HELLO LOVELY READERS! Welcome to this fluff-fest of crack!ish nature! I really hope you love it! Let me know what you think!
Cupcakes and Competition
"Felicity…what are you eating?"
Oliver narrows his eyes as Felicity stuffs the rest of the pastry into her mouth. "Nuffin'."
"Fe-li-ci-ty." He rounds the kitchen counter, placing his cup of coffee gingerly on the table. He's been awake since 4a.m. toying with his croissant recipe in an effort to achieve the perfect fluffiness. He hadn't expected to come home and see his fiancé eating what looked suspiciously like a cupcake, and not one of his.
She smiles innocently around her full mouth, lips shut tight as she crumples a cupcake paper in her hand.
"Was that a cupcake?"
She swallows quickly as she shakes her head. "Nope. No cupcakes here. None at all. What cupcake? Why would I be eating a cupcake? No cupcakes."
Oliver grins and points at the corner of her mouth. "You've got some icing."
Felicity wipes it away with her thumb before she rises on her tiptoes to press a kiss to Oliver's cheek. "It was nothing."
He sighs. "Felicity."
"No," she says as she walks into the kitchen. "It was nothing, really. We've talked about it: You're going to bake the cake for our ceremony. But she saw the ring and offered me some free samples and we got to talking and you know I can't turn down free sweets, so I tried the cupcake and it's so good, Oliver. It's amazing." Something must show on his face because she suddenly changes tracks. "Nothing like yours though. No, of course not. Your cupcakes are the best. Yum."
Oliver snorts. "Uh-huh. Real convincing." He sighs. Truth be told, Tommy's been making him reconsider the whole cater-your-own-wedding thing. Everything has been so stressful with the wedding and the planning. Not having to design and prepare his first wedding cake would be a relief. He just doesn't want to give business to one of his competitors. "So, whose was it?"
Felicity shoots him a guilty smile.
"McKenna's? Don't tell me it was Alvin's?" His joking tone fades as he runs through the list of nearby bakers and she doesn't react. "Gertrude? Lucy?" The list is getting dangerously close to the absolute worst answer: "Slade?"
"Seriously? Slade?" He demands. "Of all the people! Slade?"
"Yes, Slade. I'm sorry, but his cupcakes are magical! It's the perfect combination of moist and sweet. And I know you two had that falling out, but Shado saw me with the ring and she dragged me in. And I couldn't resist! You know those are my favorite!" She puffs out her bottom lip in a pout she knows he can't resist.
Oliver pulls her into a hug with a sigh, doing some pouting of his own. "I really thought that last batch was better."
"It was, honey. I loved them." She says into his chest.
"Noooooo," she pulls back and rises on her toes to press a kiss to his lips instead. "You are my favorite baker. Promise. No one will ever replace you."
He grins, leaning in for another kiss. "Good answer."
"You've got the best muffins in the whole city," Felicity continues with a huge grin as her hands move down to his ass, squeezing. "The best."
Oliver chuckles against her lips. "You know it, Lust Muffin."
Felicity steps closer, pressing against him from head to toe. "ABSolutely," her hands rubbing over his stomach for emphasis, "what do you say we take this party to the bedroom?"
"You have the best ideas."
Oliver stands across the street, glaring at the yellow and black sign. He's been stationary by the bus stop for the last fifteen minutes, watching the cars pass and customers enter the Deathstroke Bakery.
All he can think about is Shado spotting Felicity as she sauntered by on her way to work. Of course, she would drag his fiancé in and insist on her taking cake samples. Slade makes the best cake in the city – Felicity's right about that much. The man's meticulous about his cupcakes, always improving them. It had driven Oliver crazy when he worked there.
He hasn't stepped foot in the shop since he hung up his apron and took off to culinary school. He and Slade had some creative differences about learning to cook. The whole thing with him and Shado dating before Slade managed to get his head out of his ass certainly didn't help.
