"Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven."

-Betty Crocker slogan

Disclaimer: I own nussink!

"Hey Tsuka-chan, those brownies ready yet?" Konata called.

"Hee-hee, almost ready! They just have to cool for a bit." Tsukasa answered from the kitchen. The other three girls, seated at the low Japanese table in the Hiiragis' living room, could barely contain their anticipation. Already the warm, sweet smell of baking chocolate wafted throughout the lower story of the house.

"Ta-daaaa!" the bubbly short-haired girl announced, bringing a tray in. "I think you're really going to like this batch!"

"Well, I for one wouldn't expect any less," answered Kagami, as her twin sister put some heat protectors on the tabletop and set the tray on top.

"Well, this time I added a little something extra," Tsukasa replied.

"Ah, yes," said Miyuki, inhaling the rich scent. "They do smell…different somehow. Almost sweeter."

"Just don't eat too many, right Kagamin?" Konata said with a sly smile.

"Shut up," replied Kagami. "Maybe you should eat more; then you wouldn't be so tiny."

"Ooh, Kagamin's offering me some of her brownies? That's generous, for once." Kagami just rolled her eyes as her sister cut them each some pieces.

"Mmmm!" exclaimed Miyuki. "These really are wonderful, Tsukasa-san! There does seem to be something in here, but I can't quite make it out. Is it cinnamon?"

Tsukasa broke out in a small burst of giggles and briefly had to cover her mouth. "No," she answered sweetly.

"Nutmeg?"

Tsukasa again tittered, her cheeks stuffed with chocolate. "Noooooo…"

Kagami thought her sister had seemed a tad…giddy that afternoon, even by her standards. Was she trying to play a joke or something? Or had Konata perhaps perverted her with some dirty anecdote? Wondering what was going on, she looked into the bite she had taken out of her brownie. She thought she could make out some small greenish flecks.

"Umm, was it mint?" she asked.

"Sorta," Tsukasa answered with another burst of giggles. She swallowed another mouthful of brownie. "Remember when I got up to go to the bathroom during lunch?"

"Yeah, you were gone a while," answered Konata, having finished her brownie. "Were you constipated or something?"

Tsukasa burst out in laughter so hard that she fell over backwards. Kagami noted that ordinarily such an inappropriate comment would've made her shy twin flush red and look down at the ground. That one seemed a bit crude even for Konata. "Shut up!!! I just had to pee!" she spluttered when she recovered her breath. "Well anyway, there was a line for the one closest to Kuroi-sensei's room, and all the other ones in our wing. So I had to go all the way down to that one by the gym."

"Ugh, you mean that one that looks like it hasn't been cleaned in years?" Kagami muttered, wrinkling her nose.

"Y-yeah," Tsukasa continued, wiping her eyes. "Fortunately they had seat liners though. So when I left the stall, these other two girls walked in, looking like they were real surprised to see me. One of them had long, straight brown hair and kind of a…spacey look in her eyes. I think she had an Osaka accent too. The other had shaggy black hair and…sorta that look in her eyes Kona-chan gets when she's about to play a trick on one of us. They said they were in kind of a hurry, and they had to give me this bag of mint flakes. They smelled reeeeally nice, so I thought they'd go well in these brownies." She broke down giggling again. "They told me they use it all the time because their English teacher grows it herself. Isn't that just the funniest story ever?"

Ordinarily this remark would have infuriated Kagami. But this time…it did seem funny. She covered her mouth as a giggle seeped out. "Tsukasa, I don't think those were mint flakes."

"Mmmm!" Miyuki said, not seeming to notice. "Mmm yes, quite good. Salubrious, if I do say so myself. And very rich, bringing to mind the original form of chocolate. Did you know chocolate was first cultivated by the Aztecs, in a beverage mixed with chili pepper? Ah, speaking of chili peppers, so much of our modern cuisine traces back to the Columbian exchange; could you imagine Thai food without pepper, or a Choco Cornet without chocolate? And of course we associate bananas with Latin America, banana republics et cetera, but they originated in Africa… I believe I'll have another brownie, wouldst thou mind?"

Konata's eyes had acquired a glazed look. "Yeah Tsuka-chan, you never fail to amaze me in the kitchen. Good, good stuff…good stuff. My hands are…TINY!" She raised them before her eyes and exhaled in awe. "They're such teensy little things!" She then rushed behind Miyuki, still babbling on about the Aztecs and bananas, and seized her chest. "And Wiki-chan's so BIG!!!"

"Th-that's true!" chortled Tsukasa through her burbling laughs, as she joined Konata behind her meganekko friend and also grabbed herself an armful. "You gotta share some of that with us! You're hogging it all!"

"Now now, remember what I told you, Tsuka-chan," said Konata, grabbing a handful of brownie and shoveling it down her mouth. "Being small in the chest is special too, you know."

"Hey!" said Kagami, who still hadn't finished her first brownie. Although, even despite her diet, a second one wouldn't sound so bad… "Tsukasa and I are the same…size, y'know." She reached to cut herself a second piece.

"Well," giggled Miyuki, not seeming to mind being groped as she finished her second brownie, "there are sometimes when I wish they were a little smaller, like when I go to buy new bras or swimsuits... Konata-san's right; to some people, smallness is more beautiful. You may remember hearing about Chinese foot-binding in history class, which lasted among the Chinese nobility as late as the fall of the Manchu dynasty in 1911…Oh my, these brownies are exquisite!" She leaned forward to grab two more handfuls of brownie with her bare hands, sending Konata and Tsukasa toppling forward. Tsukasa leapt up to seize some more the same way. But as she bent over, her glasses slipped off her face.

