A Bakery Built for Two
Pairing: England & 2P!England
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The cheerful, well-lit space smelled of spices and heat, drawing the sole occupants of the house further indoors and away from the stuffy, darkened parlor, overcast clouds painting a melancholy backdrop from behind a family of large bay windows. Strings danced along with the touch of an archaic needle, dulcet tones falling off the rim of a dusted phonograph before twisting upwards and along the shadowed furniture to join a pair of nearly identical figures busying themselves across the kitchen’s multiple, cluttered countertops.
"You're standing in my spot, love."
The warm breath lulling against his ear only succeeded in sending a ripple of frigid speculation across his neck, hackles raised beneath his shirt and rubbing against the worn cotton pleats of his argyle sweater. "Come off it, I've been here for the past ten minutes."
"And a fat lot of good you've done being there." That sweet, deceptive tone was far too close for comfort now. So this was what it felt like to be a cornered mouse, caught between the claws of a tomcat. "Now stand aside before I have to resort to drastic measures~"
It was hardly a threat from the friendly Brit; nevertheless, it earned the desired reaction. Smacking the long, wooden spoon in his hand down on the marble countertop, a fine layer of flour seasoned the air as Arthur turned briskly over his shoulder to meet the eager blue eyes perusing the Englishman’s progress. "You wouldn't dare lay a finger on my perso-"
"Only your pride, Arthur dearest~" A wide-rimmed smile embellished the strawberry blonde’s sugar-coated honesty before sealing it all with a sly Eskimo kiss, the gruffer of both individuals cursing under his breath and remembering that there were far more important things to maintain eye contact with at the opposite corner of the kitchen. Damn this bloody nuisance and his irrevocable desire to cause mischief.
"Language~" tutted the more colorful Englishman, waggling a finger before allowing the moment to drift away on a sigh. "...But we’re not here to wage war, now are we?"
The string quartet waltzing about the parlor shone in a moment of vocal silence; Arthur unenthusiastically waved the white flag after an undetermined period of intense personal debate. "...I suppose not..."
"Then why don’t you be a dear and move aside so that we can continue our little project, hmm?"
"Don’t patronize me," came the short reply, feet shuffling a few steps to the left - just far enough to allow Oliver free reign of the main countertop as his mixing utensil was reclaimed, ingredients waiting to be churned pulled toward his chest. "This is my house, and I won’t have you treating me like a child."
"As I stated before, a bloody bout was never my intention, but I appreciate that you value my opinions concerning good manners, especially with infrequent houseguests about~" The growl in Arthur’s throat only served to lift his spirits, and in turn his cheekbones, higher. "Really, I thought that you would enjoy a baking partner. When was the last time you truly took advantage of this lovely space?"
The contents being merged together in his bowl came to a quiet standstill, green eyes staring into the half-formed dough as if it held the very answer to his queer companion’s question. "I cook regularly enough-"
"Arthur dear, no fibbing~"
The Englishman grit his teeth, shoulders tucked neatly up to his ears to hide his frustrated [guilty] features [poorly~]. "Alright, so I have trouble preparing a full meal now and then. You practically live in the kitchen, so the question is rather to your advantage if you ask me."
Clicking his tongue in a thoughtful manner, Oliver cast a sideways glance towards his better half, ripe with half-baked sympathy. "Cooking and baking are hardly the same things, love. Still, I do what I enjoy most and, regardless of your cynicism, I know that you enjoy my company."
Prodding his shoulder a little, the smile in his voice was brazenly apparent even as his initial, peppy volume was gradually reduced to a soothing lull. "Looks like you've finally got the consistency down, poppet~ Whoever said you couldn't follow a recipe proper?"
The compliment was observed outwards with a huff and bitter, petty ignorance towards his guest, Arthur unwilling to overlook the string of jibes and slander made against his good name just moments before. Still, as the dough inside his bowl thickened and finally took form, the Englishman’s chest bore a heavy, residual pang of silent gratitude. And not only for the baking tips.
Ignoring all predisposed negativity, Oliver had taken to humming along with the sweet melody playing to their backs, feet moving pristinely in time to the residual tones of the cello as the rolling pin in his hands smoothed over their latest amalgamation of eggs, milk, flour and sugar. "What shapes shall we make this time, Arthur dear? The trees are currently baking, and the stars are still cooling on the rack."
Casting the flattened dough a spare glance, shoulders were shrugged. "It makes no difference to me."
"Oh do try to have a little fun with this!"
"Fine! Fine. Which cutters haven’t we used yet?"
Cutters, you say? An excited little gleam flashed behind sharp blue eyes, lips poised in a razored smile as nimble fingers danced toward the discarded pile of holiday shapes. "Well, there’s the wreath, the little man, the candy cane..."
"The little man?"
Now Arthur was curious. "What could you possibly-"
"Run just as fast as you can, love."
All concentration on his work ceased, Arthur swallowing lightly before turning his head to stare down at his darker half leaning against the countertop, a toothy grin lovingly directed towards the silver shape running between his fingers. There was something grotesquely delicate in his motions, how each shining curve was traced and fondled as the Brit cooed and sighed, voice ringing with gentility.
"You can’t catch me? Of course I can. It’s so easy when you forget how to run..." Ringing with malice.
"Just before everything goes black..." A death toll.
Think. Think quickly. Every second wasted struck his muscles with silent paralysis. Fingers clenched with reckless abandon around his mixing spoon. For God’s sake, snap him out of it.
"But never fear, poppet. I’ll take good care of you~"
"I-is it thick enough? I can’t tell."
Blue eyes lifted and pranced over to Arthur’s face, pooling inside what little healthy green still remained. Oliver’s smile was still so magnanimously ravenous, searching for a reason to spread his own, personal brand of good cheer-
"I may have bodged it...like last time."
Now was not the time for pride to stand in the way. Shaking the bowl in his hands to hopefully garnish attention to his claims, the words he desperately sought for - the words that could potentially deliver him safely from this hellish misunderstanding - came out in little more than a pitiable, childish murmur.
"A- A little help?"
A spark of understanding emerged, caressing the madness in his partner’s gaze just enough to have the man leaning over to peer inside Arthur’s bowl curiously, the cookie cutter in his grasp placed aside and [thankfully] out of mind for the time being.
"I told you that it was coming along splendidly, now didn't I?" The voice held rationality sprinkled with a garnish of disappointment. "Really, this is why I came to call in the first place. You need a sense of confidence in the kitchen, and God knows I can’t be here to help you all the time~"
The breath that Arthur had been holding in miraculously dissipated, his floured hand nervously brushing aside a strand of dirty blonde hair lightly glued to his forehead before offering his chiding half a weary smile, chuckling blandly. "Yes...right. Now, about this next batch."
"Oh? I’m all ears~"
"Well they obviously won’t be gingerbread men, but it could still be...entertaining if we used the shape regardless. Just think of the possibilities for decoration."
Oliver’s spirits were rejuvenated instantaneously, everything grim and curdling held within his countenance replaced with a giddiness contagious enough to have invisible tails wagging with delight.
"We can frost them to look like our companions!" Taking a hold of Arthur’s shoulder, he gave the stiff Brit a good, friendly shake of encouragement - one step below a cheek pinch. "We’ll both have to make one of Alfred~"
As the cookie cutter in question was reclaimed briskly by his counterpart, it was Arthur’s turn to offer a genuine smirk as the dough he had been working on was overturned onto the flour-spread countertop. Alfred cookies? For once, the American would be silent and far from obnoxious per his usual manner.
That and the prospect of biting his damn head off.
He was sure that Oliver would second the motion.