an idea that sprung out me rather out of the blue... a prompt-story. LxMisa, my latest obsession.
1. Red Velvet
a meeting of buttercream
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
"One teaspoon…" Misa repeated, tipping the small bottle of vanilla extract into the waiting spoon, before pouring it over the rest of the ingredients.
Misa Amane couldn't say she was the best baker. Quite frankly, she wasn't much of a baker at all. But she'd come to Tokyo for modeling—which, at the moment, wasn't paying any bills—that was few and far between, so for now, a job at a bakery would have to do.
"Now… one teaspoon baking soda—Ah!" Misa's eyes widened as her elbow nudged the shelf next to her, sending the remains of the buttercream from a butter cake toppling into her mixture. She immediately pulled it out, only to groan upon realizing that the contents had already seeped into the beginnings of the red velvet cake mix.
Akemi hardly trusted her in the kitchen—Akemi watched over most of the shifts, as she was the manager—and this was going to be Misa's big break…not in what she wanted, which was modeling, but a break nonetheless. And hopefully, she hadn't just ruined it.
"Oh, Misa-chan," Akemi hurriedly wiped sweat off of her brow, hands swiping it off on the store apron made of pink frills and white cloth. "Thanks for getting it started, would you mind doing the register for a couple minutes while I get this finished up?"
Misa shook her head, hastily pushing the now empty bowl of butter cream into the sink while Akemi was distracted with plucking more ingredients. "Not at all." She smiled. "Misa-chan will help!"
With that, she pushed past the double doors into the interior of the bakery. The cake shop was located right in the heart of towering steel buildings, mostly offices filled with intense, weary-eyed businessmen who didn't look entirely happy. But the store never failed to be crowded beyond belief, with high school kids from across town or To-oh students from the University four blocks down. Misa enjoyed the busy work, and most importantly this allowed her to brush up on her people skills. She'd never met anyone who didn't enjoy talking to her, but if she wanted to be a model, she'd have to get used to lots of people knowing who she was.
But, perhaps this was because she was so pleasing to the eye.
The store front was a typical restaurant, frothed with pink and white and smooth silver tables and chairs, lined in silvery embellishment, and patterned perfectly with the frilly apron all the employees—who, admittedly, were all girls—wore by standard.
"Hi, welcome to Cupcakes and Company, how may I help you?" The blonde chirped, much to the satisfaction of the blushing teen in front of her.
More time went on as the counter under her filled with assorted sweets slowly drained away, filling by the hour when Akemi or Miki-chan would bustle out of the kitchen with frayed, haggard looks to shove more inside. The store was swathed with an unusual amount of people, and Misa too wasn't particularly enthralled with the mass amount of work to be done.
By closing time, the sky was seared russet red as the sun watered the stratosphere, and the store was now almost empty.
Misa sighed and rested her head on her hands, which were propped on the countertop by her elbows. Her seven hour shift was coming to an end, and all she could think of was what tomorrow's hell would be like.
She liked the sweet shop, of course. It paid well, and wearing delicate, poised outfits and a sylph-like posture was welcomed, and Misa surely enjoyed being crowned amongst perfect, slathered icing and crisp edges of artistic chocolate. She felt not unlike a dancer, stealing in on mincing feet—weightless on stage, profiled against an indistinct background and locked into a perfect portrait.
But this wasn't what she had dreamed for herself.
And maybe, modeling wasn't either.
When her parents were still alive, she and her sister would dream up all sorts of things. Rolling tin foil to make feathery wings, building boxes for imaginary castles, wooden planks as airplanes.
Misa sighed, and, pulled her lemon peel hair out of her eyes.
Her parents. And the murderer that had ruined everything.
Misa never hated anyone else more.
"Excuse me, miss?"
Immediately, she sprang back with a startled, wide eyed look, before settling back into a creasing smile and bright-eyes.
"Oh, I'm very sorry. Welcome to Cupcakes and Company I'm Misa, what would you like?"
"Ah, dear me…" The old man chuckled, and tilted his spectacles as he pulled out a crumpled paper from his pocket. He certainly didn't look Japanese, but Misa supposed she really didn't either.
The blonde caught sight of strange, mangled handwriting replicating chicken scratch, words written in—English?
"Let's see, five red velvet cupcakes, twenty four assorted macaroons in , uh, vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry—so eight each—two butter cream pastries, a Boston cream pie, twelve black and white chocolate cookies, a four-tiered strawberry and chocolate checkerboard cake, a fresh pear pie, and two pounds of German chocolate, please."
