DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.
For as long as Isis could remember, whenever she tried to cook something, someone would stop her.
Sometimes it was her little brother Malik, sometimes her older brother Odion, it had even sometimes been her 'little brother' Marik, since he'd started living with them. These days, it was usually all three of them, plus any friends that were there at the time. It wasn't only a recent occurrence, though. Even as a little girl; her earliest memories were of being shooed away from the kitchen by her mother.
Isis knew she wasn't particularly good at cooking, but surely she wasn't so bad that the panic of those who stopped her was truly warranted? Not to mention how everyone kept a close eye on her if she went into the kitchen for a simple glass of water. It was as if they were expecting her to blow the room up just by looking at the stove, for Ra's sake!
She had put up with it for years but, this Christmas, Isis was determined that it was all going to change. She had a plan. She just needed to wait for the right time.
Although finding the right time on the day before Christmas required more patience than usual.
That morning had been taken up with an urgent dash to the shops, after Odion had informed her that they were out of the sparkly gold ribbon that Marik adored with half his presents still needing to be wrapped. Isis had then spent the afternoon wrapping the remaining gifts and repeatedly losing the tape and scissors while Odion had worked in the kitchen, filling their apartment with the aromas of roast turkey, cinnamon buns, gingerbread cookies and shortbread.
Not exactly traditional fare for either Egypt or Japan, but after Ryou had told Malik and Marik about the English Christmas he was planning for himself and his Yami, the boys had begged Odion to make them some of the delicious treats too. He hadn't needed much persuasion. Odion could easily be talked into anything that meant he got to research and try out new recipes. His known fondness for shortbread probably hadn't hurt the boys' cause, either.
Odion had finished in the kitchen just before dinner, which had been their usual family meal with Malik and Marik talking excitedly and finishing each others sentences while Odion inched the sugar bowl out of their reach bit by bit so they wouldn't notice him doing so. Isis had eaten quietly and smiled at her little brothers' exuberance, while reminding them that if they had more than three helpings of pudding, they'd be bouncing off the walls rather than quietly sleeping so Santa Claus could visit. They'd both pouted, but had reluctantly declared their pudding eating contest to be a draw.
After dinner, Malik and Marik had settled in front of the TV watching an anime Christmas episode marathon while Odion had headed off to a small Christmas event for the FBAS group he had joined a few months earlier.
Isis was glad that her older brother was finally doing something about his Fluffy Bunny magazine obsession, although she remained doubtful that the Fluffy Bunny Appreciation Society was quite ready for Odion's costume-making skills. They had been honed to perfection through the past year, when Marik's random requests for special outfits had reached all new levels of complexity. She was particularly glad that Odion had gone to the group's party, though.
It meant he was now out of the way and her plan could be put into action.
She slipped silently out of her study and made her way to her bedroom, collecting her special item before making her way to the kitchen. She was extra careful there. Bakura, the former Thief King, would have been proud of her stealth. Fortunately, she and Odion had both perfected the ability to open the refridgerator door silently, long ago. It was a necessary skill in a household containing Malik and Marik. Even so, she paused after closing the door again, listening to her younger brothers laughing at what they were watching.
Isis smiled. It was good to hear them both so happy. She caught herself about to hum and barely managed to stop it. This was no time to get sentimental as that could easily lead to carelessness. She had come too far to stop now!
The rest of her plan was simple and she managed it quickly and easily, no problems at all. She was smiling as she slipped the pan into the oven. It was all done! Now she just had to wait until it cooked. She again barely kept herself from humming as she went back to her study to wait.
The first sign that something was very wrong came five minutes later, when Isis thought she smelled smoke. She was heading for the door when the apartment's smoke alarm went off. As she ran to the kitchen, she heard Malik and Marik calling out for her, their voices as worried as they were scared.
"Isis? Isis something's wrong!" Malik was still in the living room.
"Sister Isis? Where are you?" Marik was not still in the living room.
"Malik, Marik! I am fine. Go to the front door but stay inside. I do not believe there is a fire." She wasn't lying. While there was quite a bit of smoke, there was no sound of crackling flames and the air felt no hotter or thinner than usual. It was just smokey and Isis knew it was the smoke that set off the alarm.
"But Sister Isis…" Marik sounded closer.
"Marik. Go. Now." Isis did not often use her 'stern big sister' voice, but when she did, her brothers all knew she was serious. She heard Marik moving towards the front door as she entered the kitchen.
One look at the smoke pouring out of the oven and Isis winced.
One look through the oven door, however, and Isis knew a moment of fear unlike anything she had felt. Even the time Malik had become trapped in the Shadow Realm Void while trying to rescue his dark half paled in comparison.
Isis could see flames burning at the back of the oven.
Glancing around for inspiration, Isis suddenly remembered something Odion had once told her about their kitchen. It had been just after they moved in. He had been delighted to find that the apartment's kitchen included a switch that could cut the power to both the oven and the stovetop at the same time. It was there for emergencies.
