[Future Event] ==>
Dirk shrugged at her inquiry. “Nothing really. Counted some freckles. Exposed a secret that has fans camping outside day and night. Rox and I pierced our tongues ourselves. Thank fuck we didn’t screw them up.” He had gone through the history on their C-Gears to find many videos on tongue piercing; he was just glad that Roxy was so strong and capable of piercing what amounted to a muscular sack of veins.
When prompted to mix in the butter he chuckled, taking the bowl she had used and dumping in a small portion of the grated dairy product to start mixing. “I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty,” he said lightly. It could be taken as a jab or a threat. Or, perhaps, even both.
Tossing more butter in in small increments, he rather easily mixed it all into an even dough despite his injuries. With a comedic whistling sound followed by a small ‘pow’ he added in the chocolate chips. By the time he was done he was a bit sore, chest and arms screaming at him from what would normally be no big task for him. It was honestly more physical effort than he probably should have taken part in but the more than slight discomfort was worth fulfilling a promise and reconnecting somewhat with Jane. He admired her, if he was honest. She had excellent work ethic, a good - if overly skeptical - head on her shoulders, and unwavering loyalty even if it was to a corporation that Dirk both distrusted and actually despised to a degree.
Done mixing, he used an ancient bottle of dish soap to clean his greasy hands, wiping the water off on his shirt in place of the missing hand towel. He just hoped that if Jane planned on taunting him at all she started soon. The level of aggravation she was currently inflicting on him was about as minute as when Dave had first learned to talk, and he found himself actually missing the banter that was such an intrinsic part of their relationship. In fact, as her business relations with Alternians no doubt educated her on the quadrants, he would tease her about them having caliginous flirtations.
“If you happen to have bacon or eggs or something I can cook that. Otherwise I don’t think we’re going to unearth anything in that fridge except for bottles of booze and maybe a mouldy orange or something.”
“That’s good,” Jane smiled mildly at him, internally picking apart his reply. Was it another challenge hidden in his words? A threat? Or merely an acceptance of the challenge Jane had laid out for him? “After all, if you can’t stand the heat, it’s best get out of the kitchen. Hoo hoo!”
Jane was going to try to keep the insults to a minimum right now. It wouldn’t do for Jake to walk in and find Jane in verbal combat with Dirk, and it would be equally as bad if they woke Roxy. Then again, she doubted Jake could read as far into the conversation as someone needed to in order to see the spar, and depending on how much alcohol Roxy had managed to sneak in under Jane’s nose (and she knew Roxy had; that rogue just seemed created a void of detection whenever she was doing anything illegal), Roxy may or may not be able to, either.
With a flick of her wrist that the aforementioned Lalonde’s wizards would have admired, Jane adequately combined the two components of her own bowl and began to whisk them together efficiently. Dirk was still busy with combining the two food media together, even whistling as is he was doing it without a care.
Jane giggled, as if amused with his childish antics. Perhaps Dirk should worry less about how he appeared in the tightly fitting shirt that showed off just where he had muscles, and worry about the weaknesses he was exposing. Those shoulders were awfully tense for someone who was only mixing butter and a basic dry blend. Jane moved on to starting to wash the bowls and plates she no longer had a use for; no use in wasting time in a kitchen. It was a silent implication that Dirk was falling behind, one that she doubted he’d get. After all, she doubted he knew that the dishes were usually for last in a professional kitchen.
The bomb on the boat hadn’t gone off, right? Dirk’s injuries couldn’t possibly be that bad, right? So that he couldn’t even handle a little mixing? It wasn’t like he’d had to do it, it was all his own volition (okay, perhaps her goading had helped a bit); nor had he done it after surviving four assassination attempts in a row with shrapnel from exploding mailboxes still embedded in his skin, some minor flesh wounds from an attempted stabbing incident, and severe rope burn. Jane almost rubbed her soapy hands against her neck; the fellow with the red rope had been particularly difficult to fight back against. It seemed like he had miles of it, and absolute control over every inch of the stuff.
