Notes: Written for the annual Secret Santa fic exchange over at tsukimineshrine on livejournal for shondrea. Also, the title is shamelessly in the fashion of Big Bang Theory episode titles, if only because I can't get that show completely out of my brain.
The Dessert Deficiency
If there is some odd job that needs to be done in Tomoeda, the residents know to whom to turn for the best results. Kinomoto Touya is something of a vocational prodigy; he held a position at nearly every store in town during his high school and early college years, and as a result learned how to do everything from balancing heavy dishes on large trays while roller skating to tutoring elementary school students to fixing bicycles and watches.
"What exactly are you trying to make?"
There is one thing at which Touya is not adept, however, and that is baking. The finesse of perfectly kneaded dough, the innate knowledge that certain recipes require just a little extra baking powder to make them rise enough, the sense to stop stirring before the batter gets too thick: each of these skills and more have managed to elude his sensibilities for his entire life. Normally, this deficit isn't a problem for him; at home, his father is the master chef, and at his own apartment Yukito is particularly skilled at the creation of fine food stuffs. Touya hypothesizes that between his boyfriend's love of food and Yue's centuries-worth of knowledge of both Western and Eastern cultures (which naturally includes food), it's no wonder they are able to produce, for example, the perfect Bundt cake for Christmas celebrations.
It is this culinary perfectionist that Touya is now facing; Yue is intimidating, stoic, and an equal-opportunity criticizer. His wings take up almost half of their tiny kitchen even when folded up, and that fact alone makes him seem far larger than he actually is. The worst part is that Touya can't quite tell if the look of displeasure currently gracing the guardian's face is due to discomfort or the fact that it is once again obvious that Touya cannot bake to save his life.
"Mooncakes, as the recipe that you dictated to me last week clearly suggests," Touya finally replies, chewing the inside of his cheek in anticipation of the inevitable string of reprimands. Because what he just said? He might as well have taken a stick and poked a giant in the eye; it would have been just as destructively provocative.
(And yet, when it comes to Yue, Touya finds he just can't reign in that impulse.)
There's this thing that Yue does sometimes with his mouth where just the one corner turns down. He's doing it now, and Touya knows it's one of the many signs that the guardian is annoyed. Not quite as annoyed as when Keroberos braided his hair while he napped or blasted Elvis Presley Christmas carols while decorating Sakura's apartment, but more annoyed than the time when he managed to get pine sap in his hair at the Amamiya summer house.
"The only thing that is clear is that you are deficient in following directions."
Touya takes a deep, steadying breath, and his hand involuntarily grips his stirring spoon so hard he can feel his knuckles straining under the pressure. He doesn't want to, but he knows he has to indulge Yue; the guardian will be an insufferable white elephant in the room if he doesn't. So he asks, "And just how are my as-yet unfinished mooncakes deficient?" and braces himself for an onslaught of imperfections.
Yue does not disappoint.
"Your bean paste is too runny – how is it going to support the egg yolk you're supposed to put in the center? – and your dough is too flaky. I may not eat like my gluttonous counterpart, but I do have to taste whatever my familiar ingests. If you're to be feeding him homemade mooncake, I would greatly prefer it to be of my own specifications and not your well-meaning yet ultimately poorly-realized conception."
Touya takes in all these comments along with a steadying breath of air drawn slowly through his nose. "At least I got the mold right," he throws back cheekily.
At that, Yue leans over and inspects the mold that Touya has sitting next to his bowl of runny bean paste. Touya glances over as he continues to stir, and while he is used to Yue's lack of expression, this one time it would have been nice to see the guardian crack a hint of a smile. Instead, all Yue does is sniff sharply. Anyone who wasn't used to living with Yue would suspect the guardian was clearing a momentary congestion of his nasal passages and not passing judgment, but Touya knows better.
"The jade rabbit. How… cute," he manages, and Touya can tell Yue's annoyance at the thought of anything cliché is fighting his human familiar's sense of affectionate amusement by the way he overcompensates with his frown. Yue stands up abruptly and Touya is once again reminded of how much fun it is to make the stoic creature uncomfortable. A few scenarios involving flour fights and clever innuendos cross his mind in the next instant, but instead of saying any of them aloud, he sneezes.
The offending feather that brushed his nose drifts lazily through the air until it reaches its final resting place: the bowl of slowly-thickening bean paste.
It is joined by a few more just seconds later as Yue shifts uncomfortably in the confined space of the kitchen. Even as Touya pauses in his task of stirring to remove the illicit ingredient from his (apparently) already-flawed concoction, more fall into his mixing bowl. There's a small pile of runny bean paste-covered feathers on the counter before Yue backs far enough away that his shedding doesn't interrupt the (possibly already-failed) baking process.
"Actually, would you clarify something for me?" Touya asks suddenly, breaking the momentary calm that had settled over the kitchen. He looks back over his shoulder and sees Yue standing with his wings spread out into the main room, far away from the baking materials and confining cabinets. Somewhere underneath his frown, so faint that only someone as familiar with him as Touya is would see it, is an almost indiscernible look of sheepishness.
"My instructions should require no clarification." Yue's words are more bluster than anything, though Touya detects a faint hint of disdain underlying them. Old habits die hard, after all. "They are perfectly clear."
"There's just one thing," Touya presses, and it's as if he has decided that it's not enough to poke the giant in the eye but that he also has to sharpen the stick to a fine point beforehand. Really, there's just something about Yue and impulse control that don't mix. "How many feathers am I supposed to add?"
It is fortunate that the bakery down the street sells mooncakes, Touya thinks. Although his bowl of bean paste is now filled to the brim with white feathers (the rest of the countertop is covered as well), he is fairly certain that, despite his lack of baking skills, they're not actually part of the recipe.