This is a twitter thread story for luckychan (yep most things are for luckychan, because she is an awesome person and deserves all the love). Some Harmonics is needed but not a lot. I hope you like.
Making soufflé, unfortunately, was not one of Soji’s many food talents. He was best of course at the colder pastries, then at sturdy things like muffins and breads, which anyway was the main lineup of the coffee shop. Soufflés tended to collapse at him. Despite many practice attempts, the soufflé either didnt rise at all, or rose then quickly collapsed. Rowan as well as the rest of the coffee shop staff had eaten a good number of these failed attempts, always thanking him, and telling him they tasted very good.
“Why are you even practicing, Chief?” Rowan asked. “Our pastries are just fine.”
“Not for the shop,” he said. “Special menu.”
Rowan grinned. “Do I have an idea who gets the special menu?”
Soji scratched his head.
Rowan shrugged. “As long as it works with straight-up black?”
Soji reddened. “Yes.”
Rowan’s grin widened. “Chief. I’ve never seen Master Lan eat soufflé, anywhere. Probably too sweet to his liking. So I’m really not sure why you’re trying.”
Soji shrugged. “Still worth trying. Something different.”
They were discussing this while Soji was mixing up the ingredients and warming up the oven for his latest attempt. It was the quieter time of the afternoon,before the next wave of customers entered.
They both heard the chime of the front door,so Rowan walked out to the register.
Rowan waved. “Hey, Master Lan.”
Lan waved back silently as he dragged his feet to an empty table and chair.
“The usual?” Rowan asked.
Lan nodded, silently.
Lan shook his head.
“You, okay, sir?”
Lan sighed as he nodded,as he placed his satchel on the table.
Soji, meanwhile, had placed the ingredients into the serving cup and placed it into the oven. He placed his hand over his heart. “Please,by He who controls all programs, please be good soufflé already. Because Master Lan already here.”
But Rowan returned to the kitchen. “Um, Chief? Something’s wrong again with Master Lan.”
Soji kept his eye on the oven window, his hand over his heart, still carefully watching the soufflé. “What do you mean?”
“See for yourself?”
Soji rose and walked out of the kitchen.
Lan had brought out papers from his satchel, but he had draped his head over them, pillowed by his arms. His eyes were already closed, but he was breathing rapidly. Soji walked quickly to him, placing a hand on his forehead. It was very warm.
Soji placed the hand again over Lan’s forehead and gave it a strip of coolness. He patted Lan’s shoulder. “Lan,” he spoke directly, urgently. “You need to lie down.”
The other managed to open his eyes. “Soj. It’s fine. I need to finish grading.”
“Rest first, then grading!” Soji repeated.
“Thanks…but they need to be finished…”
“Well, eat first, then rest, then finish grading!”
“Alright…” Lan’s head sank back. “Soj.”
“You’re making soufflé again,aren’t you.”
Soji ran back to the kitchen.
He arrived just in time to see a perfectly risen soufflé.
He could not believe his eyes, even as he took it out of the oven and placed it on the rack. Finally, he did it right.
But, suddenly, this was not the most important thing.
He walked back to Lan. Lan’s head had fallen back onto the table.
“Please, Lan,” Soji pleaded. “Rest upstairs.”
Lan opened his eyes again and smiled weakly. “What about the soufflé?”
“Why you keep asking?”
Lan smiled. “Because it’s important to you.”
“Because I want you to try it!”
Soji smiled. “Kept trying to make soufflé,hoping to let you taste it. But…you sick right now,some other day, I make chicken soup now–”
“Sure, I’ll have it,” Lan said.
“It’s alright. You worked on it.”
“With coffee.The usual.”
“You promise to rest.”
Soji returned to the kitchen. The soufflé was still intact, still risen. He placed a hand over his heart and thanked the one who controls all. Then he prayed for Lan.
He brought out the soufflé with a cup of espresso, lowering the tray beside Lan, who had lowered his head again.
Soji patted Lan’s shoulder, told him he was now going back to make the soup.
He did go back toward the kitchen, but could not help peeking out.
He watched as Lan slowly lifted himself from the table, slowly took the spoon, and opened the soufflé. He watched as Lan scooped out the contents, washing it down with coffee. He saw Lan smile as another scoop was swallowed, and all the failed attempts were forgotten. He saw the serving cup emptied of its contents, and he remembered why he had kept trying.
He saw Lan with a satisfied quiet smile,and he knew why he did all of this.
Rowan needed to tap his shoulder to make him return to his senses. “Chief,the soup’s ready.”
Soji shook himself from his reverie.”Th-thank you.”
“Don’t worry about us, Chief, bring Master Lan upstairs.”
Soji packed all Lan’s papers backed into the satchel, pulled Lan up to stand, then set him walking up to his own quarters, upstairs from the shop.
He then settled Lan into his bed, placing another cool strip on his forehead.
“That soufflé was incredible.”
Soji’s cheeks reddened and warmed. “Go rest now, Lan–”
“Thank you for making it. It’s an honor.”
“You are talking with fever, is all–”
Lan closed his eyes. “You’re always so kind to me,why.”
“I…um…you are special. Always.”
“You are loved, always.”
Soji watched as Lan gradually fell asleep.
He tucked him in. He would be checking on him later, but for now Lan was settled.
He took a calming breath, then bent down, gently placing a kiss on Lan’s forehead.
And all was settled for then.