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Utter Perfection

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The morning of his birthday, Dean woke and stretched. His bed had never before felt so warm and comfortable. He would have liked to have stayed there all day, but his rumbling stomach already had something to say about that. So he got up and headed to the kitchen. Based on the lack of coffee, apparently Sammy was still asleep.

There was nothing Dean wanted to do on his birthday more than spend the whole day in the garage, working on the car. There was a certain simplicity in it, in reducing everything that needed to get done into oil and grease and lugnuts. Plus, this was like Baby’s birthday, too. He would give her a complete tune-up, a wash, and a wax. By the end, she would look just as good as if she’d come right off the lot.

He spent hours working, concentrating on the littlest details that he usually didn’t have time to work on when they were on the road. It wasn’t until his stomach started rumbling again that he realized he still hadn’t seen Sammy. Sam wasn’t too bad around the car, but he usually came over to lend a hand or throw some conversation his way. It was wonderful working on the car, but it would have been just that much better with Sam at his side. In fact, it was a little lonely without Sam.

Finally, when Sam didn’t turn up, Dean set down his wrench and wiped his hands off on a cloth. He checked Sam’s bedroom first, but the bed was empty. No doubt, that meant Sam was in the library, reading like usual. But he wasn’t there either. “Sam?” Dean called, his voice echoing through the empty bunker. Where was he? Dean checked everywhere, even the bathroom. But Sam wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Giving up, Dean headed to the kitchen for lunch. Thinking of the roast beef in the fridge that would make an excellent cold sandwich, Dean didn’t expect that this was when he would run into Sam. But, even if that thought had somehow been at the back of his mind, subconsciously rolling around and drawing him to the kitchen, he definitely didn’t expect to see Sam in the kitchen, a light blue apron over his front. There were blasts of flour across his cheek, chin, and forehead. A smear of something yellow followed the bridge of Sam’s nose. His hands were both green, and in them was a plate with a lumpy mound of something that only mildly resembled food.

Though the more he looked at it, the less certain of that he became. And Sam staring at him with those heartbreakingly soulful puppy dog eyes didn’t help matters. “Oh Dean… happy birthday?”

Dean dared to take a step forward—just one step. He grimaced at the… whatever Sam was holding. “Did you gank something in here, Sammy?”

“Just your birthday cake.”

Taken aback, Dean exclaimed, “my what?”

“I thought I’d make you one from scratch. It was the simplest recipe I could find online. But the baking soda might have gone bad… or I might have left some eggshell in there… and I don’t understand why it went all sideways. I tried to correct it while it was baking. I kept sticking my hand in the over and adjusting it. I wanted it ready before you stopped for lunch, so I turned the heat on the oven up a little higher than the directions said to. It came out… well… I thought I could hide the imperfections with the icing. The food coloring may have gotten a little out of hand, but the icing looked pretty good in the bowl—just not so good on the cake. He held it up a couple inches and forced a weak, pathetic smile. “Happy birthday?”

Dean stepped forward and took the plate. Up close, the cake looked even worse than it had from across the room. Hungry as he was, and honored as he felt that Sam would go to all this effort, there was no way any bit of this was going into his mouth. Not a chance. “Gee… thanks…”

Sam shook his head and took a couple steps back, as if worried the thing might come to life and devour them both; Dean wasn’t entirely sure that it wouldn’t. “I’m sorry, Dean. You deserve better.”

Dean tried to smile reassuringly, but he knew Sam could see right through it.

Sam’s face broke briefly into an expression of distress as he turned away from Dean. He walked to the fridge, opened the door, and closed it again just as quickly. When he turned around, the most beautiful lemon meringue pie was in his hands—his green hands… though Dean wasn’t paying attention to that this time. The pie was exquisite; he was sorry to think it, but there was no way Sammy had made this. “Bought it from the store as a backup, just in case the cake didn’t turn out perfectly.”

Dean grinned, genuinely. He grabbed two pie forks from the drawer to his left and two small plates from the cupboard to the right of the sink.

“Do you want me to grab some candles at least, so you can make a wish?”

Wishing that Sam wouldn’t accidentally set the bunker on fire, Dean shook his head adamantly. “Better not with this meringue. Let’s just eat.” He grabbed the knife off the counter before Sam could get to it and cut two large slices out.

The first bite was beyond heavenly. They took their plates over to the small wooden table at the far end of the kitchen, and Dean quickly retrieved the pie a minute later so it could sit between them just in case either or both wanted seconds. With the last bite of his first piece, he sat back in his chair. This was, without a doubt, the perfect way to spend a birthday.