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The first thing Carlos hears after opening his apartment door is Junpei's voice: " - isn't Schrödinger's cake, Kanny. I can't just SHIFT to a timeline where I open the oven and it's alive again."

"But the critical decision point would be the moment you chose a recipe," Akane says, and it's immediately obvious when she notices Carlos from her spot on the kitchen benchtop as she tries and fails to hide her smile. "In another timeline you might have picked a different one. If you were to SHIFT to that one - "

"No SHIFTing in my apartment," Carlos says, only half-joking, and Junpei whirls around. Carlos gives him a moment to hide the guilt on his face as he sets down the bags of groceries on a table, carrying the perishables to the fridge. "Especially after last time. What happened to the cake?"

The oven's turned off, the door shut, but when Carlos snags the handle from Junpei's reluctant grasp he sees the results inside: overbaked, charred around the edges, and strangely flat. "This is a SHIFTing-worthy disaster," Carlos says, attempting to keep a straight face, and Akane muffles her laugh as Junpei groans.

"Gang up on me, why don't you," he says. "I was trying to make a cake for you. You were bringing Maria home tonight, weren't you?"

"Yeah," Carlos says, and double-checks his phone again. No new calls, which is probably good news. "If everything goes well."

"It will." Akane speaks with enough surety Carlos wonders if she's checked the morphogenetic field. "And you bought a cake already, right, Carlos?"

He really shouldn't be surprised at the things she knows by now. "What, seriously?" Junpei says, and puts his face in his hands. "You couldn't have told me earlier?"

"It was Schrödinger's cake," Akane says. "This could have been the timeline where Carlos decided not to buy a cake, but we wouldn't know until we opened the box - the moment when he came home."

Carlos, amused, slides the box over the counter to her, and she flips open the lid. It's terribly cheesy, Carlos knows, done up in Maria's favorite colors and a giant 'Welcome Home' plastered across the top, but it makes even Junpei smile, a fond quirk of his mouth that makes Carlos want to kiss him.

So he does, up against the counter, and finds himself grinning at Junpei's red cheeks as he pulls away. "You can't just - "

"He can," Akane says, and kisses Junpei on the cheek nearest her, then holds out her hand and pulls Carlos in for his own. "Yes, I think this is the best timeline after all."

It will be, once Maria comes home.

But he's got a few hours. Carlos extracts the remnants of a cake from the oven and starts setting out bowls. "Here, let me show you how this goes."