Fajitas Part 1 - Preparation
Location: The Forge
Timeline: December 9th, 2011
Draco had always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. His winning smile and rapscallion demeanor had won the hearts of the kitchen staff when he was young and they took him under their wings as he grew older. Now, though by no means a gourmet chef, he loved the near dance like feeling of moving around a kitchen and preparing a meal.
His lessons with Cat had been hit or miss for the most part, but he decided it was time to take the bull by the horns so to speak and try interacting with her family and hopefully not end up looking like a pretentious jackass. He knew she had finished in the forge so assumed she was in her room working on wrapping the presents that had cooled enough with her roommate. His plan was to appeal to their stomachs, make something he knew he could wow them with. He'd already traded the kitchen pigs his abuela's fajita spice blend for a basket full of supplies now he just needed his lovely assistant.
He knocked three time on Cat and Angel's door with one knuckle.
Of course the nosy red head answered, a smile on her face that said she knew something he didn't. He frowned.
"Yes Dread? Can I help you?"
He still wasn't used to that name and his frown deepened. "I-um was hoping I could steal Cat for a little while. Is she around?"
"Well I don't know, the last time you-" Angel cut off as Cat elbowed her in the ribs.
Cat made a little hissing sound at her sister and looked over at Drake.
"Sure. My back was starting to bow from wrapping all these presents." She gestured towards the pile of wrapped presents. It was obvious to anyone who looked that two people had wrapped the presents. One stack was packed neatly and looked as though a professional had wrapped and ribboned each one, making them look like Christmas presents someone would dream about but never believe that they would get. The other pile was stacked just as neatly, however that's where the similarities ended. What the second stack lacked in elegance and grace it made up for with the liberal and enthusiastic use of copious amounts of tape.
"Where were you thinking of going?" She asked before standing and arching her back to help get all the kinks out.
"I'm due for my next lesson," Drake said his frown turning into a smile, "come with me, I'll show you what I had in mind."
"Oh I know what's on his-" Angel cut off again as the light weight tape dispenser bounced off her head.
"Lay on McDuff." Cat said with an innocent look. No one would have believed that she had thrown the tape dispenser at Angel, unless of course they actually knew Cat. Then they would have been amazed it hadn't been something harder. Not that Cat would have intentionally hurt Angel, at least not too horribly.
"What did you have in mind?" She asked once the door was firmly shut between them and Angel. "Oh and fair warning, the walls have ears around here. I think we were taught Stealth in the cradle." She waved an arm at the hall. "Most of us could probably get to and from our rooms without being seen once, then again most of us have." The last bit was said after a moment of thought.
Drake took her warning seriously and instead of answering opened the large square basket he was carrying and showed her the contents. The basket looked like a picnic kit with settings for 8, the plates and flatware were strapped into the lid, the cups across the front and the back, the center was taken up with a large white paper wrapped butcher packets, red and yellow bell peppers, three large sweet onions, and an eggplant along with three cast iron skillets in varying shapes and sizes and a few other items.
"The way to their hearts?" He shrugged as he showed her the fajita makings, he'd gotten the eggplant because he knew at least one of their number was a vegetarian.
Cat let out a soft laugh as she nodded. “Please tell me that’s gonna be fajitas?” She said after a moment giving him her best puppy dog eyes. In her mind the only thing better than fajitas were shrimp fajitas, then again seafood was always in danger of being devoured when she was around.
Drake nodded, "That was the plan, one of the cooks when I was younger took me under her wing, her name was Rosa and she taught me a few of her secret recipes. We just need a place for me to work."
Her eyes seemed to get even larger than normal as she blinked at him. The expression on her face wasn't completely blank, it was the expression of someone who was trying to think rapidly of a location. Obviously he didn't want to use the Kitchens or the Bunker. Though Cat couldn't really think of why he wouldn't want to, she did however appreciate the time without others looking over her shoulder at her interactions with Drake. She wrinkled her nose and pursed her lips in thought before shrugging. "We could always go to the Forge. That's kinda my default setting to be honest."
Drake raised one brow, "You'd let me cook in the forge? I was more thinking a classroom, but we'd have to ask one of the teachers..."
"Well, as long as you help clean up and Hulga doesn't skin us alive for it then I guess it would be okay. You can set up on my worktable. That way if something happens no one elses' stuff will be hurt." Cat said even as a blush crept up her face. The idea of asking a teacher was almost more embarrassing than the idea of asking her siblings. Time alone with Drake wasn't something she got a lot or could even seek out a lot. Not without being tormented relentlessly by her siblings who knew that she had a crush on the newest Orphan. Not to mention there probably wasn't a chance in a million that he was interested in her for anything other than helping him navigate the choppy waters that he had found himself in now. Knowing her luck she probably rated right alongside Benny in his affections, a sometimes pesky kid sister.
