A/N: I don't know where this one came from, but I just loved the idea of Rose wanting to make Dimitri's birthday a good one and then of course she can't cook. It's kind of dumb and whatever. I like it, I hope you guys do too. =D

"Add salt."

"What?" I looked up from the bowl in front of me.

"Add salt. It won't come out right if you don't," Dimitri was leaning back in his chair, Western novel open on his lap.

I frowned, "The recipe says absolutely nothing about salt."

I scanned the recipe again. Nope, no salt.

"The recipe is wrong. You have to add salt," Dimitri insisted, shrugging.

"Dimitri, your mom sent me this cook book! How is this wrong?"

I was one hundred percent positive that Olena's recipe had to be right.

"Roza, I've made almond cake a million times. I can guarantee you need salt," Dimitri said, abandoning his book on the table and coming to stand next to me.

"But...the recipe?" I asked, feeling completely helpless. I'm a notoriously bad cook. I hate to resort to clichés, but I've actually burned water before. To be fair, it wasn't completely my fault. There had been a small argument between me and Christian…but, yeah, I can't cook.

Dimitri shook his head, "All good cooks change the recipes to make them better."

"But I'm not a good cook at all!" I exclaimed, waving a hand in the air and sending some flour flying, "The only reason I'm attempting this is because it's your birthday!"

Dimitri smiled and rubbed at the beard he was growing, "Thank you, Roza. I appreciate it. But, you should really add salt."

"Out!" I gasped, "You and this salt. Seriously, comrade, out. Baking this cake is stressful enough without you breathing down my neck!"

Dimitri laughed, sliding a hand across my hip and pressing a kiss to my neck, "You're right. I'm sorry. This is a big deal for you, isn't it?"

"Thank you for understanding," I smiled, "It's your first birthday that we're together for. I just want to make it nice."

I had gotten the information about Dimitri's favorite cake from his mother, Olena. She had sent a recipe book two days later.

"We were together last birthday too," Dimitri pointed out, just like I knew he would.

I sighed, "Not really, on your actual birthday we were separated. I was with Lissa at Lehigh and you were with Christian."

Dimitri nodded, "Right. We were together the week later for Thanksgiving."

"So I want to make sure this one is good!" I stood on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his lips, "Go and work out or find the Christmas decorations or something. I need to focus."

"Okay, I'm leaving. But remember, we're supposed to be at Court by 5," Dimitri squeezed my hip and kissed my forehead.

"Don't worry. If I forget, Lissa'll be calling every three seconds," I laughed.

Dimitri smiled at me once more before grabbing his Western and heading into the hallway. I heard him move up the stairs, and breathed out a sigh. Maybe now I'd be able to focus on the cake.

Yeah, I was wrong. Dimitri being in the room clearly wasn't the problem with my cooking skills. My cooking skills were the problem.

"Shit!" I shouted, jumping away from the oven.

"Rose? Are you okay?" Dimitri's voice floated down the stairs.

"Fine," I grunted, "Just burned most of my arm off."

"Bandages are in the cabinet over the stove," I could hear the laughter in his voice.

"Shut up, comrade," I shouted back, laughing a little to myself.

I scraped the burnt cake into the garbage, wincing as it joined two others. An hour of baking an all I had to show for it was three burnt cakes, a burnt arm, skin missing from a few fingers and a flour covered kitchen.

Unfortunately, I had no one to blame but myself. Sighing unhappily, I turned back to the counter and dropped a handful of almonds into the chopper.

I leaned against the counter, absentmindedly scratching at the back of my neck while holding the button to grind them up.

I really needed to make this cake right this time. I still had some presents to wrap and it was already 3:00.

"Roza, do you want any help?" Dimitri called down, sounding like he very much wanted to get up and do something.

"No! I've got this under control. Why don't you shower or something? Shave that beard?" I didn't hate the beard, but it did weird me out a little. It made him look too much like a Russian mountain man. Although, I did like how that beard felt when he was…no focus, Hathaway!

I could hear his laughter, and then a minute later, the water in the shower starting.

"Ugh, why did I decide to make him a cake?" I mumbled, beating the eggs together.

"I could've made this easier on myself and just bought a cake. Hell, even Lissa buys Christian's birthday cakes," I used my free hand to add the almonds into the eggs.

"But nooo, I had to make Dimitri's birthday special. Learn from this, Rose Hathaway," I poured the batter into the two pans, sending a short prayer up to God, Saint Vlad, Anna, anyone who might be listening.

I shook my head, what was I doing? Talking to myself? I really needed to get this done.

The water shut off upstairs just as I was reaching into the oven to pull out the cake.

