A/N: Originally written for a prompt over at LiveJournal where someone wanted to read about Howard Link teaching somebody to bake cakes.

Warnings: none. Worksafe.

Disclaimer: D. Gray-man is the intellectual property of Hoshino Katsura and all associated companies. This work is in no way associated with any of them, and no money is being made of this.

No pain in trying

Lenalee had always wanted to make something special for everyone. It was easy for her brother – a cup of coffee (or sometimes – tea) in the mug she'd bought for him as a gift. Kanda was... not unapproachable, but rather completely disinterested in anything else beside killing akuma. Lavi... she was still working on. So far, Allen had proven to be the only easy one.

And that's why one gloomy autumn evening found her down in the kitchen, sporting an apron, her hair pulled back and covered with a scarf, a dozen or so bowls laid out in front of her, and a wooden spoon firmly gripped in her hand, mixing ingredients under the watchful eye of none other than Howard Link. After all, he was the only one whom she could turn to for advice on how to bake cakes.
He also turned out to be a willing teacher.

He explained her the measurements and basic methods, helped her weigh the ingredients, and taught the order in which they were supposed to be mixed. He went over the importance of mixing clock-wise and anti-clockwise, stressing the ones who needed only one or the other, and would lose all look, taste, and form if mixed in the wrong way. He covered the basics on spices and their qualities, addressed the issue of sieves, and the basic process of preheating the oven. By the end of it all, Lenalee found her head to be spinning from all the information. She hadn't really thought that these kinds of tiny details could have such a great impact on the outcome. Nevertheless she decided to try.

It took four tries for her to get everything right, performing all actions nigh-seamlessly and in correct order (until Howard generously deemed her acceptable); five – to determine the exact amount of time needed until the dough was thoroughly baked and properly risen, not under-baked or burnt (after Howard had put out the resulting fire twice); and three – to make a decent decoration (that didn't end up on the floor).
He was also the first to test-try the cake.

It took all of his willpower to keep his expression indifferent and a good four minutes to be done with the slice and his thought process to finally give out an evaluation. He managed it in a very succinct and constructive way.


Lenalee, though crestfallen, chose to not give up.

"Let's try once more."

At this point Howard Link was more willing to sign up for torture rather than one more Lenalee's attempt at baking.