• okay, well, I'm not sure if I should be THAT excited for some lava cake, but this is that fluff scene I wrote during the Night of Writing Dangerously. Not edited super carefully but there was at least one inconsistency that was fixed, so enjoy yourself some fluff. (You know what else I just realized? None of you have met Rus's OTP. So. Do that now, too.)

    After a long afternoon of convincing Rus to stay out of the rental, or at least out of the kitchen, Plozi opened the oven door at the same time as the front door opened.

    “I’m back!” Rus declared cheerfully. “Did you use all the wrapping paper?”

    “Yes,” Plozi responded distractedly, waiting for the wave of hot air to dissipate from the oven.

    “What are you making?” Rus’s curious voice drifted closer with each word. His footsteps were uneven. “I found a place that looks like it has good food and we should order takeout from them or something some time.” Something thumped against the wall.

    Plozi stared suspiciously at the cake. Le’d tried to make it two or three times before, but this seemed looser than normal. “If you break something in here, then you’re paying for it.”

    “We’ll see.” Rus leaned over Plozi’s shoulder. “What did you make?”

    “I dunno. You should borrow my glasses and see.”

    Le could feel Rus rolling his eyes. “If only I had the same prescription. Does it have egg?”

    Plozi elbowed him in the ribs until he moved. Le pulled the pan out, setting it on the stove and closing the door. “I’m calling it good and you’re leaving it alone so it cools off.”

    “That’s easy,” Rus murmured, wrapping his arms around lis waist. “We should watch something.”

    “Like what?” Le put lis hands over Rus’. “Don’t you have presents to wrap?”

    “Oh!” Rus jumped back in excitement. “Come look at this thing I found.”

    “What is it?”

    “It’s a puzzle but it’s like, not one that I’m used to? I feel like I’ve seen it in the app store or something before, but I’ve never played it, you know? Oh, also, I did finally find a shoth board.”

    That was rather impressive, really. “How much?” Plozi asked, leaning against the wall while Rus dug in one of the cloth bags.

    “Like… seventy? Seventy dollars?” Rus shrugged, pulling out a tightly wrapped plastic box. He turned, stepping closer to Plozi to hold the box in front of them. “See, it like, it slides instead of fitting the pieces in. It’s so weird. Oh, the shoth board is pretty big, though. You can size it to play ten people. So that’s a really good price.”

    When would they ever have ten people that wanted to play it? Plozi laid lis head on Rus’ shoulder, wrapping one arm around his back and lis other arm around his. “Are you going to play it?”


    “No, your puzzle.” Le gestured at it.

    “Oh. I thought you wanted to play shoth with me.”

    “Maybe later.”

    Rus shook his head, then pulled Plozi towards the hardbacked, poorly cushioned couch. He plopped onto it, dragging Plozi with him, and started unwrapping the box. “I think you have to scramble it up or whatever yourself,” he commented, digging his nail in a crack in the side of the box.

    “Is there at least multiple puzzles in there?” Plozi asked, snuggling against Rus.

    “I dunno. I just thought the big one in the picture looked cool.” He succeeded in loosening a strip of plastic and proceeded to pull the whole wrapping off. He pulled the grey top off of the box, setting it underneath the bottom, and pulled out the top puzzle. “Yeah, there’s two others in there. I can’t tell what any of these are.” Rus frowned. He propped the box on the arm of the couch and tilted the one he had grabbed towards Plozi. “I think it’s a puppy.”

    “It looks like a raccoon.”

    “Shut up!” Rus cried, pushing against lim. “That was one fucking time!”

    Plozi shrugged. “It’s still funny though.”

    “Just shut up.”

    Plozi shook lis head. “No. You’re never living that down.”

    Rus breathed in deeply. “You know what, I’m going to do whatever the other one is.” He set the puzzle in his lap and grabbed the box. He pulled the next one out and peered at it for a moment before grabbing the last one. “This one is easier to see.”

    Plozi studied it. It was more colorful than the other two. “I’ll shuffle it for you.”

    “Don’t lose any pieces,” Rus commanded, handing it to lim. When le had taken it, he started setting the other two back in the box.

    Plozi sat up, sliding one piece into the empty spot, then another, and another; randomly, until it seemed fairly well mixed up. Le looked over to find that Rus had set the box back on the arm of the couch and was staring into space.

    “Are you ready?”

    “If we buy the shoth board,” Rus said.


    “We can bring it to the tournaments and make people pay us to play on it.”
    Plozi snorted, laying lis head on Rus’ shoulder. “You know what, you buy it and let me know how that works for you.”

    “I will buy it. And I’ll play it with all my friends except for you, you unsupportive ass.” Rus took the puzzle board from Plozi. “Oh, yeah, I found those strings for you.
    So no more complaining about how you’re suffering withdrawals because you can’t play anymore.”

