Written for Jessica’s birthday prompt(s): A photo of a strawberry shortcake.
|Word count: 1049
The cake was perfect.
Creamy and sweet and studded on the top and sides with fresh strawberries, Danion Frobisher’s first attempt at a strawberry shortcake was a total success. He even managed to get it into the cake carrier without incident, and the cover fit over the cake like a crowning glory.
Feeling extremely self-satisfied—really the only shame was that the cake couldn’t be kept as a monument, rather than be savaged by a bunch of hungry potluck dinner guests—Danion put the cake, case and all, in the fridge—just in case the cat got curious—and went to get ready for supper.
Janis Harte greeted Danion enthusiastically, hugging him carefully around the cake. He hugged her back with one arm, the other protectively curled around the cake. “Hey, there, troublemaker. Am I the last one here?”
“Nope,” Janis laughed, letting Danion go and leaning back to look him over. “You’re actually the first. You know our friends: fashionably late. None of us own a watch.”
“I own a watch . . . I just never wear it,” Danion said loftily. “It makes my wrist uncomfortable.”
“Laaaaaaame excuse, Frobisher,” Janis took Danion’s free arm and tugged him into the house. “Shut the door, will you?”
“Where’s your better half?” Danion asked, closing the door behind him with his cake-arm. The dessert slid a bit inside its carrier, but was otherwise no worse for wear.
“Petra’s gone to pick up a last minute surprise.” Janis lead Danion to the dining room. The place settings were already done, four of them, and there was a beautiful arrangement of red, yellow, and purple tulips serving as the centerpiece. “She won’t tell me what it is she’s bringing, just that I’ll love it. We both will.”
“Hmph. Well. I hope it’s not another cake,” Danion murmured, slightly worried that his precious, painstakingly gorgeous cake would be second runner up to a perfect tiramisu or some such. He could easily imagine his poor baby, sitting untouched and alone, while everyone oohed and ahed over mini-crème brules or fancy eclairs with chocolate drizzled over them. . . .
Sighing, Danion patted his growling tummy and told it: down, boy. Dessert’s coming soon enough. In the meantime, there’s dinner to survive.
Not that dinner with a few friends was such a chore, it’s just that in the months—at this point years, but Danion told himself to think of Kyle’s deployment in terms of months . . . that made it a lot easier to think about, in some ways—since Kyle shipped out for Afghanistan, Danion’s been . . . pining.
Seemingly too Victorian a word for a relationship that hadn’t even happened, yet (beyond admission of reciprocated feelings and a good-bye kiss that’d admittedly made Danion’s knees utterly weak), pining was exactly what Danion had been doing since Kyle got on that plane. Pining and trying not to change.
His fear—silly though it was—was that if he changed too much, he wouldn’t be the same guy Kyle had confessed to caring about very deeply. He was afraid to change his hairstyle, his clothing taste, his apartment, his weight—Lord above knew he needed to lose some, but what if Kyle didn’t like him fit, preferring, instead Danion’s rather zaftig frame?—even his mind on all the issues they’d sat and chinned over all that long, incredible night before Kyle left.
Even now, Danion had a habit of waking early just to watch the sun rise and think about watching it rise that morning with Kyle. . . .
“Ah, I see you brought your appetite,” Janis noted when Danion’s stomach growled again. Danion blushed.
“Sweetie, I brought everybody’s appetite,” he murmured with another sigh, but smiling. “So who’s the fourth wheel?”
Janis shrugged, her waggly dark eyebrows making funny commas over her round eyes. “Beats me. Pet says it’s a surprise. Probably that weird chick from her job with the facial tic.”
“Does this chick have a na—”
“Ooh! I’ll be right back! That’s probably Pet with her surprise! I hope it’s booze!” Janis exclaimed, referring to the knock on the door that’d interrupted Danion. She shuffled back down the hall, Danion following, cake still in hand.
Whatever you do, don’t stare at the tic, he reminded himself like the well-raised boy he was.
Meanwhile, Janis opened the door, her: “Hey, baby!” falling from her lips weakly when she saw who was at the door. And Danion, angling himself so he could see just how bad the facial tic was, gasped, jaw and cake dropping to the floor, the latter with a splat.
“Heyya,” Kyle Morning said softly when he saw Danion standing there, gaping, hands and brain empty. “Hi, Danion.”
“Whuh,” Danion breathed, uncertain whether he meant what, as in: what was that? or WHOA, as in: goddamn, but you’re even more gorgeous than I remember with all the muscles and the uniform and the stubble and the piercing blue eyes and the dimples and the smile and can you just be kissing me right now?
“Holy fuck,” Janis said, laughing, and grabbing her girlfriend’s brother in a hug that made the much taller man oof. “Holy fuck—if it isn’t this asshole!”
“Takes one to know one,” Kyle said, chuckling and hugging Janis back, but his eyes never left Danion, who’d finally closed his mouth and was approaching the embracing pair. Kyle looked unsure of the welcome he’d receive from Danion and that just would not do. Not at all.
“Janis? Excuse me a moment,” Danion said, practically shoving his best friend out of Kyle’s arms—Janis went with a yelp—and then those arms were around Danion and he didn’t even notice Janis’ continued griping.
“I know it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other,” Kyle began awkwardly, taking a deep breath. “And I know we never really talked about us in our emails and letters, but I was hoping you sti—”
And that was all Kyle got to say before Danion kissed the rest of the words from his lips. And kissed him. And kissed him. And kissed him some more.
And so, he didn’t notice when Petra Morning arrived in the doorway beside her brother, grinning and obviously self-satisfied. For all of five seconds, until:
“Goddamnit, why’s there cake all over the fucking floor?!”