It was sort of inevitable that Dinah would get a shift at monitor duty during his stay, there really wasn't any way around that. More to the point, Beauford mused as he headed back inside after having seen Dinah off, he had the apartment mostly to himself. Certainly Dinah Snr. would be watching the store, and no one had touched the two gallon buckets of vanilla ice cream that he'd picked up the first day and shoved into the back of the freezer.
And the look on Dinah's face when he'd said he would use today for nothing but desserts was priceless. Completely and utterly priceless. He began by washing up the counters to sterile-quality clean and preheating the oven for the first run of desserts, the ice cream sandwiches. There was a simple sort of plan, easily interchanged at several parts for any sort of last minute alterations he might want or need to make. The batter could be changed from chocolate to true peanut butter cookies, or he could crush the bag of oreos and mix it into the ice cream for a certain addict on base.
Actually the thought of mixing in some peanuts and caramel to the ice cream sandwiches was an appealing one as he pulled the two buckets out of the freezer to stick them in what little free space was left inside of the fridge to soften slowly. Eggs, butter, and milk were removed to make more space, after all, he'd be using those up today so they wouldn't go bad when he left. Hooking up his mp3-player into the sound system, the real busy work in the kitchen started up to the tunes of a randomized, but carefully content selected playlist of rock and triphop. By the time he'd gotten through the Nerd Corps album, five trays of chocolate cake batter 'cookies' were getting put slowly into the oven to bake. Butter and brown sugar went into a hot hot non-stick pan to bubble, melt, burn and turn into smoky rich caramel just before the timer dinged on the first batch of cake 'cookies'.
Lifting the parchment from the first tray, he began lifting the cookies to cool on racks so he could quickly reuse the sheets for more. The next batch of chocolate chip cookies took up enough of his attention that when he looked up after having put them into the ovens, something seemed off. He frowned counting over the racks of chocolate cake cookies, they were only now reaching that stage of being just cooled off enough to pick up, but not to use for the sandwiches. Beauford had been fairly certain that there'd been eight more cookies on that far rack when he'd started the chocolate chip cookies, but there was a grouping missing there now.
He shook his head and wondered if he'd had enough coffee this morning, it always took mental adjusting to spend time in another universe. It was possible that he'd simply miscounted when he'd poured out the batter earlier. For a moment, while chopping up the mint and tarragon for the fruit and herb popsicles, he pondered the possibility of Dinah Snr. having snuck upstairs to snag a few of the cookies. Just as quickly he dismissed that thought, the elder of the two Lance women was many things, but she had manners and would have asked if he could spare a few for her. It was her kitchen he was borrowing right now, after all, and he would've gladly spared a few for her. The finely minced mint went into a large ceramic bowl while the tarragon went into a large jug with sugar in the bottom.
With a heavy -thock!- the cleaver sank into the large watermelon he'd asked to get yesterday, and started splitting it into first two, then into quarters, and then slices on the cutting board. Good, the flesh inside was a perfect dark pink, now he'd just have to find that strainer before he started using the food processor to blend it all. Digging through one of the lower cupboards, he found it'd strayed a little from where he'd put it after washing dishes his first night. Beauford straightened up and turned back to start cutting the watermelon into smaller chunks when he frowned, once again, with the feeling that something was off.
The five-minute warning from the oven reminded him that he didn't have time to dally trying to figure out what was wrong with the picture right now. The first batch of cookies were cooled off enough to come off the racks into a container, before he had to hustle all the trays of chocolate chip cookies out to cool. Grabbing a can of limeade concentrate from the fridge, he poured half of it into the food processor and started cutting in the chunks of dark pink watermelon, tossing the rinds into the compost pail he'd started with the egg shells from the cake batter. The whirr of the machine drowned out the music some as he pressed the puree button and poured the rest of the limeade into the jug with the tarragon. A light breeze turned into a mild gust into the kitchen, bringing a welcome cool after all the baking and rustling the used parchment paper in the trashcan.