Isis decided this counted as such.
As soon as she hit the switch, Isis checked on the fire through the oven door. She was relieved to see the flames were dying out quickly. When she was sure the flames were entirely gone, Isis carefully opened the door. The black smoke that poured out made her cough, but she had already turned on the room's exhaust fan so it wasn't long before the smoke had been cleared and she could finally get an idea of the damage.
As Isis looked into the oven, she was dimly aware that the smoke alarm had finally stopped, as well. Her attention was so focused on what she was looking at, it was some time before she realised that she was being watched. She glanced over at the doorway, trying not to look as guilty as she felt.
Malik looked stunned and couldn't seem to get any words out, his mouth opening and closing silently. Marik, however, had not lost his ability to speak.
"Sister Isis, is the oven dead now?" He looked worried.
"I do not…" Isis looked at the smouldering and blackened back of the oven before looking at Marik again. "Possibly."
Marik looked even more worried. "Does that mean no Christmas tomorrow?"
That, at least, Isis could answer easily. "Not at all, Marik." She spoke softly. "Odion did all the cooking for tomorrow earlier, remember? Everything is ready for tomorrow."
Marik breathed a sigh of relief and nodded, then looked curiously at her. "That's good. But if Odion had everything cooked, what did he leave in the oven?" Malik looked curiously at her too and nodded in agreement.
"He doesn't usually leave stuff in the oven," Malik contributed.
"Maybe he's having a mid-life crisis?" Marik offered helpfully. He looked like he rather liked that idea.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Marik's comment almost made Isis smile. Almost. "I am afraid not, Marik. Odion did not leave anything in the oven. I…" She took a deep breath. "I was making something for everyone. It was to be a surprise for lunch tomorrow." She frowned slightly and turned to eye the oven. "I do not know what happened. It worked perfectly for Odion all afternoon."
Marik's voice drew Isis from her thoughts. "Malik? Malik? Sister Isis, I think Malik is in shock."
Isis turned to see Malik staring at her, his eyes and mouth wide open. "Isis tried to cook. I didn't stop her. Odion is gonna kill me!" She could barely make out his mumbling.
"I hardly think Odion will kill you because something went wrong with the oven, Malik." Her voice came out a little sharper than she had intended. It had definitely not been her fault. Probably.
The silence was interrupted by the sound Isis least wanted to hear at that moment. The soft squeak of the front door opening sent a chill down her spine. Her eyes moved to Marik and Malik and she went to speak, but that chill had made her too slow. Marik was already running out of the room, his voice easily heard by those still in the kitchen.
"Brother Odion! Guess what? Isis burned the kitchen down but it wasn't Malik's fault so you're not to kill him! Please do not kill my Light!"
Isis winced, then sighed heavily and turned back to the oven. If she had to face the music, at least she could help with the clean-up first. It might make him more lenient with her.
She had her surprise out of the oven and was surveying the remnants of it when she felt a presence behind her. Isis didn't need the Millennium Necklace to tell her who it was. She spoke softly. "Forgive me, brother. I have no idea how this happened. I merely wished to make a surprise for all of you."
Odion sighed behind her and she felt his hand patting her head with his usual gentleness. "What setting did you use?"
"The one on the packet." She held it over his shoulder and waited as he looked at it. "What did I do wrong?"
Marik's cheerful voice piped up. "You cooked."
"Marik! Shush!" Malik must have elbowed his dark half as Marik made a surprised sound.
"But she did! What was she trying to make, anyway?" He was coming nearer as he spoke.
Isis moved aside slightly so all three of her brothers could see the remains of her surprise, now sitting on the kitchen counter. The round cake tin was slightly blackened around the edges, but it was nothing to the charcoal mass within. It looked like a cake, but the top had burned until it was as black as the deepest shadows. As the silence stretched, Isis sighed softly. "It was a Christmas cake."
Marik leaned forward and sniffed it delicately. "At least it's cooked."
Odion shook his head. "A fire in an oven will cause the outside to cook, or even burn, as it is very hot. It is likely the inside is not cooked, however."
Of course, that prompted Marik to poke the top. It didn't even dent. He poked it again and a thin stream of uncooked cake mix oozed out of a spot on the opposite side of the cake. Marik made a delighted sound and grinned.
"Hey! I know what we can do with it!" He looked around at his siblings, his eyes bright with mischief. "I forgot to get Kaiba a present. I can give this to him and say it's one of those really fancy and pricey cakes with a fancy filling. He'll be too embarrassed that he doesn't recognise what kind it is to mention it to anyone, so no one will tell him otherwise. Why are you all laughing?"
Isis shook her head and smiled gently at Marik. "There is a cake box in my study. I had planned to present this one properly to all of you tomorrow."
As she watched Marik run off to get the box, she shook off her disappointment over what had happened. Her plan to get her family to acknowledge that she was not a disaster area in the kitchen had failed, but it had not been a complete waste of time. At least the Christmas Party at Seto Kaiba's the following evening promised to be amusing.