The elderly man looked at her questioningly, but altogether remorseful, as if he was quite used to frail, delicate young girls at bakery shops losing their countenance completely, like it was a typical occurrence in the stretch of things.
"Could you repeat that," She began slowly. "And perhaps, a bit slower?"
"Yes of course." He smiled candidly.
The old man didn't get out of there until an hour later, and not without a large saddle of wrapped sweets. He had insisted that he didn't need such ornate wrappings, but Misa insisted with equal fervor that it was store policy, and that who ever he was giving it to would certainly appreciate it.
"Well, I'm not sure about that…" Was all the man had to say about her insisting, and she imagined that the customer in question was a man of musings.
And off he went, with boxes towering greater than he, but not without a friendly wave to the young woman behind the counter.
"Long day, huh?" Akemi had her hair pinned up with a colossal amount of bright hello kitty clips, and looked quite hysterical with her apron lopsided and her hair flopping over.
Misa nodded. "But I like seeing everyone so happy." She replied airily. Such large intakes of sugar seemed to do that to most of their customers.
She probably would have said more, if her phone hadn't begun to ring.
"Eh?" The rising star tilted her head, before a beaming smile erupted on her face. "Oh! Akemi-chan! I've got a job tomorrow!"
"Course you do." Akemi snorted as she popped a leftover bouchon into her mouth. "We open bright and early—
"No, no." Misa cut in aspiringly. "I mean, a modeling job! Fruit Gloss wants me to be on their ad! Isn't that great?"
Akemi, ever the pessimist, hadn't ever thought much of Misa's on and off side career as a model. It certainly hadn't done much as of late, anyhow. "Wonderful." She answered, but was more interesting in peeling off the tin wrapping of her small, bite-sized brownie.
"I'm excited." The young girl blushed as she imagined herself on the cover of a magazine, with a dreamy, bronze haired boyfriend and the world at her fingers.
Maybe it wasn't too far off.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
"Watari." L paused, a rather whimsical look on his usually impassive features, as the elder man wheeled in another cart full of confectionaries. It was well into four in the morning, and Watari wasn't sure if L was still awake due to his usual insomnia or the time difference of here and New York. The two had come to Japan after L had solved four cases at once on the Eastern side of the United States, and the genius sleuth had already solved the case he had come for, and was simply biding his time for another month or two while he looked around for another case he was interested in.
But, for the moment, Japan was providing pleasing cases—not fascinating ones, nor entirely exciting ones, but pleasing nonetheless.
"Yes, L?" Quilish Whammy paused in lifting the top for the four-tiered strawberry and chocolate checkerboard cake.
"This red velvet is absolutely delicious." And with that, the entire thing was gone, lost in a stomach full of sugar, sugar, and more sugar. "May I inquire which bakery you purchased such delectable confectionaries from?"
"Why, it was Cupcake and Company." The caretaker replied, an amused smile lighting his face. The greatest detective in the world—showing such an inordinate fascination in desserts. Who'd have known?
"Ah." Replied the man, face lit into a sullen pallor by the computer's screen. But there was a baleful look in those gray eyes, as if the man wasn't particularly enthused with whatever he was working on. Judging from the amount of effort—or lack thereof—L was putting into his current case, Whammy supposed that it was entirely too easy for the prodigal detective, and L would no doubt soon tire of the case and solve it immediately without dawdling around longer.
The typing stopped abruptly, as L swiped a pink macaroon with his thumb and forefinger, before devouring that as well. "Could I trouble you to get some more?"
. for cream cheese frosting .
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
Catch you catch you catch me catch me matte—
Amane Misa had no warning as she toppled out of her bed abruptly, suddenly aware of her ringing phone. She tumbled in a heap onto her carpet, rubbing her eyes sleepily and shifting her legs, the oversized sleeping shirt doing nothing for the draft against her smooth, trim ankles.
The phone continued to ring, until the young blonde was forced to slap her hand around the top of her dresser, moaning helplessly from the floor until she finally grabbed hold of it, and pressed the receiver into her ear.
"Hello?" She croaked acidly.
"Misa! Thank god you're awake!"
"Misa wasn't five seconds ago." The sunny haired girl scowled, attractive face contorting into an angry frown.
