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The Recipe Book

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How hard could it be? she thought.

Kex'ti had spent more and more time in the field. He came home every night with flowers. She noted that. Purple, gold, and red, acquired seemingly from the numerous graves he'd been digging. He'd bring them back, and set them at Julilee's bedside. He'd sit there eating, talking to her. He'd try and heal her a bit.

At least he wasn't moping at her side, but whatever peace he'd earned the last few years had begun to erode with her long sleep. Tesonii was happy he was happy. She was unhappy that he had seemingly ties so much to the Commander. Morally, romantically, it didn't really matter. She was merely afraid for him.

Even though she had taken to stealing his cookbooks right after he'd left. He made really good lunches and dinners, but he only had a few desserts. She wanted to leave him a new recipe.

Mostly she just wanted to bake for Aaren, and it was a convenient, if somewhat honest, justification.

She'd burned a lot of pie crusts before Thogen the cook had told her the temperatures were for lower elevation than the Sanctuary Garrison. Then she'd added too much salt. Or used Rylak eggs.

Or unripened Nagrand cherries. Then she'd learned how they ripened and decided to get cherries from Stranglethorn. Then she forgot about the pie and let it burn. She had to go back to Stranglethorn, but kept putting it off.

Aaren ferried her home from Warspear. She let slip she'd gotten a surprise ready for her. Then remembered she didn't. She was ticklish, and Aaren seemed to have inordinate skill at getting into the crannies of her armor.

The next day, Aaren and Kex'ti had left by the time she woke up. She took up the monk's vigil at the Commander's side. When she was sure that the patrols had passed by, she began to mutter a near, but not wholly, silent apology.

"I just had worked so hard to find him. But I think I just wanted him to be happy, and seeing him happy made me think it was because of what I had done. But it was you. I'm so sorry for thinking it was a fight between us."

She sat there, wondering what Julilee would say if she were awake. Probably not much. Just a lot of watching.

"Besides. My girlfriend is so much cooler than Kex'ti. That's why I'm going to bake her a pie. Let's see Kex'ti make something without meat in it, huh? So I'm going to copy you a bit. I'm going to keep screwing up this whole thing until I figure out how to make it work and I'm not going to quit until it works. So there. Thanks for letting me borrow that from you. At least until you need it back. You better wake up. Commander Dalendala was someone else already, and that's really weird to call him that. To think about calling him that."

Her lips didn't even move. But she baked the pie, and then baked another one, after she, Thogen, and the goblins ate the first one.

She didn't let it cool when she whisked it out to the flight master. It burned her fingers a little bit, but between it and the thought of Aaren, being cold wasn't enough to dissuade her from waiting.

Tesonii found Aaren at the usual place. She hid the pie under her tabard, and reached two hands around Aaren's eyes, which is exactly when she felt the massive arms of Hugg close around her and the blonde elf. She'd forgotten the pie in the urgent desire to breathe.

It wasn't until she saw a curious bloom of red above her waist she remembered the still-hot, sugary goo that had broken through the crust against her armor. She looked at Aaren, and pulled out pastry-full hands. Tesonii held her hands up, and her lip began to quiver as Aaren closed the distance.

Then she rubbed the pie in Aaren's face, and began to laugh.

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