Day 36—Sara’s Birthday
Leonard called Sue the night before, asking—well, practically begging—her to teach him—well, help him make—a cake for Sara. Sue told him that she’d be glad to help, and that she’d be over early in the morning to make a cake. Then, ever the helpful person, Burnett offered to take Sara out for a birthday brunch with Henna instead of going off to wherever he went on the weekends. Sara had also agreed to tolerate Theo for the day, though she was still angry at him.
Sara and Sue crossed paths once. Sue arrived just in time as Sara was leaving. Sara looked at her oddly, but didn’t question her motives, as they were used to friends dropping by at odd times. Sue gave her a cheerful smile and darted in, greeting Leonard with a cheerful smile and a chirpy good morning.
They dug around in some closets for old aprons, even though they were dressed in old clothing; Sue in a t-shirt that said “Art Fair 2011 Volunteer” and old jeans; Leonard in an old oversized white shirt and ripped jeans that he didn’t wear anywhere but inside the apartment.
After gathering all the ingredients and putting their aprons on, Sue clapped her hands and said, “Okay! Let’s get started!” She put Leonard in charge of mixing the dry ingredients together while she preheated the oven and measured out the wet ingredients.
As they made the cake, Nikolas and Adelaide arrived, Adelaide carrying a small, gift-wrapped present with a card attached and Nikolas carrying a thin rectangular package, both of which they set down on the coffee table and proceeded to watch Leonard and Sue make a cake. There was something amusing about watching a freshman girl order around a senior boy.
“Here,” Sue commanded, handing Leonard a bowl and a whisk. “You mix while I pour in the dry ingredients.” Leonard then proceeded to stir the mix with the whisk. “No, no, no. Like this,” Sue demonstrated. “Use your wrist.” Leonard couldn’t do it. Adelaide sighed, pained that he couldn’t get it right.
“Here, give it to me, I’ll do it,” Adelaide said, holding her hands out for the bowl.
“But you’ll get dirty!” Sue protested.
Adelaide shrugged. “I don’t care. This t-shirt is from last year anyway.” She motioned to her t-shirt that said “Ravenclaw”. “Harry Potter was the Homecoming theme from last year and I wanted a House shirt,” she explained, expertly whisking the mix.
“I remember those shirts! I have one with Slytherin on it. Have you ever made a cake before?” Nikolas asked. He was amazed by how fast her hand was moving the whisk through the quickly congealing cake batter.
“No. But I play violin.”
“Ah. I see.”
When the whisking was done, Sue took the batter from Adelaide and poured it into a cake mold. Then she put the mold with the batter in it into the oven, ordering Leonard to start washing the dirty bowls as she did so. Adelaide and Nikolas moved to help them, putting away sugar, flour, baking soda and eggs.
When they had cleared up most of the mess, Sue pulled out tubs of premade frosting. “We’re using this to decorate the cake,” she told Leonard, who nodded wearily and swiped at his face with a hand, trying to dislodge a bit of flour, but only ending up adding more.
“Why don’t you try washing your hands first?” Nikolas suggested with a wry smile.
“Good idea,” Leonard agreed. He turned around to face the sink he was leaning against and turned the faucet on with his wrist, scrubbing fiercely at the muck that was drying on his hands. Meanwhile, Sue and Adelaide had begun spooning the frosting into little baggies that Sue had brought with her. Once they were filled, she screwed the metal shaping tips onto the ends of the baggies and experimentally squeezed the each one.
As they waited for the cake to finish baking, Rachel and Sadie arrived, each carrying a large bag.
“Aw, you make my little box feel insignificant,” Adelaide pouted jokingly.
“I’m sorry,” Rachel apologized cheerfully. “But I’m sure your gift is much more meaningful. What’s baking?”
“Leonard and Sue’s birthday present to Sara,” Nikolas said. “Freshly baked cake.”
“Ooh, yum,” Sadie said. “Do I get to decorate something?”
“Depends,” Sue said, leaning against the kitchen counter. “How good are you at cursive?”
“Then you can pipe the edges with dots or flowers or something after I finish icing the cake,” Sue planned. “Nikolas, you might as well do the lettering. Adelaide, decorate Nikolas’ lettering with fancy stuff.”
“What am I doing, then?” Leonard asked curiously.
“You’re sitting there and looking pretty,” Sue said decisively.
“Oh! I brought my camera!” Rachel exclaimed excitedly. “I can take pictures!”
“Awesome!” Sue answered.
They surrounded the kitchen counter, chatting generally about school, life, teachers, no life and plans for life. Then Leonard’s phone buzzed.
>>We’re almost done w brunch. R u done w cake yet?
Leonard swore quietly when he saw the text from Burnett. He quickly texted a reply while the rest of the group looked curiously over his shoulder.
>>Not yet. Stall. Do smthng!
“So, Burnett and them are almost done with the brunch thing?” Sue asked casually.
“You mean you weren’t reading over my shoulder?” Leonard shot back sarcastically.
“Uh, if you haven’t noticed, I can’t see over your shoulder because you’re, like, a foot taller than me,” Sue said calmly. “It’s okay, though. The cake is almost done and it’ll take them at least fifteen minutes if they can’t stall long enough. We can do this.”
“You’re optimism is the highlight of my day,” Nikolas deadpanned.
“Thank you,” Sue answered cheerfully. “I enjoy being optimistic.”
Fortunately, the timer dinged at that moment and there was a mad scramble to grab piping materials while Leonard turned off the oven and put on oven gloves. He shielded his face as he opened the oven door, feeling the intense heat radiating from the iron racks. He quickly pulled the cake out, closing the oven door with his foot. Sue darted over with a toothpick and poked the cake in four different spots. Each time came out clean.
“Okay, good. Now, we wait a while for it to cool down and then we can break it out of the mold and decorate it.”
The group sat again around the kitchen counter, mouths watering slightly as the smell of cake permeated the room. Soon, though, the cake cooled enough to be flipped over and broken out of the mold.
They had fun decorating. Rachel had the pictures to prove it.
They finished just in time for Sara to come home. Needless to say, she was extremely surprised by the magnificently over-decorated cake that her over-enthusiastic friends had made. Then Theo surprised her with the necklace he had bought yesterday and promise that he would never ever do something so stupid as to get into a bar fight ever again, even if he really wanted to, and Sara kissed him, apparently all forgiven for his previous misdeeds.