"Oh. Sorry. But you have to come back in! I'm sorry…it's so late—
"It's four thirty in the morning!" Misa shouted contemptuously. "Misa has a big shoot tomorrow, and she needs sleep!"
"But Misa!" Akemi interrupted in dismay. "That man—the old one who ordered a ton and tipped us really well—remember him? He came back, apparently whomever he was ordering for really liked the cake—
"—and wants more, right now, so we have to go back in and get the shop running!"
"Why would we do that?!" Misa crossly interrupted.
"Because." Akemi crooned innocuously. "He's tripling the pay if we get it done now."
Which would clearly explain why a tired, but still pretty, looking Misa trudged into the store before the sun rose, looking not unlike an angered, bitter cat. The store was already smelling like chiffon cake and the amiable old man was waiting patiently in one of the corner tables—the only one with a chair down, as the rest were propped up from closing only six hours ago.
"Hello, Misa-san!" He greeted with a pleasant smile, which Misa couldn't bring to grudge.
Instead, she brightened a bit with a sleepy grin. "Hello again, Sir. I'm afraid Misa forgot your name…"
"Oh, you did nothing of the sort." The man chuckled. "I'm afraid it completely slipped my mind to introduce myself before. You can call me Chambord, John Chambord."
"A foreigner?" Misa mumbled to herself, surprised that she had deduced this from meeting him before. She shook her head, a wry smile smoothing out the confusion on her face. "Well Chambord-san, why are you ordering so many cakes?"
If possible, the old man looked even more bemused. "Why, you see, my grandson has a bit of a sweet tooth, I should think that I've never seen him eat anything else—
"Nothing but sweets?!" Misa gaped. "He must be very fat!" She purposed, with little tact.
"Quite the contrary, actually. I suppose it's the metabolism."
Misa frowned, a bit puzzled at this. She'd never lay a hand on anything in the store, for it would no doubt go straight to the smooth contours of her thighs.
"I see…well, Chambord-san, what are you ordering today?"
"A chocolate fudge cake, devil's food cake, buttercream petite fours, tiramisu, one pound of fudge, one crème brulee, white chocolate truffles and caramel truffles, and, I believe, another order of red velvet cupcakes. This time an order of twenty."
"And he eats them all by himself?!" Misa exclaimed with a small amount of disbelief.
Whammy nodded, taking all this in stride. "Why yes, and in good time as well."
Misa felt a bit faint.
Akemi took the moment to stroll out of the kitchen, looking as if she had just woken up herself.
"Misa, would you mind wrapping these up?" She pointed to a rather puzzling amount of petite fours, and a long stretch of tiramisu and fudge.
"No problem." She answered dazedly, moving to the wrapping paper beneath the counter.
There was something completely insane about the thought of one man eating such a large, frightening amount of calories…and the worst of it, not gaining a pound of fat. Was it possible?
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
L paused in his methodical plowing of evidence, to chew thoughtfully. It was airy yet, and light, just as delicate before. But no… perhaps it was the way the icing glided over the roof of his mouth and stuck to it too much, or maybe the almost dry quality to the four. Why did it taste different?
"Watari," L began speaking almost before he pressed the intercom button.
"I have a question, and please, be truthful."
"Of course." Came the answer.
"Were these cupcakes from Cupcakes and Company?" The most renowned detective in the world asked with a surprisingly urgent tone.
"…why yes L. They were."
"They taste different." Said the man, almost remorsefully. "They're not as good as before." He gave a small, depressing look to the other nineteen cupcakes. Useless. What a waste…
"I'm very sorry, L." Watari's garbled, computerized voice still held a touch of regret, or maybe it was amusement at L's subsequent depression over a slight change in taste. "I'm not sure what to say. Maybe the recipe changed? Would you like me to go ask?"
"No, no." L sighed. While he loved to indulge himself with sweets, going so far as to inconvenience Watari to such a degree was near implausible. He certainly had wasted enough time mulling over the differences from this cupcake and its prior successors then he should. "That's quite alright."
Across the line, Watari frowned—was that…a pout? L wasn't one for showing distinct emotions, but he was certainly that the tone in his voice—or what Watari could make of it from its distortment—was quite like a petulant child.
Did L really think so highly of that cupcake?
Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.
The days were getting longer and longer, Misa sighed, as she stretched over the counter.
