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Sugar and Spice

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“Taako, I thought we’d agreed that you weren’t going to cater your own wedding?”

“Well, no,” Taako says as he presents Kravitz with yet another slice of cake. “You and Lup decided that behind my back, like the insidious traitors you are. And then you turned Ren onto your plot because you knew you couldn’t go up against me alone. It was a betrayal worse than death.”

“You’re marrying Death.”  

Taako rolls his eyes and dismisses this with an easy wave of his hand. “Semantics,” he says, and spears the tip of his own piece with a fork. Today, Taako is a man on a mission; he considers each bite of cake with narrowed eyes and a single-minded focus that would put most food critics to shame. He’s got a notepad open by his plate to scribble scathing commentary in, and braised pineapple at the ready to cleanse his palate in-between samples. Kravitz, sitting across the table, is content to sit back and enjoy the view.

“Eugh. Who thought apricot jam was a good idea? With the marzipan? This isn’t a spring wedding!” Kravitz tries and fails not to be charmed as Taako’s nose wrinkles in disgust. Taako turns towards the kitchen. “Lup, I thought we nixed this one!”

Kravitz huffs a laugh as he goes to take a bite of his own. Like all the other desserts he’s tried today, it’s delicious; creamy custard and apricot between two thick layers of vanilla sponge cake, a delicate spread of marzipan blanketing them. This one’s not quite as good as the carrot cake he’d had three pieces ago, but it’s definitely up there.

“She wouldn’t even let me bake the samplers myself,” Taako says. “My own sister!”

“What a monster,” Kravitz intones. He reaches for his plate again and Taako swats at his hand, stealing it away to stack atop an increasingly precarious pile of other, emptier dishes.

“Don’t fill up, homeslice. We’ve still got five more to go before you can tap out for the day.”

“Fi –” Come to think of it, Kravitz is starting to feel a bit queasy. “Sorry, did you say five?”

“Maybe six? Not sure,” Taako says, glancing up as Lup sweeps in with another platter of cakes. “Did Ren ever pick up the lemon curd?”

“Dropped it off this morning,” Lup says. She grabs Taako’s fork to sample Kravitz’s unfinished slice. “What’d you think of the banana walnut?”

“That chocolate ganache was choice as hell, really brought the whole thing together. Loved the filling. Solid eight, eight-point-five out of ten. Buttercream would’ve been better than fondant, I think.”

“Yeah, I thought so too,” Lup says. “It’s not like we’re going to have to worry about the frosting melting. Enchant it and it’ll last all day.”

“True. What’d you think, bone daddy?”

“Uh, I liked it,” Kravitz says. Taako’s explained the difference between frosting and fondant at least three times today, and though he’s been patient about it, Kravitz’s culinary expertise begins and ends with “tastes good” and “tastes bad.” Even that’s a bit of a stretch – he once ate almost an entire wax apple before noticing anything off about it. Complimented the texture, even. Kravitz was more than happy to leave the menu to Lup and his fiancée, but Taako had insisted they make a date of it. “Really sweet?” Kravitz tries. “I do like chocolate.”

Lup snorts, not unkindly, and pats his shoulder before wandering out again. She waves a hand, and a bevy of levitating dishes follow in her wake. Taako picks up his fork and gestures at the new offering of cakes between them.

“Okay, so, what we’ve got here is lemon poppy,” he points to a golden loaf speckled with tiny black seeds, “—almond with cherry preserves—” the cherries glisten like little jewels, “…and then this one’s your basic spice cake. Frosting’s cinnamon cream cheese, nothing fancy. Not exactly in-season either, but I figured we should cover all our bases, yeah?”

“Sure,” Kravitz says, as if he has any idea which flavor pairs best with each season.  “Though I’m pretty sure you cut funfetti during the first round of eliminations.”

“Of course I did!” Taako scoffs. “I’m appalled that Magnus even suggested it.”

“It is his favorite.”

“Gods, I’m ashamed to even know him,” he says, lips twitching upwards. Like a good fiancée, Kravitz politely ignores this, and instead serves himself a slice of the spice cake. It’s almost overwhelmingly fragrant, dense and moist when he cuts into it, and – holy shit.

“Holy shit,” Kravitz says.

Taako preens. “Right? Me ‘n Lup played around with an old recipe of our aunt’s. Hard to find some of the stuff here, but Taako knows how to make do. Little extra nutmeg, little less ginger – ain’t even a thing.”

Kravitz responds by shoveling more cake into his mouth. Nevermind that this is the fifth piece he’s had today, and that he’s getting kind of uncomfortably full at this point: this is the best thing Kravitz has ever had in his entire life. Death. Maybe both? Whatever. It’s good. Kravitz doesn’t remember much of his youth, but he wonders if this doesn’t taste a bit like going home.

“Woah, slow down there, Skeletor, what’d I tell you about taste-testing? This is a sample, not a serving!”

Unfortunately, Taako’s right – the little sliver of cake is gone far too quickly for Kravitz’s liking. He frowns at the crumbs, feeling a bit bereaved, and wonders how much Taako would tease him if he licked the plate clean.

“So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say you liked that one,” Taako snickers as he claims a piece of his own.

“Yes, it – Taako, you’re a genius,” Kravitz says sincerely. “Seriously, that was something else.”

Taako flushes. “Yeah, well, you know.” He grabs his elbows and shrugs, laughing nervously. “That’s, uh – that’s how we do.”

It’s so endearing that Kravitz can’t help but smile. which only serves to make Taako blush a brighter red; he looks away, muttering something under his breath that Kravitz doesn’t catch. He watches a moment longer – god but he’s so hopelessly in love – and then his eyes drop to Taako’s plate, where the remaining slice of spice cake sits, unassuming, uneaten.

Hm.

It really was a very delicious cake.

Kravitz is an emissary to the goddess of death, the Raven Queen’s right hand; as the actual, literal Grim Reaper, he’s had centuries to hone his reflexes with pinpoint accuracy. His quick-thinking has saved him hundreds of times in the past. In the field, his speed is unparalleled.

Kravitz snatches the cake off Taako’s plate and shoves it, wholesale, into his mouth.

Taako whips his head up and gapes. “What – oh my god, I was gonna eat that, you dick!”

Kravitz grins around a mouthful of cake, unrepentant. “That’s too bad. I guess you’ll just have to make some more then, huh?” he says. Gess you’ll juss haff to may some mouh zen, huh?

Taako snorts and, shaking his head, leans across the table to kiss the taste of cinnamon out of Kravitz’s mouth.