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The Superior Sandwich

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"Dave..."

"What?"

"Dave, are you packing a monster in Casey's lunch?"

"Yeah, dude. Gotta make sure the little lady's ready for anything. Kindergarten can be grueling, and she's gotta have a jolt of energy ready if she needs it."

"The caffeine would kill her."

"Nope. She's a Strider. She can take it."

John leans over and plucks the energy drink out of Casey's hot pink Barbie lunch box. (She doesn't even like dolls--it was chosen at Dave's insistence.) "Well, legally and genetically speaking, she is, in fact, an Egbert."

"Just because she's not blood doesn't mean she's not my daughter. And no daughter of mine is going to her first day of school unprepared."

Putting the can down on the counter, John wraps his arm around Dave's waist and his chin on Dave's shoulder. "Stop worrying so much. She'll be fine."

"Who's worried? I have complete faith in my daughter's ability to conquer kindergarten just as well as I did."

John snorts. "By sticking carrots in your mouth on the first day and saying you were a saber-tooth tiger?"

"Saber-tooth tigers are badass. You can't even pretend it wasn't pretty fucking awesome."

"You refused to take them out of your mouth and had to go to the time-out corner until you did."

"Yep."

"You sat there for the rest of the day."

"Yep."

"Why didn't you just take them out, Dave?"

"Because I was a fucking saber-tooth tiger, Egbert. The ladies love those."

John laughs and kisses Dave's cheek before moving away and inspecting the other contents of the lunchbox. "Sandwich, applesauce, juice box, oreos... The rest of this stuff actually looks edible. Good job!"

"Thanks. I try."

Narrowing his eyes at the lopsided sandwich, John picks up the corner of its plastic bag. The bread is slightly mangled, and peanut butter coats large parts of the inside of the bag. "Is this... peanut butter and jelly?"

"No. Peanut butter and pickle."

"That's gross, Dave."

"Peanut butter and pickle is the shit. Besides, you've never even tried it, fatal peanut allergy and all. Put it back. I lovingly prepared that for my daughter like a good housewife."

"It looks like you beat it with a spiked mace."

Dave shrugs. "Love hurts."

John bursts out laughing, taking a moment to recover before gingerly setting the sandwich down on the counter and getting the bread that's sitting nearby. "Let me show you how to make a real sandwich."

"Your pansy-ass sandwiches cannot compare to my glorious motherly sandwiches."

John rolls his eyes and sighs as he pulls out two slices of bread. "Can you get the raspberry jelly out of the fridge for me?"

"What's the magic word?"

"Fine, I'll get it myself."

Dave snickers as John retrieves the jelly, but while John is occupied rummaging through the fridge, Dave gets the peanut butter out of the cabinet and a knife out of the drawer. He places them next to the bread slices and resumes his position, leaning nonchalantly against the counter, before John notices.

"Dave, could you please get the--" John shuts the door of the fridge, having acquired the jelly, and turns to see the items on the counter. "Oh, thanks."

"Yep." As John stands in front of the counter, about to begin, Dave puts his arms around John's waist and rests his chin on John's shoulder, observing. "Teach me your ways, O fabled grandmaster of sandwich-craft."

"So what you do... You take this--this is the bread, Dave!"

"Fascinating."

"Isn't it? Now, you take this, and you put it down flat. Then, you open the jelly, pick up the knife, and take some jelly on the knife."

"Never would have thought of that."

"I know. Next, we're going to put the jelly on the bread. This part is going to be hard for you. From the looks of your excuse for a sandwich, you're used to trying to smack it onto the bread. But what you do is spread it on gently. Like this."

"Shocking." Dave kisses John's cheek, and John tilts his head to lean against Dave's. "My whole life is in shambles. I bow to your earth-shattering revelations about the mysteries of food preparation."

John snickers before turning to the peanut butter and repeating the process on the other piece of bread. "See, Dave? It's not so hard. I think you can do it."

"Don't know about that. You're clearly a professional of the sandwich craft. Maybe you're just making it look easy."

"Nope! Anyone can do it--even you." John picks up one of the pieces of bread and carefully places it on the other, completing a pristine peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Taking the box of wax paper and tearing off a piece, he wraps the sandwich carefully before holding it up an inch from Dave's face. "That is how you make a sandwich."

"Dad?"

John and Dave both turn to look at Casey standing in the doorway to the kitchen, wearing a T-shirt and khaki shorts.

"Morning, Casey! What did you want for breakfast? Pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs...?"

"Waffles!"

"You want some, too, Dave?" Dave detaches himself from John as John begins preparing to make breakfast.

"Sure. Kind of you to offer to feed your own spouse."

John rolls his eyes and presents Dave with the completed sandwich. Dave salutes him and takes it, heading back to the location of Casey's lunchbox. As John busies himself making the batter and talking with Casey about what school is like, Dave puts John's sandwich inside the lunchbox. He hesitates for a moment before replacing the sandwich he made inside, as well. Casey would be the one to decide who really made the superior sandwich. It's not like some traditionalist peanut butter and jelly could beat the sheer awesomeness of peanut butter and pickle.

"Dave, could you get the--"

"Yeah, sure."

Dave zips up the lunchbox before putting it next to Casey's backpack, then grabbing the maple syrup off the counter. He walks over to set it on the table and kisses his daughter's hair before sitting down next to her.