HELLO! I am back, and with a bonus chapter for the Tophie story! YAAAAAY! I had planned on being done with this story, but I just couldn't resist after I got a cute idea. And it's been over a year since I first posted this story. *cries* Hopefully my writing has evolved for the better in these past 12 months. XD So, enjoy this surprise!
Also, would anyone be interested in a retelling of when Tam and Sophie met (and when she introduced him and Linh to the rest of her friends), only this time, Tam is actually interested in Sophie, and not Biana? It would just be a one bonus chapter in this story. Not sure about the POV(s), it's still a "beginning stages" idea. Anyway, here we go!
"This is hopeless!"
Tam sunk into a chair and buried his face in his hands. I looked at him with sympathy and reached out to pat his shoulder. He sent me a glare through his fingers, and I snatched my hand back.
Maybe consolation wasn't the best choice of action right now. It might just be safer to leave him alone.
Or have him take a shower.
But I'm probably not making any sense. I'll just backtrack a few hours ago, and walk you through the course of events that led to Tam's...less-than-happy mood.
"Come on, Tam! Pleeeeeease?"
I was whining, quite loudly too. It was complete with my mastered puppy-dog eyes and hand clasping. I was even in Foxfire's cafeteria, though not many of the prodigies were paying attention to me. My friends were snickering up a storm though. I was the epitome of pathetic.
It was perfect.
"Ugh, okay," Tam finally relented. "I'll teach you how to make mallowmelt." It honestly hadn't taken that much for him to crack. I knew my heartbroken eyes had power.
I jumped up in the air and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
He did his small smile and hesitantly kissed the top of my head. He was still a little bit wary about PDA. He claimed he didn't want people to think we were childish. I told him it was because he wanted to keep his "Shade, emo" image, which made him roll his eyes and tell me to shut up.
"I suppose it won't be that bad. But why didn't Edaline want to teach you? Am I really your first choice?"
"You're always my first choice, Tam," I confirmed sweetly. What I didn't tell him was that Edaline had permanently banned me from the kitchen after a certain...incident. No way would she agree to teaching me how to make mallowmelt, even if I wanted to make some for Tam for Valentine's Day (which was today). Plus, everyone else was "busy." Tam was literally my last option. But maybe it would make the surprise that much better. "But do you think we can do it at Tiegran's place?"
Biana let out a giggle and I shot her a glare.
Tam raised a suspicious eyebrow. Are you hiding something?
I jumped. He was shadow whispering. Geez, warn a girl.
I gave him by best innocent smile. "Of course not. Please?" He sighed and nodded. "Cool! We'll go over there after school. I'll just hail my parents before we leap."
Lunch was ending, and people around the room started to get up and put their trays back. Before leaving, Keefe clasped a hand on Tam's shoulder. "Good luck, man," he said solemnly.
"Yeah," Fitz added, laughing, "You're going to need it!"
I stuck my tongue out at both of them. I would do this, and I would impress Tam with my delicious treats. Absolutely nothing would go wrong.
I rang the doorbell to Tiergan's house. It was huge. Not as big as Havenfield or Everglen, but still decent-sized. It was mostly made of long, winding towers of a sparkling blue crystal.
I'd been held up by one of my Mentors, who wanted me to go over an assignment I was having trouble with. I'd told Tam to go ahead and I'd meet him up later.
"Hey," Tam said as he opened the door. "Are you ready?" I blinked a few times as I took him in. His top was t-shirt like; off-white, short arms, and tight-fitting. Smooth, muscular curves showed through that were harder to see under the normal long-sleeved shirts he wore. His pants were black and loose fitting. The standard cape was gone. His arms were crossed as he leaned casually against the door frame, only making his biceps more pronounced.
He saw me staring and looked down at himself, cheeks flushed. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Sorry, I didn't want to wear all the stuffy, nice crap while we were cooking. But I can go change..."
"No!" I blurted, then felt my cheeks flame. I hid behind my hair and heard him chuckle.
"Come on," he said softly, taking my hand and pulling me in to the house. "It's time to teach you how to make mallomelt." He led me through the house, which had a color scheme of blue and white. Then we entered a big, pristine kitchen with fancy-looking appliances. Most of the ingredients were already out on the kitchen island in the center of the room.
I took a deep breath. I was ready to bake! I knew that I could do it!
I started to fiddle with my crest, so I could unclasp it and take off my cape. It was stuck, so I played around with it a bit more. Tam was nervously moving ingredients around and taking out more bowls then I think we probably needed.
"So," I started, trying to break the silence, "where are Tiegran and Linh?"
His head lifted to look at me with his grayish blue eyes. "Tiegran's on some errands in Atlantis, and Linh is hanging out with Biana."
"Ah, of course those two are together. Probably scheming." I was still focused on my crest. The thing just wouldn't come off!
"Here, let me help you." Tam walked over gracefully, his movements were like a cat's. The room was silent as his hand reached up to fiddle with the clasp that was across my chest. He eventually got it undone, and slid the cape off my shoulders. "There," he said, his voice rough. I just nodded, my breathing low. "You're going to need your gloves off too."
He gently tugged off each of my blue, silk gloves. One. Then two. He was standing so close. His head tilted down to meet mine.
Then he coughed nervously, shooting his arms back down to his sides. He spun around on his heels. "We should get started."
I just rolled my eyes and sighed. Oh, Tam. "Yeah, we probably should."
What the heck was wrong with me? Why would I do that? Darn it, Sophie! Why did you make me feel so nervous? You're my girlfriend, for darns sake! I should have had things under control. I always have things under control.
