Something...wasn't quite right.
That was the best way Weiss could describe the plate sitting in front of her, which was supposed to be piled high with delicious, fluffy pancakes. What was once sticky, off-white batter should now be golden and...well, they should look at least remotely similar to the pancakes Yang made at least once a month.
Where did Weiss go wrong?
Spatula still in hand, she stared at the instructions on her scroll - not that she needed to. She'd read the recipe so many times, she had it memorized by now.
After following the directions exactly as they were spelled out, how had her version of this common breakfast food turned out less 'golden' and more...browned to the point of nearly being burned? And why weren't they perfect circles like Yang's were? There weren't specific instructions on how to drop the batter into the pan, but Weiss assumed she could at least do that much on her own.
"'It's easy,'" she mimicked in Yang's voice while scrolling through the instructions one more time. "'Just follow the recipe. Anyone can make them.'"
Apparently, Weiss wasn't just 'anyone' - something she'd always assumed yet interpreted in a much more positive manner.
She was Weiss Schnee. She was capable of anything she put her mind to. Nothing was outside her realm of expertise, not when she would train and study harder than anyone else to succeed. At least, that's what she thought before this morning.
Sticking a fork into one of the 'pancakes' - which crunched as a bit of burned crust broke off - she held it up in the air and gave it a sniff. Even the smell was off. There was no buttery, floury scent. Instead, it smelled like...frying pan.
A part of her thought that Yang switched the recipe or gave her the wrong directions on purpose, because that was something Yang would find funny. However, the majority of her knew that wasn't the case (in this instance). When she asked for the recipe, she made sure to let Yang know it was important to her. As their friendship had grown closer, Weiss understood that Yang was one of the most supportive people on the planet when she knew the importance behind a request.
Which meant this recipe was correct, and Weiss was the one who messed it up.
Unfortunately, she didn't have time to start over. She'd been so (wrongfully) confident in her cooking abilities that she left herself no margin for error. In hindsight, that was a monumental mistake. Sure, a five-step process looked woefully elementary compared to some of the coursework they were assigned, but she underestimated the severe lack of her cooking knowledge. Starting from zero, she would never make it to one hundred in a single attempt, and now -
The door burst open, throwing a gust of red petals into the small kitchen as Ruby raced inside.
"Good morning!" Ruby chirped, her grin lighting up Weiss' morning regardless of the circumstances.
"Good morning, Ruby."
Dropping Crescent Rose near the table, Ruby lifted her nose in the air and sniffed.
"Hey, that smells fantastic! What'd you make?"
Glancing at the rather sad attempt at breakfast sitting on the counter behind her, Weiss thought for a second that she might just order food instead. But she'd invited Ruby here this morning under the very express words of 'I'd like to cook breakfast for you.' It would be suspicious if she did a complete about-face and ordered breakfast rather than present her failed attempt at cooking.
Why was she trying so hard? Sure, Ruby loved food in general, and homemade food in particular. Sure, when she ate pancakes for breakfast, she was so happy that it made Weiss' heart stutter in her chest. And sure, maybe Weiss selfishly wanted to be the cause of Ruby's happiness. But this time she'd severely overreached her means and potentially made a fool of herself.
"I...well, I tried to make pancakes," she admitted, picking up the plate and setting it on the table. Ruby looked at them - for an instant appearing more curious than anything else - but then she broke into a huge smile.
"You're the best!"
In a burst of petals, Ruby reached Weiss' side and pulled her into a tight hug - nuzzling into her hair in a way that made her heart swoon - before racing back to the table.
"I'm so hungry too," Ruby added while piling pancakes onto the second plate Weiss had set out for her. "I was trying out some new stuff this morning - I have a bunch to show you later!"
Without a second thought about the pancakes' appearance, Ruby drowned them in her usual amount of syrup and started eating.
"Mmm! These are perfect after training." Taking another bite, Ruby wore a thoughtful expression before swallowing. "They'd actually be perfect after anything."
While Ruby demolished her food, Weiss sat down and watched - her brow furrowed as she tried to determine whether or not Ruby was telling the truth.
Well, she already knew Ruby was telling the truth because Ruby couldn't lie if her life depended on it. But how could she think these were perfect? Clearly, they weren't. Weiss would readily admit that, so why wouldn't Ruby?
"Are you going to have some?"
When Ruby pushed the plate closer, Weiss shook her head.
"I already ate, but thank you."
"More grapefruits?" Ruby teased while taking the rest of the pancakes and adding them to her pool of syrup.
"Just one grapefruit," Weiss replied, her consternation growing when Ruby set in on the second-helping of pancakes with gusto.
"Are they really ok?" she finally asked.
When Weiss nodded towards the plate, Ruby looked down in surprise.
"Of course they are! They're awesome!"
"But they're burned."
Shrugging, Ruby looked at Weiss and grinned.
"A little bit, but I don't think that's bad."
"And they're lumpy," Weiss pointed out, feeling slightly incredulous that Ruby wasn't seeing all the flaws. "They're not even round - you can hardly even call them pancakes."
"And that's not a bad thing!"
After the two of them stared at each other for a few minutes - neither willing to concede to the other, Ruby set her fork down and stood up.
"Ruby -" Weiss began to ask, but Ruby had already walked around the table and knelt down by Weiss' side. When she reached out to hold Weiss' hands, the butterflies really started - fluttering like crazy through Weiss' chest.
"I really like them. Sure, they don't look like 'typical' pancakes, but they taste good. And they're really special...because you made them."
The words, combined with the earnestness in Ruby's eyes, made Weiss never want to let go of this moment - which was more than she could have wished for from a stack of burned pancakes. And while she didn't quite understand why this moment made her heart beat faster and her palms grow clammy, she didn't quite care.