There was a break between customers, and such an event was so few and far between that Misa didn't bother to go out and take a break and perhaps get a bit of shopping at the mall, for no doubt in mere minutes another tumble of customers would sprout up before she even walked down the block, and Akemi would be calling her back to serve. The place was so dreadfully understaffed…they certainly needed more than four people working at the store at any given time.
She was seated over by the windows, slurping down a low-fat blend of strawberries and pomegranate, wondering if maybe this indulgence would cost her a half pound or two…maybe she could go for a run after this?
Misa had been born thin, but the models who really got somewhere—well, for one thing, they usually had a good foot on Misa, and for another, were usually dreadfully bone-like in appearance—were thinner. And she had looked awesome in her shoot for Fruit Gloss, as she had appraised it herself that morning in OK! Girl magazine, and she didn't want to lose the break she'd gotten by gaining a pound or two.
As she mulled over the confusing situation, a shadow had poised behind her.
The young blonde peered from under her bangs, getting up abruptly when she noticed it was Chambord-san again. He looked as British as usual, she noted as she smoothed her hands on her pleated black skirt. Today, she had on her typical gothic fashion, wearing striped neon pink and green stockings under black boots that matched her skirt.
"Chambord-san!" She greeted pleasantly, tapping the seat across from her. "How are you today?"
"I'm lovely. And you, Misa-san?" He inquired charmingly as he sat himself.
"Misa is wonderful." She replied without missing a beat. "Is Chambord-san looking for another large order of desserts?"
The man gave a chuckle as he shook his head. "Oh no, actually, I have a question for you, Misa-san."
"Eh?" The girl cocked her head, perfect, sun colored hair brushing her incarnadine cheeks. "What is it?"
"I couldn't help but notice that two days ago you had red dye on our fingers, which, I'd assume from your menu, could only have come from a red velvet cake, which you must have made earlier that morning, correct?"
Misa was quite shocked at the man's rather insightful, and frighteningly astute deduction. "Why…yes, Chambord-san is correct. But Misa doesn't see why…"
"And yesterday, I noticed that the dye was not present on your fingertips. So can I safely deduce that two days ago you made the stock of red velvet cakes, but not yesterday?"
Misa rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. "Yeah, that's right. But, Chambord-san I don't usually make the cakes…I'm just a waitress—
"But you did, two days ago."
"I did." Misa nodded.
"Now, my question, what was it that you did different that day that no one else in this store does?"
"E—eh?!" Misa blinked in confusion, a blush rising to her cheeks. "Misa didn't do anything wrong! Misa promises! Oh no…was it bad? Did I mess up? Oh no…Oh!" The blonde clearly remembered accidentally dumping the buttercream into the red velvet, a crime she was guilty for.
"It wasn't bad at all, Misa-san!" The man chided quickly. "In fact, my charge insisted that it was the best he had ever tasted. When he had ordered more…you could say he was dismayed that the taste he had loved was gone. That's why I was wondering if perhaps you could replicate whatever you did that day?"
"But it was a mistake!" Misa interrupted hurriedly. "Misa accidently pushed the buttercream into her batter…she's not sure how to do that again."
If possible, the man seemed to droop a little, and made Misa immediately regret saying that.
"Ah, I see." He stood then. "Well, I'm very sorry that I've wasted your time. I suppose this would be your only break for the day and I've probably taken up most of it…"
"Misa will do it!" She stood too, looking quite fire-eyed in determination. "Misa isn't sure how…but she'll try!"
The man blinked, taken aback. "Why thank you Misa-san! That's very kind of you."
The young girl pumped her fist. "It's no problem, Chambord-san! Misa is very happy that someone likes her cake more than anyone else's." And, with a shy smile. "It makes Misa feel special."
And with that, she ducked behind the man and into the kitchen.
Later, when Whammy arrived back to headquarters with a dozen, perfect, utterly irresistible Misa-made cupcakes, much to L's pleasure, he had an even wider smile on his face.
"Watari is amused." L managed to inspect from across the room with his back turned. Whammy wouldn't be surprised if the man had noted this by the shifting of his weight, or something inane like that.
"Yes, I believe you've made a young lady quite happy, L."
Obviously, the genius had not been expecting this, for he turned with curious, wide eyes. "I did?"
"Yes." The man chuckled as he made his way to the kitchen, to find a cake stand to place the cupcakes on. "You did."
The man blinked, askew, dusty hair tousled and fluffed atop his head, looking entirely surprised.
What do you think? Is everyone in character so far?