Shado smiles brilliantly from behind the counter, handing out orders to customers as she waddles around. He'd heard she was pregnant. Unlike Slade, she still checked in every once in awhile. She came into his shop for the eclairs. Apparently, it was one of her cravings.
If she can walk into his shop, he can walk into Slade's.
With a deep breath, Oliver crosses the road and tentatively opens the door.
It's a sign of how nervous he is that the bell makes him wince.
God, it's been years since he stepped through the door to the well-maintained bakery. It still smells like pure confectioners sugar. It's sweeter smelling than his own shop, which is probably because of the cupcakes that cover 90% of the counter space.
"Oliver! It's so good to see you!" Shado waddles around the counter to pull him into a hug. "How are you doing? How's the wedding planning? Have you picked a place yet?"
He smiles at her easy attitude. "We have. It's actually going to be at Queen Mansion, in the gardens."
"You made up with your parents? That's great!"
He forgets how much of his life he shared with Shado. Back then, he'd been disowned for dropping out of his fourth college and telling his father he didn't want to join the family business. Slade had taken him in. "Yeah. Dad had a health scare and they reached out. It's still a little tense, but with the wedding coming up, they've been trying harder."
He nods, stepping up to the counter as she sits on a stool behind the counter to rest her feet. "And how are you doing?"
"Me? Oh, good good. Slade's got a new recipe he's perfecting in between baby proofing the apartment. It's really getting out of hand. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to lift the toilet seat with that insane contraption. He's being protective and it's great, but it is not so great on my hormones or my bladder. Although, having a bakery downstairs is fantastic for midnight cravings."
Oliver smiles. "He's going to be a great father."
"He will be." She smiles happily at her baby bump. Then she shakes her head and turns back to him with a sunny smile. "So what brings you here today?"
He runs a hand through his hair with a sheepish smile. "Well, Felicity said you cornered her yesterday…"
Shado lights up. "Yes…"
He sighs. She's going to make him say it. "The cupcakes."
Shado squeals. "She wants the chocolate with mint ice cream, doesn't she? Or was it the buttercream? Ooh! Or the maple syrup? She did look like she had a weakness for that one."
"Shado? Is that Mrs. Hudson? Tell her the cupcakes will be done this afternoon and she can pick them up then!" An Australian voice calls from the back room. "And don't worry, they'll be perfe-"
Slade steps through the swinging doors, wiping powdered sugar from his hands. He pauses mid-motion as he locks eyes on Oliver. The smile drops from his face. "Kid."
"What're you doing here?" He drops the rag he was wiping his hands with on the counter.
Oliver grimaces. He could admit defeat to Shado, but to Slade…"Just stopping in, saying hi."
"They're considering one of our cakes. For the wedding," Shado interrupts, rubbing Slade's arm. "Isn't that great?"
"No. We're not doing it. Take your business elsewhere. Don't you own your own bakery now?"
This is why he didn't want to do this. It means admitting Slade was right about something. He's not in the habit of doing that. He clenches his jaw. "Why would I want one of your cakes anyway? The icing's too sweet, the cake too heavy, and you make the icing all wrong anyway."
Slade snorts. "Tell that to the food critics. You were always to light on the icing. You don't have the sweet tooth you need for this business."
"Tell that to my reviews."
"And who's here to have me make their wedding cake?" Slade crows.
Now he thinks he's won something. "Felicity loves your cake," he grits out. There. Now he's said it.
Slade's chest puffs out. "Oh, really? Bet you're wishing you hadn't left now."
Oliver crosses his arms. "I can satisfy my fiance."
"Sure, you can, Kid. That's why she's shopping around for other bakers. She's probably realized you're too vanilla for her."
"We keep things spicy. But I think your wife eating my eclairs proves I know a thing or two." Oliver challenges, stepping forward.
Slade lets out a harsh laugh, bordering on a shout. "Ha! You just use those sorry things to overcompensate."
"Like you do with the giant sign out front? And your monstrous cupcakes?"
