Hiding a Tree in a Forest
By Alea Seikou

Disclaimer: I do not own The Recipe for Gertrude that pleasure belongs to Nari Kusakawa. I merely screw around with the characters to satisfy my own amusement.

Summary: They were trying to find a recipe after all. It was only a matter of time before Sahara thought to search the kitchen.

. o . o . o . o . o . o .

If Sahara had ever doubted her family's normalcy in the first place she may have been more surprised at the decided lack of secret vaults, underground lairs, and creepy books in their house. However, as things were, she remained determined to make sure no stone go unturned... If only so she could tell Gertrude where the recipe wasn't.

It wasn't tucked in between her father's fishing magazines. Or hidden among Shakespeare and Bacon in her mother's modest collection of literature. And, no matter how confusing the algorithms in her brother's stacks of excess textbooks were, Sahara was positive that Y and X were not the proper formula for making a demon.

Still as she geared up for the final room, she was willing to admit that she might have been going about this search in completely the wrong way. Hands on hips, Sahara stared skeptically at the surrounding gleam of chrome appliances in her mother's pristine white kitchen.

After all, they were searching for a recipe.

Her exploring was done in a systematic fashion. Starting low in the cabinets, working her way up past old phone books and lost mixer attachments, she proceeded sift through recipe cards, cooking pamphlets, and finally the books.

Dutifully browsing through a several sleekly covered volumes Sahara was about to concede defeat when, tottering on top of a footstool on her tiptoes in a vain attempt to reach into dark recesses of the cabinet over the fridge, her outstretched fingers brushed up against leather. With a creative bit of stretching, braced between chair and fridge, a slow smile spread across the girl's face as her hand drew up to wrap solidly around her find and with a yank she freed the book from its hiding spot.

"Ah ha!" Sahara's smug, victory grin, however, was short lived. Almost immediately the added weight of the thick leather bound book began to have an adverse affect on her delicate balancing act.

Tipping dangerously backwards she gave a frightened squeak, her free arm flailed briefly before the girl managed to lunge forward and resume clinging to the fridge like an oddly shaped magnet.

At which point, Sahara wisely decided it would be best to examine her find when both of her feet were back firmly on the ground.

Blowing on the old, dusty cover, Sahara sneezed. Then cringed as she watched the floating grime drift down to cling on the formerly spotless counters with gleeful disregard.

Determinedly looking away from her growing mess of things that would need to be cleaned before her parents came home, Sahara locked her full attention on her find. Carefully turning over the leather book in her hands, she flipped open the cover.

The thrill of new discovery lasted only through the first page.

...Spiced Ginger Snaps...

A recipe, a great many of them in fact. She skipped through a handful of pages, scanning the ingredient lists in a half-hearted attempt to determine the book's authenticity. Her examination went as expected. No apparent secret codes, false pages, or demon constructional methods, what she had found was undeniably a cook book.

A desert one at that.

With several variations of strawberry shortcake.

Distracted despite herself, Sahara leafed through the baking instructions faintly wondering whether or not Gertrude liked strawberries.

It proved to be her undoing.

"Susugi?"

"Mom!" For the second time that day Sahara nearly lost the thick, recipe book to gravity. Juggling the book briefly, she managed a quick lunge and hastily clutched the thing against her chest. Wide eyed, she turned towards her mother. "What are you doing here?"

A legitimate question as Sahara could have swore she'd planned her searching for a time when both her mother and father should have been gone for hours.

Apparently she had been mistaken.

"I finished my errands." Several plastic shopping bags were raised in evidence, Sahara's mother continued to take in the sorry state of the cookbook covered kitchen. "Though, I could ask you the same question Susugi. What on earth are you doing?"

Put on the spot, Sahara answered with intelligence and grace. "I...er..um that is.."

"Sweets?" Scanning the dessert recipe held visible in her daughter's arms, understanding dawn on the older woman's face amd she began to chuckle lightly. "You have been rather busy lately. I'd begun to wonder if you'd found someone special..."

"What?!" Sahara flushed, her voice squeaking sharply in embarrassment as just what her mother was implying sank in. All but tossing the book down on the available counter space beside her, she waved her hands in dismissal. "No. It's not like that at all."

"Oh?" Her mother arched a brow as Sahara shook her head emphatically.

A bit of quick thinking and the girl realized she had an excuse handy.

"Cooking Class!" Sahara explained, hurriedly concocting an assignment as she folded her hands in front of her and feigned complete innocence. "We're supposed to be doing outside research for Cooking Class."

"Of course, I had forgotten you were taking cooking." The older woman smiled, not unknowingly at her daughter's flustered appearance. Setting the bags on the counter, Sahara's mother laid a hand fondly on the worn cover. "I'd thought I lost this one ages ago. I can't imagine where you must of found it."

Sahara managed a sheepish grin, suspecting that the kitchen's appearance was explanation enough.

"Just make sure you clean up after yourself, Susugi. All right?" Shaking her head lightly, Sahara's mother turned around and began making her way back out of the kitchen, for all appearances, intending to leave her daughter to her own devices.

"All right."

"Oh," Her mother paused momentarily in the doorframe. A finger to her lips as though just remembering something. "And we have strawberries in the bottom drawer of the fridge." Her mother remarked with an offhand air, a hint of mischief hidden in her eyes. "But I'd recommend getting another stick of butter."

. . .

The next day saw Sahara, neatly boxed confection in hand, through the doorway of a misleadingly nondescript house.

Simultaneously kicking off her shoes and tugging off her scarf in one hand, she plopped the package on the coffee table.

Puppen immediately gravitated to the gift, drooling eagerly, only to get his hand smacked by a scolding Marionette.

"But its cake." The plea may have been more effective if it wasn't for his scowl as he rubbed his offended appendage.

"I can tell." Again Puppen was met with more scolding as Marionette snatched the box away before there could be a second attempt at gluttony. "Let me get plates out first."

"You're early," grinning in silent amusement Gertrude took his attention away from the bickering puppet masters towards his guest. His gaze turned curious as the girl flushed slightly before quickly whirling around to face the coatrack. Watching her fumble about in her efforts to shed the rest of her outerwear, he tilted his head questioningly. "Sahara?"

"It's nothing." Hastily shaking off the potentially embarrassing query, she moved to take her usual seat on the sofa across from him, and instead offered up her brightest smile as a distraction. "I hope you like strawberries."

. o . o . o . o . o . o .

Because the statement 'We don't have a secret vault or anything.' just begged to be elaborated upon.