The Misadventures of Birthday Cakes

Description: It's Temari's birthday, and Kankuro and Gaara decide to bake her a cake. Or try to. Humor/crack fic. Post Episode 32 Shippuuden.

Disclaimer: All characters and the Naruto-verse are copyrighted by Masashi Kishimoto and Weekly Shonen Jump. I am making no profit; this is just for fun.

A/N: Set after Episode 32 of Naruto: Shippuuden. This is a one-shot and was written for a contest on Deviant Art. Ariel-D co-wrote it with me because I have a massive sinus headache and am jet-lagged. She wrote Kankuro's dialogue and helped covert it to prose from our MSN RP.

Translations (jic): "ototo" means younger brother, and "jan" is a non-sense word Kankuro puts on the end of some of his sentences (like how some Canadians say "eh?" sometimes).

Kankuro stood in the Kazekage mansion's kitchen reading a cake box. It was Temari's birthday, and as usual he was in charge of baking the birthday cake. Since Gaara and Temari were both terrible cooks, he'd resigned himself to this fate long ago—and he was good at it, even if he had to say so himself.

Gaara wandered into the kitchen, glanced toward the preheating oven, then looked at his brother. His Kazekage kimono was wrinkled and his eyes blurry.

"Oh, hey," Kankuro said. "I didn't expect you to get out of the office this early."

"Eh?" Gaara blinked slowly and seemed to focus on the cake box his brother held. "What are you doing?"

Kankuro smiled at the way Gaara asked the obvious, then raised an eyebrow. "Long day, huh? Well, I'm making Temari's birthday cake. Want to help? I'm thinking about making an upside-down cake, actually."

"Upside-down cake?" Gaara's brow furrowed, then he glanced upward. "So you bake it on the ceiling?"

Kankuro tried hard to keep a neutral expression. "Er, no." He wondered briefly if he should just send his brother off to have a nap instead. "Uh, let's just make a normal one, jan. I got a yellow cake mix since she prefers that." He handed Gaara the box. "Would you get the supplies, like the water, oil, and eggs? I'll get rest." He headed off to collect the mixer, mixer bowl, and pan.

Meanwhile, Gaara stared at the box. "Okay." He wandered around the kitchen, gathering the necessary supplies and setting them on the counter.

Kankuro joined him once he had his supplies. "Thanks," he said, taking the box from Gaara. He opened it, poured in the mix, and then added the water, oil, and eggs. "Pretty easy, huh?"

Gaara watched with a glazed look. "I guess."

Kankuro lowered the beaters into the bowl and mixed the ingredients, then frowned. "Wait a minute!"

Gaara jumped slightly, as though he'd nearly fallen asleep, then raised a hairless brow. "What? Did I grab the wrong kind of oil? What's wrong?"

"Actually . . ." Kankuro cringed, all too aware of Gaara's long history of destroying recipes. "I think you gave me twice the amount of water we needed."

Gaara snatched up the box and looked at it. "B-but you said you needed water. I thought you would know how much to put in." He grimaced and looked abashed. "How do we fix it?"

Kankuro wracked his brain, trying to think quickly. "Well, I already mixed it, so we can't. The cake won't rise properly, and the texture will be weird. It'll be thick, almost like brownies." He pondered the problem. "Well, maybe if I cook it longer . . ." He glanced at the cabinets, realising what he had to do. "And maybe add a bit of extra flour." He rushed to the cupboard and retrieved the flour bag.

Gaara stuck his finger into the cake mix, pulled it out, and licked it. "At least it tastes fine."

"Careful!" Kankuro thunked down the flour and yanked Gaara's finger away from his mouth. "Raw eggs, remember?"

Gaara stared at his finger. "Right." He leaned against the counter and frowned. "Wait. Isn't Temari home right now? Don't you want to surprise her? She could walk in on this."

