“Oh, good morning Katarina. Did you need something?”
The dining room was relatively empty during this particular morning, as many of the other Heroes currently in the Order were off training or exploring the surrounding area. Katarina stood out against the white pillar, peeking in on Kiran enjoying his breakfast of buttered toast. Un-toasted bread, since he hasn’t quite gotten the grasp of how to toast bread without the use of the magical contraption that he called a “toaster”.
“O-oh, um…” Katarina fidgeted as she stepped out from behind the pillar. “I was just looking for something to eat. I haven’t eaten since yesterday…”
That wasn’t a lie - it was true that Katarina hasn’t really been eating a lot ever since she was summoned by the Order. But that wasn’t why she was here - she was more interested in speaking to Kiran. However, as she arrived and finally saw the summoner in question with her own eyes, the realization dawned on her that she had no idea what to say. Her legs froze in place, until she was suddenly brought back to reality by Kiran’s voice.
“Geez, that’s bad. There might be something in the kitchen if you’re hungry.”
“It’s okay, I’m used to it by now! I didn’t mean to worry you…”
“I… see…” A look of concern washed over Kiran’s face. “You know, I’m not really used to saying things like this, but… you can go ahead and eat whenever you feel hungry.”
Kiran’s concern for her wellbeing rung a familiar bell in Katarina’s memory, adding even more fuel to her suspicions. She was not used to being taken care of - even if she were to be fed, there was always an ulterior motive to the kindness she received. Although she had gotten used to accepting that as the only ‘love’ she’d ever received, meeting that special person had unsealed something hidden deep within her heart - the kinship all humans, manaketes, laguz, taguel, and whatever you may be longed for.
“I don’t really know how to make food, sorry…” Katarina looked down to her feet. “I wasn’t taught a lot of things growing up, aside from fighting.”
Kiran didn’t quite know how to respond to that - he wasn’t really expecting her to spill something like that on him so suddenly. However, he could tell, for how nervous she was, there was something about her that looked at ease. She straddled the line between talking to a stranger and friend, and Kiran didn’t quite know what to make of it. “Um… well… I could go look for someone to help you out in the kitchen. Maybe Flora is nearby, and-”
The sound of a loud, rumbling sound suddenly cut Kiran off. Katarina clutched her stomach, almost like she had been punched, a nervous red glow spreading across her face. “I-I’m sorry…”
Seeing Katarina so visibly embarrassed raised Kiran’s concern past what would be logical. It was in these moments where he tends not to make the best tactical decisions. “I-I don’t mind making you something then, if you’re really hungry. You can take a seat, and I’ll come back with something in just a bit!”
“Huh?” Katarina did her best to regain her composure, although the red hue lingered on her cheeks. “Oh, you don’t have to! I can just eat some bread crumbs and I’ll be fine!”
“No, that’s hardly food. Just sit tight, I won’t be long!”
It was no use stopping Kiran now. Not that Katarina particularly wanted to, as much as she’d hate to admit. With Kiran now inside the kitchen, Katarina hesitantly took a seat in the table Kiran was seated at just a few moments, trying her best to assuage the hunger in her stomach until Kiran returned.
It took a little bit longer than Kiran had hoped, but true to his word he soon returned from the kitchen with what appeared to be… slightly burnt buttered toast and a glass of lemonade. All in all, it didn’t look very appetizing, but Katarina was just hungry enough not to really care. As soon as Kiran had laid the plate down in front of her, she took a bite out of the piece of toast. “It sure does have a… peculiar taste.”
“Yeah…” Kiran scratched the back of his head nervously. “The world I came from didn’t teach me how to make toast the old-fashioned way. Which is to say, with fire magic. At least I probably didn’t screw up the lemonade! I even added a sprinkle of sugar to bring out the taste.”
At that notion, Katarina took a sip of the drink and immediately spit it out. “W-what did you put in this!?”
“Sugar! Why, did I overdo it?”
Katarina coughed. “It doesn’t taste like sugar… it’s more… salty than that. Did you add salt instead of sugar…?”
Kiran internally slammed his head against the wall. “Okay, that one was on me completely. I’m not a good cook, as you might have figured out by now. It’s just that you looked so hungry and I just wanted to do something to make you feel better. It’s kinda of a bad habit of mine, now that I think of it.”
Katarina giggled, which threw Kiran off-guard. Despite swallowing what amounts to a glass full of salted lemonade, she appeared to be a lot happier than any person should be in this situation. “Don’t worry about it. It’s… nice. How you wanted to help me, I mean, not…” Katarina silently gestured to the ‘meal’. “... I knew someone back home who was the same way. They cared a lot about other people… even if they didn’t deserve it. And their cooking skills were… just as terrible. They were never dense enough to mistake salt for sugar though.”
“Heh. Well, I’m glad to be of some service at least.” Kiran let out an awkward chuckle. “I’m glad something good came out of my lack of culinary skill.”
“Indeed.” Katarina smiled softly. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that Kiran reminded her so much of that special person - there must have been some greater power at work, some fate that had brought them together. Regardless of the circumstances that brought them together, Katarina felt at ease - she no longer felt alone in a distant world. At least there was a familiar face to keep her company.