I could have kissed her. No one's home. We're completely alone. And I chickened out of it. Why am I such an idiot?
I watched her stuff her gloves into a pocket and set the cape over a chair. Then she rose her arms in the air, stretching, and I tried not to stare at the bit of midriff that was showing between the hem of her shirt and the top of her skirt.
Darn it, Tam, I chided myself. Get it together!
She came over and stood next to me. I took a deep breath. I could do this. And I would definitely kiss her by the end of this. I just have to work up the nerve…
I had no idea what I was doing. Yeah, sure I had helped Biana with those cupcakes, but that was human food. My mother had made cupcakes loads of times, for basically any celebration. This, however, was mallowmelt. Delicious, ever-complicated, mallowmelt.
"No!" Tam cried, snatching the container of sugar out of my hand.
"What?" I asked confused. "You said we needed a cup of sugar!"
He groaned. "This is salt." He showed me the label. Sure enough, "Salt" was written on the side in big, black letters.
"Why do you even have salt on the table?" I grumbled.
"Because we're going to need a teaspoon of it. Most baking recipes call for salt, but not that much of it. Salt helps it cook, and also adds to the flavor of some other stuff, like butter."
"This is so complicated," I whined.
Tam just sighed. "Teaching you is what's complicated."
"Hey!" I cried. Tam answered with a grin. A little batter had gotten on his finger and he wiped it on my nose. I tried looking at it and Tam laughed at my cross-eyes.
He poured in the sugar, then let me stir it. "Come on, let's poor it in this pan over here, and then we'll put it in the oven."
This time was the charm, I was sure. It was our fourth attempt. I'd managed to screw something up every single attempt. But this batch was the winner.
Behind us was a counter with a rectangular cooking pan. I picked up the bowl of batter, but as I was turning around, I twisted my feet.
It happened in slow motion.
One second the bowl was in my hand, the next second, me and the bowl were on the ground. However, the batter had gone in quite a different direction.
I slowly lifted up my head to stare a shock-still Tam, who was dripping with sticky batter.
I laughed nervously. "Um…oops?"
Tam sank into a chair at the kitchen table. "This is hopeless!"
And that's how we got to where we are now.
Four different times. Four. Hours of dancing around each other awkwardly, and me never making a move. Now I was all gross and covered with batter. Neither of us had accomplished anything.
I don't know why she asked me for help anyway. I'm an awful teacher. I couldn't help Linh back in Exillum, when she was struggling in the water. That was Sophie, who'd gotten her through it. I hadn't really done anything for Linh; I just dragged myself along and convinced myself I was making things better. But even though I was there, I hadn't been the one to help us get out of the mess; that was Sophie too.
So it really was hopeless for her to be around me. I was useless.
I peeked through my fingers to glimpse Sophie, but what I saw made me sit up in alarm. Oh crap.
She was crying.
Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.
"Hey, hey, Sophie? What's wrong? I'm not really mad, okay? You don't have to cry."
She wasn't full on sobbing, there weren't even that many tears. But I'd caught a glimpse of red, watery eyes before her head shot to the floor and yellow hair curtained her face.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, her voice raspy.
"It's not a big deal," I replied. "It was just mallomelt."
"I'm sorry," she said again. "It was supposed to be for you. For Valentine's Day. I asked everyone else to help me, but they were busy, and Edaline won't let me back on the kitchen. She offered to make it for me, but I wanted to make it myself. But I knew I was awful at it. I thought I could do it. I'm sorry." She wiped her eyes with a hand.
She was making it for me? Valentine's Day…wasn't that a human holiday? I think I'd heard her talk about it before. People who liked each other gave each other candy…
"Sophie?" No answer. She didn't move. "Sophie, look at me."
Gradually, her eyes met mine. "It's okay if you messed up a little." She choked again. "It won't change anything. I-I'm happy that you tried, okay? I should have taught you better. I like you a lot, Sophie. You don't have to be upset." I gave her a smile to reassure her, then looked down at myself. "And don't worry about the batter. People are always saying I'm too sour anyway."
She sniffed and laughed. Then her arms were around my neck, and she was hugging me tightly. I was surprised for a bit, but then I hugged her back.
"I'm getting batter all over you," I whispered, my nose in her hair. It smelled like strawberries.
"I don't care," she answered back, her face against my chest. "I like you too, Tam. So much."
I wove a hand into her hair. Her head rose and looked up at me. I leaned down, and pressed my lips against her sweet, pink ones.
She tasted like sugar and butterscotch. I smiled to myself; she'd been sneaking the candy we were using for the mallowmelt.
Her hands tightened and tangled in my own hair, pulling me forward, to which I obliged.
She broke away, both of us breathing hard. She smirked. "I know you're internally congratulating yourself."
I rolled my eyes. I was about to tell her to shut up, but decided my mouth could to a better job. She gasped as I kissed her again.
Who cared if we'd messed up the mallowmelt? Who cared if we were both a little crazy (and maybe just a little broken)?
We had each other.
"I love you, Sophie," I whispered lowly.
I know she heard me.
You know you have problems when you have an epic debate with yourself on whether a character's hair should smell like strawberries or flowers. I don't know why, both are equally cliché. But thank you everyone for reading and enjoying this story! Again, comment if you want to see that other short story, and tell me what you think of this chapter! And if you haven't already, it would be great if you checked out my "The Ships!" story (with mini short-stories for all your favorite KOTLC ships) and my current story, "Love Plus One," where Sophie's childhood best friend (my own character) comes to the Lost Cities and really gets on Keefe's and Fitz's nerves. *evil smile*