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The Kings of Baking

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"You don't think we need a scale?" Patrick says, his eyebrow raised so far up that he can feel the pull on his forehead.

It's his 'Pete has an Idea and I'm gonna have to deal with it, won't I?' eyebrow. It's been appearing a lot lately.

"Yeah, you measure that shit with love, Patster," Pete says, rummaging around the cabinets for… bowls? Ingredients? Common fucking sense?

"Don't call me that," Patrick says automatically, and then, because he's known Pete way too long to be distracted by Pete's many nicknames for him, "First you don't need instructions, despite the fact that neither of us has ever even glanced at an oven, let alone baked a cake, and now you don't need a scale?"

"Nope," Pete says, then lets out a triumphant noise and starts pulling out their cereal bowls.

They have only three, since three of them live here, so it takes approximately two seconds to do it. Pete hums pensively at the bowls, then opens another cabinet and looks at the glasses.

Patrick watches the proceedings as if it's a David Attenborough-narrated episode about the mating habits of Black widow spiders: fascinated despite himself, and vaguely terrified.

"Besides, I have something better than instructions. I have a recipe."

Pete slides a wrinkled post-it with barely legible text crammed tight on both sides of the cheery yellow surface toward Patrick.

"This is your recipe?" Patrick says in disbelief, and if this continues any longer, Patrick is going to strain his eyebrow. It's totally going to get stuck in a weird position and he's going to look like Chris Evans in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'.

Only, you know, not nearly as hot.

The recipe is pretty simple, and it's in cups and spoons which explains the no need for a scale bit, but still.

This is a bad idea.

"You're going to burn down the kitchen," Patrick says with the utmost confidence because a) Pete is absolutely capable of burning the kitchen down, and in fact, Patrick is surprised it hasn't already happened; and b) Patrick wants nothing to do with it.

"No, I'm not. Come on, where is your sense of adventure, Patrick?"

"I left it in my other pants," Patrick says wryly, and gives himself exactly five seconds to bask in Pete's laughter and the glow in his chest that it causes.

It's one of the rare things Patrick allows himself. There are so many times he shuts down his own reactions and desires, pulls back and away when all he wants is to come closer, but Pete laughing — the crinkly eyes and the wide, toothy smile — is too good to pass up. And he's proud of himself, not only for unleashing it onto the world but for making Pete happy, even if only for a moment.

"As much as I want to talk about your pants and what, exactly, it takes for them to come off, we have a cake to bake," Pete says with way too much enthusiasm.

Patrick is still suspicious, his blush makes no difference, okay?

"Tell me again why we're doing this?"

"Because it's Joe's birthday, and he's our friend, and he deserves we do something nice for him," Pete says. Then, after a pause, he adds, "Also, we're broke as shit and I stole all the ingredients for the cake from my mom."

Patrick sighs.

"Fine, I'll help, but only because you might burn down the apartment otherwise. I don't have the money or the patience to deal with that."

"You're a real saint, Pattycakes," Pete says solemnly, then yelps when Patrick hits him on the bicep for the nickname.

"What do you have so far?" Patrick asks, and Pete pulls out a bag with ingredients seemingly out of thin air. He takes the ingredients out and puts all of them on the counter, one next to the other.

They both peer at the recipe, then at the ingredients.

"You sure you took the right stuff?" Patrick asks, and Pete frowns at him.

"You think I don't know what sugar and flour look like?"

Patrick purses his lips not to smile. "Well…"

"Shut up and read the recipe," Pete says grumpily.

"Twelve spoons of all-purpose flour," Patrick reads, then, "Big spoon or little spoon?"

Pete blinks at him. "What?"

"Well, are we measuring the ingredients in big, soup-spoons or in one of those tiny coffee spoons? Because I don't think we have the coffee ones," Patrick says.

He opens their cutlery drawer to check.

Pete looks at him with wide eyes.

"What?"

"I didn't even think of that. You are brilliant," he says, grining, and smacks a wet kiss on Patrick's cheek.

"Ugh, stop doing that," Patrick says, wiping his cheek on the shoulder of his t-shirt and praying he doesn't blush too visibly, again. He ignores the skip in his heartbeat easily, he's an expert at doing that already.

The thought makes him pause. This has been going on for long enough that Patrick's an expert at hiding what effect Pete has on him and how he makes him feel.

Isn't that fucking depressing.

"No small spoons," Patrick declares after a few seconds of shuffling through the drawer — which, by the way, why do they have a meat tenderizer? Whose mother was so optimistic as to pack that? The only use that utensil will see is if someone breaks into their shitty apartment and they need a weapon to defend themselves.

"Well, since it would be a very tiny cake if we used small spoons, let's try with large ones?" Pete says, and Patrick nods.

"Okay."

They 'measure out' the sugar, butter, and flour into cereal bowls, pour the milk and crack the eggs into a beer glass and a water glass respectively, and then come across a problem.

