Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
[Extra] The Decisive Battle of Birthdays Part 3
The day this fateful battle would be held was on Rick’s birthday, since it happened to be a day off for both of them.
And on that day, the birthday party that they’d planned was sure to take place. Alas, that day has finally come.
Rick arrived at Davis’ house with shopping bags hanging from both arms. He had also previously come to this place to fill the fridge with the groceries that he’d bought the other day. Once inside, he found the bear blowing up balloons in the living room.
Davis was not aerating the balloons directly through his mouth, but was using a gas can instead. The balloon was tied as soon as it inflated, then he released it so it would stay afloat until it touched the ceiling. Several other balloons were crowding the ceiling already.
“What are you doing?” Rick asked.
As Rick pointed to the ceiling, which was almost entirely covered with balloons, Davis folded his arms and claimed that it was for decoration.
“You’re using this many balloons to decorate?” Rick asked in disbelief.
“Yes,” Davis confirmed.
As he said so, Davis filled another balloon with gas and released it up to the ceiling.
A dumbfounded Rick just silently watched from the sidelines. “Huh…”
“You know,” Davis broke the silence, “About our birthday party…”
As Rick was still gazing at the ceiling with a perplexed expression, Davis talked while his hands kept working on the balloons.
Davis continued, “I’ve been wondering what I should do for the party for quite a while before this.”
“Huh?” Rick was surprised. “You too?”
Davis didn’t understand his question. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, never mind…” Rick quickly brushed it off. “Then? Did you come up with an idea after a while?”
Unlike Rick, Davis was more experienced in his dating life and had gone out with several people before this, even the squirrel had heard about it way before they started dating. Until now, if Rick asked, Davis wouldn’t shy away from revealing everything about his previous relationships.
Davis responded, “Well, I’ve never had a birthday party at my house like this. So, I consulted my colleagues for suggestions.”
Rick hung his mouth agape, “I… did the same…”
His mumbling didn’t seem to reach Davis’ ears. The bear continued his story.
“First, I was told to decorate the house if it’s where the party would be held. So I bought every single thing that they recommended to me.”
“Every single… thing?”
Rick stared at Davis’ feet as the bear plopped himself onto the couch and sighed. There were not only balloons they lay there – wall stickers, garlands, and… more flowers than usual could be seen placed inside the vases in the living room if he looked carefully.
“I really wanted to get this done before you got here, but I was very busy yesterday.”
It was quite a funny feeling to see Davis working on the balloons with his large back all curled up. He must have especially taken some time off from his busy work schedule to buy all these things on his own after he’d gotten the advice from his colleagues.
To be frank, the image of Davis filling up balloons to decorate the house really didn’t suit him. Rick would’ve burst out laughing at the scene, but he couldn’t. The fact that Davis was taking this special day very seriously warmed Rick’s heart.
“Then, I will do my best too… I will put my heart into cooking…!”
Rick wished Davis the best, then proceeded to the kitchen with his shopping bags in tow.
Once Davis was done decorating the place beautifully, Rick would reward him with a scrumptious feast.
After all, they’d promised to celebrate each others’ birthdays in a fancy, grand gesture. Hence, Rick would make sure that the promise was fulfilled on his end too.
The first on the menu was the fish pie. Its filling was made by sautéing vegetables and spices in butter, then seasoning with salt and pepper for taste, and finally mixing in flour, cream, and almond powder, which was a special ingredient. Rick poured the filling on the pie sheet that he had prepared yesterday and topped it with shredded fish sprinkled with salt and pepper. He put another layer of the pie sheet on top, coated it with egg yolk and placed the pie into the oven before leaving it to bake.
Next, Rick took out the beef that he had roasted yesterday from the fridge to check on its current condition. He sliced a tiny bit and popped it into his mouth to taste… brilliant. He then placed some potatoes into a pot of water to make mashed potatoes and serve it with the roasted beef.1
Thereafter, Rick quickly began to prepare a mustard salad consisting of white asparagus and marinated octopus on a plate. Since it would taste better chilled, he placed the salad into the space formerly filled by the roast beef in the fridge.
For the nut stew, Rick decided to make the soup light, since the fish pie would provide a strong aftertaste, due to the sauce that accompanied it. For this, all he had to do was to chop the ingredients, simmer them in a pot, and add seasonings.
Lastly, for the spinach ravioli, pintxos2 with olives and blue cheese, and stir-fried green beans with garlic. All of these together would be perfect as snacks.
After all the preparations were done, Rick put the flour, sugar, eggs, and butter on the counter. Now, it was time to make the cake.
Rick hurriedly set up a bowl with a flour sifter, a hand mixer, and a scale, and rolled up his sleeves after everything was set up on the counter.