Jane finished washing all the plates, setting it to the side for later drying. That was why she used hot water; it evaporated more quickly. With the warm, only slightly muggy Castelian summer, she didn’t doubt that it would dry before breakfast was ready. The last clink of plate against plate was a silent taunt, a quiet joke between Jane and the dishes. For goodness’ sakes, it had even been grated.
She moved over to let him wash his hands and left the sink so she could incorporate the dry ingredients with a fork.
“Oh, sure, I’ve got some eggs in my modus, and some cheese as well, I believe,” Jane answered. “If it’s not too much to ask, however, I’ll have to ask that you crack your own eggs.”
Oh no, she hadn’t meant to say that and ruin this consarn peace by indirectly insulting his strength. Ok, Jane, you can still fix this, calm down. Do it for Jake!
“After all, I’ve already dealt with them,” Jane added, tacking on a wry smile in the closest imitation of japery that she could pull. “If you don’t mind walking on eggshells for a little while, if you’ll pardon the expression, I’m sure you could manage some fantastic omelets!”
Good golly, this was a disaster. She’d initially intended to compliment him on his strength by saying he’d have to “walk on eggshells”, or be careful with the eggs. She’d accidentally implied he was terrible enough at cracking eggs that he’d have to walk on them. Why had she used that idiom??? Although, it was admittedly one of her more clever insults, even if it was an accident… but here, she wasn’t meant to insult him!!
Not to mention, she’d accidentally specified that he ought to make omelets. The one dish it was literally impossible to mess up (unless your name was Jake English— Jane sometimes doubted there was a single dish he could cook properly). They were just eggs. Forget to whisk them? They become fried eggs! Doesn’t turn over correctly? Scrambled eggs! Too many toppings? Well, they might become mushroom-egg stir-fry! Oh, whoops, you accidentally dumped a large quantity of vanilla into the pan? Add some sugar, serve it up as a dessert! Burn it? Toss it out and start over or mask it with maple syrup! The only way it could possibly come out wrong is if you did something ridiculous, like combining pepper with marshmallow fluff while cooking it. And she’d said Dirk could only manage it (although it was entirely possible he might under cook them…)! She began to furiously dust her work area to roll out the dough.
As an extra vote of confidence, she added, “If you need it, I have some heavy cream, too.”
Oh, fantastic— she’d implied that recipes without heavy cream were inferior because she herself used it. And, furthermore, she didn’t expect Dirk’s to. She should have just left it out for Dirk to use at his leisure if he wanted!! Now he was going to mess up, because he was going to go against whatever he normally did use too much or too little and wind up liquidizing or lumping the meal and…
Oh, Arceus, she really did think Dirk could mess up omelets. He would just have to prove himself better than that. For now, it was time to (finally!) shut up.
Jane plopped the lump of dough on her work surface and began to work it to a disc little under an inch thick with her Betty Crocker brand rolling pin. It would be best for her to play defensive for a little while. She knew she’d have a hard time beating Strider in speed, so it was lucky she managed to sneak in a quick attack.
Even if it was an accident.
So she had noticed. Then again, with how much he was lagging behind, he wasn’t surprised. Roxy had a habit of leaving on the food channel for reasons he could readily assume. What he was more concerned about was Jake noticing as well. There was no way it could end alright but hopefully the brunet would be excited enough about the shooting range to figure it out. He was pretty sure that he could hold a gun properly and pull the trigger, at least. At her fumbling jabs - it was obvious from how red she was turning, as well as how much she was trying to backtrack only to make it worse, that she hadn’t even intended it to come off as an insult - he rolled his eyes slightly.
“No problemo,” he drawled, not even bothering to address the blunder as he took the offered eggs and cooking paraphernalia. “The little shit is actually really big on breakfast food, so I know how to make a few things. Got anything for waffles? Jake doesn’t like eggs.” If she didn’t he supposed that he could put in a quick order for the ingredients. They could probably do with some fruit to go with everything in any case; living in such an upscale building meant that if you rang the customer service desk they would run out to grab anything one of their tenants asked for.
This lead to something else - he had no idea how Jane ate her eggs. He had never actually seen her eat breakfast. Roxy was different. He had cooked for her on several occasions thanks to their sleepover shenanigans and knew from personal experience that she would eat pretty much anything. “How do you like yours?”