"We'll try to be quiet." Kankuro winced at that thought. "Okay, extra flour." He shook a handful in. "I have no idea how much more to add." He tossed in a bit more and then mixed it. "Well, this seems to be the right consistency." He paused and wiped his brow. "Man, if we screw up this cake, Temari'll kill us, jan."

Gaara flinched, clearly not relishing that idea. "Yes. And the mix looks like biscuits." He got another cup of water and set it on the counter. "It's not supposed to look that thick, right?"

"No, no." Kankuro held up his hands. "We're good here. Our problem is too much water. It needs to look about this thick." He grabbed the bowl and headed for the greased pan. "Only one way to find out." He poured the batter into the pan. "This should be interesting." After popping the pan into the oven, he glanced sheepishly at his younger brother. "While that cooks, we could plan what we'll do with the icing."

Gaara nodded. "I can handle that."

"You can?" Kankuro asked, the words escaping his mouth before he could stop himself.

Gaara pulled the icing sugar out of the pantry. "I've seen you do it before." He returned to the counter and slapped down the sugar bag; a huge cloud of sugar flew into the air, causing him to cough.

Kankuro tried to fan away the dust cloud but ended up laughing as the sugar settled on the front of Gaara's robes. "Oops." He grinned, then handed the dirty mixing bowl to his brother. "Wait, wait. We need to clean up our first mess before we move on."

Gaara nodded and accepted the bowl while Kankuro threw away the egg shells and put up the egg carton. Meanwhile, Gaara set the bowl in the sink, grabbed the water sprayer, and turned on the facet. A jet of water shot through the air and hit Kankuro's arm.

The older boy yelped. "Careful, ototo!" He stopped and stared at Gaara's robes, which were now smeared with batter, too. "Uh, you just got batter on you. Didn't you notice the stuff on the rim?"

Gaara blinked at him sleepily. "No." He glanced down, seeming rather frazzled.

Kankuro couldn't help it; he laughed again. "Oh, man. You're such a mess now."

"I can't lick it off, can I?" Gaara ran one finger through the mess.

"Er . . . well, people lick the spoon and beaters all the time." Kankuro frowned. "But there's a small chance you could get salmonella poisoning from the eggs."

Gaara's brow furrowed. "I'd rather not push it, then." He let go of the water sprayer, and it retracted with a snap. He cringed. "Sorry. I'm trying to be quiet, but—"

He was interrupted by the sound of Temari's voice from the hallway. "Kankuro? Are you in there? I need to talk to you about something."

Gaara rushed toward the door, then stopped and looked at his dirty kimono. Kankuro scrambled past him and stepped through the doorway. He held up his hands, stopping Temari's approach. "Yeah, I'm cooking something, jan. Can it wait? Or is it something quick?"

Temari cocked her head, apparently finding her brother's behavior odd. "Well, it's not pressing . . . yet. I was just—" She paused. "Hey, is there something wrong?"

Kankuro glanced over his shoulder in time to see Gaara dump the icing sugar into a clean bowl and cough as it spewed into his face. "Uh, no," he replied, distracted by what he was seeing. Gaara grabbed the water and dumped it into the sugar, apparently trying to defuse the sugar cloud.

"You sure?" Temari asked, drawing her brother's attention back to her.

Kankuro faced her again but made sure he blocked her view of the kitchen. "No, really. It's fine, jan." He tried to give her a reassuring smile. "What's up?"

Temari cocked an eyebrow, looking doubtful. "If you say so. Well, I was talking to Baki, and—"

Gaara interrupted her from the kitchen. "Kankuro, you know when I said I was going to clean the kitchen today? Well, I've put the sugar and water away . . ." He sounded awkward, like he didn't quite know how to phrase his question. "What should go in the cupboard after that?"

Temari's eyes widened. "Why the hell is he putting water in the cupboard?"

For a moment, Kankuro thought he'd die. "I . . . er . . . He's not. He's just tired and that came out wrong." He glanced back and forth between them quickly. "Uh, ask me later, Temari. Gaara's a bit out of it, so I need to help him here." He made shooing motions with his hands.

