Artist: 2blueshoes (YAY!!! Look at their faces! It's like you had a secret portal directly into my brain)
Beta: cleflink (OMG, you should have seen the mess I sent at the last minute. Cleflink is a saint, and anyone who says otherwise is a filthy liar)
Title: Apple Pie Life
Summary: Sam wants to make Dean a pie for his birthday, but Dean has his own ideas about how it should be done.
Rating: PG for language
ETA: I made the pie... see the results here at my journal
They moved in two months ago, and they are still figuring out how to divide up the chores. Most things they do together—raking the leaves in silence, folding laundry while watching re-runs. There’s no rule really, about who does what, and to Sam it’s all so much easier than everything they had to do for hunting that it doesn’t really matter.
But somehow, the cooking has fallen to Dean. Sure, Sam makes a salad to go with dinner now and then, but Dean’s been the one learning how to roast a chicken, and bake creamy macaroni and cheese or marinate steaks for the grill.
Today, however, it’s Dean’s birthday, and Sam had announced at dinner the week before while licking chocolate chip cookie crumbs off the tips of his fingers that he’s going to make him a pie for the occasion. After all, if Dean can make him his favorite, and do it this well, then it’s the least Sam can do to return the favor.
"You don’t know how to make a pie,” Dean had said.
“You’re welcome, jerk.”
“What? Hey, I’m just telling the truth. Remember what happened with the Jello? I’m just trying to save you some heartache here.”
Oh, it was so on.
Sam’s done his research, and it hadn’t seemed overly difficult. He just wishes Dean weren’t sitting right there on the counter, watching him.
Dean’s got a longneck in one hand and he’s swinging his legs, his boots banging against the cabinets. He’s watching Sam, smiling amiably, the corners of his eyes crinkling in that endearing way they have. He’s making Sam nervous.
Sam checks the recipe, his list of ingredients. He’s assembled all the equipment he’ll need ahead of time. He thinks he’s ready. “Make yourself useful,” he tells Dean, more to get him to stop watching Sam’s every move than because he actually needs help. “Peel some apples.”
Dean hops down from the counter and grabs a knife. Unfortunately, he can peel apples without even looking down at his hands, so he’s still watching over the process like a mother hen.
Sam reads the first step in the recipe: “Combine the flour and salt, and use a pastry cutter to blend in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.” He had to look this up on YouTube, because, what the fuck? But after watching several videos, he gets it.
“Dude, what is that thing?” Dean points at the wire pastry blender that Sam bought at Walmart. “What are you doing with that?” He’s got a big pile of peels in front of him, some of the apples half buried in the mess.
“It’s a pastry blender. You use it to mix the flour and butter.” Dean watches him silently for a moment as Sam measures and levels off the flour, then uses the measuring spoons for the salt. He cuts the butter up into chunks and starts in with the pastry blender. Sam is very careful to do it right, and he thinks he’s got it like they showed in the videos… all the flour looks blended in.
“But where are the flakes?” Dean asks.
“The flakes. Pie crust is supposed to be flaky, and that’s all… crumbly. How is that going to make flakes?”
“Well, there’s this protein in flour, it’s called gluten and…”
Dean holds up a hand. “Ok Mr. Nye. That’s all I need to know.” He’s quiet for a moment, watching Sam, and Sam is grateful, because he really needs to—
“Shouldn’t you be pre-heating the oven?”
Sam puts down his blender and mentally counts to ten. “Dean, why don’t you just make your own pie?”
“Now you’re talking, Poppin’ Fresh! We can have like, a Pillsbury bakeoff competition!”
Sam would like to snap at Dean and point out that he is making Dean’s birthday pie, and that if Dean makes it it’s not the same, but Dean looks so excited, pawing through the pots and pans cabinet looking for a mixing bowl and extra pie plate, that Sam can’t say no. And anyway, maybe now he’ll be able to actually concentrate on making the damn pie.
Dean scoops up some flour in the cup measure and dumps it in the bowl without leveling it off. He glances at the recipe, and pours a small pile of salt into the palm of his hand, eyeballs it, shrugs, then dumps that in, too. He chunks the butter into the bowl, then rolls up his sleeves and starts working his fingers through the mixture.
“What are you doing?” Sam asks, horrified.
“I saw Mom do this once when I was little. Look, you press the butter like this, and see, those are the flakes.”
“Dude, it doesn’t work that way. That’s butter, it’s going to melt. The videos said that—“
“Whatever, Martha. You make your pie your way, and I’ll make my pie my way. What does the winner get, anyway?”
“Ultimate authority and command of the remote control for one week .”
Dean’s eyes go wide for a moment, and Sam knows he can’t resist. Dean hates losing that bet almost as much as he loves winning it.
Sam knows that, as much as Dean loves pie, he’s never made one. Plus, Sam’s the one who’s done the research. And he is so not sharing the ice water he has chilling in the fridge, which the Baking with Julia cookbook he checked out of the library assures him is the secret to good piecrust.
Dean takes a swig of his beer. “You’re on.” He carries his bowl over to the sink and turns the tap on for a slash of water.
Sam doesn’t try really hard to hide his smirk when Dean’s crust tears into a hundred pieces as he tries to lift it off the counter and put it in the pie pan. Dean patiently patches all the pieces together, pressing the edges with his fingers. Dean's only made enough for a bottom crust. He’s going to have to start over for the top crust.
