Not many know this, but the humble bakery known as "Death by Chocolate" had its beginnings around thirty years ago. At the time, its current owner, Shelly de
Ki Baker, did not even go by such a name; he was a young apprentice, learning the tricks of the trade from an older, burlier man.
They could easily pass for father and son, and that is exactly what they did, for the sake of... convenience. There was no need to bother a client with long-winded explanations of familial relations, after all. It was a convincing claim, and they made use of it - they looked rather alike, their ages fit, and the only detail that might have seemed off to a casual observer would be the fact that the younger baker already had a patch of grey hair and his father did not.
One evening, some particularly memorable events for the young de Baker ocurred.
"Well, no, sir, I have yet to come up with a name, but I might have a card!" The proud young man showed his father the design he had been working on for the past two hours, while an order was baking in the oven.
"Uh-huh... Okay, not bad. Classy. Simple. Distinctive." He raised an eyebrow. "... But why is it pink?"
"I-I thought black would be too clichéd, sir." He paused for a moment, insecure. "Is there anything wrong with pink?"
"No, not exactly, but... you know... Some people judge. Plus, seashells are not quite the most intimidating symbol out there. I suppose it might work, though. Lull the authorities into a false sense of security... Now you need a name to go with it." The eager apprentice was about to state the ideas he currently had (Shelly didn't sound too bad, did it?), but before he could, the older man continued. "Just keep thinking about it for now. I have to go out."
"For a... delivery, sir?"
"Right. It shouldn't take long." He headed out, still wearing his apron but carrying a jacket beneath his arm. "... Don't touch the cupcakes; I'm saving them for later!"
Well, no problem. He could handle things on his own for a little while. Oh, and he had better not forget about that dessert. It should be about time to take it out of the oven. He did have some problems doing so, however, because the dessert had swollen to jaw-droppingly large proportions. Was it the flour? Oh, no matter. He just hoped the client wouldn't mind.
Just as he set it down on the counter for the finishing touches and tried to remember one very particular detail about this order, said client arrived: a woman apparently not much older than him, with a hairstyle that resembled a fat pompadour and a very traditional-looking kimono. Likely from that nearby village, he thought.
"Is Mr. de Baker here?" She spoke in a polite, yet strong manner.
"Er, he happens to be out at the moment, Miss." The young baker had to look around the huge dessert to see the woman, so he shoved it just a tad to his left so it would be out of the way. "I am his son..." His tongue froze for a moment during which he tried to decide his following words. "Shelly de Baker. And you are...?"
"Morgan Fey." Shelly swore her expression had the slightest hint of disdain directed at him, but he figured (and half-hoped, as this Ms. Fey was actually rather pretty) it was just him worrying too much again. "Is that my special order?"
"... Oh, yes." And here was the particular detail that he was trying to remember with more and more desperation. Shelly clearly remembered Mr. de Baker telling him who the cake was for, yes... but he distinctly did not recall if he mentioned if any additional ingredients would have to be added. "I... was just about to add the finishing touches, Ms. Fey." He reached for the whipped cream, hoping that this lapse of memory would only be momentary. If not... he would have to gauge whether this woman was worthy of being a client or not as per the usual methods.
The way she eyed the cream, with a subtle smirk and a mildly terrifying glint in her eyes, it was obvious that she was, indeed, expecting it to be a very, very special finishing touch. "The good Mr. de Baker seems very fond of you."
"Does he?" he asked absentmindedly as he tried to keep one eye on the cream and another on Morgan.
"Why, yes. When I was here yesterday, he told me how eager, responsible and hard-working you are." And then, her voice took on a darker tone. "I hope this eagerness of yours does not affect the quality of my order."
Those statements made him uneasy for two main reasons: first of all, he knew that, no matter how much his mentor valued him, he would be rather displeased if Shelly screwed this up; second of all, he was beginning to get a very clear idea of what this woman wanted, and something told him that he should absolutely NOT give it to her. Oh, he had been warned not to rely on instinct too much, or some day he would find himself fooled by a pretty smile and a soft voice, but--
As he worked on the dessert, Morgan Fey muttered under her breath mostly incomprehensible blabber that boiled down to: "Oh, yes, now is the time to take my rightful place, now, now, now, my dear sister..."
... But there was something really quite off about this woman.
She suddenly left her hate-fueled trance. "Do you have the recipe for me as well, child? In case I need to leave any more surprises of this sort to any other relatives, you see..."
