Teaching the Teacher
By: Manna


xOx…

The Microfic/Drabble Meme
Requested by: Ribbon Scythe (Livejournal) Forced Simile (FFN)
Prompt: "Teaching the teacher."
Pairing/Characters: Raine/Regal
Fandom: Tales of Symphonia


xOx…

She had the distinct feeling that whatever it was that currently inhabited the pot she was stirring, it was something that nobody in the group would eat. Even Colette, with her cheerful, sweet attitude would cringe at the sight of it, and Raine didn't want to even think about how Zelos or Genis might react. She sighed, clearly frustrated, and dumped the contents of the stew—wait, was it supposed to be sticky?—into a nearby bush, ready to try again…well, not-so ready to try again.

She was tired and hungry and her back hurt and she had a headache, and no matter how much everyone protested at letting her cook, it was her turn dammit, and she really had to do her share of the work. She was an adult, and as such, she really ought to do a lot more than she did. Healing and staying behind the group when they charged into danger was something that made her feel…wrong?

Yes, she thought… She should be out there with them, fighting alongside them, but for some reason, she fought so defensively that it was a waste of everyone's time for her to attempt to be like the others. Even Colette had been forced to aid her at one time or another, when she'd taken on far more than she could handle.

She really wanted nothing more than to support them all in what they were doing, especially the children, because, despite her sometimes rather chilly exterior, she truly and deeply cared about them and the best was what they all deserved. Not only could she not defend them in battle, she couldn't even cook for them.

It seemed so small, and she wasn't sure why it bothered her so much, but it did. How many years, now, had Genis had to make his own birthday dinner at the last minute because she'd spent an entire day ruining it?

She stared blankly at the ingredients they had left. Eggs, some cheese, tomatoes and green peppers and salt and pepper and some ham that looked absolutely delicious that they'd managed to get just a few hours before. Now, what…?

Suddenly, it hit her. Omelets.

Now, how did one go about making them, she wondered, and was it even possible for her to attempt it without ruining everything again? She'd already wasted so much food, and that was a lot of money, and they didn't really have a lot of money to waste like that…and—

She set her chin stubbornly and filled the pot with water to soak it in… It would need washed, later, and she would do it herself. At least life had given her that one small gift. She could clean, she could organize, and she could do it without ruining or breaking anything.

Okay, she thought. Eggs, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, ham…

Oh, and oil…oil… She frowned when she finally located their supply. There wasn't much left, and she realized she'd have to make every bit count. The group couldn't afford to have her waste their supplies, especially when they couldn't even feed the ruined food to Noishe, for fear he'd bolt and not come back.

…Perhaps she should just call Genis over and ask him to cook, but… She sighed as she watched him push Lloyd jokingly off of the log the two were sitting on, and shook her head resolutely. No, she could do this… She could. Eventually, she would have to learn. Someday, Genis would be gone and she would be alone and she would likely starve to death because even she would be unable to stomach her own food.

She let the skillet heat overtop of the fire until the oil popped lightly in the pan. She ignored the slight stinging sensation of the burning oil occasionally hitting her exposed skin, and broke an egg into a smaller bowl, sighing a little before reaching for another one.

Her hand came into contact with something, but it definitely wasn't an egg…

"Raine." Regal stood there, looking mildly amused at the shocked expression on her face, his eyes flickering down to her hand—which was, admittedly, wrapped around part of the shackles that bound his hands—before he spoke again. "Shall I assist you?"

"Eh?" She wasn't feeling so spacey anymore, suddenly, and she drew her hand back as if the cool metal was as hot as lava. "N-no," she stammered, feeling a little strange and embarrassed at being caught in a less-than-aware state.

"Are you certain?"

"Yes." She set her chin, looking nothing short of stubborn, and broke another egg into the bowl, feeling relief fill her when she managed to do so without getting any bit of the shell mixed in. She was an adult, just as he was, but for some reason, she couldn't bear the thought of looking stupid in front of him. Perhaps it was because she was still young—so very young in half-elf years—and she was smart and knew it and didn't want anybody to ever think otherwise.

It was only too bad that she sucked at cooking.

"I'm not doing anything else, really," he said, crouching down beside her and watching her as she broke another egg into the bowl.

"I'm fine."

