Chapter 112:

Volume 4, Chapter 23: I’m a Cooking Genius?

Heroes of the Past

“Did something exciting happen?” Mom noticed my excitement as I walked through the door.Bookmark here

“Long asked me to join the cooking club. They wanted me as the final member to qualify for an upcoming competition,” I answered.Bookmark here

“How exciting. You finally have an opportunity to profess your love to Long,” Mom teased, raising her right thumb in the air with a smile.Bookmark here

“No, Mom. Is Dad home yet?” I glanced around the kitchen, not seeing anyone.Bookmark here

“Not yet. He’s bringing home a special guest tonight. Yuki, can you prepare the chicken? I’ll be back in thirty minutes. I forgot to grab a few things,” Mom requested, grabbing her keys and purse.Bookmark here

“Where did you put it?” I asked, feeling nervous.Bookmark here

“It’s in the middle of the freezer!” Mom answered before leaving.Bookmark here

I pulled the chicken out, placing it down on the counter, and searched for a knife.Bookmark here

“Come on, let miracles happen,” I begged.Bookmark here

My hand touched the handle and something clicked in my head. The blade felt familiar, not a foreign at all. Even if I lacked memories for this reality, I retained the skills of this dimension’s Yuki. Opening the package, I sliced the chicken into their individual parts. Wings, breasts, drumsticks, thighs, and so on. I hit a hard piece of bone and almost cut myself. Shit, that was close. After trimming off the skin and fat, I stared at my handiwork. Not too shabby.Bookmark here

“How am I suppose to prepare this?” I whispered.Bookmark here

I gave Mom a call but she didn’t pick up. Looking around the kitchen, there weren’t any recipe books or detailed notes. Time to ask Dad.Bookmark here

“Yuki, something happen? It’s rare for you to call,” Dad answered after the first ring.Bookmark here

“Mom asked me to prepare the chicken but didn’t say how,” I replied, staring at the oven clock.Bookmark here

“There’s seasoning in the second cupboard. Use that and roast it for around forty-five minutes. Check using the thermometer and make sure it’s not raw,” Dad answered.Bookmark here

“Thanks, Dad. How long before you get home?” I asked.Bookmark here

“About an hour. Traffic is pretty bad,” Dad answered.Bookmark here

“I’ll start preparing it right away,” I said.Bookmark here

“Your mom already prepared the other dishes. Sorry I couldn’t get it done,” Dad informed me.Bookmark here

“I got it under control. Be safe driving,” I assured him.Bookmark here

After seasoning the chicken, I tapped the kitchen counter. Crap, what should I set the oven temperature to? Time to bother Mom. She should be at the store by now.Bookmark here

“Yuki, did something happen?” Mom asked, grocery cart wheels scraping against the floor audible in the background.Bookmark here

“I just want to know what temperature to preset the oven to,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Huh? That’s a first. Around 325. After that, set it to 400. Feel free to change it midway if needed. Anything else important to report, Yuki?” Mom inquired.Bookmark here

“That should be the last of my questions,” I answered.Bookmark here

The oven beeped and I placed the chicken inside. I adjusted the temperature and searched for the thermometer. After going through five shelves, I finally found it. I set the timer and headed to the living room. I felt uneasy though, and returned to the kitchen, leaning against the counter. My phone rang and Felicity’s name appeared.Bookmark here

“Yuki, Yuki!” Felicity shouted at a high volume.Bookmark here

“You’re going to break my eardrums!” I warned.Bookmark here

“Sorry. I heard you joined the cooking club. Did you see the club president today?” Felicity asked.Bookmark here

“You’re talking about Tama Minato?” I checked the time remaining.Bookmark here

“He’s amazing. I saw him at one of the track practices before. I know the boy’s team has been trying to recruit him but he refuses. So I have a favor,” Felicity spoke, minimal pauses in between her sentences.Bookmark here

“No,” I simply stated, imitating Kisai’s trademark response, applying a small humorous undertone.Bookmark here