Temari snorted. "Whatever. You guys go ahead and have your male bonding moment. Just make sure he doesn't, say, try to put the sugar down the sink. We don't need a plumbing bill today."

Kankuro felt his stomach sink. "Right." He rushed back into the kitchen. "What, now? I didn't quite get what you were asking." He glanced at the bowl with the sugar and water and then took in the sight of the sugar all over the counter. "Oh, boy."

Gaara cringed. "Yeah. Uh . . . I put the water in. Now what?"

"You need Crisco." Kankuro pulled the jar out of the cabinet and added the shortening. "Then stir it until you get the right consistency. Once you have, you use the mixer to finish up." He bit his lip, hoping Gaara didn't put in too much water again.

Gaara stirred the icing furiously for a minute until it blended, then Kankuro passed him the electric mixer. The oven timer dinged.

"How do you—" Gaara began.

"I'll get that," Kankuro interrupted, turning toward the oven. However, out of the corner of his vision he saw Gaara turn on the blender and point it at the icing. He whirled back, trying to grab his brother's wrist. "Wait!"

Too late. Gaara had turned the mixer on high and stuck it in the icing. He yelped as bits and pieces of icing sugar flew out and splattered the kitchen.

Kankuro stared with hooded eyes at his brother. "Er, ototo. Don't ever start the mixer first. Put it in the bowl and then turn on the mixer." He sighed softly as he wiped icing off his forehead.

Gaara gazed at him with what could only be described as kicked-puppy-dog eyes. Icing sugar dripped from his bangs. "Yeah . . ." He slowly moved the mixer around the bowl, looking much like a six-year-old caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

Kankuro patted his shoulder. "It's okay." His tone was one of undying patience. "You have to learn . . . somehow." He walked over to the oven and rescued the cake, which he then poked with a toothpick. "Well, it's a little flat, but not too bad. I think we might be okay." He left it on the stovetop to cool and returned to Gaara's side, feeling afraid to leave his brother alone for too long.

Gaara had turned off the mixer and pulled various food colours from the cupboard. Before Kankuro could stop him, he'd poured a few colours into the bowl and begun mixing them.

Kankuro dashed to his side, but once again, it was too late. "Uh . . ."

"I didn't think the colours would mix that fast." Gaara sounded positively traumatized.

Kankuro understood his horror; the icing was now a putrid brown, much like dog poop. "That's an interesting hue."

Gaara stared at the bowl, then took out the mixer and thunked it on the counter. He stared at the icing with a look of pure malice. "It looks like . . ." He couldn't seem to say what Kankuro suspected they were both thinking.

Kankuro tried to salvage the moment. "Well, it kinda looks like . . ." He paused, the truth nearly slipping out. "Well, we'll claim we were trying for chocolate brown."

"Lots of 'chocolate.'" Gaara sounded like he was definitely using word substitution. His slightly widened eyes also revealed his utter mortification. "Women like chocolate, right? I mean, real chocolate. Not this."

"Yeah, most of them, jan." Kankuro ran his hand through his spiky hair. "I mean . . ." He cleared his throat. "Well, let's give it a shot. Maybe the cake has cooled down enough." He headed back to the cake and dumped it on a cake plate. "We can do this, right?" He pulled an icing spreader from the drawer.

Gaara seemed to regain his determination. He straightened his shoulders and carried over the bowl. "Temari likes purple, right?" he asked, opening the cabinet and pulling out an icing bottle.

Kankuro began spreading the brown icing, then paused. "Purple on 'brown.'" He shuddered faintly. "Let's think about this while I get the . . . brown . . . on." He resumed his efforts, spreading the icing in broad strokes.

Gaara watched him quietly for a few moments, then suddenly pointed at the cake, jabbing it with his finger. "You missed a spot!" He pulled his finger away, blushing. "Sorry. I didn't mean to do that."

