Banana cake shouldn’t have been difficult to make. The three full baking pans sitting on his kitchen counter proved otherwise. Anyone who tried them would most likely comment on their tastiness. But it wasn’t good enough for Hunk.
“You couldn’t sleep either, huh?” Pidge stepped into the kitchen and grabbed a plastic cup from the cabinet.
“Kinda,” Hunk said. He untied his apron and tossed it onto the counter. “As soon as I got into bed, a little homesickness hit me. I thought that whipping out one of my family recipes would help me feel better. It’s not really working the way I planned, though.”
“Hmm… Not that I doubt your culinary skills, but maybe you could use another set of eyes?” Pidge picked up a whisk and scrutinized it as if it were an ancient tool unearthed from an archaeological dig.
As far as Hunk knew, he had nothing to lose. He shrugged his shoulders and playfully smirked. “Sure, why not? Couldn’t hurt to try!”
They read the recipe together, both taking their time and keeping a serious attitude. Every action one person made was announced out loud for the other to verify that it was correct. More than two hours later, the frosted cake was chilling on a shelf in the walk-in refrigerator. It would a bit longer for the frosting to set.
Hunk wiped his brow with the back of his hand. “Thanks for helping me out! I really -- geez, you look exhausted.” The excitement from baking had finally subsided, and Pidge’s fatigue punctuated its presence with a yawn. “You can head to bed if you want,” Hunk assured, “I’ll let you know how it turns out.”
She hastily shook her head. “No, I’ll wait with you!” she yelped. “I’m a little worn down, but I wanna know how it tastes myself, while it’s still fresh." And with that, the two waited. At some point, they settled down at the nearest cafeteria table. Their conversations ran personal and deep, but the pair's history allowed such talk to occur without much thought.
The minutes ticked by, with the pair simply enjoying each other’s company. Unknown to each other, their thoughts began to wander and overwhelm them.
The older teen feared that his heart could be heard on the other side of the galaxy. He wondered if she could hear it too. The other gently took off the glasses dangling from her ears and pocketed them. She could’ve fallen asleep that way -- comfortable and safe, resting her head on his arm.
Pidge was the first to break the peace. “This… This was really nice.” “Yeah…” Hunk nodded. “It felt good to make something with you, without any interruptions or disagreements.”
“Can’t help it,” she shrugged. “That’s just what happens when you work with someone who even considers single-modulation.” “Oh shut up!”
The time had come. Carefully cutting a square piece for herself, Pidge sampled their creation. Much to Hunk’s dismay, she gagged. “DSH ISH DUHDSHISH!” “I knew it!” he cried out. "I can’t do it! This is the one thing I miss most besides my family, and now it’s even worse than tasting different -- it tastes disgusting!”
“I guess that’s what I get for trying to talk and eat at the same time, but man oh man! I said, this is delicious!” She took a few gulps of water to wash out any offending crumbs that remained. “Your mom is a genius, and you’re incredible! I can’t believe we made this together!”
. . . “Please tell me what it is.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The next day, Hunk’s face was practically pressed to the screen of his tablet.
“C’mon mom, you can’t hold out on me forever. I know you! You must’ve purposely left something out, like a specific method or a secret ingredient, in case our family recipes fell into the wrong hands.” “First of all,” she said, “those recipes are for food that’s meant to be shared, Hunk. And I swear, I didn’t leave anything out!
“Whatever, maybe it was just a fluke. No one in the universe makes banana cake like you can.” Hunk gave up. His mother let out a short giggle at the compliment. “Maybe so. I really do wish I could help you out, honey. I honestly haven’t made banana cake since the last time I saw you.”
“Wait, what!? How is that possible? You love baking it all the time. Why would you stop?” “I don’t know! I never noticed.” She nonchalantly scratched her chin with a finger. “Most of the time, I just saved it for you because it felt easier to put together when I knew you’d be there to enjoy it... Cooking isn’t the same when you’re just doing it for yourself, you know?
“I remember ever since you were little, and I’d be exhausted after coming home from work, but when I knew how happy the cake made you, it gave me some kind of hidden strength. I guess you could say that it was like your smiles helped my cooking taste better.” Nostalgia filled her eyes. "Once, when you were -- Hunk wait, where are you going!?”
But Hunk had already bolted to find Pidge. He wondered if she liked cannolis.