"Alright, alright, boys put it back in your pants. I've got the perfect way to figure this out." Shado claps her hands with a triumphant grin. "Saturday. At the high school. We'll have a Cupcake War. 3 samples each. Winner gets all bragging rights!"
"It's on!" Slade agrees, glaring at Oliver.
"Works for me." Oliver practically shouts. He hadn't wanted to get worked up about this, but he can't back down from this challenge.
"Great!" Shado cuts in, getting physically between the two men. "The high school looking for a couple dozen cupcakes for a fundraiser anyway so it's perfect."
Oliver nods abruptly and then storms out of the bakery. He knew this was a bad idea. This is why he didn't want to step inside Slades territory. He knew some toes would be stepped on and punches would be thrown. He just didn't think it would get this big.
"Really, Oliver? Is this necessary?" Felicity asks, peeking into the bowl resting on the metal table usually used to prepare questionable cafeteria meals.
"Definitely. I can't let him think he won! Besides, I think I've got just the recipe to win." Oliver looks up from whisking the ingredients. "Honey, I love you, but could you step away from the ingredients?"
She gasps dramatically in betrayal. "Hey! I can't cook, but that doesn't mean I can't stand in a kitchen."
He grins at her, kissing the tip of her nose. "No. But you are distracting."
That draws a pleased smile from her, even as she slaps his arm. "Watch it, Mister. I control your sex life now."
And he wouldn't have it any other way. "It's just…I have to beat Slade."
Felicity rolls her eyes. "Just so you know, Shado and I are bonding over your mutual pigheadedness." She kisses him on the cheek. "Good luck, my love."
He doesn't need luck, but he readily accepts the kiss. Today is about more than just baked goods. This is about proving himself, proving his way of working, of learning. Today, the student will surpass the master, and in front of an audience to boot.
And there is quite an audience.
Whoever Shado talked to managed to turn their competition into a money maker. They sold tickets. All the proceeds were going to Glades Memorial Hospital, which really needed the help after last year's earthquake, but Oliver hadn't bargained on the giant "Cupcake Wars: Starling Edition" that had popped up the day after Slade challenged him.
The pressure was on more than ever. As much as he hated to admit it, Slade was defending his unofficial title as Best Cupcakes in Starling City. He's the one proving himself here and now. Slade has years of experience, of flavors up his sleeve. And Oliver knows, without a doubt, that he's going to pull out something truly spectacular today.
But Oliver's ready. He's got everything prepped.
And he's going to blow everyone away.
It's nerve wracking.
Oliver had mixed everything precisely, careful to keep the ingredients at the right consistency, to bake them for just long enough. He'd calculated everything and he knew they were better than the thirty other batches he'd made throughout the week, much to Tommy's exasperation.
But was it enough?
He'd even spent more time than usual on the glaze and icing. He'd done a lot of icing when he worked for Slade, after all. But Slade had a point: the sugar on top wasn't his specialty. He could see the man behind the other table, looking confident, as one by one their judges stepped forward to grab cupcakes.
Judges might have been a stretch. They were really just community members out to raise money for a good cause, but they each had a ballot with various categories, from presentation to taste. Oliver had been confident in his first batch of dark chocolate cupcakes with icing filling and coconut glaze until he had spotted Slade's mint chip cupcakes.
He knew that was an intentional, a jab at him by using his fiance's favorite flavor to beat him. Which would be devastating, if he won.
Slade's second choice was a banana cupcake, which Oliver knew for a fact was one of his bestsellers, the one that had been around for almost as long as his bakery. In short, a guaranteed hit. Oliver's second choice was a pineapple upside-down cupcake. A new recipe he was trying out for the first time - hopefully to some success.
The third and final batch was disconcerting. It was a wild card batch and both had gone for red velvet cupcakes. Slade's were deceptively simple in comparison to the decorated tops of his other creations: just plain white icing on a red cake with chocolate shavings decorating the top. Oliver himself had given his a little twist: pop rocks sprinkled in and on top of the cream cheese icing.
