Surprising Talent

When Tynan came back from work, he was carrying two heavy bags of groceries. It had been so long since he last cooked that he had to get everything from sauce and oil to rice on top of the things Laura requested. The shopping trip took longer than he expected and he was slightly tired from such a long day.

Laura was resting and trying to piece back her memories. How did she end up as a ghost inside a phone? Also, it seemed like every time she tried to find out more about herself using the Internet Assistant, the system would deny her request. It was as if it didn't want her to find out how she died. The worst part was how Laura was unable to recall anything about her family. She knew background information like her home and that she had parents and was an only child with a pet cat. However, none of them had a real image to the names she knew. It felt like an implanted memory and at this moment, the ex-biker felt confused about her identity.

"I'm home!"

"Welcome back!" Laura greeted when she heard Tynan taking his shoes off at the doorstep. She wasn't able to see him because the window wasn't wide enough. It looks like she still had to level up a fair bit more before she was able to have a surround-view.

Tynan yawned a little. The apartment looked very different and the man didn't know where everything was. Still, he put the groceries away and got changed, being careful to turn the G-phone away so that he wouldn't scare the girl.

When he was done, the man replaced the lightbulb. Laura started cooking when Tynan showered so the man left it to the e-ghost. Still, he was curious about how a ghost could cook so he decided on a quick shower.

In the kitchen, Laura looked at the recipe and blinked. She knew where the pots and pans were but the instructions of the recipe were too complicated. Tynan had Beef Stroganoff listed as one of his favourite food so the system made it a task for Laura to complete cooking it in order to earn some soul points.

While the cookbook ratings for the dish were only two-stars, which meant manageable for beginners, Laura wasn't sure how she would be able to cook. Cleaning was easy because the system allowed her to organise a cleaning roster list with a cooldown period that she could actively monitor and passively stack. The e-ghost had never tried cooking before so she was nervous. Back when she was still alive, the girl never had a chance to explore the kitchen. She didn't know how to hold a knife or how to turn the induction stove on. The closest thing to cooking she ever did was boil water for cup noodles, similar to what Tynan had done last night.

Still, the Dirt Princess wasn't one to back down from challenges. The more challenging something was, the more determined she became. Cooking Beef Stroganoff was just a level up from cup noodles, surely it wouldn't be too difficult. Besides, the system would assist her.

Sure enough, the system gave Laura a new window with an item inventory, timer function and action task queue. All she had to do was allocate the actions required in the correct sequence and the supernatural part will happen.

According to the recipe, Beef Stroganoff was cooked in two parts - sauce and pasta. She knew how to make pasta so it was simple. Although Laura didn't know how to use an induction stove, the system did. However, herein lies her first mistake. There were ten levels for heat setting that indicated the temperature on the induction stove. According to the book, Laura needed the pasta to be cooked in boiling water.

Going by standard logic, the ghost girl decided that it was a good idea to put the temperature to ten and put the pasta in with a tablespoon of salt before closing the lid. She thought that she would prepare the sauce while the pasta cooked and decided to study the sauce portion of the recipe. Laura failed to notice the bubbling of the pot nor did she hear the rumbling of the water pushing the lid upwards.

Tynan came out of the shower with his hair still dripping wet when he sensed something wrong. There was a smell of something starting to burn and immediately, he ran into the kitchen to see water overflowing from the pot of soggy and slightly charred pasta.

Laura was alarmed when the accident happened. She didn't know how to make anything stop and watched helplessly as the water overflowed. If she were human she would have smelled the burning but because she was a ghost, she could only assume that it was the water overflowing from overboiling and not the pasta burning at the bottom of the pot that was a bigger problem.

Tynan's first concern was the phone that Laura resided in. He checked to see if there were any damages and immediately relaxed when he heard the full story from Laura. "Don't worry about it, just leave this to me. You've helped me a lot by cleaning the filthy apartment. I don't even recognise my own bathroom! The least I could do is make my own dinner. I don't know if you accept food offerings but if you do, please let me know. I can make an offering to you before I start eating."

Laura didn't know if being an e-ghost meant that she was able to eat offered food as per the superstition of hungry ghosts. It would certainly be delightful to try some homemade beef stroganoff even if she didn't know how well Tynan was able to cook. The man could hardly take care of himself so she didn't really trust him any more than she would trust herself in the kitchen. Her first attempt to cook ended up in a spectacular failure but Laura wasn't too disheartened. She could always try again.

