Title: A Tale of Two Cooks
Character/Pairing: BoydMist and OscarIlyana (which is actually more IlyanaFood with Oscar watching amusedly)
Summary: Boyd takes one for the team with Mist's cooking, and Oscar's gotten in the habit of feeding a troublesome stray
"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness"
- Elsa Schiaparelli
A/N: It's been a long journey, eh? It was like crazy NanoLite but I finally made it with barely enough time to spare.
This is a lighter fare than the earlier parts, but I wanted something less angsty and cuter. (And something lighter on me to write! The last ones kept trying to gain plots at the last minute.)
And, in essence, there was only three choices with the sense taste:
2) silly fluffy cooking fic
3) angsty deathfic.
Guess which I chose.
Boyd had taken a lot for the team. Rolf ran faster and Boyd was more prone to taking breaks during training. Soren would only reply that it was 'tolerable.' no matter what he tasted, and Ike was a little too prone to being too blunt and saying outright that it tasted like that time he fell face-first into the dirt when he was younger. Anyone older was usually too busy to be pulled away back into the kitchen to sample the latest thing she'd created.
It was natural that Boyd be her test subject.
And the truth was, he wanted to stay her test subject. Even if she was younger than him, she was pretty with her big sky blue eyes and sunshiny demeanor. He liked it when she smiled up at him, it left a sort of warmfuzzy feeling that kind of reminded him of that time when he was sick and had a horrible fever, but without the throwing up.
It felt nice to have his own half of her time.
Which meant that training his stomach into something comparable to a silver weapon was all he could do. Mist was careless; she burned things, added too much salt and not enough sugar. The ensuing concoctions probably would've made combat much easier, all they'd have to do would be leave bundles as 'gifts' and the bandits would be bent over with stomachaches by the time the group circled back.
Every day she'd look on expectantly and he'd have to swallow it down and not let on that it tasted like the most bitter poison and often left him with stomachaches after.
Because if he even let it show slightly, if he grimaced or drank too much water because she'd put way too much spice in it again, she'd burst into tears.
And Mist never did things half-heartedly. She'd run off sobbing and even if he tried to go after her and say that it wasn't that bad, she'd just run farther and cry harder.
And those were the times when she didn't throw the entire batter in his face and storm out angry.
So when she called him this unremarkable day of all days, he expected it to be more of the same and tried to set his mind to that calm place, like Oscar had taught him about battle (because if anything, Mist's cooking was a battle)
She had flour dusted over cheeks and a dot of it on her nose. Recently she'd gotten her own apron, and not a hand-me-down like all the others she'd worn. It was cream colored with ruffles and fit her well, rather than the usual overly large one flopping all over.
"It's a new recipe," she said. "I hope you like it."
She lifted the ladle and blew on it before offering it to him with a hopeful smile.
Boyd steeled himself for more of the noxious baking, only to find the taste in his mouth was pleasant. It was good. It was really good.
"It's great, Mist! I love this recipe," Boyd said.
"Really? You're not just saying that to make me feel better?" Mist said warily.
He saw those hopeful, wary eyes looking up at them and this time, he thought, he didn't even have to fake it. He'd have done so, even if the food had turned bitter in his mouth afterwards.
"No, you've gotten tons better since then," Boyd replied.
The wariness dissipated like water evaporating and the only thing that was left was her brightness.
"Oh Boyd, I'm so happy!"
Without any warning she threw her arms around him and embraced him, the kind of hugs they'd not had since their were much younger.
He tried not to focus how good it felt to have her close, how warm she was or that he could feel her small, pert breasts pressed against him. He could swear that Soren could just read those kinds of thoughts and he'd tell Ike and then he'd have a lot of explaining to do.
Mist smiled brighter than he'd seen her and her cheeks were rosy, she leaned up and kissed his cheek before she ran off
"I've got to go get Ike, I bet even he'll love it, oh and Oscar too!"
"But Mist, the soup will burn!" Boyd said.
He touched his cheek where her lips had touched, it still tingled with a pleasant warmth.