"Ooh! Ooh! I wanna see the world through Wiki-chan's eyes!" Konata gasped, putting on Miyuki's glasses.

The other three all laughed as Konata glared at all of them in spectacles. "Ah, if it's not too much of a bother, Konata-san, do you think you could possibly give those back? I'm not quite sure if I've told you before, but I can't see very well without them, what-what?"

"Ahh, but thanks to these brownies, you can see, my dear Wiki-chan. I mean you can really and truly see."

Miyuki blinked a couple of times, and sure enough, she could indeed see, really see, really and truly and really see. "Wowwww," she breathed. "Did your walls always melt like that, Kagami-san?"

"And when did your TV learn how to do the Hare Hare Yukai dance?" asked Konata. "These little things have taught me soooo much!" she breathed, removing Miyuki's glasses. "I meant my hands, of course. They're sooooo tiny! Wiki-chan's glasses are nice and big and cozy, just like her! They're just right for her! We're all right for each other, right all right?"

"Quite all right," answered Miyuki.

"Mmm, all right…" murmured Tsukasa, who had chocolate smeared across her face like a little kid. Lying on the floor, she rolled towards her sister. "Onee-chan, don't you want some more?"

Having finished her second brownie, Kagami oozed onto her side and smiled at Tsukasa. "Ahh, I shouldn't."

"Oh c'mooonnnn, Kaaagaaaamiiiiinnn," Konata crooned. "Our bodies are just temporary. Our souls live on forever! I'll prove it to you!" Before any of them could say another word, Konata grabbed her upper and lower lips and pulled them apart. There was a sound like rubber stretching as she pulled her mouth open and stretched it across her head. Then she pulled her head all the way off and stretched it downward along with the rest of her body, clothes, skin, hair and all, as though it were all just a skin-tight wetsuit, which then dropped to the floor in a heap. But instead of just a bloody mass of bones and viscera, Konata's soul emerged there, looking like a less-formed blue blob standing in the middle of the living room. "Ahhhh!!!" she breathed. "That's much better!"

Kagami's stomach lurched. She grabbed another brownie and wolfed it down to keep things steady. Those must have been some primo "mint flakes" her sister had procured; perhaps the seeds had originally come from Mexico or even America.

"Oooh, that looks like fun!" the less inhibited Tsukasa said. She then did the same, emerging as a lavender spirit. Miyuki giggled and followed suit; hers was pink.

Elated, the three spirits rose laughing into the air, bobbing, drifting, dancing, and playing. "C'mon, Onee-chan!" Tsukasa called.

"We're floating," laughed Miyuki. "We're all floating up here."

"Come play with us," said Konata. "Forever and ever."

Kagami was a lonely girl at heart, and never liked to feel left out. So she shrugged her shoulders and peeled her body off. She was interested to see that her soul was purple like her sister's, but a darker hue, more violet than lavender. "Heeeeere's Kagami!" she announced, as she swirled together with her sister and two friends. As they fluttered together in the raspberry-colored heavens and the marmalade skies, they wondered if perhaps their souls had always been like this, if they had always been connected in some way and life flowed on within them and without them and who they were and why they were here and where they were going.

Eventually though, the kids discorporated, if you will, grew tired and had to return to the crude matter of their earthly bodies for a well-needed nap. Just before they drifted off, Tsukasa turned toward her sister, smiling that adorable smiley smile. "Hee-hee, Onee-chan?" Her words floated out of her mouth in smoky purple letters like Mio's during the K-On ending theme video.

"Yeah?"

"Those girls said they also have some confectioner's sugar I could use."

"Mmm, I think maybe you should stay away from that stuff," Kagami answered. "This was quite good enough."

Matsuri Hiiragi was surprised to smell chocolate when she walked into the living room upon returning home from college. Her parents and Inori were out shopping, so Tsukasa must have baked something for her friends. Hopefully Kagami didn't eat all of it, she thought with a smile. It smelled like some new recipe, as she also caught a whiff of something else beneath the chocolate; a bit sweet yet musky.

At first her eyes couldn't quite process the scene on the floor around the living room table. Her teenage sisters did occasionally seem rather…close with that small otaku and the busty meganekko (as well as each other), but still… She was perceptive; how could she have missed the signs? Wondering what her parents might think, she knelt down to shake them awake so they could all get themselves decent again. But then she took a second look and their peaceful, sleeping faces, and couldn't help smiling. The parents wouldn't be home for quite some time.

Matsuri went to the linen closet, pulled out a large blanket, and calmly draped it over the four girls' naked, intertwined bodies. She wished she could do something about their faces, messily smeared with chocolate, but that would certainly wake them up.

Then she noticed the brownies in the pan. She was surprised to see three-quarters of them had vanished. They couldn't have eaten them all; Tsukasa must have made them in home ec and shared them with the class. They must have been a hit; they smelled heavenly. "Don't mind if I do," she said quietly, as she took the knife and began to cut herself a piece.

This was slightly based on an Azumanga fic called "Vitamin C", in my favorites (careful; it's a lot more…graphic and dark). Yes, those were supposed to be Osaka and Tomo handing out the "mint flakes", and no, I don't care that they wear different uniforms and thus go to a different school. They all attend Ryooh High in this story. ;) You may have noticed I do a lot of ret-conning.