... Child? She couldn't be that much older than him. "Of course, miss." He had already prepared two copies of the recipe, actually - one for the client and another one for the bakery. He took one from his pocket (all it needed was a name, but he quickly scribbled one down – he thought it to be rather appropriate) and gave it to her. She eyed it with obvious, unmistakable disdain.
"Is... this its name?"
"Yes, miss." He smiled, oblivious as to why she was making that face at such a carefully thought-out name. “Well, I do believe I am done.” And it looked delicious, modesty aside. What a shame he couldn’t have a bite without Morgan getting suspicious; he would just have to bake another dessert later. “This has already been paid for, am I correct?” He took a look at his superior’s notes and, indeed, the money had already been given. Unfortunately, the written price did not help him discern what kind of order this was meant to be at all: it was too high for a plain piece of pastry and too low for their premium services.
Morgan Fey took the huge dessert, stating that no, she did not need a box, yes, she could easily carry it on a simple plate, yes, she could drive it all the way to the village herself, and wished Mr. de Baker and his good son her very best regards. The man himself returned just as she left, and they greeted each other with a polite nod.
Shelly felt himself going faint.
“I trust you handled things well, boy.” He smiled, showing knowledge that Shelly did not exactly recognize at the time. “Did you cater to Ms. Fey’s special request?”
His response came awkward and stiff. “If… If you are using the term in the meaning that we commonly intend to give it… N-No, sir.”
The older man’s face turned stern. During the past five years, the young apprentice had seen blood, guts, corpses, people about to become corpses and countless other sights, but those stern eyes of his mentor were just about the only thing capable of intimidating him. He signaled at Shelly to follow him without a word.
As they got into the car, Shelly mentally apologised multiple times without voicing a single, meek “sorry” and the other man stayed utterly silent in that particularly intimidating way that only he could achieve. Before long, they caught up with Morgan’s antiquated vehicle, and the apprentice couldn’t help but notice something odd: a mistake; a simple mistake, of the kind that his mentor would never make.
“Sir, aren’t we perhaps a trifle too close to Ms. Fey’s car?”
“I know what I’m doing.”
Her car stopped, followed by the bakers’ car, and the woman stepped out. For a moment there, Shelly could swear by his honour that her eyes were on fire.
“I KNEW THAT YOUR ILK WAS NOT TO BE TRUSTED!” While the older man took her mad rage with only a mildly surprised look on his face, the younger one would have loved to apologise and explain the situation, but he found himself completely paralysed with terror.
“Were you thinking of reporting me to the police, GOOD SIRS? Oh, but you must know that if you do, I will not stay quiet and let you go free!” Her hands dove into the dessert and yanked out two large pieces of it. “In fact, I will even save you the trouble of talking to the good officers!” Her entire body shaking with rage and paranoia, she shoved each handful of strawberry goodness into the bakers’ mouths and drove off, cackling madly.
An awkward silence befell the de Bakers. Shelly was the one who broke it, though it pained him.
“Sir, I’m… I am so, so terribly sorry, I… I was… I failed…”
The one thing he did not expect to hear from his mentor in response was loud, heartfelt laughter. He eyed him speechlessly in confusion and was met with a smile. “Come on, boy… Did you really think I would trust someone like that?”
Shelly was still speechless.
“Morgan Fey wanted her sister dead.” His smile faded for a moment. “Anyone willing to selfishly betray their own family cannot be entirely trustworthy.” And his smile returned, wider than before: “Plus, she seemed more than a little crazy to me. You did the right thing, son.”
He bowed, his breath accelerating in a mix of relief and embarrassment. He was quite sure his father noticed it (and chose to refrain from making him feel even worse).
“By the way, boy, you might just have found yet another calling. That cake was delicious! What’s it called?”
Shelly stood straight with pride and announced the name he had given to the dessert: “I call it the Jaw-Droppingly Large Strawberry Dessert, sir!”
Another awkward silence, this one feeling much sillier than the one before.
The older man’s mouth twitched in a peculiar manner. “You… really need to work on your naming skills, boy.” After a pause, he added, with a concerned look, “You haven’t been telling people your name is John Doe again, have you?”
“… No, sir.” He still stood by his opinion that it was a perfectly acceptable name, but since Mr. de Baker didn’t approve of it…
On their way home, they kept exchanging words. Their relationship had some professionalism to it, yes, but it was hard to deny that they did indeed feel like father and son most of the time.
“S-Sir, if I may… That was quite the cruel trick to play on me.”
“Crueler than killing people in cold blood, boy?” he asked with a smile.
Shelly carefully considered his next words before slowly saying, “Is that a trick question, sir?”