"They'll be better next time," she promised, resolving herself to spending all of her free time in the dorm's small kitchen until she perfected this strangely-difficult craft.
"Can't wait!" With another grin, Ruby popped to her feet and went back to her seat. "I'll be your taste tester!"
The offer made Weiss inexplicably happy - so much so that she watched with a smile as Ruby finished the rest of her 'failed' attempt at breakfast. Realistically, she understood that burned pancakes weren't as good as soft, buttery ones. She understood that somehow she cooked them too long, didn't mix them quite right, and spilled the batter in less-than-circular shapes. She understood that they weren't perfect like she wanted them to be. What she'd forgotten was that Ruby didn't expect her to be perfect. Ruby only wanted her to try her best - and that was more than enough.
"Thank you, Ruby…" Weiss whispered while Ruby finished eating and set her fork across the plate.
"Thank you! That was an awesome breakfast!"
Those simple words made it feel like Weiss could float right out of her chair. She could be floating for the rest of the day, really, and the rest of the year if it continued at this pace.
"You wanna get some training in?" As usual, Ruby's eyes sparkled with excitement at the prospect of training together, which always made Weiss feel incredibly valued. Treasured, even.
Her. Weiss Schnee. Someone valued her, even though she wasn't perfect. Someone treasured her, even though she couldn't even make pancakes correctly.
"Let me clean up first?" she replied, gesturing towards the dishes on the table. "Then I'll meet you there."
"But I can help clean up!"
Before Ruby could pick up the plate, Weiss reached out to stop her.
"Please, let me do it." Looking across the table, Weiss smiled at Ruby - for much more than her endless sweetness and willingness to help others. "This morning was my treat, after all."
Again, Ruby's eyes lit up with happiness - not because she'd gotten out of cleaning, but because Weiss reminded her that breakfast was a special treat just for her. There was a reason Weiss hadn't invited their other teammates, after all.
"You're the best." Leaning across the table, Ruby kissed Weiss' cheek before grabbing Crescent Rose and heading for the door. "I'll meet you over there - you know where to find me!"
With that, Ruby disappeared as quickly as she'd appeared, leaving nothing but petals and a shell-shocked Weiss in her wake.
Weiss didn't know how long she sat there, glued to her seat while staring at the empty space in front of her. Her heart raced, her mind reeled, and her cheek blushed where Ruby's lips had just been. It was only when she realized that she was making Ruby wait that she stood and took the dishes to the sink.
The small kitchen was provided so that students could make their own meals when they so desired, but it was their job to keep everything clean and orderly. With that objective in mind, she washed the dishes while allowing her mind to wander - where else, but to Ruby.
No matter how much time they spent together, Weiss wanted more - a remarkable desire considering their first few days as partners. But these days, she found it hard to ever get 'enough.' Why was she trying so hard? She and Ruby were already friends - what more was she searching for?
With that question in mind, she dried her hands and surveyed the tidy kitchen. Satisfied that everything was back in its place, she nodded and picked up her scroll to leave. Before she made it to the door, however, someone pushed it open and poked their head in.
"Oh, there you are!"
Shoving the door all the way open, Yang walked inside with a smile. Blake, as usual, was right on Yang's heels, and Weiss didn't miss the way she lifted her nose and sniffed - likely able to smell the remnants of burned pancakes in the air.
"Did you already eat?" Yang asked, gesturing towards the sink.
"Yes. Ruby and I are going to practice now."
"Oh, cool." After sharing a glance with Blake - the two of them doing that silent communication thing they always did - Yang turned back to Weiss with a smile. "We're gonna make breakfast, then maybe we can join you?"
Even though a tiny part of Weiss didn't want to share her time with Ruby, she knew how much Ruby loved when the four of them trained together. Knowing that Yang and Blake would soon join them, however, Weiss wanted to make the most of their alone time before then.
After pulling the door open, however, she paused and looked at Yang.
As their resident chef, Yang moved around the kitchen like she knew exactly what she was doing - which she did. With a lifetime of experience in keeping Ruby happy and well fed, Yang had an entire cookbook of recipes memorized. Not only that, but her meals never turned out burned or inedible.
When Yang turned away from the stove, Weiss wondered if she actually wanted to ask this question. It was one thing for Ruby to see her flaws and failures, but for Yang to see them too? While they were teammates, and friends, Weiss wasn't used to or experienced in showing others her vulnerabilities.
"What's up?" Yang asked when Weiss didn't immediately respond, giving her one of those kind, patient smiles that meant she was really listening.
"Maybe someday…" Weiss began, mulling over the words before finally saying them out loud. "Maybe someday you could show me how to make your pancakes?"
Yang's first reaction was to blink in surprise, but then her smile grew bigger.
"Of course." Glancing at Blake, Yang chuckled and looked overjoyed by the request. "I'd love to! Gotta pass the torch sometime."
When Yang smiled and winked at her, Weiss felt a wave of both relief and determination roll through her. While this morning had turned out remarkably well despite her failings, she wanted next time to be better - and the time after that even better. It might take more attempts than she anticipated, but she would learn how to cook, if only so she could cook for Ruby.
"I appreciate it," was all she said, sparing Yang a grateful smile before leaving her teammates to their breakfast. Once in the hall, she hurried to collect Myrtenaster so she could meet Ruby at the practice rooms, determined not to let her partner wait any longer than necessary.
While on her way through the halls, however, she couldn't keep a smile from appearing - a smile that grew when she remembered those burned, abnormally-shaped monstrosities Ruby gladly ate for breakfast.
Ruby didn't expect Weiss to be perfect, but Ruby expected her to try her best. Sometimes, trying her best meant failing. Sometimes, it meant asking others for help.
Whatever it took, Weiss was willing to do it. If she received just one more cheek kiss in the process, her efforts and embarrassments would be more than worth it.