Boyd would take all the bad cooking and more if it meant it'd make Mist happy.
"Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale."
Everyone knew that if you fed a stray cat it'll just start following you around, but that didn't stop Oscar. No matter how that troublesome cat cried, he still threw scraps out.
He sliced up the potatoes, and peeled away the skin to reveal the solid white insides. They looked like large eggs in a bundle, dragon eggs Oscar used to tell Rolf when he was too small to realize the difference.
The stray whimpered as he placed the last potato into the soup.
She was a thin, sickly looking girl; her skin always had a pale sheen that made her look close to death, and her hair was a violet color that was swept off her face. She was around Boyd's age, though she appeared younger due to her sickness.
Oscar already knew quite a bit about her, he'd know the outcome to this story. She'd come in and begged off food and then wandered off. She rarely remembered names, but with enough shared rations, she might be able to find a way to remember that name for a little while before she moved on.
She never stayed anywhere very long. Very few could afford to feed her long and she couldn't survive on kindness so she'd start walking again.
She got a little more talkative when fed, she'd opened up about her parents, how they'd eventually left her to her own devices as the family was on the brink of starvation trying to feed their child.
Maybe it was just a cook's predisposition, he always had a soft spot for the ones who liked his food enough to come back for seconds or thirds, or fourths or fifths...
He'd have given her as much as she'd ask for, but Soren had been very clear that any scraps fed to her would come out of the soldier's own pockets, and that the food stores would not suffer because of her insatiable hunger. Soren had been especially harsh when Boyd had let her into the food tent, even if it had been an innocent accident.
But no matter how much he fed her, she always remained such a fragile thing. Oscar had rescued her on the battlefield more than once, a delicate, light thing leaning against his back. She was so light he could pull her back into his saddle with one arm
She was a competent mage though, more than once he'd seen her take out an enemy axe wielder heading towards him with a bolt of lightning searing down from the sky. She also was surprisingly strong for such a small thing. A few times he'd consigned her into carrying supplies and she lifted even the heavier things he'd meant Boyd to carry.
Things he knew were far too heavy for Soren to lift.
He admitted it to himself, a certain amused affection for this stray who followed him in battle and gave him the most pitiful, weak, shaking looks as she moaned for foood. More than once he'd caught her before she collapsed, and more than once she'd woken up just to munch off the supplies in his pack.
And here like any day, she was there mewling at him for more. She knew just the way to plead food and if that failed, to snatch it up right from under some of the less watchful eyes. She'd gotten Soren's lambshank once, but she'd never managed to get anything from Ike's plate. Then again, Ike and food had a special bond, almost as strong as her own food love. (And probably, Oscar thought, if Soren had been paying attention to his plate instead of Ike, Ilyana wouldn't have had the chance to steal it. It was no matter, Ike shared his food in the end, something Oscar had never seen him do before, or since.)
She loved his cooking, though he wasn't sure it was much of a compliment as she'd eat anything that wasn't tied down. He'd once caught her gnawing on his tent before, and another time his horse's blanket mysteriously disappeared and he found suspicious fuzz on her clothes that resembled the color.
But as a cook he wasn't immune to compliments. It felt good to see someone who licked the bowl clean and came back with hopeful eyes for more.
The same sort of eyes she gave him now. She whimpered again and he could hear her stomach grumble even from this distance.
Oscar sighed and left his post for a moment, only to pull out the pack he'd already prepared. Meat and bread and cheese, enough to hold her for two-point-five seconds.
"This is all I've got until later, Soren will have my hide if I give anymore," Oscar said.
"Food?" She said hopefully.
"Enjoy," Oscar said.
It had been his lunch rations. Even Soren couldn't fault him for sharing his own rations. (Or at least in theory he couldn't, for Soren could always find ways to be negative.)
His little stray dug in and ate like it was the best thing she'd ever tasted. Each bite was a little piece of heaven to her.
Oscar smiled and returned to his stew.
Cooks and willing eaters always got along.