His eyebrows knitted together with a bit of frustration behind the move, but he bit his tongue for the time being—that is, until she broke yet another egg into the bowl and reached for one more. "No," he muttered, his hand stopping hers before her long fingers could close around the object she was after. "If you place one more in there, you'll be unable to stir them properly."

She stared.

He seemed a bit taken aback. "Er… Uh…" He realized her horribly stern gaze was most likely as dangerous as her cooking. "You need a certain amount of force to stir them completely, and…uh…if you fill the bowl too full, you'll be unable to do so…"

"Fine," she said, turning her gaze back to the bowl, glaring at it instead. Stupid, annoying, idiotic food. Who needed it, anyway? She reached for a fork, because they had no whisk, and started to beat the eggs with a vengeance. They damn well deserved it, too, she decided.

Regal, if one were happening to glance at him in that moment, would appear as if he wanted to find the nearest heavy object (in this case, Zelos's ego), and bash himself over the head with it. "Raine. Raine!" Finally, she stopped, and he sighed with relief. "You're not trying to kill the eggs, you're trying to beat them—gently!—so that you can pour them in that skillet, so that we can eat them."

She stared at him again, and he could feel the sweat trickling down the back of his neck. Oh, why did he even bother?

"Ah, look," he told her, pointing to the egg yolks that were dripping out of the bowl, slithering down the sides. "We cannot eat it if it's on the ground…"

She sighed, obviously frustrated, and continued to beat the eggs—though definitely without as much force behind her actions.

"I'm not trying to tell you what to do," he said after a long silence, when the eggs had been beaten and she had poured them—with the utmost care—into the popping grease in the skillet before slowly adding the vegetables and cheese.

She stared at him yet again, and he wondered why he hadn't died yet.

"Ah! Fold it over, fold it over!" His voice was practically frantic, and he suddenly bit his lower lip and smiled sheepishly. "Ah…so…maybe I am. But…"

"But what?" Her voice wasn't quite cold, but it definitely wasn't friendly, and he wondered at it, determining, after a time, that if he did not answer her, she would likely shoot his shackles from his wrists with her glare.

"Cooking…is an art."

She could tell he was choosing his words carefully, and she tried to hide a smirk. Oh, yes, she told herself, patting her own back mentally. Good show, good show. Well, even though she couldn't cook, she could make people like him squirm…and without even trying, really!

"An art." Her answer was most definitely a statement, not a question, and she couldn't hold back her expression any longer.

"Yes…like painting or playing an instrument. Not everyone is good at it, and not—what?"

She bit her lip and tried not to laugh at his eager expression as he talked about food. She had a feeling that it would evolve into a speech almost as epic as her speeches to the children about ruins and why they were important, and for that small moment, he reminded her of herself.

Just a tiny, little bit.

A smidgen.

Suddenly, his face paled, and his hand darted out, taking the handle of the skillet and pulling it away from the fire before he dropped it on the ground, holding his burned hand with the other as his eyes widened in shock. "I-it's done," he said, groaning in what appeared to be pain.

It wasn't really very funny. But…the food was done, and it was safe, and Regal had just done the stupidest thing she had ever seen him do. She managed not to laugh at him, smirking instead at the mix of feelings and emotions that flew across his features.

"That," she said in a matter-of-fact tone, "is hot. Like lava, or Efreet himself."

He ignored her sarcasm. "At least the food is safe."

"I don't know…" she murmured, looking at the edge of the pan and pointing out a piece of the omelet that was half-hanging out of it. "We cannot eat it if it's lying on the ground."

"Fine, fine…you win." He shook his head and stood up, the ghost of a smile on his lips. "I'll let you cook."

She gloated over her victory for about half a second, and then tired of it. "Wait," she called out, causing him to turn around and look at her. "I suppose, if you're offering your assistance…that I could accept."

"Oh, I see." He smirked, himself, and took a seat on the ground, grabbing items and throwing them together without any real effort. He was just that good. "I'll be teaching the teacher?"

"Uhm…no. You'll be assisting the teacher. I most definitely do not need your help."

"Of course not."

"I don't."

"Please, pass me the salt."


xOx…

Author Notes:

…I have not written Raine in so long, it's not even funny. I'll bet both of them are about as OOC as they can get. Oh well…at any rate, I hope it was amusing. Poor Raine. She could eventually learn to cook, I think… Anyway, feedback is much appreciated. Thank you for reading!