Drake nodded, "The forge it is then, I'll help you pack everything away so there is no chance of anything getting hurt then when food is close to ready you can spread the word and have them meet us there."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Cat said with a broad grin as she lead the way.
They walked together in comfortable silence, at least it was for him, Drake never felt the need to fill in the empty points with her, he could just be. When they got to the warmth of the forge he helped her to put her gear away carefully and scrub the table free of any bits of glass. Once they had a clean work space he set up the double burner camp stove and pulled out a large circular plan and a tupperware full of doughy tortillas separated with wax paper.
"I made the dough in the kitchen so I wouldn't have to try to roll it out out here," he said as he flipped four of the flat circles on to the pan expertly with two fingers. While they cooked he pulled out a cutting board and a knife and began slicing the peppers in quick motions.
Cat snagged a slice of pepper with quick fingers as she carefully slid up to sit on the table and crossed her legs so that she was sitting tailor fashion on the edge of the table with her elbows propped on her knees. "I take it you like doing this sort of thing?"
Drake nodded as he dumped the peppers into a bowl and gave her a mock glare, "My father could burn water, so it was something he couldn't claim came from him, I can only make a few things, and only those from memorized recipes, I'm not a chef or anything..." As he spoke he used quick fingers to flip the tortillas that had puffed a little as they cooked. He took out an onion and peeled it into one of the plastic bags where he'd put the stems and seeds from the bell peppers, keeping the work space very neat and clean.
"That makes it sound like you didn't like your father." Cat said thoughtfully crunching the bit of pepper that she had swiped. She cocked her head to the side as she studied his expression. She personally was a disaster in the kitchen, to the point of the Kitchen Pigs had banned her from their realm for anything more than dropping things off or picking them up. Much like Drake's father she could burn water, and had almost set the kitchen on fire a couple of times because of it.
"No," Drake corrected, "I loved him. But he was... larger then life. And sometimes it felt like he wanted a clone not a son, and..." he looked down, shaking his head as he set the onions aside and took the first batch or tortillas out to put them in a specially made container that would keep them fresh.
"And?" Cat prompted as she put a finger on his chin to get him to look at her.
"Well, anything he couldn't take credit for... it made me feel closer to my mom. I never met her, my biological mom. She and Dad hooked up one night and she took off. He looked for her but only knew her first name. She left me at the hospital with papers saying who my dad was. So it was just us, and he was a good dad, I mean not like most rich parents, he wasn't afraid to get down on the floor and play cars with me. But until Carabella came along when I was seven I didn't really have a mom."
His tone changed then, turning sarcastic, "And I only had her to myself for less then a year before my bratty little sister showed up and ruined it all."
"Hey!" came an indignant voice from the door way as Bennie's head came into view, "How did you know I was there?"
"Because I was thinking about you," Drake said laughing fondly, "and I was cooking. Somehow no matter how far away you are, you know how to find me if I break out the cast iron."
Cat blushed a deep red as she pulled her hand away from Drake's vicinity and smiled down at Bennie. "Hey Bennie." She said even though she almost wished the little girl would go away. Then again just that thought should be stepped on and quelled firmly, Cat admonished herself firmly. Likely Drake had someone he was involved with back where ever it was they had lived.
"Well if your cooking brings Bennie running it must be good." She joked.
"It IS," Bennie said emphatically, hopping up to sit on the stool next to her. "He's not dating anyone you know," she said in a bored tone, reaching for the peppers, "He and Tiffany broke up this summer."
"Bennedetta!" Drake said, his face gone dark with a heavy blush but hissed as he nicked the end of his finger.
"Bennie, get the first aid kit from under that table." Cat said as she saw Drake cut himself. She reached down the side of the table and pulled out a clean rag that she kept there. Working with sheet metal and glass meant tons of nicked fingers and hands.
"Here." She took Drake’s hand and wrapped the clean cloth around it. It wasn’t sterile but it would help keep the wound from getting dirty before she could bandage it. Not to mention not wanting blood in the food. "This might sting a bit." Cat said as she put pressure on the cut to try and help the bleeding stop. "I don’t think you got yourself too bad but forges are by their very nature not the most sterile of places."
Bennie jumped to, pulling out the first aid kit and opening it for Cat. "I'll mind the tortillas," she muttered turning away from the situation to deftly work with the round dough. It was the first thing Drake had started teaching her to make so she knew how to handle it.
"It will be fine, a splash of alcohol and a bandaid and I can get back to work," Drake said with a grin. The cut was small, the tip having just nicked the side of his finger, just enough to make it bleed. He'd done it on purpose, knowing that most girls had a caregiver mentality, a little cut would diffuse the situation then later he could throttle Bennie. "I have shrimp and steak that needs to get in the pan," he added as an after thought.