“Come on, Yuki! Please, as a favor for me? He’ll be great to compete against during practice. I always wanted to test out my speed against him,” Felicity pleaded in a desperate voice.Bookmark here

“Konoe-senpai, why don’t you ask him yourself? I’m going to the club room tomorrow. Come along and ask in person,” I suggested.Bookmark here

“Fine, that works too. It’s a promise, okay?” Felicity said.Bookmark here

“Anything else?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Thanks for setting up the meeting!” Felicity exclaimed and hung up.Bookmark here

The chicken was finally done! I confirmed the temperature was right and placed it on the table. Mom entered with two bags of groceries a few minutes later.Bookmark here

“Thanks for the help, Yuki. Your dad should be home soon,” Mom complimented.Bookmark here

“Dad said he was stuck in traffic. Who’s this special guest, Mom?” I wondered about the identity of our visitor.Bookmark here

“Yuki, do you really think I’ll tell you?” Mom gave her usual smile.Bookmark here

“There’s no harm in telling me,” I argued.Bookmark here

“It’s better if i don’t. I get to look at your frustrated face and feel better about myself. Just kidding,” Mom replied.Bookmark here

I helped Mom unpack the rest of her stuff and set the table. If I were stuck here for a significant amount of time, what did that mean in the real world? Tess mentioned the passage of time varied in each specific dimension. No reason to dwell on it too much. I already made up my mind. Enjoy the fuck out of this until it concluded..Bookmark here

“Yuki, stop looking so thoughtful over there. It’ll scare our guest away,” Mom scolded.Bookmark here

“What? That doesn’t even…. whatever, Mom,” I said.Bookmark here

“Come on, Yuki, smile. I’m sure our special guest will be able to make you do it,” Mom chuckled.Bookmark here

“Sorry about the delay. Traffic was really bad. I can’t wait for dinner. I forgot to bring lunch and haven’t eaten anything except trail mix,” Dad revealed, walking in an hour later.Bookmark here

“Where’s our guest?” I questioned, checking the doorway.Bookmark here

“Hang on, Yuki. They’re still getting ready. I’m sure you will enjoy their company. Dear, are the preparations complete yet?” Dad answered, placing his briefcase down on
the floor.Bookmark here

“Yuki, it’s a pleasure to see you again. It has been awhile since we last saw each other,” Yukie greeted me with a bow.Bookmark here

A young man, with a clean shaved head, followed behind my cousin. He wore a white tank top with a stylish lab coat over it. I saw an ID badge clipped to his left breast pocket with several pens tucked inside. He wore slacks, not too fancy, but durable enough to endure any staining.Bookmark here

“Yuki, it’s been a long time. How have you been?” he asked, extending his right hand out.Bookmark here

Who the fuck was this person? I clasped his hand, shaking it with caution.Bookmark here

“Oh sorry, you must have just finished cooking. We really do apologize. There was an accident and it took a long time for things to clear out,” he revealed.Bookmark here

“Everyone’s here! Time to get the party started as your Mom loves to say,” Dad commented, unzipping his jacket.Bookmark here

“It’s nice to have you over, Yukie and Sou,” Mom greeted them.Bookmark here

“Thanks for having us over Auntie,” Sou responded, flashing yet another goodwill smile.Bookmark here

“You can thank Yuki too. She just joined the cooking club at school,” Mom suggested.Bookmark here

“Oh, cool. Is your school joining the competition?” Sou inquired.Bookmark here

“That’s the plan. They needed one more member and I was the lucky one,” I responded, nodding my head.Bookmark here

“I’ll look forward to seeing you there then, Yuki,” Sou said.Bookmark here

“We might face off as opponents at some point,” Yukie added.Bookmark here

“Oh, that will be fun. An interesting match-up,” Mom said.Bookmark here

“Have your teams been decided yet, Yuki?” Sou questioned.Bookmark here

“No, I just joined today. I’ll ask the club president for more details tomorrow,” I answered.Bookmark here

“You’ll be a good fit for either tier. Yukie will, of course, be doing the upper one. focusing on presentation,” Sou revealed.Bookmark here

