An overwhelming scent of caramel was what lured Juza out of his room and away from the assignment he had been working on, that afternoon.
He set down his pen, exited room 104, and headed straight for the dorm’s shared space. Banri was there, occupying the entire couch by himself, but too busy concentrating on whatever was on his phone to throw his usual insults of a greeting when Juza stepped inside. Meanwhile, in the kitchen stood Omi, who gestured for him to come closer as soon as he noticed his presence. Juza obliged not unlike a trained puppy waiting to be fed.
“You show up right on time. I’ve just taken these out of the fridge,” Omi remarked, “they are surprisingly easy to make.”
Curious, Juza peered over the kitchen counter. The desserts were served in tiny cups, lined neatly and continuously emitting the aroma of burned sugar. They caught his immediate interest.
With a hopeful glimmer in his eyes, Juza turned to Omi. “Pudding?”
Omi chuckled. “Not quite, but close. This dessert is called creme brulee.”
“Oh,” Juza said, his initial excitement dissipating. His glances, however, persisted. “Do they taste similar, or…?”
“Why, you’re welcome to find out for yourself.”
He wasted no time to do as he was told.
“So, any opinions?” Omi finally asked when Juza had gone about halfway through his first cup.
Juza looked down. The tips of both his ears were tinted pink. His next words was nearly inaudible for how small his voice was when he uttered them.
“It’s really good,” he mumbled, “sweet.”
At this simple honesty, Omi fell silent and went very still. For a split second there, he was seeing blond instead of the dark purple of his troupemate’s hair. Even though he knew that nothing good would come out of it, sometimes his mind just wanders to the edge, and he couldn’t help but imagine about various what-ifs.
“Is there something wrong?”
Omi blinked, tried to conceal his lapse with a smile. “No, no, nothing. I suppose I blanked out for a bit there.”
Juza stared at him, uncertainty painted all over his face, as though he wanted to soothe the older boy while not knowing how to. Oni couldn’t blame him, communication had never been one of Juza’s forté, but he never meant harm. Right when Omi was about to break the pregnant silence between them—to say that he is alright and there’s nothing to worry about, offer him another brulee, maybe—he heard Banri’s voice beating him to it. Apparently he had been listening in.
It was on such moments that Omi admitted that he had never been prouder of how much his troupe leader had improved at reading social situations.
“He’s obviously scared of the pace at which you’re stuffing yourself,” Banri sneered.
Juza grumbled, taking the bait. “Shut it, Settsu. I’ve only had one cup.”
“It’s okay if you feel like having more, though. As I said, they’re rather easy to make, so please don’t hesitate to ask,” Omi interrupted.
Juza nearly blushed again. He was already eyeing the remainder of the brulee. “Thanks, Omi-san. These creme braille are truly amazing.”
“It’s brulee, idiot.”
“Same thing, idiot.”
Banri threw his hands into the air with a dramatic groan. “God, your impossible sugar intake must be causing you permanent brain damage.”
Juza paused munching to send a glare his way, but didn’t say anything in return since at that moment his mouth was stuffed full of custard, and appreciating the gift from god that is Omi’s desserts was obviously more important than giving that bastard Settsu the comeback he deserved.
“If you hate sweet foods that much, I’m gonna eat your share of braille too,” Juza threatened.
“I’ve told you it’s brulee!” Banri yelled. He shot to his feet in an instant, his eyes narrowing. “And you wouldn’t dare, Hyodo.”
“Hey! Don’t ignore me! And stay away from my brulee!”
Omi stifled a laugh as he watched Banri darting from the other side of the room to salvage his dessert. He wouldn’t make it in time, this is a fact Omi knew from experience. One should never underestimate Juza’s limits when it comes to ingesting sweets.
Moreover, judging from how fast the empty cups were piling up, it seemed wise to start preparing some extra brulee in order to make enough for everyone by dinner. Quite a number of people in this dorm appreciated sweet foods, afterall, albeit perhaps not to Juza’s extent.
If you were still around, would you have liked this creme brulee as much as he does? Omi mused. It had been a while since thinking about that person made his heart clench painfully. These days, he simply let the fond memories wash over him and smiled.
He figured he had found something new to bring on his next grave visit. Nachi must be getting bored of being offered french toasts, anyway.