Eggs, Vegetable Oil, Water
by Twinkledru J.

When she was very young, Buffy wanted to save the world. To be a super hero. She and Celia would play at it. Even though she was younger, Buffy was always the one who stopped the mad scientist, the one who saved the innocents, the one who saved the world.

When she thought she was being a little more practical, and thought, in her ten-year-old way, that she was too grown-up to think about being a super hero (she hadn't been able to save Celia, after all), there came her Dorothy Hamill phase, when she was all about the skating.

Later, there came her "wanting to be just like Mom" phase, when she really, really tried to be into art, and failed miserably. Some of it was nice, it really was, but she wasn't good at creating it, and she realized quickly that most of the people who knew a lot about it were just compensating because they weren't good at it, either. Also, they were jerks.

Also, she always sorta wanted to be a baker.

She doesn't know anymore. She hasn't even got a phase to go with. It's just one of the many things that's been uncertain in the past year.

She knows what she's good at. She's good at violence. She's good at keeping discipline -- and not necessarily having to use violence to do it. Much as she hates to admit it, she can see where the whole "you should be a cop!" test result back in high school came from. But that's what she's good at, that's what she was a handed talent for and forced to be good at, and it's got nothing to do with what she likes or what she's passionate about. Buffy doesn't want to feel that power, and she doesn't want to know that she's protecting and serving. She's already done a whole butt-load of protecting and serving. She's been the thin line between order and demons running all over snacking on humans. She gets enough of the violence because she has to, she doesn't want to choose it.

Partly, okay, she'll admit that that's it. Not so much a particular distaste for violence as that she doesn't want to just be what she was made. She wants to be something she chose. Something she's good at.

They stayed at one of the Council's places for a few months -- this huge old house in Georgia, big enough that each of the girls only has to share with one other. Willow grumbles about how the house was built on the backs of slaves, but she stops complaining after Kennedy reminds her, by kissing her and pulling her off, that they've got something they never had during months in the Summers house: privacy.

Since nobody's pockets are deep enough that they can order pizza every day, eventually, they have to start taking turns at cooking duty. Some of the girls -- some of the people, 'cuz no way are Xander or Robin or Giles or Andrew getting out of it -- are better than others. Some are surprisingly good; everyone is just the teensiest bit envious of Faith when she drags Wood off after his night, saying with a grin, "I love a man who cooks."

When her night comes, Buffy complains, like everyone else does, because, well, it's a chore. It's not, she begins to find, a chore that she minds, but it's a chore nonetheless, so she complains, because she's young and American and she's being told to do a chore.

She thinks that the reason she starts hanging out in the kitchen is just that it's almost always empty. No one wants to hang there, no one even wants to have sex there, 'cuz hey, everyone's got her own room, or practically her own room. So Buffy sits on the kitchen table, the one usually used for chopping or mixing, and sometimes she thinks about what in God's name she's gonna do now, and sometimes she meditates, and sometimes she just stares off into space. It becomes the place she comes to when she can't sleep, because there's always someone on the porch, possibly someone who doesn't want to make small talk with her anymore than she does with them, and when she climbs onto the roof, it wakes people up.

That's how she comes to be there in the middle of the night one night. How she managed to start making a cake, that's another matter entirely. Buffy can't imagine who might've bought the mix, but it looks fairly new, so it's probably been here for a week or two without anyone making it.

What possesses her to make it -- that, too, is a riddle for the ages, but she decides that she could go for a little cake.

She did okay with the guidance counselor gig, she thinks, as she adds the eggs. Then comes the oil. She did okay with it, but it was hard. Really, really hard. Emotionally. The water. A lot of times it was just kids who were trying to get out of class and/or see the hot new guidance counselor, and they'd make stuff up, and she'd just roll her eyes, and possibly scare 'em straight. She smirks a little, remembering, as she begins stirring. By hand, 'cuz someone left the blades from the mixer sitting in the sink, covered in potatoes after she made mashed ones for dinner. Surprisingly, mixing by hand is not nearly as annoying as she figured it would be. This is probably something to do with the super strength. Also, there's something kinda soothing about it.

Plain cake mix, though, is just way too boring. "There's gotta be something that doesn't scream 'blah'," she mutters, going through the fridge and the cabinets, considering leftovers, fruits, vegetables, cereals, cookies. Finally, she pulls out a package of strawberries, holding it as she goes through the cupboards.

"Jell-o mix. Who the hell bought Jell-o mix?" Probably someone wanting to make Jell-o shots. Possibly Faith wanting to make Jell-o shots. But, hey, it's strawberry, too, and it seems like she read a recipe for that somewhere. Jell-o mix, and strawberries, and so she cuts up the strawberries, and she enjoys using a knife and getting her fingers stained red for completely innocent reasons for once, and she dumps these into the cake mix, as well, and goes back to stirring.

Sometimes, counselling was -- hard. No other way to put it. Kids who really had problems, who didn't trust her to help because no one else ever had, or maybe they didn't even want her to help. As nice as it's always been to help people in a non-Slayer capacity, she can't deal with that. With not being able to help, with failing these kids. Suddenly, Buffy realizes that adding the Jell-o mix threw off the balance between moist and dry in the mix. In goes another egg.

The Jell-o mix means there's way more of the batter than will fill two pans. She could make it three layers. Which is definitely an option. But she sits on the table again as the first two layers bake, and finds that the batter is pretty damned tasty, too. And she should probably start thinking about the icing, but hey, the cake is gonna have to cool for awhile, right? She's got time to sit. And think. And not eat the batter.

Which is to say that when the timer goes off, nearly all the extra batter is now in Buffy's tummy, and the Slayer herself is staring off into space, her eyes slightly glazed. She searches frantically for oven mitts, and pulls the cakes out, panicking that they might be burned, and is satisfied. No toothpicks, 'cuz no normal people have toothpicks in their kitchens, let alone a bunch of Slayers, a carpenter, a witch, a Sunnydale High principal, a Watcher and a... whatever the hell Andrew is. So Buffy sticks a fork in to check if it's done all the way through, and suddenly, she totally gets where the phrase "stick a fork in me, I'm done" comes from. Well, okay, she always kinda knew, but now she gets it. And that's different from knowing, and nice.

When two AM finally rolls around, she's in the middle of frosting a cake. Which, for some reason, seems a lot less weird than Buffy would've thought it would seem.

Giles comes running in, brandishing a crossbow, just after she finishes. "I thought I smelled strawberries," he explains sheepishly.

"Right. And we all know that strawberries are evil and can't be trusted, and that using crossbows on these fiendish berries is in no way overkill," Buffy answers. "Here," she adds, cutting him a slice. "You might as well try some."

"Thank you, Buffy, and of course not." Giles is completely solemn, even as he takes the plate and the fork and puts a bite of the cake into his mouth. "This is quite good," he says around it, then continues, "There's a very old, vicious species of demon whose excretions smell -- "

"Giles, do I really need to hear about excretions while I'm enjoying my cake?" Buffy interrupts, taking a bite of her own. Her eyes widen. "Oh my god, Giles, 'quite good'? This is awesome! I rule!"

"And," Giles says quietly, with Buffy oblivious to -- or possibly just plain ignoring -- his snark, "once again, my Slayer stands testament to the American tradition of an inability to grasp the concept of subtlety. Yes, Buffy, you do rule."

Then, spying the box, "Good Lord, Buffy, this is from a mix?"

Buffy beams.


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