    Score. Plozi missed playing lis instrument. “Are we visiting your dad before we go to your brother’s?”

    Rus went silent, his fingers hovering over the puzzle board.

    Plozi sat up, frowning.

    “I think…” Rus rolled his lips against each other, then rubbed the bottom of his palm against his temple. “No. I think I’ll go with Nik, maybe, but I feel like it would be awkward if you went.”


    “I mean, like, it would be awkward anyway, but just--”

    “You don’t have to explain it.” Heavens knew Rus’ relationship with his father was… rocky, to put it lightly. It was hard to tell if Rus even communicated with his father outside of random social media responses, or if Rus had talked about their relationship. No; it was easy to answer the latter. Rus had certainly not talked about their relationship to his father.

    The smell of the cake was fading fast. Plozi craned lis neck to look into the kitchen. The peninsula blocked a full view of the aged room. “Alright, you solve that, and I’m going to see if this is done baking,” le murmured, clambering off the couch.

    Le muttered a swear when le saw the stove still on. Le turned it off and looked at the cake in the pan. It looked a little stiffer than when le pulled it out. Plozi opened one cabinet, then the one next to it; which one had the plates been in? The third one against the wall, it turned out. Le grabbed one of the white glass plates and put it face down over the pan. Le flipped the pan over and set the plate on the counter.

    Now was the moment of truth. Le should be able to pull the pan up and the cake would hold itself up. Or, it would collapse, an undercooked puddle. Hopefully, it would be the former. But if it wasn’t?

    Slowly, slowly, Plozi lifted the pan up. The black cake held its form. Slowly, then rapidly, it started sinking.

    “Fuck!” le yelled.

    Not even a second later, Rus called in concern, “What’s wrong?” His feet shuffled on the ground as he cautiously approached Plozi.

    “It broke,” Plozi mumbled, staring at it in frustration.

    Rus leaned over. “I think it’s raw.”

    “I mean it’s… kind of supposed to do that.” Plozi rubbed the back of lis head. “Not when you dump it out though.”

    “What is it, though?”

    “It’s a lava cake. Without all the shit that will kill you, but it’s a lava cake still.”

    “Oh.” Rus’s poked at the firm edge of cake nearly buried in a puddle. “Where’s a fork?” he paused. “Or a spoon?” He turned away, opening drawers and slamming them closed. “Found it!” He ran back to the plate.

    “You’re way too excited for this.”

    Rus shrugged. “If you say it won’t kill me, then I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”

    “I mean, there’s nothing you’re allergic to in it. That doesn’t mean there’s something that’s not raw that won’t kill you or something.”

    Rus blinked. “If you thought there was a chance that there might be something raw and deadly, then why did you pull it out in the first place?”

    Plozi stared at him. “You know what, just eat it. Just tell me if it tastes like shit or not.”

    “I doubt it,” Rus said, scooping the bit of firm cake with a spoonful of liquid cake. He took a bite and nodded his head, eating it slowly. “Why does it have that spicy taste?”

    Had le used the wrong ingredient somewhere along the way? “I followed the recipe. Does it taste different than it’s supposed to or something?”

    “Huh?” Rus swallowed, squinting at Plozi. “How would I know?”

    “It’s your favorite food or some shit, isn’t it?”

    Rus shrugged. “I’ve never tasted a lava cake in my life. Mostly because I didn’t have the energy to find a conversion because I’m allergic to about ninety percent of a human lava cake.”

    Plozi stared at him. “What.”

    Rus pushed himself up and sat on the counter, then picked up the plate. “It tastes pretty good, though. The spicy part is confusing, but otherwise, pretty good.” He gave a thumbs’ up with his free hand. “I’m kind of sad that I actually missed out on this for my entire life until now. Ooh, you should make this when we get to my brother’s house.”

    Plozi squeezed lis eyes shut a moment, then sighed. “Okay, if you want.”

    “What’s wrong?” Rus asked, taking a bite.

    “I dunno, I just… Mostly, I just wanted it to be an actual formed cake, not one that’s a puddle.”

    He shrugged. “I don’t think it actually makes a difference. It’s going to be puddly anyway. It’s almost like a dessert soup.”

    “Well, it’s not really supposed to be a soup, but I’ll accept the compliment.”

    Rus grinned at him. “Do you want to try it?”

    Plozi shook lis head, resting lis elbows on the counter next to Rus and leaning onto them. “No, that’s fine. I made it for you.”

    “Well, it was successful.”

    Plozi smiled, leaning lis head against Rus’s thigh.

    “Also, I’m going to mix up the pieces of the puzzles and then give them to my brother for Christmas. It’ll be great. It’ll take him forever to figure it out.”

    This was precisely why Plozi couldn’t be bothered by not having siblings. “That’s so mean.”

    Rus shook his head, setting the empty plate on his lap. “Nah, it’ll be hilarious. You’ll see.”

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