"What's a teaspoon?" Patrick says, and then, "Oh, that must be the little coffee spoon! Oh, we don't have that."

"Meh, we'll wing it," Pete says and uses a big spoon to first put a random amount of baking powder in one shot glass, then a random amount of vanilla extract into the other.

"That's it," Patrick says.

They both look at what they've accomplished for a moment.

"This looks just like on the baking shows, Patrick! Isn't that awesome? We're so good at this," Pete says, looking pleased.

Patrick hums.

He has to admit that the whole thing is going incredibly well so far. No fires, no floods, no cut-off fingers? It's a goddamn miracle.

"Shit, we don't have a bowl to mix it all in," Pete says.

A thorough search of the kitchen cabinets turns up a dusty, pale green plastic bowl that's probably meant to hold fruit. They give it a cursory rinse before setting it in front of their ingredient collection.

"Okay, we are on our way," Pete says and reaches for the first cereal bowl.

"Wait!" Patrick yells, and Pete freezes, flour in hand. "Do we mix it all in together, all at once?"

They both squint at the recipe again.

"Is that a line there?" Patrick asks, and Pete brings the note closer to his nose.

"Yeah, I think so. Look, these ingredients below, that's for icing."

They both pause, and look at each other.

"Pete. Pete, we can't do icing," Patrick says, unable to hide the panic in his voice.

"Patrick—" Pete starts, but Patrick has already vanished down the rabbit hole.

"No, this is madness, Pete! What were we even thinking, baking a cake? We don't even know how to boil eggs. Eggs, Pete! A cake is much bigger than eggs! And now icing on top of that? No. No," he says in what he hopes is a determined voice, but is probably closer to frantic.

Pete rolls his eyes at him but in a fond sort of way, then grabs Patrick's shoulders and shakes him a little.

The only thing that accomplishes is that Patrick is now panicking and wants to kick Pete.

"I brought a can of whipped cream and bananas, too; we can use that as decoration. We are not going to be making icing, so would you please chill, dude."

And that… actually sounds good. Tasty, too.

"You've thought about this," Patrick accuses.

"Of course I did. I want to make an edible cake for Joe, this isn't a prank or something," Pete says, almost offended, and oh wow. Just when Patrick thinks he's discovered all the different layers to Pete, just when he thinks this stupid crush can't develop any further, Pete does something like this: thoughtful, and caring, and nice, just because he can, because he feels like it.

It's infuriating.

It's murder for Patrick's poor, unsuspecting heart.

He smiles at Pete, hoping all his embarrassingly mushy feelings aren't obvious in his eyes, and nods.

"Okay, let's do this."

They mix the ingredients in by hand, taking turns when they get tired — and it takes ages because Pete insists it isn't supposed to be lumpy with flour; which, Patrick knows that, but it doesn't stop him from whining about his arm hurting — but in the end the mix looks like the batter Patrick's mom makes, smooth and yellow.

Pete dips a finger in to taste.

"Isss goo'," he mumbles around his finger, and there is no way Patrick has the emotional constitution to survive Pete Wentz sucking on his finger in Patrick's vicinity, not now, for fuck's sake, he's already weak — so he fakes a cough and takes the post-it again.

"Pour into a buttered tin and bake on— "

Patrick pauses.

"Shit," Pete says.

They stare at their poor, perfectly smooth batter.

"We don't have a tin, Pete!" Patrick hisses. "How did you intend to bake a cake without anything to put it in?!"

It's possible Patrick is overreacting just a tiny bit, but they're so close to making an actual cake.

A cake! Pete and him have used the kitchen, and almost made a cake; and without major disasters, too.

It's a historical day, is all Patrick's saying, and they can't fail now.

"I forgot," Pete says, and throws himself into the kitchen chair.

"Ugh," Patrick says and drops his head into his hands, elbows on the kitchen counter.

"We could always borrow one from our moms?" Patrick says after a long pause, and Pete scoffs.

"It'd take too long to drive there and back. We have to make the cake and let it cool, and Joe is coming home in, like, three hours."

Patrick is out of ideas, unless using one of their pots and pans is plausible, and he's just about to suggest that when Pete suddenly sits up and snaps his fingers.

"No, wait, I've got it. We'll ask the old lady that lives below us. I'm sure she has a tin we can borrow," Pete says, and marches out of the kitchen.

Patrick gapes after him, then rushes to follow.

"Don't worry, I've got this," Pete says confidently as they arrive at the old lady's door.

Patrick is pretty sure Pete doesn't have this, but it'll be interesting to watch, in any case.

Pete knocks on the door to the apartment, and they both jump as a terrifying screech comes from inside it. The door creaks open a few moments later and a tiny, hundred-year-old woman looks up at them.

Holy crap, Patrick is actually taller than someone.

