My first NERDS fic on here! We definitely need more, especially ones that focus on Heathcliff and Ruby's relationship. I'm excited to see their interactions in book 4 and especially 5, but i'm really interested in pre-betrayal fic as well. Anyway, thank you for reading!

It had been a long day.

After the fiasco at 4:17 that afternoon, when the power in the playground went out for fifteen minutes, Ruby thought the day's missions were delayed. That was before the system rebooted, before everyone's nanos came back online… or well, tried to. There was something wrong with them, the filtration, or the hardware, or…. Some other word Benjamin had rattled off to her.

It was something that she expected Duncan to understand, not her. That was what he was here for, after all. She watched now with a sad little shake of her head, as the tech expert frowned at his dry skin, glue bottle forgotten and crystallizing at the tip.

Immediately after the system shut down, Matilda announced with glee that she could breathe without her inhaler… just for her face to fall when she realized her unusual swiftness and other skills were gone, anyway.

Heathcliff reported no change, though she found it harder to listen to him then she normally would- the words didn't stick in her mind anymore. As for Ruby herself, there was no scratching, no sneezing, no reactions. But she wouldn't last a minute in a fight, without her allergies helping her along.

It was, in short, a disaster, and cancelled all their missions and plans for the day as Duncan worked at the computers, trying to get it fixed, completely normal bottle of milk in hand. Matilda wasn't happy, jogging off to the training room and telling them to call her when she could go back to flying and blasting. Ruby debated going after her to make her feel better… but she was never good at that. Besides, beating someone up would always do the trick for Matilda.

On the plus side, there was Flinch, calm as a cucumber while munching on one, muttering, "Hey, this is actually pretty good," in a steady and easy to understand voice. Upgradeless or not, she could actually be in the same room with him without getting a headache- which was good, because she was stressed out and irritated enough already.

This was the only positive she could think of, until Heathcliff dragged her by her arm into the playground kitchen and opened the fridge with a dramatic flourish. She had never looked into it before- filled with forbidden foods that could kill her- or set her back a few hours, at the least.

… But for today, with the nanos giving off opposite effects…

"All yours," Heathcliff said, with an over-sized grin.

Ruby sat up on the island in the middle of the kitchen, legs crossed, watching with a polite curiosity as Heathcliff took the wooden spoon and pulled it through the dough. She stared, fascinated, as he took the tip of the spoon and pushed it into the squishy middle, around the powdery sides, and back again. Gradually he stirred in the chocolate chips, with a very calculated, very Heathcliff like consistency. After a few turns, he approached her and presents the bowl.

"Looks good," she said, forcing confidence into her voice, even though she has no idea either way. It looked like the commericals, at least.

The corner of his mouth twitches upward at the approval, but he shook his head. 'You have to try some."

The blonde recoiled, feet bracing against a cabinet door as she swerved back. 'What? That's ten kinds of unsanitary. The eggs are uncooked, and I could get some sort of disea-"



"Just try it."

She stared at him, trying to gauge if this is some sort of elaborate joke. "I won't get sick?" She asked.

"My mom and I get this stuff and eat it straight sometimes. You'll be fine. I promise."

Ruby still felt apprehensive, but she leaned towards the bowl and took a cautious finger dip, making sure to get a couple chocolate chips. (She knew those were safe, because she already ate at least a dozen.)

Heathcliff watched her carefully as she raised the small glob to her mouth, and she felt remarkably self-conscious as she popped it into her mouth. The flavor hit her with a punch: flour and eggs, a little slimy, but not grossly so, with a base of flour and an electric smattering of chocolate chips, which melted in her mouth. Her eyes widened and she swallowed. As soon as she devoured every last bit remaining in her mouth, she dived toward the bowl for another round.

Heathcliff stepped out of the way, laughing. "We have to cook some of it, you know." He took a bit of the dough as he spoke, and she scowled at his hypocrisy. He smiled back, happier than she had seen him in a while. After a brief staring contest, she gave in.

"So why do people bother cooking it if it's that good?" Ruby asked, bewildered.

"Because freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven," he answered, "are even better. Come on, you can help me place them on the sheet." She hopped off the island, following him towards the oven. She sneaked a second bit of dough when he turned to check the temperature, and grinned to herself.

He straightened and looked at her, arms crossed. "So," he said. "Are you willing to try milk now?"

"No way."