Cass gets a frantic text from Balthazar to pick up some ingredients, but when he gets home, Balthazar isn’t even in the kitchen; he’s panicking on the study floor, surrounded by scattered pages of recipes.
Turns out he was asked, and agreed, to cook for a small event for someone really important at work or something, but he doesn’t even know what, and without knowing what, he doesn’t know how long it will take, when he should start, what he should start with, what order, what what what
Cass feels terrible, but he doesn’t know how he can help. He doubts there’s anything he can do, in this situation, but he never feels like he knows what to say either.
He wanders into the study at one point and just says, “You make a sandwich that tastes like a vacation,”
and Balthazar stares at him for a moment, harried but touched. “…thank you, Cassie,”
except Cass wasn’t finished; the rest of his reassurances just got lost halfway to his mouth, so he frowns and wanders back out.
By mid-evening, the panic party has at least moved to the kitchen, Balthazar having apparently decided on a recipe. He doesn’t seem any happier for it, though.
Cass follows him in, this time with his shoulders squared because he knows what he’s going to say.
“Let me do it,” he insists.
Balthazar chuckles tiredly. “‘A pain shared is pain halved,’ was it?” Then he sighs into his hands, leaning on the counter. “Trust me, you want no part in this misery.”
“Too late,” Cass points out. “But, look, you can’t do it right now. This isn’t how you cook.”
“I haven’t even gotten to the cooking yet,” Balthazar groans.
“Because you can’t, not like…this,” he gestures sharply. Balthazar asks what he means, so Cass goes on.
“When was the last time you even cooked from a recipe? Not since I’ve known you. You start from memory, and then the rest is equal parts imagination, innovation, your mood that day, and sarcasm.”
“I see what you’re getting at; I’m too focused. You’re right, Cass, it’s not like me,” Balthazar nods, then sighs deeply. “But I can’t help it. If I get this wrong-”
“I know,” says Cass, “that’s why I’m suggesting you try to focus differently, like when you’re teaching me. When I’m cooking, all of a sudden you have two dozen bees up your ass about every last detail-”
“I have bees where?”
“-but, like…” Cass smiles fondly, “in a good way. It’s fun. I like it.”
As exhausted as he is, Balthazar can’t help laughing. Cass circles the counter and touches his arm.
“You are not going to screw this up,” says Cass, very earnestly. “I’ll screw it up, and then you just have to fix it, like you always do.”Balthazar finally smiles. “Thanks, Cassie.”