8. Matcha and White Chocolate Brownies
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It’s an exhausting day, and Robin’s seriously thinking of leaving soon after closing time, and waking up early tomorrow to prepare instead. But he has to start the chilled cakes now. He just hates how cutting up the persimmons reminds him of Oliver. How the matcha reminds him of Oliver, because he thinks Oliver would like the matcha mousse cake too.

It’s just that Robin is bad with meeting friends of friends...and Oliver is a friend.

Robin!

Robin’s head snaps up. “Oliver.”

Oliver yanks off his sunnies. “My drink this afternoon—”

Robin winces. “I know you asked for an americano—”

“Thank you! I actually liked it!” Oliver says in a rush. He’s breathing heavily, and his hair is askew.

“Oh.” Robin exhales, recovering his outward composure. “I’m glad,” he says with a small smile.

“And she—Mia—she’s just a co-worker. We work at the same production company. She has a boyfriend, you know?”

Well…”

Oliver reddens. “It’s not like that!” He glares at Robin for a bit, but when Robin smiles back, he cracks with a groan. “You’re evil, Robin. Evil. And I didn’t know you had a coworker!”

“I’d be evil if I gave you a soy-sauce smoothie,” Robin drawls. “As kids, we used to dare each other to drink the weirdest concoctions.”

Oliver laughs. “And so you went and became an expert on desserts instead.”

Robin raises his eyebrows in mock surprise. “How did you know?”

Oliver winks and taps the side of his head. “My mum always said I was a smart little cookie—oh damn. I forgot to ask her!”

“A distracted little cookie,” Robin smirks. “There’s always next time. And yes, my coworker, Jenny, works during the peak hours, when it’s impossible to manage all the orders by myself.”

Oliver gives a sheepish smile. “Yeah. I guess your shop does get really busy. What were you doing?”

“Making a matcha mousse cake.”

Oliver pouts. “You can’t just say that and leave me hanging.”

Robin gives him an indulgent smile. “You’ll just have to come tomorrow for a slice, don’t you?”

Oliver’s eyes shift to the countertop. “I suppose...”

Robin pauses for a moment, then says, “I have some matcha and white chocolate brownies in the back. I was going to test them as a mix-in for ice-cream, but I could serve with ice cream on top. You’ll like it.”

Oliver brightens. “You mean it?”

“On the house.”

“—No! I’m definitely paying! I want to support you.”

Robin huffs a laugh. It’s hard to resist Oliver’s wide eyes, but Robin’s used to battles over the bill. “I’m not accepting your money on this.” He goes and flicks off the computer. “Oh, look, it’s turned off, I literally can’t accept money.”

Oliver stares at him. “Evil.”

Robin smirks. “Did my sweet-making persona fool you?”

“Then—how about dinner?” Oliver says, “On me.”

“I work through dinner time.”

“...Lunch?”

“I typically begin preparations for the shop.”

“Brunch?” Oliver’s voice takes a pleading edge. “I know this great bagel place down near Flinders Street.” He’s leaning over the counter, eyes tilted up at Robin.

Robin’s heart inexplicably skips a beat. He fights the urge to rub his chest. “Very well,” he says. “Brunch.”

“This Sunday,” Oliver adds.

“This Sunday,” Robin confirms. “Now let me get you that brownie a la mode.”

Robin goes deeper into the kitchen and takes out a small container of matcha brownies from the fridge. He sets a few slices in the oven to warm up while he chooses the ice cream: vanilla and matcha, he decides, because he knows Oliver likes matcha, and the vanilla is delicate enough to not overpower the matcha.

Where the ice cream meets the brownie is melting a little as Robin slides the plate over the counter.

Oliver bits his bottom lip. “It looks good.”

“Go on.”

His eyes snap up. “You’re not going to try it too?”

“This is for you, Oliver.” Robin pushes the plate a little closer.

“...Okay.” Oliver takes a small forkful of the brownie and matcha ice cream. For a moment, his brows draw together, and then he relaxes with an, “Ohhhh.”

Robin’s chest warms as Oliver tries different combinations of ice cream and brownie, little lick of his tongue on the fork.

There’s just something about watching Oliver enjoy Robin’s cooking that itches Robin’s recipe development brain. Something sweet and nostalgic.

Soon, Oliver’s eaten all of the ice cream, and there’s just a single bite of brownie left.

“Let me get you some more ice cream,” Robin starts.

“I want to save it, you know? For breakfast tomorrow.” Oliver sighs, worrying his bottom lip. “I’ve never had white chocolate brownies before, let alone matcha.”

An inexplicable warmth grows in Robin’s chest. It’s...adorable that Oliver has thoughts of saving a single bite. “Oliver,” Robin says warmly, “I could wrap another one up for you.”

Oliver shakes his head, and eats the last bite. “No, I’ll just have to come back to try a new dessert, don’t I?”

“Of course. You’re always welcome.”

They share lingering smiles, and it’s only after multiple confirmations of date and time for Sunday that Oliver finally leaves. Robin waves him goodbye again through the glass, and turns back to the rest of his preparations with a lightness in his feet.

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