"Hi, Mrs. Jadaszewski, is it?" Pete says with a smile, using his best 'I'm so reliable and mature' voice that never fails to fool all the adults he uses it on.

Patrick has no idea how they all fall for it, it's like willfully ignoring everything your eyes are telling you because of how charming Pete is behaving. Then again, Patrick is definitely not the one to talk about resistance to Pete's charms; just look at their entire band history.

And by the way, when in the hell did Pete learn to pronounce that surname?

"Yes?"

"We were just wondering if you had a baking tin we can borrow? It's our friend's birthday, you see, and we really wanted to do something special for him, and we already made the cake batter and everything. We'd bring it back in a couple of hours, clean and everything, promise."

"Of course, dear. Oh, but how sweet of you, to do that for your friend. Wait here, I'll go get my tin," the lady says and walks away, leaving the door ajar.

Something screeches again, the sound much louder since the door is open, and they both jump again.

"Ah, don't worry. That's just Frank," the old lady says, handing a round tin to Pete.

"Who's Frank?" Patrick asks, curious despite himself.

"My cockatoo," she says. "He's a grumpy one. Why, just yesterday he tried to smother poor Mr. Snuggles because he woke him up from his nap."

"Who's Mr. Snuggles?" Patrick asks again, because what the hell, he's in too deep now, might as well.

"My lizard," the old lady says.

Before Patrick can ask any more questions — what kind of lizard is Mr. Snuggles; and how, exactly, does a cockatoo smother any sort of lizard? — Pete steps on his foot not-too-discreetly.

"Okay, thank you so much! We'll bring the tin back soon," Pete says, too loud in the small hallway, then turns to leave.

"Bye," Patrick says, waving at the nice lady, and follows after Pete.

Tin in hand, they make a triumphant return to their kitchen.

"Okay, let's finish this thing," Pete says determinedly.

They butter the tin generously and pour in the mixture. Once the tin is safely in the oven, they set the alarm for when the cake is supposed to be done.

"We. Are. The Kings of Baking," Pete says, both arms up, and then bounces over to Patrick and tries to suffocate him with a full-body hug.

Patrick laughs, and he's in too good of a mood to push Pete away so he hugs back, breathing in the scent of vanilla, butter, and Pete's aftershave; and he sort of melts into Pete's arms, holds on a little tighter than he should, fingers digging into the muscles of Pete's t-shirt- covered back that smidgeon harder than he usually lets himself, and his head drops with no input from his brain, lips grazing against the warm skin where Pete's shoulder meets his neck for one heartbeat, then two—

"Patrick?" Pete says quietly, and awareness pours in like ice-cold water.

Oh no.

Patrick lets go immedately and pushes at Pete's waist, panic rising to choke him because this is Patrick's worst fucking nightmare. He trusts Pete implicitly, with everything, up to and including his entire future, but not this. He can't let Pete find out about this.

And while Patrick is sure Pete won't mock him, or laugh at him, or any of a dozen other nightmare scenarios his brain is suddenly filled with, the fact remains that the best— the very best case scenario here is pity, and awkwardness, and Pete staying close to Patrick because he feels obligated to, or because of the band, and just putting up with Patrick, and Patrick can't deal with that.

He wouldn't be able to survive that.

Patrick is also fucking stuck because Pete, the asshole, has locked his arms and legs, and is somehow impossible to budge.

"Let me go," Patrick says desperately, and tries to push him away again, but Pete tightens his hold on Patrick like the contrary shit he is.

"No, Patrick, Patrick," Pete says, and then because he knows Patrick, "Don't kick."

Patrick stills, chest heaving and forehead grinding against Pete's collarbone, and repeats: "Let me go."

It comes out way too soft and plaintive.

"No," Pete says, low, and gravelly, and straight into Patrick's ear. "I stole you fair and square. You're mine now. I'm not letting go."

Oh fuck.

"Don't," Patrick says shakily, and means don't make me hope, and don't do this if you don't mean it, and don't break my heart.

"Patrick," Pete says, and there is something in his voice, something Patrick doesn't recognize, doesn't dare to put a name to. "Trust me."

And that is… a given. It's a simple fact. After all, when hasn't Patrick trusted Pete?

It kind of makes Patrick think he should trust Pete in this one, last thing, too.

And it's enough to stop Patrick from bolting when Pete loosens his hold and pulls back a little.

It's enough for him not to move away when Pete's cheek brushes against his, when he feels Pete's hot breath on his face.

It's enough to draw all the courage he has in his body, to let his eyes slide shut, to lift his head a little and tilt it blindly towards Pete.

It's just enough to stop him from shaking into pieces as Pete takes him apart, kiss by kiss, touch by touch, wall by crumbling wall.

It doesn't hurt at all.

In fact, it pretty much feels like heaven.

*

Half an hour later, the alarm goes off.

They barely manage to untangle themselves for long enough to take the cake out of the oven.