so the idea for this thing came from the OP of this thread
; if you ever end up reading this, thanks for that :3
It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Taemin had suggested cake, but Jonghyun suspected that that had been borne more out of Taemin’s personal interest in consuming the said confection than a well-meaning thought on what Jinki wanted for his birthday. As soon as Jonghyun pointed this out, reminding Taemin of Jinki’s aversion to too-sweet things, Taemin had shrugged, looking faintly disappointed.
“Apple pie, then?”
“Maybe we should make him something with chicken in it.”
“But I want pie.”
“It’s not about what you want, Taemin-ah. At least we’re sure that Jinki-hyung would definitely eat—”
“…Jinki-hyung would get a kick out of that! Hang on, is there even such a thing?”
A few minutes on Google search proved that people elsewhere in the world did, in fact, make pies out of chicken. Jonghyun was confident that the recipe was easy enough to follow, and set about rummaging through the fridge for ingredients while Taemin withdrew pots and pans from the cupboards.
They had a heated debate over whether the cabbage bits from yesterday’s leftover kimchi would be a suitable substitute for celery (“I don’t think that’s a good idea, hyung.” “Why not? They’re both vegetables, and it’s not like they’re the main ingredient anyway!”), or if it would be considered cheating to use a box of Mexicana fried chicken for the filling instead of cooking a whole chicken from scratch (“Hyung, we might as well order him takeaway food!” “I was kidding! But—we could shave off a whole hour of cooking if we just—“ “Hyung.”
). By the end of another hour, Taemin was starting to question the wisdom of their endeavors. This coincided, not unsurprisingly, with the sudden hissing of the stove as the pot boiled over and sent a cascade of chicken stock spilling over the rim.
“So, I don’t think it was supposed to do that,” Jonghyun said, blinking owlishly at the pot and then glancing at the printout in his hands, a baffled look on his face.
“Really, hyung?” Taemin said innocuously from his side of the counter. Jonghyun shot him a wounded look, which Taemin ignored as he shuffled to the other boy’s side and nudged him out of the way to check. “The chicken looks okay, if random bits and pieces are supposed to be floating around like that. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” He surreptitiously slid the plate of misshapen vegetables he had been cutting behind a bag of dough before Jonghyun could cry over the pot calling the kettle black.
Jonghyun sniffed. “Of course. You’re supposed to overcook it a little, see? Makes it easier to strip the meat off the bones.”
“Right,” Taemin said with a skeptical nod.
“This pie will turn out great, and Jinki-hyung is going to love it, okay,” Jonghyun declared. He, for his part, maintained an unwavering belief in their hitherto nonexistent culinary skills, bustling around the kitchen and poking at everything he could lay his hands on with the air of a seasoned chef. His sheer enthusiasm somehow managed to convince Taemin that they could actually pull this off, and soon enough they were sitting back on their haunches in front of the oven, waiting for the timer to stop.
“Hey, guys!” Jinki’s voice suddenly piped up behind them, causing Jonghyun to knock into Taemin and send the two of them sprawling onto the kitchen floor. Jinki blinked down at them with concern.
Jonghyun quickly stood up, blocking the oven door as Taemin scrambled to his feet beside him. “Hyung! You’re not supposed to be here! I mean, I thought you had a late night schedule?” Jonghyun asked in a wildly transparent attempt to divert Jinki’s attention away from his and Taemin’s project.
Jinki laughed. “We wrapped things up an hour ago! It’s half past two in the morning; why are you two still up?”
Jonghyun and Taemin glanced at the digital clock atop the counter, the first two digits barely discernible behind a smudge of flour. “Oh. Happy birthday, hyung,” Taemin said softly.
“Yeah, happy birthday!” Jonghyun echoed, just as the oven timer went off. He and Taemin kind of just stared transfixed at the oven, snapping to attention only when Jinki stepped forward and made to open the oven door.
“Wait, you can’t—” Jinki pulled the handle and was assaulted by a cloud of gray smoke.
Taemin groaned. “Crap, I knew this was going to happen,” he said, pulling a violently coughing Jinki out of harm’s way before he hacked up a lung.
“I don’t get it; we followed the recipe to the letter!” Jonghyun exclaimed.
Jinki stopped coughing. “What is that?”
“Your birthday present,” Taemin said morosely. “Or what it was supposed to be, anyway.”
“Sorry, hyung.” Jonghyun looked close to frustrated tears.
Jinki stared at their dejected faces for a moment, and then snatched the oven mitt clutched in Taemin’s hands. He ignored Taemin and Jonghyun’s feeble protests as he took out what looked like burned charcoal from the heart of the smoke and put a forkful of it in his mouth, chewing slowly.
“Needs more salt,” he quipped with a straight face, and Jonghyun and Taemin smiled weakly at him. “Really, thanks. I’m honored! This is your first time baking, right?”
“You mean, it wasn’t glaringly obvious?” Jonghyun replied, a slow grin spreading across his face as Jinki laughed. Jinki wrapped his arms around both of them in an awkward group hug.
“Happy birthday!” Jonghyun and Taemin chorused, again, and Jinki beamed at them as he pulled away.
“Let’s get some sleep,” he said. “You guys can clean up tomorrow.”
And despite their totally botched attempt at cooking, Jonghyun and Taemin chivvied off to bed feeling like they had just accomplished something awesome.