Standing off to the side, watching at the audience, it was hard to tell which way they were leaning, but slowly but surely the ballots started to flow in, where they were then tallied up by John Diggle - the only impartial counter both Slade and Oliver could agree on, and the only person who knew for sure who baked which cupcakes.
It seemed to drag on for eternity, making Oliver process every single scenario. Could he stand the shame of asking Slade to bake their wedding cake after he lost? Or what if he won? What happened if he beat his main rival after years of adversity? They had been friends once. Could they be that again?
Oliver watches as Slade walks over to stare more pointedly at Oliver's cupcakes. The only three remaining are saved for after, for them to finally taste after all this is said and done.
"Glaze instead of icing for two of them. Playing to your strengths, Kid. Smart."
Oliver shrugs. "You did too. I'd be hard pressed to beat your choices." But he's going to. Oliver has faith in his selections. He can win this.
"Got that right, Kid." Slade smiles proudly. "Ready to admit that I win? I'll even throw in a discount on your wedding cake."
Oliver's hands clench. He doesn't admit defeat. Ever. "How about this, if I win, you make the cake, for free."
Slade laughs, full and loud. "And when I win?"
He purses his lips, thinking. "I stop selling cupcakes and Shado gets whatever she's craving, free of charge."
Slade holds out his hand. "Like taking candy from a baby."
"Don't be so sure." He really thinks he's got a chance. Slade's definitely not going easy on him, but this competition, it's been fun. And there's still a good chance he can win.
"You put up a good fight, Kid."
"Alright," Digg announces, moving to the front of the room with a sheet of folded paper in his hands. The noise settles down. "First, I want to thank everyone for coming out today to celebrate a good cause, and also Deathstroke and Green Arrow Bakeries for donating their talent and their delicious baked goods. As we mentioned earlier, all proceeds are going to the Glades Memorial Hospital.
"Today's cupcake war was a tough one. We had two great bakers here with us, and they did not pull any punches. We were all treated to some delicious cupcakes, but there can be only one winner." John smiles as he watches his captive audience. "Drumroll please."
"And the winner …"
Oliver draws in a sharp breath at the pause, jumping when Felicity chooses that moment to loop her arm through his. This is it, his moment to find out if all his work paid off. Digg knows exactly what he's doing as he glances from both Slade to Oliver with a glint in his eye.
"...by only three points…"
So it's close then. At least that will be some comfort if he loses. No! Oliver shakes his head. He can't think like that. He won. He kicked Slade's ass.
If John draws this out any longer, Felicity's going to rip the paper from his hand and announce the winner. Oliver can tell by the way her eyebrow is now slightly twitching in annoyance. She's just as invested in this competition as he is. He loves that about her. He loves everything about her. And it hits him in moments like this, out of the blue, down to his core.
He pulls her in for a kiss, forgetting about everything in that moment.
And almost completely misses the winner:
"GREEN ARROW BAKERY!"
He turns to stare at Digg, unable to believe what he just heard. Maybe he's imagining things. All the air in his lungs escapes in a sudden whoosh as Felicity tackles him in a hug. Oliver can hardly believe it, staring at Slade in shock over Felicity's head.
The man looks equally as stunned. His eyes turning to Oliver's winning cupcakes and then to the man himself. Oliver draws his gaze away to kiss his fiance, content to just wrap his arms around her and revel in his victory.
When he finally pulls away, he can't stop grinning. He did it. He actually did it.
"Don't let this get to your head, Kid," Slade warns, picking up Oliver's chocolate cupcake and taking a bite. "We'll see who wins next year." He sounds gruff, but he's smirking at Oliver, a twinkle in his eye that says he enjoyed the challenge.
Oliver had to admit he likes the sound of it. Another competition? An ongoing chance to continue to surpass himself, a competitor who won't take it easy on him? He could go for that.