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RISING TO THE OCCASSION: The Waybros Meet the Food Network Challenge

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Damn you, food Network! Now I want to read a bandom pastry chefs!AU, possibly where the Waybros are a team for a Food Network Challenge. Because Gerard would totally have grand ~conceptual~ ideas about what his cakes would look like, and he'd have super-crazy-elaborate pre-cake drawings, but it'd be up to Mikey to actually do the basics (like biking the sheet cakes that will TURN INTO Gerard's imagined masterpiece).

*I meant baking, not biking. NO BIKES IN THE KITCHEN

And then there'd be the Intense Drama Moment, where we're not sure if the cake would be finished by the three-hour deadline, and maybe Gerard had decided to scrap his original concept, an hour into the competition, and Mikey's like GRRRR-EYEBROWS, but he loves his brother so he does what he can to salvage what sheet cake he's already made, and makes a whole bunch more cakes, and tries to stretch their decorating supplies to fit into Gerard's new design - Lots of colors! Crazy shapes! "You eat with your eyes first, Mikey! We want the judges to be eating our cake before they even slice it, Mikey!" Possibly he rigs up a dry ice fog machine to the base of their cake, "for atmosphere".

Anyway, Mikey's trying superhard to meet Gerard's vision of this cake - is it the Halloween challenge? or the Engagement challenge? or a Music challenge? - but, seriously, Gerard, WE ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS LEFT AND OUR CAKE IS ONLY ONE SHEET TALL. THERE IS A HEIGHT REQUIREMENT.

And meanwhile, the annoying 'host' is poking her mic in Mikey's face as he's trimming sheet cake, and Mikey's thinking, "go away I have a knife in my hand this is delicate work do you want me to slice you," but he doesn't want to screw up his brother's chances of winning by sassing the host or pissing off the judges, so he just EYEBROWS at her, and gets back to trying to carve a Parade of Skeletons for Gee.

Meanwhile, Gerard is sculpting zombies and werewolves and corpses and flowers out of rice krispies and modeling chocolate, letting his Art School training show (He totally went to Art School and took pottery/sculpture at Queens College, but then he transferred to the CIA when he realized that even though he loved making ART, Gerard loved it even more when he got to see people's REACTIONS to his creations, and though he got those reactions once every semester in Art School, he could have that same experience EVERY DAY in the Culinary World), and the whole time, he's rambling to Mikey about his Concept for this Black Parade that's going on - part of it's an homage to the Monster Movies and Slasher Flicks of their childhood, but part if it's also in honor of their Grandma, and then a THIRD PART is about how you don't have to always see Romance and Life the same way as everyone else ("You need to open your eyes, Mikey! Just because it's macabre, doesn't mean there isn't MEANING!") - and he's saying it so EARNESTLY to the host, but she's making faces at the gore in werewolf's jaws (it's made of cut-up jelly bean guts. Gerard's really proud of the effect).

And of course, Mikey can see a little bit of what their competitors are working on (out of the corner of his eye - he doesn't have enough time to stop baking and gawk), and OF COURSE the other two teams are going Traditional and Safe. They've got lots of Pink and Red (well, alright, Gee's got a lot of red in his design too, but the others have FAR FEWER head wounds), and Mikey thinks he actually sees a HEART MADE OF ROSES on one table. Ugh, how stereotypical....but, what if the judges WANT a reinterpretation of the cliche? What if Gee's ~vision~ is too out there for the judges to really UNDERSTAND? Gee works so hard, and he's an amazing artist, and he gets a lot of flack from food critics who think his bakery is too Emo to serve worthy pastries.... Mikey has faith in his brother, though.

So they work on their cake, and they're a well-oiled machine, and that old trick from when they were kids of talking with their eyebrows gets used a lot more in the next two hours than it has been in the past few years (because Mikey helps out in the ovens-and-stoves part of Gee's bakery, he doesn't do 'man the counter, ring the cash register' stuff - something about his 'lack of facial expressions', Bob told him once (Bob is their accountant. It's a really good thing he takes care of their books, because there's a reasons neither Way went to business school) - and so he doesn't actually SEE Gee when he's in the front part of the shop), and their Parade is coming along really well.

