Two years exactly after the day of Story and Song, a downhearted Lucretia looks at the soggy remains of her third failure of a cake and feels a sour taste in her mouth. The last one was too dry, so at the very least that’s not a problem anymore. She sighs, shakes her head, turns away from the counter. It shouldn’t even matter that much, but she feels a certain obligation to get this right, since it’s not even her kitchen.
“Alright, quit tearin’ your hair out, I sensed complete and utter baking failure and followed it, and I’m here to solve all your-” Taako stops abruptly, and Lucretia sees him standing in the doorway out of her periphery, his arms crossed over his chest. “...problems. Hey, Lucretia.”
“Taako- sorry, Lup said I could use the kitchen, and I thought you weren’t home, so I- I’m sorry, don’t worry about me. I’ll get out of your way.” She moves to leave, but Taako is still blocking the door, and he doesn’t speak for a long time. He fixes her with a hard stare, working something over in his mind, and she finds herself under such intense scrutiny that she has to look away, fidgeting and pulling at her sleeves.
Taako narrows his eyes at her, and keeps watching her out of the corner of his eye as he turns to the stove. “You used waaaaay too much milk,” he says. “Did you even read the recipe?” He picks up the flour-covered post-it note and frowns. “This shit doesn’t even call for milk! God, call me for help next time before you waste my kitchen space.”
“It- uh- was- oh, nevermind.”
Ignoring her, Taako plows on. “And why is your oven on such a low temperature? Are you baking the world's smallest cookie? Whatever spell you used to convince Lup to let you use the kitchen, I need to learn it, jeez.” He doesn’t look at her as he works, moving around the kitchen and grabbing ingredients without even looking for them. Lucretia notes that as he moves, he ducks and turns like he's compensating for someone else, and it hits her like a train. She didn’t know before, not in all of the two years of cold shoulders and sour words and radio silence, but for the first time, she fully grasps the terrible scope of what she had taken from him. A twisted, mangled sound forces itself from her throat, the stuttering start of a word she can’t say, and Taako turns slightly, brows furrowed.
“Ah hell,” he groans. “Nope! I can’t f uck ing believe I’m saying this, god .” He throws his hands up in the air. “But fine. Are you okay?”
“I’ll, uh… if- when-” she runs a hand through her hair- “... next time I’m… in too deep, I’ll ask for help, I-... I won't get in over my head again, ok? And I’ll… I’ll leave your kitchen alone, too.”
The kitchen timer goes off. It’s a long, painful pause, as it keeps ringing, burning her ears, but Taako still has a glare fixed on her, searching for something. He makes a decision. Taako turns away, shoulders still tense, and pulls the cake out of the oven with a casual mage hand.
Lucretia pushes past him, making her way for the door before she breaks down. She’s kept her composure for years now, surely she can do the thirty seconds it will take her to walk to the front door. She’s caught up in her head, glowering at the floor so her stinging eyes won’t spill over with tears, balling her hands into fists, and in all that it takes her some time to notice that Taako has grabbed her wrist and is looking at her, expression much gentler than earlier.
“Lucretia.” He meets her eyes. “ Stop. ” He gestures at the table. His gaze is still soft, and Lucretia thinks she might be happy with whatever conclusion he’s come to. “I am not going to eat this en tire cake by myself, I’m not an animal .”
Lucretia breaks. She starts laughing. And crying. Taako rolls his eyes and makes a disgusted noise, and he sits down at the table without looking at her.
She takes the olive branch.
The cake is fan tastic , natch.
They end up eating the whole thing.