Short, tanned, ADHD and brunet with what corny novella authors would call ‘soul-searching emerald eyes’, he silently supplied her with somewhat bitterly. He honestly could not blame her for being romantically attracted to Jake. After all, Dirk himself had fallen for him years ago, the love only intensifying with each day that went by. It was reminiscent of something a twenty-year-old crazy cat lady with an overenthusiastic and romance-inclined imagination might write, really.
That was in insult, wasn’t it? His blatant ignorance of her own (though accidental) insults, combined with the implication that she didn’t know Jake well enough to know that he didn’t like eggs— of course she did, she’d cooked for all her friends— it was clearly an insult.
Jane exhaled. Okay, that was fine. Dirk hadn’t taken any of her accidental insults as insults, no matter how true she thought some of them were. To keep the kitchen peaceable, she could handle this. It was her turf, after all, and it was up to her to prevent war from wreaking havoc.
Waffles were probably a thing Dirk could handle in his weakened state, she decided. If only Jane could find the milk in her modus…
“Splendid idea, Mr. Strider,” Jane agreed. It was true; Jake wasn’t exactly one for straight-up eggs. Goodness, she was thinking slowly this morning. What had even happened last night? “I think I’ve got some milk in here, and the remaining ingredients should be out already. But, I wasn’t aware that Roxy had a waffle iron?”
Jane certainly didn’t have one on her! It perturbed her more than just a little that Dirk, who’d been in Castelia for a mere two days, knew about a waffle iron that Jane, who’d lived just a few blocks down from Roxy, was apparently unaware of. Maybe it was an iron that she’d had from far before Jane had even come to Castelia, but the point of the matter was that Dirk still knew more about it than Jane did.
… and she wasn’t even talking about the waffle iron anymore, was she?
It bothered her more than she’d like to admit it that Dirk seemed to know Roxy better than she did. She spitefully wondered whether he learned most of it while jamming their feelings through drunken commiseration. It was like they were… like moirails. And the humanoid form of moirail was clearly bffsy, right?
This was stupid. She was talking about a form of Alternian romance that should not, in any way, apply to any of her relationships. As appealing as it was to consider herself as the one Roxy was apt to turn to in times of difficulty, she was certainly allowed to have other friends. Jane located the milk and handed it off to Dirk.
“Would you like a recipe, or will you be all right without one?” Jane inquired, pulling out the card she’d stashed opposite to the milk in her modus— one for a waffle recipe. It was easily the most useful part of having a recipe modus.
After that was settled, she returned to rolling out the dough for the scones before efficiently cutting the circular plank of uncooked pastry into a dozen triangles.
“How do I like my eggs?” Jane clarified as she greased the baking sheet before setting the pastries on it. Her eyes narrowed at the dough in her hands, she’d heard the question’s secret meaning in Dirk’s bitter tone. Jane was an expert at matching flavors and to be frank, “bitter” wasn’t exactly a subtle one. “I don’t normally have any, actually! However you’d like to cook them will be fine with me.”
She quickly washed the oil off her hands and put the scones in the oven before setting the timer on her watch to twenty minutes, the approximate time it would take to bake these.
She mentally answered the question he’d implied— adorable, sweet, and so much like freedom even she could hardly rein him in. She couldn’t help it, what with how strong and yet vulnerable he was and how he seemed to at least try to understand her logic. Strider had been implying that she was out for Jake, that she would compete with him over Jake’s affection.
Well, to that… she wasn’t going to. Even though it sometimes seemed as if she and Jake were meant to be, like they were— dare she think it?— soulmates of a sort, his happiness was her priority. And he wanted Dirk, who blatantly loved him back. The only thing that she could do now was pick him back up and take care of him if Dirk happened to leave— to conciliate his depression or fury or what have it. It was a role she was glad to have.
Out loud, she added, “Would you like any assistance? If not, I can run down to the main lobby to purchase some fruit or something of the like.”
She could remain in the present for now. There was no point (yet) in considering what-ifs.