Title: Red Velvet or Nothing
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, story isn't yours.
Notes: A sketchfic I wrote for an anon kink meme on LJ, which... um, isn't so anon anymore, is it? Oh well, I don't think anyone on LJ actually knows I even exist here, whatever. And yes, I did write fluff for a kink meme (the prompt was 'food'). I suck like that.
Red Velvet or Nothing
One of the things that Pence has never told people is that when he met Roxas, he gave him a cupcake.
"Chocolate," Pence explains. "It's supposed to be dessert, but my mom forgot and packed an extra pudding cup, so I figured you should have it."
The cupcake is fist-sized, playfully dotted with sprinkles and frothing with the kind of icing that is an exactly identical yet totally different shade of cocoa-brown, and at first Roxas just stares at it in what Pence thinks is mute horror, until he looks up and says, in a tone of voice much too grave for his meager seven years:
"I hate chocolate."
"Oh," Pence says, trying not to sound deflated. "That's a shame. I really like it, and it took forever to convince my mom to let me use the oven—she still stood there the whole time and watched, it was so annoying—but I followed the re—um, recipe exactly, and yeah, I think it came out alright!"
There's a pause in which Pence's sure he's turning sixteen shades of red, and attempts to decipher the thought process behind voluntarily admitting to a) baking and b) liking it on the first day of grade school. In this regard, he mostly fails, but figures he's got a good thing going anyway when Roxas reaches over and accepts the offering silently, blue eyes wide with amusement or maybe complete mystification.
The next time he sees Roxas, he's standing by the monkey bar with Hayner half draped across him in a way that shouldn't be obscene but really is. Hayner is gesticulating animatedly, and this is how Pence knows he has just inducted Roxas into the radiance of his influence and is now instructing him on the many and various ways in which he rules.
Roxas just looks philosophically bored, until he sees Pence approaching them. Pence briefly considers veering off, on account of that Hayner kind of intimidates him and frankly, he still isn't sure how that whole chocolate cupcake thing went down. But then Roxas cracks a tiny smile in his direction, no teeth, and Pence just has to stop and decide it's fascinating, not least because it's the first time he's seen him do it.
"Hayner," Roxas says, turning to his friend. "You know Pence?"
Hayner gives him a long, surveying glance, and before Pence has registered it, he's got one arm slung around Pence's shoulder, saying excitedly into his ear, "Pence, what's your opinion on water bombs, do you think they're awesome, and don't you agree that this girl Olette in my arts and crafts class has cooties and should totally get some--"
Later, when they're sharing a desk in sixth period math, Roxas writes on the margin of Pence's notebook: 'Thanks for the cupcake. It was pretty good.'
Pence smiles all the way to three twenty-five pm, and tells his mom he had a wonderful first day when she picks him up after school.
Over the years, Pence's baking prowess maintains an exponentially direct relationship with, say, his burgeoning interest in mathematics and com-sci. Olette is the second person to find out—not long after the whole cooties and water bombs debacle and their utter and total defeat at her hand—and she's nice about it, pesters him to trade recipes. Hayner clues in by the end of the third grade and immediately demands to be cut in on a portion of the spoils.
Still, for no reason either of them is willing to examine at length, Roxas remains Pence's primary test subject.
By the time they graduate to junior high, Pence has learned that Roxas's (heretical) distaste for all things chocolate doesn't extent to red velvet, and he has a weakness for air-light cream cheese frosting. He is also partial to the chai latte-vanilla, responds well to the peanut butter chips, but absolutely draws the line at the spiced pumpkin with cinnamon cream batch that Pence spent for-freaking-ever on that one year.
Despite his incalculable genius and very vast resources, all of Pence's attempts to incorporate sea-salt ice cream flavor into his cupcakes to date have been largely unsuccessful.
For Roxas's thirteenth birthday, Pence whips up a batch of fragrant lemon cupcakes flecked with coconut and zest so delicious that he's sorely tempted to eat it all himself, and subsequently discovers Roxas's acute and deadly allergy to citrus.
Pence cries all the way to the hospital. He cries quietly in the waiting room while the doctors are seeing to his friend, injecting liquid and adjusting the epinephrine dosage, and is still choking back sniffles when Roxas's parents come up to tell him, in tones equal parts affectionate and exasperated, that it's not his fault at all, the reaction really wasn't that bad, and Roxas's doing fine, won't Pence go in and see him?
"I just thought you balked at the orange stuff because you hated the color—not that you were allergic to it," he mourns later, playing with the starched edge of white hospital sheets. "I could've killed you." Then another thought occurs to him, "If you knew about the allergy, why did you eat the cupcakes anyway?"
But Roxas keeps his eyes shut and doesn't elaborate.