"Ototo," Kankuro said, his voice one of utter patience. "I know. Try not to stab the poor cake, okay? We kinda . . . well, it needs as much help as we can give it." He spread icing over the jabbed spot.

Gaara licked the icing off his finger. "Sorry I'm causing you trouble. I was supposed to be helping." He looked crestfallen and stared at the counter.

"No, it's okay." Kankuro smiled at him as he took the purple bottle from him. "I know you're really tired today." He gestured to the cake. "Maybe I'll put three circles on it, like she has on her fan. What do you think?"

Gaara paused for a moment, and Kankuro wondered if he were pondering the question or slowly falling asleep on his feet. But finally he spoke. "It can be a cow." His tone was totally blunt and serious. "We can tell her we made an animal cake. Look, it'll have . . ." He turned his stare upon the cake. ". . . brown . . . and purple spots . . ."

Kankuro burst into laughter; it was just too bad not to laugh. "Okay." He drew three spots on the cake, arranging them like Temari's fan design. "A cow with purple spots. Or . . ." He cocked his head, considering the cake. "Maybe a box-shaped, squished moth with purple chicken pox?" He snorted. "Sorry."

Gaara's eyes widened again, and he looked perfectly traumatized. "You're right. It might look like that, too." He sighed and rubbed one temple. "I wonder what Temari wanted earlier."

"I have no idea. She probably wasn't imagining this, though." Kankuro shrugged. "Still, we tried." He angled the bottle and carefully wrote the words Happy Birthday, Temari on the cake. "There we go. At least my handwriting is basically legible." He paused to consider the poop-coloured cake with purple decorations and cringed. "Maybe we better stop here."

Gaara seemed to ponder the cake. "If you put dots on the sides, maybe it'll . . ." He trailed off. "Or not. Never mind."

Temari's voice interrupted them again. "Okay!" she yelled from the hallway. "You guys have bonded long enough. If it's okay with you, I'm sure the kitchen is spotless. But Baki is here, and as I was trying to warn you earlier, he needs us to do the birthday shindig now. He's busy later."

Gaara glanced at his dirty kimono and frowned. "Um . . ."

However, Kankuro put on a big smile, trying to hide his horror. "Okay!" He picked up the cake plate and headed into the hallway. "Happy birthday!" He presented the hideous cake to his sister, who was facing toward the dining room.

Gaara joined Kankuro, and they both watched Temari for her reaction as she turned to face them.

"Happy birthday?" she asked, turning. "What did you get me, kitchen flies . . ." Her sentence trailed off as she stared at the cake. Then she slowly moved her gaze to Gaara's ruined clothes.

"Happy birthday?" Gaara offered feebly.

Temari cracked a grin. "Ahhhh. You guys made it for me, huh?" Her smile widened, as though she were trying desperately not to burst into peels of laughter. "I see lots of elbow grease went into it."

Gaara jumped faintly. "Not literally!" He paused, apparently realising what she meant and how he sounded, then grew quiet.

Kankuro just laughed, though, and as soon as he began laughing, Temari joined him. "Well," he said once he'd gotten himself under control, "hopefully it tastes better than it looks." He paused with an expression of horror. "I hope . . ."

Gaara nodded, looking equally traumatized.

Temari burst into laughter again, and the sounds of amusement apparently drew Baki's attention because he joined them in the hallway. He gazed placidly at the cake and didn't so much as blink.

"It looks delicious," Baki said, deadpan.

Kankuro grinned. "You have amazing lying skills, Baki. You're almost as much a performer as I am." He headed toward the dining room. "Come on, you all. Time for cake."

His siblings and Baki followed him to the table, where he proceeded to torture the lot of them with the worst cake he'd ever made. As a result, Temari's favourite birthday present was Gaara's promise to never help their brother cook a cake again, but Kankuro was still satisfied that his sister had a nice birthday, even if she did spend most of it laughing at him.