help, which Luke politely refused. This was something he had to do himself.

Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add egg and beat well, stir in self-raising and plain flours…

With utmost care, Luke delicately cracked open the egg and added it to the large mixing bowl. So far, so good. Due to his clumsiness and secluded, upper-class upbringing, cooking had never been the young noble's forte. Despite how hard he tired, something always seemed to go wrong. But not this time. This time he was determined to get it right.

'Um, now where's that flour?' Luke asked aloud as he frantically looked around for the missing ingredient, however it was nowhere to be seen on the surrounding bench tops. After desperately searching through the cupboards, Luke finally found a lone sack of flour sitting on the top shelf. He reached up but it still sat inches away from his outstretched hand.

'Grr,' he grumbled. 'I hate being so damn short!'

Cautiously, he placed his knees upon the bench and stood up to grab the sack of flour. The bench tops where covered with spilt ingredients causing the small boy to slip and plummet to the floor, pots and pans crashing after him.

'Is everything alright in there?' A familiar voice called from down the hall, answering the loud clatter. Instantly recognizing the voice as Guy, Luke jumped to his feet, ignoring the pain from his fall, in order to meet the tall blonde at the door.

'Luke?' Guy asked in shock after seeing Luke standing in the kitchen doorway, flour on his face, dressed in an apron. 'What are you doing?' He inquired curiously, looking past the redhead into the messy kitchen.

'Uh, cooking,' Luke said sheepishly.

Guy couldn't help but laugh. 'I can see that Luke. But why?'

'It's a secret,' Luke pouted.

Guy smiled and laughed once more. 'Alright then,' he said, gently brushing some flour off Luke's cheek. Luke blushed slightly at the soft touch of Guy's fingertips against his skin.

'Just don't hurt yourself, ok?'

Luke grinned widely before shooing Guy away so he could return to cooking.

After finally completing the mixture, Luke carefully placed the uncooked cake into the oven to cook. He brushed his hands together before standing up straight to marvel at his work. He felt somewhat self-satisfied that he had managed to make a cake without making a single mistake. All that was left now was to make sure he didn't burn it. Luke glanced at the clock before bouncing off down the hall to find his friend. As he expected, Guy was in his room, fiddling with some new fontech gadget that he had acquired on his latest trip to Sheridan.

'Hey Guy! Whaccha doing?' Luke said, skipping in to the room.

Guy managed to put aside his machine only moments before Luke pounced into his arms.

'Whoa, what's gotten into you all of a sudden?' Guy asked, pleasantly surprised by Luke's cheery mood.

'Just happy,' he shrugged, burying himself deeper into Guy's chest. Guy laughed softly and put his arms around Luke's back. He took a deep breath of Luke's soft hair, the warm scent of strawberries and sugar filling his lungs.

'What exactly have you been cooking, Luke?' Guy asked.

'Something special for you,' Luke said into the blonde's chest.

'Is that so?' He replied cheerfully, despite dreading the thought.

'I even used sugar instead of salt this time!' Luke said happily. The last time the young redhead had cooked, he had mistaken salt for sugar, consequently creating very bad tasting biscuits. Guy still shuddered at the thought of them.

'Ha ha, well that's already an improvement!' The blonde laughed. Luke wriggled around so he was sitting on Guy's lap, his back pressed into his chest. Guy stretched his arms out either side of Luke's small frame and reached for his fon machine.

'What is it?' Luke asked, looking skeptically at the strange rusted device.

'I'm not sure,' Guy replied. 'I picked it up in Sheridan. They weren't even sure what it was so they gave it to me to have a play with.'

'Wouldn't you rather play with me?' Luke said casually, looking up at Guy. He blushed awkwardly.

'Oops, that came out wrong,' he said bashfully, bringing a hand up in front of his mouth in embarrassment. He then smiled innocently and rested the back of his head against Guy's should. Guy lowered his head to the side, placing it on top of Luke's.

'I love you, you know that, Guy?' He said softly.

'Yeah, I know,' Guy replied, kissing his temple tenderly. Luke nuzzled closer to Guy's neck, his breath brushing against his skin giving the blonde goose bumps.

'You make me feel needed; that I'm worth something.'

'You are worth something, Luke,' Guy said softly. It pained him to hear Luke constantly talk about his lack of self-worth. He was so lost at one time that he was utterly blind to Guy's feelings. 'And I'll always be here with you, Luke. So there will always be some one who needs you.'

Luke said nothing for a while and just sat curled up in Guy's lap while he continued to play with his fon machine. Time passed quickly and at one time Guy was certain that Luke had fallen asleep in his arms.

'Hey, Luke,' Guy said, shaking the boy slightly. Luke mumbled in response, drowsy from sleep.

'Didn't you have something in the oven?'

Luke's eyes snapped open and he burst from Guy's arms. 'Oh no!' He shouted, sprinting from the room. Guy chuckled softly to himself. Luke was completely hopeless.

'I'm so glad it didn't burn,' Luke said with a sigh as he placed his completed cake on the table in front of Guy. He had decorated it with freshly cut strawberries, and Guy had to admit, it did look pretty good. Guy cut himself a piece and hesitantly took a bite. Luke looked on in anticipation as Guy swallowed. He glanced across at Luke and placed his fork and plate down on the table. Luke's face sunk, figuring it must have been bad.

'I guess it's no good, huh?' He said sadly. 'I'm so sorry, Guy. I'm such a failure!' Tears began to form in his large, emerald eyes. 'I just wanted it to be perfect like you!

Guy laughed at Luke's comment and pulled the sobbing boy close to him. 'Oh, Luke, don't be so hard on yourself. Here, try a piece yourself.'

Guy placed a bit of cake onto his fork and brought it up to Luke's mouth. Luke ate it, and to his surprise it was actually quite nice.

'Hey! This is really good!' Luke exclaimed, sounding shocked.

'I never said it wasn't. It was you who assumed it was bad,' Guy said reassuringly.

'Hmm, maybe it's a bit too sweet,' Luke mumbled critically.

'I can think of something sweeter,' Guy whispered, leaning closer to Luke's face. He brushed some crumbs from Luke's cheek before pressing their lips together. Luke welcomed him in, tasting the strawberries in his mouth. He threw his arms around Guy's neck as the taller blonde pushed his weight on top of Luke, knocking him down on the bed. As they remained in their passionate exchange, Luke's half eaten strawberry shortcake sat neglected on the table.

© Jinnizzle 2007

Guy, Luke/Tales of the Abyss © Namco