Sam’s crust, well, he doesn’t get it exactly right the first time, so he mashes it back together in a ball, then rolls it out again. The second time, it peels off the counter in one beautiful round piece, and he lays it in the pie plate like a silk sheet.
Meanwhile, Dean has bogarted all the apples he’d peeled and now is looking through a cookbook while Sam peels more for his own pie. “What are those little black specks that are in doughnuts?” Dean asks. “I want those in my pie.”
“The pie recipe says cinnamon,” Sam says, gesturing towards the place where he has all the ingredients lined up.
Dean squints at the cinnamon. “No, that’s not right. Black specks.” He finds a recipe for doughnuts. “Huh. Pepper. And nutmeg.” He riffles through the cabinet and finds the nutmeg, grates some onto the apples, then reaches for the pepper grinder.
“Dean!” Sam yelps. “You can’t put pepper in an apple pie.”
“Why not? You can put it in a doughnut.”
Sam lunges for the pepper grinder, but Dean tucks it into his body and turns away. Sam jumps on him and starts pulling on his arms, and the next thing they know, they’re on the kitchen floor and Dean is yelling, “Worry about your own pie, bitch!” and Sam shoves him away, exasperated.
Sam pushes up from the floor, trying hard to remember why he thought any of this was a good idea. Dean hops up and stares Sam directly in the eye while grating the pepper over his pie in an exaggerated and deliberate fashion, glaring at Sam the whole time. Part of Sam wants to throw up his hands and storm out, but Dean looks so smug over there, and plus, Dean with flour freckles? Too hilarious for words.
This is how it goes. Sam cuts up two tablespoons of butter into sixteen precise cubes and places them evenly over the surface of his pie. Dean rummages around in the fridge, comes out with half a pint of heavy cream, and pours it over his apples, then tosses a handful or so of sugar on top of the whole mess.
Instead of making another crust for the top, Dean finds a recipe for streusel topping and mixes together flour, butter, and brown sugar with a fork. He sprinkles it generously over the top of his pie. Sam is only a little jealous, but he cuts a devil’s trap design into his top piecrust, hoping that he’ll get some style points. Besides, seriously? Pepper? Dean doesn’t stand a chance.
Both pies go in the oven at the same time. Dean looks around at all the mess— the apple peelings, the sugar spilled on the counter, the dishes piled in the sink— and pulls a totally fake and completely lame puppy dog face. “It’s my birthday, you’re going to do the dishes, right?
Sam opens his mouth to say “hell no,” but looks at Dean, who actually has a piece of apple peeling hanging out of the collar of his AD/DC tee-shirt, and just can’t. “OK,” he says, “but only because I feel bad for you and your sorry-ass pepper pie.”
Forty-five minutes later, Sam’s disheartened when they open the oven door and they take out the pies. Sure, his devil’s trap looks cool, but Dean’s streusel topping looks like heaven, all golden and crumbly. Still, he tells himself, the proof of the pudding is under the crust.
They let the pies cool slightly on the porch while Sam takes Dean out to the barn to show him his birthday present. It’s an old cast iron claw-foot bathtub that Sam found on the side of the road. They can restore it and Dean can take all the hot, soapy bubble baths he wants, water right up to his neck. Dean’s grinning as he looks at the scuffed and dirty tub, his eyes all green and sparkly, and Sam feels like it’s his own damn birthday he feels so good.
Sam has to laugh at himself. After all they have been through, his palms are getting sweaty over this of all things? He nervously brushes his bangs out of his eyes as Dean take the first bite of the devil trap pie.
“Well?” Sam can’t quite read the look on Dean’s face.
“It’s… it’s pretty good Sam.” Dean puts down his fork and wipes his mouth with his napkin.
Pretty good? Pretty good?!? He’s seen Dean get pretty close to having an actual-factual orgasm from pie. What’s up with this “pretty good” shit?
Sam purses his lips and grabs the fork. It takes him a little work to stab a piece, as the crust is a little hard, and… huh. Yeah, it’s good, but…
“There’s something missing,” he concedes.
“A soul,” Dean quips.
“Ha. Very funny. That never gets old, Dean. You think yours is going to be any better? Go ahead. Make my day,” Sam says, pushing forward a saucer with a piece of Dean’s pie on it. He briefly considers getting his camera to capture the look on Dean’s face when he tastes the pepper pie, but then figures, he better not rub it in. It’s Dean’s birthday after all, no need to humiliate him further.
Dean doesn’t hesitate, just takes a big old bite and stuffs it in his mouth. And… there’s the orgasm face. You can’t fake that one, no matter what Meg Ryan would have you believe.
“Oh my gawd, Sam, you have to try this,” Dean groans in between bites.
Who knew? Pepper in an apple pie actually is good. Really good. The apples are all spicy and fresh tasting, and the crust is flaky, and the topping… they eat spoonfuls of it mixed with vanilla ice cream, and their eyes roll back into their heads.
They eat until only one piece remains, which Dean guards ferociously with his fork. “That’s for my midnight snack, Sam. Hands off, and hand over the remote”
The first show Dean picks is Chopped on the Food Network.
Sam should have known.