Placing the strainer over the bowl with the mint, Beauford poured out the pureed watermelon to let all of the liquids drain and mingle with the aromatic herb. The can of cherry juice concentrate came out of the freezer as well, if he'd been in Milliways, Beauford would have taken the time to pit a gallon of cherries to mix into this batch, however he didn't have that sort of temporal luxury here. It also seemed to reason that he'd spent three out of five prior days here cooking, so the privilege of being just a teeny bit lazy with his cooking was allowed. That went into the jug with the herbs and limeade concentrate before getting water added until it reached just the right level of tart-sweet flavor. Breaking out the plastic popsicle molds, he started separating the trays into two groups. With three trays of eight to each flavor that ought to be enough to hold the sweet tooth of someone who wanted something sensible to snack on. Pouring the cherry-tarragon-limeade into the molds, he wondered as it seemed yet again there were less cookies present than before. This time the chocolate chip cookies had the look of something thinning their ranks.
"This is getting to be a pattern.." Beauford murmured to no one in particular, though the words were drowned out by a particularly loud burst of bass and drums from the sound system. "I turn my back and stuff goes missing."
The watermelon popsicle fluid only needed a little more sugar before that too went into the molds and into the freezer to set. He wiped everything down again and set the sullied dishes into the sink with a little soapy hot water to soak for a bit. A little effort now saved a headache later, when he'd have to scrub batter off of the mixing bowl.
Crushing the oreos for the ice cream cookie only took pouring them into a ziplock baggie and then pushing a rolling pin over them to break them into smaller-than-bitesize chunks. That got poured out into a clean cake pan before Beauford pulled out the now soft-enough to shape, vanilla ice cream. With the ice cream to his right, the oreo pieces in the pan in front of him, and the container of chocolate cake 'cookies' just behind that, he got set for making the first run of ice cream sandwiches. Working as quickly as he could humanely go, one hefty scoop of vanilla was pressed between two pieces of cake 'cookie' and then had the edges rolled in crushed oreo pieces before going on a slim tray lined with waxed parchment paper. When a tray filled he rushed it into the freezer and started again until he had just a half-dozen scoops left in the container and no cake cookies left.
Beauford paused for a moment as another gust of breeze came through into the kitchen and he glanced at the caramel he'd made earlier, which was thickening up. He grabbed a spoon to take just a quick taste of the caramel. It needed something to go with it in the ice cream, it was sweet, but it needed a salty counter point. There was creamy peanut butter in the cupboard, scooping out a cupful of it into a pyrex measuring cup, he let it heat and liquify in the microwave before blending it with the ice cream and caramel, scooping from the second softened gallon container into the first. The same process repeated as with the last batch, save that these got rolled in M&Ms before getting put onto their sheets.
The breeze from the open windows gusted again with a low woosh and Beauford happened to glance at the tray just as he was about to put another ice cream sandwich on it. There was definitely an ice cream sandwich missing from this tray. Twisting to the side, he bent to see if it had fallen off onto the floor, but there was no such sign of any mess. Just a lot of dirt and grit on the kitchen linoleum. He'd have to give this place a thorough cleaning, it just didn't do to leave your cooking space a mess after you finished, even the floor ought to be mopped.
Straightening back up, Beauford went to finishing up the ice cream sandwiches. If he hurried he could probably get two trays done at a time, and get them both in before any more made a disappearing act. This time, on a hunch, he kept a watch on the apartment door and the window from the corner of his eye as he worked. This time with the gust of wind he just caught what he thought was a red blur in the apartment for just a fraction of a second. He held still a moment and slowly looked towards the tray of ice cream sandwiches...sure enough, another was missing.
Finishing off the mixed caramel and peanut butter ice cream filled sandwiches, this time, there were extra cookies left. With a little creative arranging he managed to fit what was left of the ice cream back into the freezer, but only just. Beauford grabbed what was left of the peanut butter jar and slathered it onto one of the dozen cookies left over. Pressing that into the M&Ms he then gave it a generous dollop of the caramel before setting it into the leftover oreo cookie crumbs and then squishing an odd cake cookie on top. He set the concoction onto a plate and dug fifteen dollars from his wallet, before setting up a note next to the treat and the cash.
To whomever has been stealing desserts from under my nose,
Would you be so kind as to pick up some supplies for me? Here's a list and what I hope will be enough cash to pay for the pie crusts and fruit.
PS: Dinah, don't ask your teammates to snitch the desserts for you. I want some of them to be a surprise.