"It can wait a few more moments while I make sure you're finger is bandaged, it wouldn't do to have you get an infection." Cat said with a little tsking sound. She grabbed an alcohol wipe from the first aid kit, along with some Neosporin and a band-aid. She finished bandaging his finger with little more fanfare. Once she was done she let go of his hand and started packing up the items back into the first aid kit. "There. Should be all better now. Though I would be more careful with the chopping in future." She said letting go of his hand slowly and smiling up at him. "Do you need any Advil or Tylenol?"
"Nah, it's a small cut, and the knife was sharp," Draco said, "Move it squirt," he said picking Bennie up under the arms, moving her to the left and looking over her work, "Tortillas look good though." He took the last of the food out and moved the basket to the floor, "Why don't you lay out the picnic in the doorway while Cat and I talk?"
Bennie nodded and started pulling items from the basket.
Drake looked at Cat, "Sorry about her."
"She's fine." Cat said with a shrug as she finished putting the first aid kit away. "Sisters can be kinda pesky I know." She chuckled softly and tried to ignore the fact that her heart was racing as she remembered Bennie's statement.
"You should be flattered, she hated Tiffany," Drake said as he took the larger of the remaining pans and put it on the other burner. He was pumping out tortillas as fast as he could, using his fingers to lay four at a time on the big pan, cooking them for a minute then flipping them. Occasionally he would skewer one with the tip of his knife to pop a big bubble, but once they were done they went into the large warmed crock he'd set out for that purpose. He added oil to the largest pan and unwrapped a large slab of beef that had a heady smelling marinade on it.
"So is that the reason you broke up with her?" Cat said as she snagged another piece of pepper from the bowl. "Or is that prying?" She asked after a moment of thought.
"No, it's not prying," Drake said as he unwrapped seasoned shrimp. He'd seasoned the meat before he'd prepared anything else, now the smell was spicy with the barest hint of fish. "I... saw through her. She wanted to be with me because of my name not who I was."
"So she just wanted the money and power that came with your name and not the man who came with it?" Cat asked cocking her head to the side. She knew that there were people like that but she never had been able to understand them. She didn't care that Drake's dad had been rich and probably powerful, she liked Drake because he was a good person, he was sweet and caring, just the fact that he remembered that Zach was a vegetarian and that she adored seafood proved that. "I think I would like the man better than the name, names can be empty things unless there is something more to the person who owns the name."
"You weren't raised a society brat," Drake said as he started heating the smaller pan, that would be the one that he would use for the veggies only and lighter seasoning, "She was raised to believe she was only as good as the marriage she could secure. We broke up when I told her I had no intention of follow in my father's business, that I wanted to make my own way in the world." Drake shrugged as he worked on their meal, "I cared for her but I didn't love her, she was just... the person I was supposed to date."
"That's something I've never understood, why were you supposed to date her if you didn't think it could turn into love?" She asked cocking her head to the side and staring at him.
"Because she was beautiful, our families went to all the same charity events and were part of the same club, she was close to my age and we'd known each other for years," Draco shrugged, "Not my world any more, as it was I always felt like a leaf that was just floating along in their stream. She was a distraction, and she was fun to be with. We would go to the carnival and society functions and she kept them from being completely dull. But I just realized that while I was happy when I was with her, I didn't miss her all that much when we weren't. She was more like a buddy... with boobs."
"Okay....." Cat said dragging out the word. She really couldn't think of anything to respond to that with. She knew looks were important to most people when it came to the person or people that they hooked up with. It wasn't like she was completely immune to that thought process either. Part of what had first drawn her eye with Draco was that he was gorgeous, the fact that he was nice and everything else was what had allowed the crush that she had on him to grow into a crush to begin with. "Was she in love with you?" Cat winced as soon as the words escaped her mouth. "Sorry that was really really nosy, ignore it."
"No, it's okay," Drake glanced over at Bennie who was still setting up the picnic. He knew she was listening even though she was pretending not to. He went back to meat, testing it then turning it over, then started cutting the eggplant into thin slices, "I don't think she was. She was upset at first, feeling like we'd wasted the last two years, but I asked her if she missed me when I was gone, I mean really missed me, and after she thought about it she realized that she missed having me there to open doors for her and to talk to when she was bored but most of the time no, she didn't actually miss me."
"Ah." She nodded slightly. If that was how someone determined that they were in love with someone else then Cat was in serious trouble. She had a hard time concentrating when he wasn't around. It was really not a good thing for someone who wasn't certain that she was worth the time that it took for other people to be in a relationship with her. She looked around the forge as she tried to think of something else to talk about, the topic of relationships and why they didn't work out wasn't something she was really comfortable with. "Orphans only ever date other Orphans so we don't really have a whole lot of separation."
"Could make dating hard, if there was a bad breakup, practically living with that person," Drake said, trying to take the conversation out of the personal realm. "Food's close to done, if you want to text the others."
"Not a problem." Cat grabbed onto the newest topic with a vengeance as she pulled her cellphone out of her bracer. It only took her a few seconds to pop the message in and send it to Maus, Brann, Angel, Zach and even Pike.