The system decided to answer Tynan's question and gave Laura a new task. The e-ghost read it twice and blinked while Tynan was cleaning up the fiasco.

"Tynan?"

The programmer paused. "Yes?"

"I think I would like to try some beef stroganoff if you are making some later. The system says that I can eat food offerings. You don't really have to make an extra portion, the phone will just replicate it for me."

The man grinned cheerfully. Laura didn't know what sort of surprises were in store for her until Tynan picked up a knife.

With insane speed, faster than her half-digitised eyes could see, the onions were finely chopped and Tynan's hands floated around the kitchen. Pots and saucepans were boiling simultaneously with ingredients being tossed in and stirred in a haphazard manner. The part-timer didn't pause and was extremely familiar with the cooking process. His sense of timing was impeccable and while the sauce simmered, he drained the pasta and rinsed it with cold water before setting it on a dish.

Laura watched in amazement at Tynan's secret talent. Who knew that the programmer would turn out to be such a fantastic cook? Why would such a fine cook be content with eating cup noodles and take-out?

Tynan added seasoning and tasted the sauce before allowing it to simmer while he did the washing. Laura was still having a hard time wrapping her head around why Tynan didn't cook. He was clever with his hands and although the e-ghost was unable to smell, she could feel her mouth water. The look of the stew alone was appetising and for the first time, she was thankful to the system.

"The system had better be able to replicate the taste exactly or I will be very disappointed," she muttered as Tynan served the dish and set the table.

It didn't take long for Tynan to wash up the pot and saucepans but for Laura who was forced to look at the delicious meal in front of her, it felt like he was taking forever to send her the offering.

"All done," he told her with a proud smile. There weren't many things Tynan was proud of himself but he had confidence when it came to cooking. He was eager to hear Laura's feedback once he made the offering but first, how does one make an offering to an e-ghost? The normal practice would be to light candles and pray.

"How would the system accept this offering? I don't have candles at home..."

The G-phone screen changed from Laura's image to a notification when it heard Tynan's question.

[Would you like to make an offering to Laura?]

> Yes

> No

Tynan hit the yes option without a second thought and the screen flickered for a moment before the biker was back on the screen with a similar dish in front of her.

On the other end of the screen, Laura took a whiff and salivated. The system was really godsent!

"It smells amazing!" she declared and Tynan blushed at the genuine compliment.

"I hope you like it... let's eat quickly before it gets cold."

Laura agreed and they dug in quickly. The biker moaned in bliss at the taste. She'd eaten beef stroganoff before but Tynan's recipe was very different. She loved how mild and fluffy the flavour was as it warmed her up from the inside.

"This is good! If you open a restaurant one day, I'll be your regular."

Tynan laughed at that. The idea of feeding ghost customers just amused him to no end. "I guess I can afford to cook more often seeing that I'm no longer just cooking for myself. Any requests?"

Laura thought for a while and then lit up. "Do you know how to make honey lemon chicken?"

Tynan raised a brow. "Not really but if you have a recipe I could try."

Without hesitation, Laura searched it up and sent the recipe to Tynan's email. The programmer checked it out and hummed. It didn't look too difficult to make so he decided to get the ingredients for them tomorrow and cook it for dinner. He would also make a larger portion of food just so that he could pack the leftovers to heat them up at work.

"That reminds me, I need to transfer my SIM card over to the G-Phone. Would that hinder you? I initially bought the G-Phone because Ruby over here is dying on me."

Laura shook her head. "I don't think so. However, that means that I'll be coming along with you to work. Is that ok?"

Tynan grinned. "I don't mind. Besides, it would help make work less boring if I had someone to talk to while on the clock."

The Dirt Princess laughed. "Alright, let's get your SIM card transferred over so that I can send spam emails to all your friends."

Tynan pretended to be horrified but the two of them ended up laughing even more after that. The night ended in light banter and easy conversations until Laura decided that Tynan had to go to bed because of work tomorrow.

"Good night," Tynan smiled.

Laura waved back at the programmer. "Good night, I'll wake you up when it is time. Sleep well."

For the first time in a few years, Tynan slept peacefully, feeling somewhat happy.

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