"I have something for you."
Pence startles at this announcement. Roxas has been acting weird all day—he kept insisting that they checked out the haunted mansion, and then, once they got there, practically zoned out the entire time. He's made progress in the direction of Normalville since, however, and even sounded stable enough on the phone when Pence called to invite him over to his house after dinner, which goes to show that you can't trust in appearances.
He looks up to the sight of Roxas holding out a wrinkled paper bag, curiously clammy and uncomfortable, eyes downcast. Cautiously, he takes it, still keeping an eye out for further manifestations of mental disturbance, and looks inside to find--
A lumpy, misshapen, garishly pink cupcake. Smelling heavily of powdered sugar.
"It's very." He fishes around for a word, trying not to shudder visibly and suppress the kneejerk desire to throw the travesty out the window. "Pink. It's very pink. Why is it pink?"
"It was supposed to be white," Roxas mumbles, palming the back of his neck. "I bought the wrong frosting."
"Wait," Pence says, because seriously, what the hell? "You baked this?"
"I blame the cupcakes," Roxas says seriously. "You fed me too many of them and now I'm gay."
Pence blinks. Then he says, "I don't see how that's a bad thing."
There's enough casual self-deprecation there, still, to shrug everything off as one of those awkward teenage things you look back on and laugh about ten years down the line, but he also seems to feel an undercurrent here, pulling him in a different direction, and maybe part of him just wants to think that. Maybe part of him doesn't care.
Even so, he's pretty damn relieved when Roxas mutters, "Screw this," stalks across the floor and kisses him, shy and fast and red-eared. It's dry and uncomfortable, close-mouthed, but when Roxas makes to pull away Pence just reels him back in, and then the paper bag with the ugly cupcake drops to the floor and is promptly trampled over as they fall all over each other on their desperate quest to, well, fall all over each other.
"You owe me a cupcake," Roxas says, his mouth sliding wetly to Pence's ear. "A really tasty one," and Pence gasps, "Sure," making plans to ice the words 'World's Worst Girlfriend' onto his next legendary feat of confectionary.
This thought will come back to haunt him, later, because eventually they are going to get to that part of the thing where someone talks about someone being the girl in relationship, and not only will that imply that they're having a relationship at all but damn if the baking won't work against him, and won't that just suck like a thing that really sucks?
It's not really a good idea to think about things that suck with someone lying on top of you. At least, Roxas kisses better than he bakes.
Roxas's fingers brush the bottom of Pence's belt buckle, deliberately, and Pence is sighing and just curving into the touch when his mom knocks on the door, saying, "Roxas, dear, your mother just called. I think you ought to be going."
As they hastily peel off each other, Roxas hits the mattress and mutters a word Pence wasn't even aware he knew. He wants to raise an eyebrow, but is sidetracked by one of those rueful smiles again—vintage Roxas, sweet and low and all drawn-out like summer lemonade with the ice on the side, even if Pence doesn't think he'll ever be gay enough to actually say that aloud.
"I'll see you tomorrow at the hideout," Roxas says, breathy and uncertain. "Maybe, after that—maybe I can come by again?"
"Yeah," Pence says, kissing him quickly. "That'd—that'd be nice."
Pence goes to sleep that night, dreaming of pink frosting and the relation thereof to smooth, lightly tanned skin. In the morning, he has to scramble to change his sheets and bury them at the bottom of the laundry hamper before his mom comes up to ask why he's not at the breakfast table. Then he goes to meet Hayner and Olette at the Usual Spot.
One of the things that Pence has never told people is that he bakes the best cupcakes in town. He thinks this is the kind of secret to which his friends and family are only willing to pretend ignorance out of respect for his naturally reticent personality, and not actually a secret at all, but he appreciates their effort anyway and compensates his nearest and dearest with premium pastries accordingly.
One afternoon, he and Olette are both elbow-deep in flour, making southern style red velvet cupcakes from scratch. Around them, the kitchen is fragrant and sun-flecked, warm against a chilly Twilight December. Good food, good company. Pence says, "Remember that cupcake I gave you on the first day of school?"
Olette looks bewildered for a moment, movements suspended, until a flash of recollection crosses the deep green of her eyes and she gives him a fond gaze. "Oh yeah. Chocolate, wasn't it? You got lucky—it's my favorite flavor."
Pence returns her smile. "If it hadn't been for that, I don't think we would have become friends," he muses, breaking another egg into the batter.
A/N: The ending shouldn't confuse anyone who's played the game, but if it does... leave me a comment and I'll clarify all. Yes, this is a clever review whoring ploy.
(Seriously, though, everyone knows Roxas disappears at the end of the prologue, right?)