"Well I'm sure you're near, and I can almost smell you but the winds are up at the walls again. I can hear you coming, Heaven helped you coming I believe in heaven it's a wait away.." Singing to himself, Beauford gathered up what was left of the cookies and headed downstairs into the shop to knock at the door-frame behind Dinah Snr., so he wouldn't startle her too much when he set the plate next to her elbow. He smiled as she looked up at the plate of cookies and smiled, nodding quietly and nodding to the phone she was currently holding to her ear. He held up his hands and nodded in reply, gesturing to a free chair to sit in. He hummed, just so softly under his breath, waiting and listening to both Dinah Snr. and the walls around him.
Would you whine in water, Pull your chips back in, So you crawl like a crab across Black Fries Bridge. Suffer none to fade, Hit the homeward road I'm a bowling green, A delivery boy,
It didn't take long for the elder Lance to hang up the phone and raise an eyebrow at him, before smiling and picking up one of the cookies.
"Just taking a break, Mrs. Lance." Leaning back in the chair and sighing contentedly, Beauford flashed her a grin. He was tapping soundlessly to the tune he had sung on the way down, keeping time.
"Just a break?" As Mrs. Lance asked the question there was another rush of wind.
"Well, I'm hoping for a nice surprise when I walk back up there." Beauford smiled, eyes alight with just a hint of mischief. If he was wrong about the cookies, he was wrong, but if he was right on his hunch... "Any rate, just needed a minute or two to clear my head with some fresh air."
"Is that what we're calling it these days?" It was obvious she hadn't missed those noises either.
Have a heart that skips a beat, Oh come on, Roll along for free,In the middle of the morning, Swap your drinking nights with me, With me...cold bread, cold bread, we had..
"Shhh, if I'm very quiet and polite, maybe the speedster fairy will see fit to resupply me for another dessert."
There was definitely an imp grin on his face now as he started singing that song softly from his headphones, as if he didn't have much of a care in the world right now. It wasn't especially grand, for singing, but he had a decent tenor voice, and he tapped his foot and nodded his head to the rolling beat.
~"I can live with dying, I can chew my bit, Play panic to my senses, And hijack my head..
It's the rhythm of moving, And a rolling and a rattle. Its a giving instead; It's a well sprung bed.
We can roll around forever.
We can pray for all we've been.
We can knock it hell for leather.
We can call it all a dream.
All a dream.
Coooold breaaad, Coooold breaaad,
Coooold breaaad, Coooold breaaad,
The last two dozen words came out as a breathy prayer almost, softly as the list took it's time to select another track to shuffle.
He glanced over at Dinah Snr. and her response to that little obvious obliviousness for the benefit of that last rush of wind that'd come through. She had an eyebrow raised, he wasn't fooling her at least, in that he was old hand at this superhero game. But there were a certain set of unspoken rules, to people in the game at least. If someone didn't come out and say it, they had some good reasons for being that way.
"Isn't it just?" He lit up as the next song came on and eased up out of his chair grinning, nearly laughing, as if the world had just gifted him sort of epiphany. "I'd better get up and clean up though. Enjoy the cookies, Mrs. Lance."
"Don't wear yourself out, young man."
"I won't, I've got enough scars to know I'm not invulnerable." He bowed to her again and twisted, twirling to hop up the steps singing again..
~"Guuuummed up, brain dead and can't decide, you can't pray enough, you can't hiiide
You can be cool or you can cryyyy... Do it wrong, Not it all Or do it right."~
He swang in his steps back up the stairs to the apartment, a sashay onto each step up, and swaying into the apartment singing.
"No one owes you, no onnnne's to blame, save for bad genes or DNAAAAAA.. Ask your conscience the... why and HOW, do it then, do it when, or do it NOW!"
There sitting on the kitchen counter were two bags of pink lady apples, four pints of raspberries and several premade piecrusts, some in pans, some waiting to be rolled out.
"WHAAAAAAHT'S UP! What's up, sweet caaaakes....WHO'S HIP, who's hip, aneeeeWAAAAAaaaAAAY, oh!
EARTH GIRLS, earth girls, are easy....."
Beauford rolled his shoulders and cracked out all the knuckles in his hands in a motion, suppressing the urge to cackle. Today was turning out to be a very good day for tarts and pies.
What you gonna do lil' buckaroo? Hey you, you better ask her nice! All you gotta do, happy fool, is ask your mom...
[Songs Credit: Cold Bread By Johnny Flynn, and Ask DNA by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts