Closed If You Give a Bee a Cookie

Yeva goes to the home of Darius Baer, where they bond over good news and sweets.

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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If You Give a Bee a Cookie

21 Ashan 720

After an early shift at the Order and quick visit to market, Yeva was climbing the budding hills with an armful of groceries and a satchel swinging from her shoulder, stopping halfway to catch her breath, not having expected the trip to be so arduous, "I have to get a horse... eventually," With the increasing lactic acid, her sore calves protested for a longer break that she refused to allow.

Yeva didn't want to be late.

She picked up her pace, wheezing until she reached the top of the incline and looking down the way she came with triumph in her white smile. The view was lovely and there was something to be said in all the effort, "So this is Faldrass Lane," The Hallow Sea was stunning, a icy blue that stretched past Scalvoris Town and she got a bit lost in admiring the scenery, clutching eggs and milk and sugar. It wasn't until her arms began to tire that she realized she better get the rest of the ingredients to the house.

Eventually she made it.

'It's so cute,' she noticed, closing in on the small gated garden. It was mostly barren given the frost of Ashan, but she could imagine it sunny with a small patch of veggies or herbs and the house itself had a homely, familiarity to it. Made of timber, stone and clay, she touched the fence and smiled in admiration. It suited him, "Darius?" she called, a little cautious as she approached the house. He had received her letter and should be expecting her, but she felt a sudden shyness at the door. Unable to give a proper knock given her housewarming gifts, she nudged her tip of her boot against the frame three times in a makeshift knock, "It's Yeva! I've brought food, like I promised." Breathless, she tried to adjust her hold on the bags, catching them before they could leap from her arms and onto the porch. Wouldn't that have just been awful?

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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

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Arc 720, 21st of Ashan
A bead of sweat clung desperately to Darius' brow as he worked. With every push, the droplet threatened to jump to its own demise, and yet it somehow found a way to hang on, a small collection of blond hairs keeping it in place.

Beneath it, a pair of dark grey eyes studied a piece of wood with a sense of focus. Thin shavings of wood were curling like waves at the beach as the plane scraped its way across the surface. Darius' grip on it was firm, with one hand on the knob and the other on the tote, following the grain with each push.

The seafarer was relishing the toolkit his father had gifted him the previous trial, and despite the cool weather, the labour had provided its own warmth. It was as he was reached the end of the length of wood that he heard a voice.

A sense of panic teased at his senses. Was it that time already? He could have sworn he had only been using his new tools for half a break or so, but the pile of shavings on the floor suggested otherwise. He quickly set the plane down and rotated the handle on his wooden vice so that the wooden dowels released the pressure on the block of wood. It came loose, and Darius puled it free and set it aside.

After a quick swig from his waterskin, the human wiped his brow with the back of a forearm, finally putting the bead of sweat out of its misery.

He stepped outside, then - not via the front door of his house like his guest might have expected - but from the workshop behind the main building. The cool air felt as though it might go through him, for he had a sheen of sweat clinging to his neck and chest, and his tunic had been worn casually as he'd

Resisting the chill, he turned and saw Yeva outside his home, struggling with her arms full of ingredients.

"Sorry," he called out with a large smile, feeling his heart swell at the sight of the redhead, "I lost track of time."

He rushed across to the woman, tiny wood shavings escaping his boots and falling onto the simple path as he moved. He reached out to take some of the ingredients or the young woman's satchel - whatever was easiest for her to extricate herself from. He had larger hands and longer arms, and was confident he could ease her burden.

"It's good to see you," he smiled as he carefully navigated the door handle and pushed the door open. "Welcome to my humble abode."

He kicked his boots clean and stepped inside, then turned to face his guest, noting her flushed cheeks and the view down the street to the Hollow Sea behind her.

"How did you find the hill?" he grinned, a glint of mischief in his eye as he waited for Yeva to join him.
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

Home & Humble

A deep and familiar voice rumbled not from behind the door, but from the side of the building where its owner emerged, bright and beaming. Darius' tunic looked disheveled with bits of debris clinging to its folds and she gave an apologetic smile, shifting a bag to rest on her hip, while he scooped the other from her thankful arms, "You're sorry? I should be saying the same thing. It looks like I've interrupted you," In fact...

Yeva leaned back on her heel, taking in his full height and the slight sheen of sweat that gave his skin a bright appearance. He'd been working, by the looks of it, "The hill was in fine shape; can't say the same for me... Is this wood?" she watched him with a curious smile, trailing after him as they entered the door, her own boots thudding as she stomped away outside slush and plucked a brown curl from his shoulder blade. He smelled like sawdust; she must have caught him mid carving or... whatever it was carpenters did. Yeva realized how little she knew about the craft, although she had foggy memory of her father whittling beside the winter fire. That was back when they still lived on the orchard, "I didn't know you liked woodworking. Hobby or job?"

Yeva finally turned and took the trills to catch her breath, admiring the homey setting. It needed a bit of color in her opinion - what she could see was practical and comfortable looking, but there was a subtle lack of feminine touch and no where near enough books. There was too much space on the shelves, neither filled with literature or knickknacks. Maybe she could find something for him at market - a birth trial present... When would that be, she wondered?

The house must have suited him, and she tried to imagine him lounging about, or stumbling in after a night on the town. Funny what seeing someone's living arrangements could reveal, "May I?" she asked, already moving past the couch towards the dining table where she could lay out what she brought, and shrug off her cloak. Free from the wind and weather, she was suddenly quite warm in the space and took her outerwear off to reveal a long sleeved tunic tucked into gray overalls, which must have been at least two sizes too big. Various mismatched colored cotton patched old snags and replaced one of the back pockets, giving the comfy clothing a playful whimsicality.

"So," Yeva was already taking out the groceries, lining her gifts in neat rows, "I wasn't sure what you already had, so... I got a bit of everything. Just what we'll need for the recipe. I know, it's probably too much," A half dozen eggs bound and layered in cloth, a jar of sugar, flour and casings of churned butter. Vanilla. Cocoa. Ground coffee. Hand hovering, she counted silently, lips moving as she tried to remember if she was forgetting anything. Yeva removed her satchel and stacked a hardcover tome, followed by a tightly rolled apron tossed in his direction, and then an hourglass, "Most are pantry staples, so I didn't think you could have too much. I-"

She suddenly came up short and her shoulders dropped while her brows knitted in realization, "I'm so sorry," She had practically blown in like a tornado, maybe not as fast, but certainly just as sweeping, "I'm getting carried away, aren't I?" she cupped her face with both hands, embarrassed, "I haven't been anyone's company in awhile. I'm forgetting my manners. You could show me around, or, better yet," Yeva untied a ribbon from her wrist, finger combing her hair back in a bundle to tie it up, smiling sheepishly whens he was done, "Show me what you were working on before I arrived? I'd love to see it. Butter needs to soften anyway."

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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

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Darius shook his head gently at Yeva's apology, waving his hand as if to brush her contrition away. He clearly thought she had nothing to apologise for, and he quickly decided that the best way to express such a view was to say no more on the topic.

He did chuckle, though, when the young redhead commented on the size of the hill and her relative fitness. He had already seen the the heat in her cheeks, and he juggled the bag into one arm so that he could could grab the waterflask on his hip, and he held it out to the young woman.

"Aye," he nodded when she asked as she plucked a shaving from his shoulder. "My father bought me a fine woodworking kit from your home town. I've only had it for a trial, but have been trying out some of the tools."

He paused as he contemplated Yeva's question of how seriously he took the craftwork.

"I'd say it's...a hobby that occasionally pays," he grinned. "Da used to do it when I was a child, and I made a cup for the Gifting Trial earlier this month. I'm hoping to get better at it."

As his guest stepped inside, he watched as she did what any first time visitor might do, her honey brown eyes taking in the sight that greeted her. He saw her gaze linger ever so briefly on the half empty bookcase, and although she said nothing to suggest any form of judgment, he suddenly realised how simple his furnishings were.

"I don't often have the pleasure of company in my own home."

The admission - his father lived locally, but it was usually child who visited parent - came with a casual shrug of Darius' broad shoulders as he followed his guest and placed his bag of ingredients upon the table. He eased his waterflask out of the medic's grasp, before offering to help her unload the rest of her items, but she had beaten him to it, and was already unpacking the food. Feeling the warmth in the room, he took a swig of his own water, before taking the woman's coat and resting it on the back of one of his dining chairs.

Dark grey eyes studied Yeva as she busily explained why she had brought such a vast array of ingredients, and wrinkles slowly formed outside each as a curious smile began to creep across the human's face. The young woman was a tornado, clearly taking the task of feeding them seriously. He couldn't deny that he was impressed by how industrious she clearly seemed to be, and that she took such effort meant their friendship meant something to her - as if her letter hadn't already made that clear.

"No, you're doing fine," he grinned. "I like your enthusiasm."

He looked about the room when Yeva suggested a tour, then returned his attention to her when she offered his woodworking alternative.

"Oh, well sure," he nodded. "I've mostly been trying out the new tools, but I'm working on a couple of things."

He watched, the slightest of grins teasing at the edges of his mouth as Yeva began to tie her hair with a ribbon. He was reminded of a more innocent time. What was it with ribbons and girls with curls? He spared an absent thought, wondering what had become of Gwendoline.

When Yeva's red hair was tied up, he politely led her back whence they came. The colder air sent a shiver through the woodworker as it brushed against the sweat on his skin, but the walk wasn't long, so he hadn't bothered to don a coat. The workshop was much smaller than the house, but it was built in the same style. Inside, a sturdy and well-used workbench lined one wall, its thick wood lined with various cuts and marks. Atop it were a collection of small projects: a wooden stool that needed to be sanded down; a collection of wooden dice in various states of creation; a block of wood with various letters carved into it.

Each project had a brief story to tell.

"...a stool for me to sit on while I'm in here..."

"...remember the casino? I'm trying to make them as balanced as possible..."

"...I enjoy carving, but I haven't done much since I named my rowboat..."

Wood shavings and sawdust were scattered about the place - something that Darius would have usually swept outside with the broom that hung on the wall, had he not lost track of time. And in one corner, impeccably clean and free of any motes, rested a heavy chest. The carvings on its lid were ornate, signifying that the chest itself was a fine piece of workmanship.

"And this is what Da gave me yesterday. He got it from the Glass Quarter in Rharne, apparently!"

The pride in Darius' voice was mixed with the sense of disbelief that he still felt towards such an extraordinary gift. If Yeva was to get curious, and open the lid or one of its many drawers, she would be greeted by many tools of the finest quality, their metal glinting as they caught the sunlight through the window.

"And if you think that climb was hard with those groceries," he quipped with a cheeky wink and a friendly chuckle, "you should try getting this chest up the hill!"
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

Let Them Eat Cake


Yeva fell in line behind Darius, forgoing her coat when they walked back outside and rounded the building. She shivered at the temperature change but said nothing, simply hugging her arms to her chest as they stepped into the workshop and she smiled at the mess. He certainly had been busy judging from the mass of shavings piled on the floor, and she then scooted towards the work bench to observe the projects while Darius gave explanation, picking up one of the die and holding it up to her face for a better look.

"I remember... most of it," Yeva smirked to herself and carefully dropped the die. It bounced and rolled, but not far, the soft and short lived patter resounding in the workspace. She picked them back up, shook them in her hand and blew across them for good luck. Then, without rolling them again, she set them down, aligning the tiny cubes in a neat row, "I drink too much when we're together; Still, it was fun... I think."

She laughed softly.

While admiring the work, Darius was eager to draw her attention to the star of the show. He directed her towards the immaculate chest, rich wood and detailed carvings. Her brows rose, and then he followed up with explanation, ""And this is what Da gave me yesterday. He got it from the Glass Quarter in Rharne, apparently!"

"Really?" she laughed again, more embodied, "For a moment, I thought you were about to say that you made this. " The Glass Quarter, huh? This piece must have cost a small fortune, but she didn't say so. It was a gift and he was proud of it. Rightly so. Darius joked about carrying up the hill and she snorted, sticking her tongue out at his wink. Then, while running her hands over the design, she pulled open a drawer to see the fine tools. For the time, Yeva forgot the chill and peered up at him from where she crouched, "I didn't miss your birth trial, did I?"

She had considered getting him a gift when they were inside, but she wouldn't put it past fate to play a trick on her such as this, "We could always bake a cake, you know. I'm not sure how they celebrate in Scalvoris, but there are all kinds of flavors. Chocolate, vanilla, raspberry swirl, banana nut, carrot..." she tried to think of more, "Lemon drop..."

That was all the came to mind. Maybe she should have added that just because she knew their names did not mean she had any idea how to make them. But that was what cookbooks were for, right?

A grin brightened her face and then she could help but ask, suddenly curious as she held up a few of the carving utensils, "How old are you exactly, Darius?"
Last edited by Yeva on Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 482
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

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Darius was well aware of his deficiencies as a woodworker. He did not know how much he had yet to learn, but he knew it was a lot, so it might have been expected for him to feel insecure about showing his incomplete projects to someone else.

But not with Yeva.

Perhaps it was the caring heart that she had exhibited when they had searched for the missing children the previous month, but he didn't fear that she would judge his abilities as harshly as he did himself.

He felt a grin stretching his lips as the redhead looked at his small creations, and chuckled quietly when she blew on the dice.

"Lady Luck," he mused. "I wonder if she might visit us the next time we gamble?"

Darius chuckled at Yeva's comment about alcohol. They had only had drinks together the one time - at the casino - but they had been feeling rather worse for wear the following morning. Fortunately, that hadn't prevented them from putting an end to the kidnappings.

A single brow was cocked as the curly-haired woman examined the tool chest. His eyes looked across at her, and he offered her a gentle smile as he shook his head.

"Whoever carved this is far more talented than I," he acknowledged, before adding: "but one trial..."

His smile grew broader at that thought.

Darius snorted when Yeva stuck her tongue out at him, and he took a moment to reflect on how much he enjoyed the young woman's company. Their relationship was an easy and relaxing one, and the blond felt he could be himself around his friend. Her next question, followed by a mouth-watering list of cakes, caused him to chuckle, and he crouched down so that he was at the redhead's eyelevel.

"Fret not, Yeva," he grinned. "There's still plenty of time to miss my birthtrial. It isn't until the 14th of Vhalar. And banana cake sounds wonderful. When is yours?"

He paused in thought for a few short moments, and his smile gently faded.

"Did you know that we don't usually have celebrations for birthtrials, except for children? Scalvoris tradition says that once we come of age, we should give others gifts."

A flash of mischief crossed his grey eyes and his grin returned as he slowly stood.

"So if we're still friends in Vhalar, I will turn twenty-eight arcs old, and maybe you'll get a gift of your own."

Darius knew he was being cheeky, but he was also being sincere. His friendship with Yeva had been a pleasant surprise, and he hoped it would last beyond him turning an arc older.

"Mind you," he added with a laugh, "some say that people born in Vhalar are clever and wise, so take that for what it's worth!"

Then, assuming Yeva's woodworking curiosity to be satisfied, he moved towards the door.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 491
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

Birthday Buds

Yeva smirked at the mention of Lady Luck. She had sung a little jingle, a Rharnian tavern song, the night of the casino, not long before Darius had lit her mouth on fire. It had no doubt hurt, but he had only been playing a prank and she had believed the sailor to have good taste, even if his flavor choices sometimes bit back, "You would like a banana cake," it was an odd choice, and not one she had bought fruit for at market. Maybe she really would have to wait for his birth trial. Yeva smirked, glancing over at him. Darius had lowered himself to her level. She liked that. Although he was so much larger, he liked to speak to her on her own level when he could, an equal, "I prefer a cinnamon crumble. My momma makes it every arc for me. Hm, it's so good," a warm smile brightened her face, listening as Darius informed her of Scalvoris tradition.

Yeva cocked a brow. She didn't want to say it was weird, per say - it was just different than her own lifestyle. In fact, Scalvoris' approach had a nice intent. Once you were an able adult, you had to give back. It was a nice thought, but not much on making an individual feel particularly special. Or maybe they thought that since they were the gift, it was only natural to give more? She mused on this, realizing that he had asked her own birth trial date; she just found this tradition curious, "Scalvoris likes gifts," she noted, thinking on the gifting trial, "That's funny for a place established by pirates... Rharne just wants any reason to eat and drink - birth trials included. Usually it's polite to always bring a bottle or a barrel for any host, but everything else is just a nice added extra."

She scratched at her arm, catching the devious look Darius seemed to hold and watching him grin.

So, he would be twenty-eight.

That made him nearly five or six arcs older depending on the season. It seemed their celebrations weren't far from one another.

"Just maybe?" she barked a laugh, "Fine. That's fair. I'll keep that in mind when the twelve trials of Zi'da come around."

Then, he added the bit of superstition about their shared season, "Hey!" Yeva lightly smacked him on the forearm, "I'm born in Vhalar; Vhalar six. I'll be twenty-three." already she was chuckling, grinning in faux smugness, "So you can take that for what it's worth! Sounds like someone knew what they were talking about to me."

Yeva ran her hand across the carved wooden chest once more, rising to her feet and held out a hand to help pull him to his feet. He was nearing old age, after all. His knees weren't what they used to be, "C'mon, Vhalar baby, we better go. We've got a fire to start and you should probably get cleaned up or you'll end up with a woodworker's pie. Shavings and sawdust flavor," she snorted, heading towards the door and bracing herself for the cold, "I'm thinking a simple chocolate chip cookie. How's that sound?"
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

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Darius nodded when Yeva repeated his preferred choice of cake, though he was unaware that the woman from Rharne considered it an unusual choice.

"Aye, Ma used to make it for me every birthtrial," he grinned, recalling simpler times. "The bananas would come to Scalv-Town on a ship from Athart, and Ma would buy them at the market. She'd put a chocolate icing on top. I always used to look forward to it."

Darius' gaze had grown distant, lost in reminiscence and tinged with pain, for he could not think about his mother without feeling a measure of grief, even though such memories ultimately warmed his heart.

"I don't know how to bake a cake," he added, his eyes regaining their focus as he seemingly returned to the present moment, "but Da might have one of Ma's old recipe books...?"

The blond shrugged his broad shoulders. He wasn't sure if Yeva would be interested in the slightest, for as far as he could tell, she already knew much more about baking than he did, so perhaps it was a rather redundant offer - but it was an offer nonetheless.

"I've not had cinnamon crumble. Maybe next time, you should share."

And with that cheeky comment, his grin returned, and he nodded when Yeva commented on the traditions of their respective home towns.

"Aye, and quite the drinker you turned out to be!" he snorted. "You must have missed your own birthtrial a few times, hmm?"

Darius was still laughing when Yeva revealed that she too was a Vhalar baby.

"That makes it easy to remember when your birthtrial is, but it does mean one thing can't be right," he teased. "The thing about being wise, of course."

Graciously accepting the offered hand, Darius returned to his feet, though he put his weight on the chest for fear that he might pull the redhead back to the ground if he didn't actually put in some effort of his own. Once he'd risen, his tall frame towered over that of his friend, which only seemed to be accentuated by the fact that his friend was the younger of the pair. Five arcs was not a long time, he pondered, which was probably part of the reason why they seemed to get along so well.

"Twenty-three, eh?" he replied, feigning a contemplative expression. "Shouldn't you be respecting your elders, then?"

He guffawed at the woman's mention of a woodworker's pie, before nodding, and guiding them both through the door and out into the cold, which once again clung to the thin trails of sweat that he had earned before his visitor's arrival. He walked alongside Yeva on the side of the path facing the Hollow Sea, so that she might be somewhat sheltered between friend and building. Returning the house, he opened the door and let the redhead enter first.

"Aye, chocolate chip cookies sound delicious," he nodded, his mouth already beginning to salivate. "I'll get the fire started."

The bearded human walked into the kitchen and began to do precisely that, getting down onto his haunches and taking kindling from a pile beside the hearth, before striking some flint with a sharp piece of steel until the sparks took hold. He blew on the tiny flames, encouraging them to grow, until they no longer needed his help, and he closed the front grate of the hearth so that the smoke would escape through the chimney, while the heat could still seep through the house and keep them both warm.

"I'd better have that bath," he said as he stood once more, "lest I get sawdust in the dough. I'll make sure I'm quick, though, so you don't have time to eat all the cookies before I get back!"

He let out a chuckle - something that was always easy to accomplish in Yeva's presence - as he made his way out of the kitchen through a side door, strong hands reaching for the hem of his tunic as he disappeared through the doorway.
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

Starting from Scratch


Darius led the walk back to the main house. Yeva followed, making an effort to match his long strides, while also patting the fence posts of the garden as they passed, "I hope they taste good," she commented, "If we don't burn them, maybe we could take some to your father?" Yeva looked up, trying to figure out if he thought it was a promising idea. She sidestepped, smiling as he moved to the kitchen and began to gather the wood. She watched him work briefly, more out of curiosity than need and then set to work.

She started first by tying her apron around her waist, tongue pocking out slightly as she struggled with tying the knot around the small of her back. Or was she supposed to wrap it back around the front and tie it? She fussed for awhile longer but once it was secured around her neck as well, she leaned over the counter and began to hum softly, flipping through the pages of her culinary book. It had extensive knowledge on technique and flavors, this particular segment of the encyclopedia focusing largely on desserts, with each sub-chapter labelled by topic followed with a list of recipes sorted by difficulty. Chocolate chip cookies fell somewhere in the middle - apparently there were a number of ways to increase flavor and challenge rating, like crafting a sort of toffee to crush and add alongside the chocolate, however, skimming over the instructions (and time requirements), she had her doubts on whether they would have been able to execute the final product.

"Do you have mixing bowls?"

Asking the question, she began to peek inside the cupboards, rising on her tiptoes to get the best vantage point. She spotted some deep and round wooden bowls, on a higher shelf which she strained to reach, "I'm fine," the fiery woman huffed, determined to not need any help, and eventually, after a bit of small jumping, hooked the rim and pulled them downward, which she scrambled to catch. Each bowl seemed determined to bounce in her arms, but they did not clatter to the floor - no - Yeva used her perfected reflexes (clearly) to yelp and dance around, snatching at the air until all were settled in her arms. When she looked back up at the blonde, she cleared her throat, cheeks already reddening with a sheepish smile, "See?"

Yeva cleared her throat, setting them delicately upon the table and unveiling a few of her own winnings from the Scalv-hunt. Sturdy and well made measuring cups and spoons, a sifter and whisk. Their handles were inlaid with carvings of her name, similar in craftsmanship of Darius' chest of tools, and she stroked them with a quiet reverence. Behind her, Darius had gotten the fire going and the warmth slithered through the air, biting away the chill, "Maybe we should double the recipe," she muttered softly as her friend headed towards the hall with his hands on his hem. This said it only made twelve? Was that sizable cookies or tiny ones that could fit in the palm of the hand?

"Maybe even triple it?"

Flipping to a blank sheet of paper in her journal, she titled and dated the page, then made a few calculations.
12x3=36
Twelve cookies for me, for Darius, for his father(?)

½ cup white sugar
½ x 3 = 1.5 cups white sugar
She paused, grabbing her measuring cup and checking her math. She did the same with each item on the list, the eggs, butter, vanilla, flour... there was only one item that she struggled with.

"Uh, Dari," Yeva pulled her cook book in her arms and laid her calculations upon the open pages, cradling both as she shuffled towards the hallway, "I know you're taking a bath, but," brown eyes glanced down to the measurements as she leaned against the archway, calling down the length of the house, "How much is 3 times 3/4ths, you think?"
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Re: If You Give a Bee a Cookie

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Darius was quick to smile and nod in agreement at Yeva's suggestion of delivering homebaked goods to his father. Josef Baer had mostly kept to himself since his wife's passing, and though Darius did check in on him regularly, he suspected the man had few other visitors. A little dose of domesticated comfort would probably be a nice treat.

"Aye, I think he'd like that."

All they had to do now was not burn the cookies...which made Darius relieved that Yeva would be guiding the process. He was confident that his friend knew what she was doing - a view that remained because his back was turned when she was trying to work out how to wear an apron.

He did, however, turn around just in time to witness the redhead's attempts to overcome her comparative lack of height as she fumbled through the cupboards. He would have offered to help, but the petite baker insisted she was capable, and he was not about to tell her that she was anything but, and so he patiently watched on in silence before affording her a sympathetic smile and stifling a lighthearted chuckle as she completed her impressive juggling act.

"Perhaps I should make a stool, in case you visit me again," he spoke in a gentle tone, though there was no hiding the mirth in his eyes.

Darius finally approached his friend as she set out some of her equipment, and he picked up the measuring spoons, turning them over in his hand and seeing the orange glow of the fire in their reflection. Suitably impressed, he returned them to the bench and turned away as Yeva suggested doubling the portions.

His tunic was on the floor and the bath was half full when he heard the redhead's voice call out to him. Was she approaching? He shot a gaze towards his discarded item of clothing, weighing up whether to put it back on. He wasn't exactly familiar with being topless in front of a woman - even a friend - but the tunic was sweaty and sprinkled with wood shavings. What was he to do?

Pulling open his door, he peered out from behind it, and looked down the stairs to where Yeva stood. It seemed silly to hide behind a door, and unbecoming of a host, so he forced himself to step around it and make his way down the stairs, though not without some effort to retain his dignity. Yeva would see that, like his tunic, his boots had been similarly discarded, and he wore only leggings. But his arms were crossed, palms against his chest and fingers hidden in his armpits, and his cheeks were flushed beneath his beard. A faint smell of dried sweat accompanied him. There was no denying the raw strength of the man's form, but he did not walk with the confidence of someone who knew it. Rather, his steps were shy and awkward.

"Uh," he managed, peering over at Yeva's workings. 3 times 3 is 9, so...9/4ths?"

The blond paused, playing with the numbers inside his head, before nodding.

"Aye," he confirmed. "It's 9/4ths, which is...2 and 1/4th."

Darius beamed with pride for just a moment, until he realised the conversation had essentially come to an end and he was now standing next to the pretty Yeva of Rharne, without a top on, and in that moment, he froze. Immortals, this felt awkward!
word count: 583
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