EXCEPT! WHAT ABOUT THE HEIGHT REQUIREMENT!?! They need at least one part of the cake to be THREE FEET TALL, and so far they've got 6 floats with skeletons and werewolves and corpses and vampires and roses and skulls, but that's all pretty flat. WHAT WILL MAKE THE CAKE TALL?

THEN! GEE HAS ANOTHER IDEA! What makes a Parade awesome?

"Think of the Macy's Parade, Mikey! We need BALLOONS!"

But, well, it's a DEAD PEOPLE PARADE, and also, "Remember the Challenge, Gee. It's gotta have Romance in it..."

So they don't do an INFLATED CARTOON BALLOON, but Gee takes a lump of rice krispie treat, covers it in red fondant and brown modeling chocolate, and somehow - WITH JUST 15 MINUTES LEFT ON THE CLOCK - he makes a REALISTIC HUMAN HEART HOT AIR BALLOON, tethered to one of the parade floats by way of armature wire, and it makes their cake JUST TALL ENOUGH. There are sighs of relief from Gee and Mikey, comments from the host about 'creativity' and 'interpretation', and still three minutes left on the clock. PHEW!

The last hurdle to overcome, of course, is the task of Moving The Cake To The Judging Table. This is made more difficult, because while neither Gerard not Mikey are quite as noodle-armed as they were in high school (baking shit and lifting fifteen-pound sacks of flour every day will do wonders for one's shoulder definition), they are still not exactly BUFF. But that's alright: they take things slow, lift with their legs and not their backs, and keep counting to three before every step. And then the cake is in front of the judges, and they didn't loose their single point of THREE FEET TALL-NESS (Ha! The team making the rose hearts - good piping technique, lackluster interpretation of the prompt, Mikey thinks - had the misfortune of their armature collapsing as they transported their cake. Mikey knows he shouldn't take joy in others' misfortune, that's the first step towards terrible karma, but he's actually really relieved that the competition has been essentially narrowed down to only two) and then Gee goes to to turn on his fog machine, and there's a moment of heart-stopping false starts (which would be appropriate, Mikey thinks, if there wasn't TEN GRAND on the line right now), but IT WORKS!

And, yeah, Mikey might be biased - he did just spend three hours making this monstrosity - but he thinks their cake is pretty kickass.

At the judges table, at first they get some pretty skeptical looks. The judges aren't sure what Gee's Parade of Dead People has to do with Romance, at all, but then Gerard gets in front of the camera and lets it ROLL. He talks about Life and Death and finding the moments where you really LIVE and celebrating those moments, and then he points to the lead skeletal figure in front of the parade, and talk about how Life Is Worth Living, and ~of course~ the judges are swayed by his wide-eyed fervent belief. They even get some high praise on their sculptural technique.

However, the challenge springs a Surprise Twist at the last minutes - um, BULLSHIT, Mikey thinks - and it turns out that the judges are not actually the ones picking the winning cake, but some guy who wants to propose to his socialite girlfriend on television. And, of course, he has no imagination, and goes for the Traditional cake, so Mikey and Gee are not the recipients of a Giant Check or ten thousand dollars.

Which, y'know, sucks. But their little bakery gains critical acclaim, and a whole lot of free advertising thanks to being on the show, and some exec from Food Network even talks to Gee about how they're doing a Halloween special this year, and would Gee like to put together something for a segment? And, yeah, the extra ten grand would have been really nice, but it's not like they can't put their names up for the next challenge, right? And their little bakery actually gets such a boost in customers, thanks to Gee's passion on-screen, that eventually they end up hiring another guy for making only cupcakes - a short, tattooed, fellow Jersey boy, who Gerard falls head over heels in lust (and then love!) with, complete with flirting via baked goods... but that's another story altogether.


Phew! *wipes brow* I'm....not entirely sure what just happened there, but I missed an entire episode of Triple-D to write that...