Red vs Blue fic: Burnt Toast
Wash/Carolina | 1013 words | [PG]
Two years ago, they shut down Project Freelancer for good, saved the people of Chorus from mutual annihilation, and stopped Hargrove from destroying more lives. Now Carolina and Wash have to figure out how to live with everything that happened and each other.
The sun slants through the kitchen window of Blue base at just the right angle to reflect off the stainless steel counters, brightening the dull gray space. Carolina leans against the sink, sipping coffee, watching the dust moats float in the strip of light as it moves slowly across the room, her coffee getting cold along the way.
“Hey, Boss,” Wash mumbles as he enters, stumbling towards the coffee maker. He’s still in his pajamas—plaid flannel pants and faded t-shirt—hair plastered to his face. He practically moans at the first taste of his coffee.
“You’re up early,” Carolina finally says. Her coffee is completely cold now, but she drinks it anyway.
Wash shrugs, hopping onto the counter across from her. “Just thought I’d watch the sunrise. Get a jump on the day. You know.”
Carolina knows. The whole base knows. Probably the entire moon. It was one of those nights again. Wash’s screams echoing through the halls. They don’t talk about it because what’s there to say? They all have nightmares—flashbacks to the horrors of their past lives. Just Wash has more than one life to account for in his head. That means three times the number of sleepless nights. He looks awful, bloodshot eyes staring blankly at the floor.
Carolina straightens, clearing her throat. “You want some breakfast?”
Wash stops sipping his coffee—one eyebrow arched. “You’re going to cook?” he asks cautiously.
“What? I can cook.”
He quickly takes another sip, but she sees the smirk he’s trying to hide behind his mug, and despite the cutting critique of her cooking, her heart swells at the returning sparkle in his eyes.
“It’s eggs and toast, not rocket science. I think I can handle it.”
“Unless you’ve studied at the Caboose School of Culinary Arts,” he mutters.
Carolina glares then snaps him with the dish towel. He yelps, nearly spilling coffee down his front when the towel connects with his arm.
“I’m kidding,” he pleads, eyes twinkling again.
She smiles to herself as she grabs the carton of eggs from the fridge. She knows how to cook—she’s been taking care of herself since she was six-years-old. She’s just never been very good at it.
Wash slides off the counter. “Why don’t you let me make the eggs, and you can take care of the toast?”
His voice is soft when he comes up behind her—his hands on her waist causing her heart to leap into her throat as he gently shifts her to the side. He moves around the kitchen effortlessly, pulling a bowl from the cupboard and a whisk from the drawer next to the stove. Wash obviously does most of the cooking at Blue base.
“How about omelets?” he asks. “I think we still have some onion and peppers left.”
Carolina nods, tearing her gaze from the way the sun brings out the freckles across his cheeks. She finds the vegetables and some sliced mushrooms, placing them next to the cutting board he’s set on the counter.
He eyes the mushrooms. “Are we sure these are safe?”
“They came from a can.”
He chuckles. “We don’t need a repeat of the Great Methroom-Swiss Burger Incident of ‘59.”
“Definitely not,” she says with a snort.
They continue like that in comfortable silence—Wash cutting and mixing, Carolina trying not to burn the toast. I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? It’s toast.
Wash glances over at the slightly charred toast. “Maybe I should-”
Carolina smacks him with the towel before he can finish the sentence making him laugh again. The sound rumbles deep in his chest—one of his real laughs then, not the ones he forces in the vain hope no one will worry about him. It sends a tremor through her entire body and has everything to do with how happy she is to see him smile and nothing to do with it being hella sexy.
A few minutes later, they’re pulling up stools at the kitchen island. Wash slides half the omelet onto Carolina’s plate, the rest onto his own while she butters their blackened toast. Wash grins when he takes his, fingers lingering a little longer than necessary. Not that she’s complaining.
“This is nice,” he says after a few bites but doesn’t elaborate.
Carolina hums, noncommittally. She’s not sure which part is nice—the food or her company or the way his knee keeps bumping hers, setting off butterflies in her stomach. That’s been happening a lot lately—the butterflies and tremors and thumping heart. If Wash notices her staring, he never says anything. Much to her relief.
When she finally glances up at him, he’s watching her with a thoughtful expression. Then unexpectedly reaches out, slipping a piece of her hair behind her ear.
She tries to hide the little gasp his touch causes with a cough and quickly takes a sip of her coffee before he can see her blush. He goes back to eating, but his knee stops bumping hers to instead rest against it. Is he doing that on purpose? Part of her really hopes he is. The rest is a confused jumble of emotions. This is Wash after all—the baby brother of Freelancer. She shouldn’t feel this way about him, but she’s having a harder and harder time denying the butterflies and shivers.
Maybe they’ve been isolated on this moon for too long?
Wash clears his throat and wipes his mouth with a napkin. “We should do this more often. Like when I’m not half-brain dead.”
The pain in his voice rips through her. Without thinking, she squeezes his hand. “I like the sound of that,” she whispers.
Wash bites down on his lip, squeezing her hand back and not letting go. “And maybe next time you won’t burn the toast,” he mumbles into his coffee.
Carolina tries to grab the towel, but his grip is firm. Jerk. His smile, though, lights her up inside, and she leans against his shoulder, letting the giggles overtake her.
“It’s a deal.”