With great enthusiasm, Rick started to work on the flour first.
He had been wondering for a long time on what kind of cake he should make, and finally decided on it two days ago.
Rick hoped that Davis would love this one.
He wanted to see Davis’ smile, followed by words like “delicious” from the bear’s mouth.
For that sake, Rick put everything he had to make this the best cake he had ever made.
“So, um, let’s try again…”
Rick lifted his glass of champagne. Davis followed suit, raising his glass as well.
Davis finished it for Rick pretty easily, much to the squirrel’s relief. Nevertheless, Rick wished again, but for Davis’ birthday this time. The bear narrowed his eyes and nodded before he uttered his thanks.
Rick took a sip of the champagne, its pungent taste made the fur on his tail stand on edge.
“Nnh,” Rick yelped a bit.
It was the first time he had tried champagne in his life, and the actual taste was different from what he had imagined. He thought it would taste like a sweet carbonated drink, but it wasn’t sweet at all. Moreover, it had a strong taste of liquor.
“Rick, no need to force yourself to drink.”
After all, the champagne was prepared by Davis.
Rick just accepted the glass of champagne without further thought. The champagne came in a nice-looking box, so he guessed that it was probably high quality.
“Oh no, I’ll drink it slowly. Sorry about that.”
Rick took another sip, maybe it would taste better once he got used to it… a distinct bitterness spread throughout his tongue, causing him to gag. Davis immediately apologized, rushing to the kitchen to fetch an empty glass and a bottle of grape juice.3
“You should drink this one instead,” Davis suggested.
“Mmh… I’m sorry, to think you went through the trouble of preparing the champagne.”
It seemed that Davis wouldn’t normally buy such a luxurious-looking champagne, unless it was for a special occasion like this.
Besides the champagne, Davis had decorated the room so it would feel like a birthday party. The balloons that had been floating around were now tied up with beautiful ribbons, the walls were decorated with fancy stickers, the lighting was more subdued than usual, and decorative candles were placed on the table, which were surrounded by flowers.
“It doesn’t look like the living room I’m used to,” Rick commented. “It’s exciting.”
Davis smiled satisfyingly. He took Rick’s glass of champagne and traded it with a glass of grape juice.
Rick chuckled, “I’m glad that we settled for a more reserved party. I thought we would be popping crackers or something.”
“Oh…” Davis realized. “I forgot the crackers.”
Seeing him cupping his chin with his hand in realization, Rick couldn’t help but smile.
Then, looking at the table, Davis opened his mouth, “Rick, the menu looks great. It’s really mouthwatering.”
Rick proudly snickered in response.
He scratched his cheek and observed the food on the table. From one end to the other, all of Davis’ favorite dishes were lined up.
“Everything looks delicious,” Davis commented again.
Rick felt relieved. “I’m happy to hear that. It’s for the party after all, I wanted to give it my all.”
Davis’ eyes were sparkling as he gazed at the menu with genuine delight.
Davis added, “I’m really happy that you made all of my favorite foods for my birthday party. I’m truly indebted to you.”
“Indebted to me, huh?”
Rick laughed a little at Davis’ manner of phrasing as he took a sip of the grape juice. A sweet and slightly sour taste spread in his mouth, which Rick found to be much more acceptable than the champagne.
Rick didn’t need to force himself to do something he couldn’t enjoy. He had a lover who would accept him just the way he is.
Rick also wanted to appreciate Davis’ effort. “I’m indebted to you too. You’re tired after a long day at work, but you did such a great job at decorating the place…”
“Well… I was having fun,” Davis replied.
Davis explained, “It was no sweat off my back. I had fun throughout. Just thinking about how you would react to this room made me… tremendously happy.”
Rick widened his eyes at his words. What Davis was saying was…
“I… was also thinking about you, while I was cooking…” Rick confessed.
They harbored the same feelings for each other, after all.
Thinking about the menu for the birthday party, buying the food, and cooking were not hard at all, since what Rick only had in mind was only the face Davis would make when he saw all of his favorite dishes, and it filled the squirrel with excitement. He wanted to serve his lover as soon as possible, but at the same time he was nervous about it, which left him with a strangely pleasant feeling.
“To think celebrating birthdays is so much fun, even when you’re just preparing for them,” Rick said.
They exchanged smiles with each other.
“You’re right. It’s my first time enjoying it this much,” Davis responded. “With you, Rick, I get to experience a lot of firsts.”
Davis said it with a surprisingly sincere-looking face. Caught off guard, Rick’s mouth twitched. The squirrel’s thoughts harmonized with his, so he scratched his cheek and bowed his head towards the bear in gratitude.