"Rose, it's just after 4. Are you going to get ready?" Dimitri came down the stairs, wrapped only in a towel.

"Comrade, you can not do that to me," I said, eyes wide as I took in every inch of his damp muscles.

He smiled, "Sorry. It smells good though."

"Thanks," I turned the oven off and started to wipe up some of the spilled ingredients, "I just hope it tastes good."

"I'm sure it will. Now get in the shower," Dimitri pushed me towards the stairs, "You have flour in your hair."

I brushed at my hair, and sure enough, white power began falling.

"Ugh, this is gross. Don't touch your cake!" I pointed, and he raised an eyebrow, holding both hands up in surrender.

"I'm staying away from the cake, Rose. Don't worry."

He had an evil glint in his eye and I didn't trust him. But, a shower was completely necessary.

"Hey!" I gasped, "You said you wouldn't touch your cake!"

Dimitri didn't jump or seem surprised that I had just caught him. He put the hand mixer down and leaned against the counter, facing me.


"No! No excuses, comrade. I wanted to make your cake all by myself, and now you make the whipped cream and put it all together," I leaned forward and smacked his arm.

"Hey, Wild Girl, I was just trying to help. We have to head over in a few minutes, and you clearly weren't ready," I scowled as Dimitri pointed out this incredibly obvious fact.

"Yeah…well…" I trailed off, "Thanks."

Wisely, Dimitri said nothing.

"Let's go. Grab that bag over there," I pointed, "Your gifts are in there."

A light gleamed in Dimitri's eye before he picked up the bag and shook it a little. My residual annoyance at him faded completely. Sometimes I forgot that underneath the badass god exterior, Dimitri was all heart.

"No peeking," I teased, putting a cover over the cake and following him to the door.

"Yes, General Hathaway," Dimitri replied, reminding me of our time on the road. I smiled to myself. We'd yet to see any of the places we'd pointed out in the book, but that was about to change.

"Happy Birthday, Dimitri!" Lissa cried as we walked through the door to her and Christian's home.

"Thank you, Lissa," Dimitri smiled happily and accepted the hug Lissa insisted on.

Christian and Dimitri, as Moroi and Guardian, had become extremely close in the past two years. They shared a 'man-hug' before Lissa dragged us all inside.

"Christian made dinner and I almost helped," Lissa said as I put the cake on the counter.

"Almost, Liss? How do you almost help?" I laughed.

Christian chimed in, "Almost helping make dinner is when your husband asks you to get the steaks from the fridge and you drop them all on the floor, causing him to ask you nicely if you could just sit at the table and not get in his way."

Dimitri and I looked at Lissa. She shrugged.

"I can be the ruler of all the Moroi, but I can't cook. Everyone has to have some flaws."

I laughed, "Not me. I'm flawless." I punctuated my statement with a dramatic hair flip.

Dimitri and Christian laughed the hardest.

"Roza, I think that's the funniest thing you've ever said," Dimitri said, pulling me into a hug.

"Hmph," I grumbled, a happy smile on my face. This was literally all I had ever wanted. Protecting Lissa, Dimitri and I happily in a relationship, I didn't need anything else.

Two hours later, we finished dinner and I got to bring out my masterpiece of a cake.

"I worked ridiculously hard on this, so even if you hate it, don't tell me," I announced, putting the cake on the table in front of Dimitri.

"I'm sure we'll love it, Rose," Lissa piped up, ever the polite queen.

"I mean, as long as you didn't poison it," Christian laughed.

"With Roe's coking skills she doesn't need to use actual poison," Dimitri joked, earning himself an elbow to the side from me. I mean, he caught my arm before impact, but it's the thought that counts, right?

I cut them all slices and sat back to watch their reactions. Dimitri's was the most important to me, so I watched him closely.

He maintained his guardian mask the whole time he chewed. Damn him.

Christian's nose wrinkled up, "It's…actually, and I'm really surprised that I'm saying this, but it's actually kind of good."

Lissa nodded, agreeing, "He's right, Rose."

I turned to the birthday boy, "Well, comrade?"

He finally smiled, "It is good, Roza. The best thing you've ever made."

I grinned, "Thank you! Now I have a signature dish!"

"It is me, or is this cake missing something?" Lissa mused a minute later.

"Oh no! Don't you say it!" I pointed at Christian as he opened his mouth.

"Salt," Christian decided.

I hung my head, "Damn, you said it."

Dimitri put his hand on my back, "Not everyone can be as good as I am at making my mother's almond cake."

"Stop gloating, Belikov," I moaned, "I'm never cooking again."