Iron City Cooking
Healfriend Mar 29th, 2019 122 Never
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- Sweat pours from your brow as you throw the kitchen's ragged curtains shut; a futile attempt to keep the advancing midsummer heat at bay. Iron City always turned into a hotbox this time of year, but this was an unusual degree of miserable even by those standards; add to that the warmth of the oven and your own frantic scampering to keep anything from burning and it's a small wonder you haven't passed out yet. Right on cue, you feel a pang of lightheadedness grip you, but there's no time to rest; you quickly peel your shirt off and twist it up into a makeshift bandanna. You had promised Alita something wonderful for breakfast, and you'd move Zalem and Earth to keep that promise.
- Suddenly, you hear the creaking sound of a window being thrown open, the same one you had just blocked off. With some theatricality, Alita bursts through the curtains and lands gracefully next to you, holding a bag of oranges and wearing nothing more than a plain blue tank top and shorts. She rises with an impish grin and you momentarily lose yourself in her eyes; somehow the kitchen grows warmer still. Her greeting is low and breathless.
- "Hey there."
- The curtains slowly drift back into place, pulling the morning sunbeams into a quick retreat across Alita's body, caressing the subtle curves of her cybernetic musculature and sparkling brilliantly against the sweat dripping down her face. It was in moments like these — covered in scuffs and cuts after a fierce Motorball match, or returning from a hunt wild-eyed and stained with blood — you find her most beautiful, most authentic, most human — enchanted by the imperfections of the girl made to be perfect.
- She inhales deeply as she sets the oranges on the table, features lighting up as she takes in the scent of your cooking.
- "Oh, what is that?! It smells amazing!"
- "Well, let's see...bacon in the oven, eggs and gravy on the stovetop, and spiced sausage cooling over on the counter. Oh, and orange juice in the fridge, if it hasn't conked out on us." You can't help but grin and feel a small pang of pride over what had thus far been an impressive bit of multi-tasking. Alita's smile only widens, eyes beaming with the kind of pure joy that makes your heart melt in an instant.
- "For me?"
- "Yes. For you."
- She leaps forward and surprises you with a tight hug, which would have been rather embarrassing had she not been just as drenched in sweat as you. The embrace lingers on for while, neither one of you wanting to let go, until the unmistakable smell of burnt bacon assails your nostrils and sends you scrambling for the oven mitt. Before you even realize you've lost it, Alita yanks the pan from the rack and — with a yelp of pain that runs your blood cold — hastily sets it down upon a nearby countertop. You run to her side, nearly tripping over a chair in the process, only to be greeted with a look of bemusement. She raises her hand and flexes her nanotech fingers in a wave.
- "I'm fine! Just a bit of pain is all!"
- The two of you relax and share a laugh, but you don't feel the least bit foolish for worrying.
- After a bit more scampering around in the unrelenting heat of the kitchen, breakfast is finally ready to be served: a sprawling five-egg omelette consisting of three cheeses, spiced sausage, and bacon (slightly singed), with a generous slathering of gravy atop. Alita is sitting cross-legged at the table trying her best to restrain a smile; she wanted to help you finish cooking, of course, but you insisted.
- She wastes no time digging in. Within moments of her first taste, she rocks forward and moans with delight, and your entire world is at peace.
- "Oh...this is good...really good!"
- She takes another bite, then another, then another, and before long she's cleaned the plate entirely, setting her fork down with a punctuating clank.
- "I didn't know you were such a great cook! Promise me you'll make it again sometime soon?"
- "Of course."
- She glows with a radiant contentment that bathes you in warmth — the kind that soothes your soul on even the hottest of days.
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