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Something Sweet

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A fine coat of white powder covers almost every counter at this point, sometimes thicker in some places than others, but no doubt, everywhere. Barely can the jade green particle board countertop beneath be recognized. Even the tan wooden cabinets and white hard tile floor haven’t escaped unscathed. The sink is piled high with dishes of all kinds— bowls, spoons, measuring cups— and even extends to the counter beside it as well.

A soft humming can be heard from towards the stove— an old twenty-year-old oven and stove top that still works perfectly, so why replace it?— and the patter of a wooden spoon hitting sides of a bowl over and over again. The sound is uneven and there’s the sound of a spatter as some of the batter splashes onto the counter.

A twenty-something young man by the name of Wei Wuxian stood there. He wore a slightly-oversized apron with cartoonish maraca-skeletons dancing on it— a great find, if to ask him— along with a black short sleeved-tee and dark blue jeans. In retrospect, the choice in attire was ill-thought out, white flour having managed to cover quite a few spots on it.

A frustrated sigh, “Who knew vanilla cakes could be so hard to make?” There’s a clang as the bowl is set down onto the countertop. Wei Wuxian turns to look at a printed out recipe; even it has not managed to escape the flour covering every surface. Detailed instructions are typed finely on the paper’s surface, but even with as much information as they contain, it still has resulted in failure.

Three hours in, Wei Wuxian has yet to make the cake that he’d set out to bake, and at this rate, he was going to run out of time to make it properly, bake, and ice it.

He was starting to panic internally.

Feeling quite vexed Wei Wuxian ran his hands through his already messy hair, dragging more flour through the black locks, but he didn’t care. A brief glance at the nearby trashcan didn’t sooth his growing anxiety— the can stacked high with messed up batter and unrisen baked cake.

Maybe it was time to call in backup?

Without a care for the flour on his hands, Wei Wuxian picked up his phone from the nearby table, unlocking it and bringing up the list of contacts. After scrolling page after page of old acquaintances’ numbers, he finally settled on one.

He stopped on it, pursing his lips— his finger twitched over the call button before pressing down on it.

There was a soft ringing before he brought it up to his ear, just in time to hear a soft, “H-Hello?”

“Wen Ning— Hi, I’ll uh, just get right to the point but um…” He paused for a moment— thinking about what he wanted to say before he continued, “Do… Do you bake?”

There was a silence, one where Wei Wuxian could hear the ticking of his own clock in the background. A few seconds passed before Wen Ning replied, “U-uh… yes, I d-do.”

Wei Wuxian perked up at that, the anxiety he’d been feeling up until this point magically gone in a split second.

“Really?” He questioned excitedly, “Well, can I ask for some tips then?” Wei Wuxian could feel the anticipation in his veins, jumping with every pulse of his blood.

Without even giving Wen Ning a chance to respond, Wei Wuxian began to dump a load of information all at once, “I’ve been trying to bake this vanilla cake, but it hasn’t been quite working out. I tried making egg whites but they don’t look like the videos online, but I just rolled with it anyway and—“

He went on and on, and honestly, Wei Wuxian still didn’t know why Wen Ning didn’t hang up on him throughout the call, but he didn’t— what an angel of a friend he was.

When Wei Wuxian finally let Wen Ning get a word in, he spoke in that typical anxiety-filled voice— no doubt considering his words needlessly carefully—, “W-well, if you over-whip the egg w-whites, t-they’ll go f-flat.”

“Uh-huh?” Wei Wuxian nods enthusiastically, even if Wen Ning can’t really see the action, his tone light and excited. Maybe he can do this.

“—A-and just make sure that when you mix the whites in, that you c-carefully fold them in, o-otherwise y-you can knock the air out of them.” Wen Ning explained, and there’s a bit of racket from the phone— the sound of pans making contact with something.

“Do you h-have a springform pan?” He continued, and to be honest, Wei Wuxian hadn’t been expecting to be asked the question at first, but he replied all the same, “Yeah. Yeah, I do, although I haven’t gotten to use it quite yet.”

