Pairing: Cake/Tea; Ahim/Everyone woooh
Notes: For Em emothy (surprise! It’s not highschool!au though); and totally stealzorz that Navi!prediction from Sid Gomez Hidalwa.
001. Cooking Lesson
At times like this, Don and Joe are so close to stamping a neon red nuclear sign on the kitchen door instead of hanging a “Do not disturb sign” which has no authoritarian effect on the captain because, Don quotes, it’s his ship and he can disturb anything or anyone, for that matter.
Well goddamn him and his Thanksgiving dinner, Joe thinks as he sifts a cup of rice flour with one hand while the other pushes Don on the general direction of the vegetable peeler. “Hakase, cancel the cable subscription. Marvelous shouldn’t be allowed to watch the Food Network, especially Martha Stewart.”
Don looks at him as if Joe wants him to sign his death certificate—it’s not even Christmas yet. “He gave me a non-stick pan for my birthday though,” The shorter man tells him, trying to appease Joe’s temper.
“He gave me a blender for pureeing strawberry jam” Joe huffs, Don hopes that it is a sign of resignation. Joe retrieves another set of measuring cups from the cupboard and takes a step back as he watches Don work his magic on the tonkatsu curry. Don dips a small ladle on the sauce and brings it to his lips. With a self-satisfied smile, he adds another pinch of salt.
“Don’t you have to have a specific amount for that?” Joe walks over and secures the loose apron on the younger man’s back.
“Eh, no, not really. It’s quite different from baking.” Don makes space to accommodate Joe. “Cooking and baking are different…” He pauses to think of a word that will be more relatable for the other man. “They have different techniques. Baking is more of precision, I suppose. Whereas, cooking is a bit experimental, more of a trial and error until you achieve the perfect taste. Though that in itself is very subjective.” He takes a spoon and motions for Joe to try it.
Joe nods in approval as he rolls the thick sauce on his tongue. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll mess it up?”
Don hides a smile and adjusts the heat on the stove. “I worry about a lot of things. I worry about worrying! So when I cook, I get a break from that. I don’t even worry if Marvelous will like it or not.”
He nudges Joe on the side with a knowing smile on his face. “You’re great at baking Joe, being accurate and precise and going through the right process but you should try cooking some time.” Don turns back and tries if the potatoes and carrots are boiled enough. “And maybe you can chuck in an extra spoonful of hot pepper on Captain’s bowl.”
002. Love is not patient.
Today's July is what Joe calls a lukewarm night; not too warm, not too cold. He is not the superstitious kind but he nods his head appreciatively when Don tells him that this kind of wind brings good luck.
Or not. He slips in beside his captain whose eyes are carefully strained on the kitchen, probably hoping that Hakase is making himself busy with dinner. He tries his best not to roll his eyes and lets it wander to Ahim instead, at least she has a more calming effect—the slight swish of the hem of her dress reminds him of how bamboo trees whispers during his training sessions in the woods.
"You know," Marvelous starts as he nudges Joe with a booted foot. "Even if some people stay available for the longest time, there's no assurance that they would still be free--" He makes an effort to wave a hand to make his point. "--Tomorrow or the day after that. Waiting and being patient are two different things." Marvelous crosses his arms against his chest and gives him a rather sardonic smile. "Like now, I am waiting for dinner but I'm not being entirely patient about it."
Joe watches his captain as the other stalks to the kitchen with a grace he can never quite explain.
003. Love is believing.
"I like a girl." Joe tells Luka one night after breaking a new sit-up record. His hands have turned clammy and the muscles on his biceps are continually sending contracting waves throughout his body.
"You're not my type Joe," Luka responds without looking at him; she imagines Joe's face, all flustered and confused. She finally turns around and smiles at him. "I've always thought of you as a brother."
He is flustered alright. "I'm taking my leave if you're not going to take me seriously." But he doesn't leave; he leans on a pillar and takes interest on the dark canopy of sky around them, few stars shine brightly at the horizon.
"It took you long enough to realize that." She throws him a punch—one that is real enough for him to let out a low groan as it connected squarely on his shoulder. “Rather, it took you long enough to convince yourself that you do like her.”
“Luka, I like her that way.”
“Are you asking permission from me?” She raises her eyebrows. His tensed shoulders answer for him. “If you do, then you don’t deserve her.” She catches his eyes and knows that she has slightly wounded him. She doesn’t regret it because she knows she has to make it count. “I like her too. We all like her, in our own different ways. Don likes her gentleness; Marvelous likes her courage; and I love her, more than I can ever love a family if I ever had one. I love her more than you will ever do perhaps. But right now you are being ignorant and careful—too careful Joe.”
“Nothing ever makes sense, Luka.” Joe speaks up after a while. He doesn’t move from where he is, but his eyes are lighter, his posture more relaxed.
“Hey, I’m a thief, I take what I want. And you’re a soldier Joe, you fight for what you believe in.”
Joe goes to bed that night thinking if he believes enough.
004. Love is courage.
He talks to Sid in his dreams. In his dreams he is what Joe used to know him—a brother, a father, a friend. Your strength is not yours alone, it is also with your friends.
But you can’t be afraid to tread another path because that is being selfish. Because you don’t know what she wants—I do—Is it what you want?—Yes—Then go. Go like the first time you wielded that sword. Go like the first time you went down and went back up to prove me wrong.
005. When Navi shoots up in the air, hits her head on the ceiling, lands near Joe’s feet and mumbles something entirely irrelevant for Marvelous and totally essential for him, Joe finishes the last of his crunches and seeks for Ahim.
When he finally stopped kissing her, Joe found himself staring again at Ahim’s mouth. Surely it surprised her as it did him but when he felt her hands sweep on his heaving chest, and her eyes heavily lidded with—with something he is not quite familiar with—he changed his mind and instantly went in for another kiss.
“I wouldn’t kiss you if it were not love.”