“It’s regrettable you won’t be joining me there,” Yukie revealed, a discouraged look on her face.Bookmark here

“I’m not cut out for the big leagues. I prefer pounding out food with different ingredients and seeing if it tastes good or not,” Sou disagreed.Bookmark here

“Come on, let’s start dinner already! Talking about food won’t make us full,” Dad cut into our conversation.Bookmark here

I bit into the chicken and it was edible. Could I transfer these amazing skills over when I returned to the real world? One could only hope.Bookmark here

“Yuki, how’s Long doing?” Sou asked, picking up a piece of chicken breast.Bookmark here

“He’s about the same as always,” I provided a stock response.Bookmark here

“Oh, should have been clearer. What’s his role in the club?” Sou expanded on his previous question.Bookmark here

“Are you trying to gather intelligence on us?” I stared at him.Bookmark here

“Ah, well, that was part of it. I’m just wondering what kind of waifu material he’ll make. Actually, I guess that’s more of husbando material, hahhah,” Sou chuckled.Bookmark here

What kind of bullshit…. fuck it, no time for that. Sou did have a point though. Zhuyu was more capable here, a redeeming quality.Bookmark here

“He seems pretty in control. I thought he was the president with how he spoke and managed things,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Long’s always serious. He’s kept that approach even while cooking. I’m excited to face off against him,” Sou said.Bookmark here

“How do you know Long will compete in the same tier?” I was curious about Sou’s assumption..Bookmark here

“Oh I know. Right, Yukie? I’m not saying he’s a bad cook, but his style doesn’t go well with the expert tier,” Sou explained.Bookmark here

“Sou makes a valid point. Long indeed has a higher chance of success at that level,” Yukie supported him.Bookmark here

“Mintao’s still the head of the club, right?” Sou questioned.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he’s uh…. interesting,” I replied.Bookmark here

“He’s not very dedicated to the craft at first glance, but always makes excellent dishes with minimal effort. I’m sure you’ll agree, Yuki,” Sou said.Bookmark here

“You’re right,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“Yukie, you ready to take him on? I’m pretty sure that’s how it’ll go down,” Sou asked.Bookmark here

“Minato poses a great threat with his vast variety of dishes. If I am to defeat him, it will require great effort on my part. It certainly will be no easy feat,” Yukie provided a gracious answer as always.Bookmark here

There was plenty more of discussion afterwards. Much of it concerned idle gossip and school life. After washing the dishes, I headed up to my room and saw Yukie inside.Bookmark here

“Ah, sorry for intruding, Yuki. I needed someplace quiet to complete my homework,” Yukie said, pointing at her notebook.Bookmark here

“Go ahead,” I allowed.Bookmark here

Ten minutes later, she completed her assignment. I stared at her, feeling awkward, even though it was my own room. Yukie’s mannerisms were consistent, same elegant handwriting and precision placed into her calculations.Bookmark here

“Where’s Sou?” I asked, realizing her brother(?) wasn’t present.Bookmark here

“I believe he’s off somewhere with Uncle. Most likely in the garage. Sou is quite excited when it comes to projects,” Yukie answered.Bookmark here

“And you aren’t?” I questioned, surprised by her answer.Bookmark here

“Sou has always been much more proactive. I prefer refining my own craft before working on it with someone else,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“I see,” I said.Bookmark here

“I hope that he does not cause you too much trouble during the cooking contest. Sou can go to the extreme, a little too much at times,” Yukie remarked, giving a slight smile at the end of her statement.Bookmark here

“Reminds me of someone I know,” I said as Ichizen came to my mind.Bookmark here

It wasn’t a fair comparison. Sou was far more competent than Ichizen. However, they both carried that same recklessness which often resulted in mixed outcomes. Still, Sou seemed composed enough to handle anything going awry. That kind of brought me down. Come on Yuki, get yourself together, this is not the time for that! Yukie and Sou departed around nine. I stared up at the ceiling and sighed. Another day was close to passing. At this point, it seemed this would never end.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.