“Okay…,” Wen Ning begins, “You’ll want to flour the edges generously before you p-put the batter in. T-t-this will help with the sticking.”

“Alrighty, anything else I should know, Wen Ning?” Wei Wuxian inquires, already beginning to weigh out his flour for the next attempt at the cake— he’s going to get this damn cake done if it’s the last thing he does.

“No— That should be it,” Wen Ning closes with, “G-good luck.”

“Thanks,” Wei Wuxian replies, before taping the disconnect button.

——

His next attempt is much more successful than the last— at least this time, the batter looks like batter, feels like it. Even this one is not perfect, but at least it bakes okay.

A few more tries later, and Wei Wuxian is actually happy with the result. When he pulls it from the oven, he can’t help but smile to himself; it has a perfect golden brown crust on the top, and aside from a few small cracks in the top towards the sides, it’s pretty smooth, if a bit tacky.

It’s in the next stages that Wei Wuxian finds the true fun in the process. Once the cake has been set to cool, he begins to make some icing. Armed with advice given straight from his expert baker of a friend, Wei Wuxian makes some more egg whites, mixing in some sugar and vanilla to form it into the frosting it was designed to be.

Wei Wuxian can’t help but giggle to himself in an overly-excited way. Faster than he can recognize, the frosting goes on, but that’s not the truly challenging part. He swirls the cake around on a makeshift cake stand with a box and a plate, but the frosting doesn’t stay smooth. With each swipe of the spatula, the frosting is smoothed in one place, and disturbed in another.

Eventually, Wei Wuxian has to call it good enough, no matter how frustrating that is for him. Still, it’s quick to move on, taking to placing chocolate pieces, sprinkles, hershey syrup, strawberries— everything Wei Wuxian has dreamed of.

Suddenly, Wei Wuxian hears the sound of the front door unlatching. In a brief panic, he throws the utensils in the sink, quickly realizing that he lost track of time, and that he truly doesn’t remember if he wanted it to be a surprise.

Does he?

A quick look around the room is all it takes to remind him of just how impossible that would be— the white flour, dishes still piled in the sink, the eggs and vanilla still on the counter— there’s nothing he could do.

Instead, Wei Wuxian wipes he hands on his dirty apron, putting on a big smile— his husband was home. Briskly, Wei Wuxian exits the kitchen and into the hallway, where the front door resides. There’s a soft, “Wei Ying,” from the entryway, and that’s all it takes before Wei Wuxian dashes down the hallway. He takes his husband in an embrace, giving a number of kisses to his cheek.

Pulling back a bit, Wei Wuxian stares into Lan Wangji’s golden eyes, and can’t help but smirk when he sees his ears go pink a bit at the tips

“How’s my dear husband?” Wei Wuxian inquires, swaying his hips ever so slightly, in an effort to contain his excitement. He sees Lan Wangji swallow, and Wei Wuxian feels hands attach themselves to his hips.

“I am well,” Lan Wangji starts, his tone deceptively even.

Mirth sparkles in Wei Wuxian’s eyes, “Better now that you’re here?” A happy smirk spreads across his face.

“Mmm, better now that I’m home, yes,” Lan Wangji agrees.

They stand there for a moment, embraced in the hallway. It’s Wei Wuxian who pulls away first, “Would you like to see what I’ve made?”

“Mmm,” is his answer, and slowly, they make their way to the kitchen, the wooden floors squeaking a little as they move, but there’s no mind paid to it. Upon reaching the kitchen, Wei Wuxian sees the exact moment that Lan Wangji recognizes what the disaster that Wei Wuxian left is from.

Rather than speak, Lan Wangji approaches the cake on the table— still on its makeshift cake stand. It’s white cream smoothed out, not anywhere near perfection, but covering. Rainbow sprinkles coat the top of the cake, followed by mini-chocolate chips and a messily piped ‘Happy Anniversary! <3’ in light blue icing.

Wei Wuxian swears he can see a small smile on his husband's face, and it is then that no more needed to be said. Quickly, he’s pulled in for a kiss on the lips, and he puts his arms around Lan Wangji. His husband pulls away, “Thank you, Wei Ying.”