Chapter 113:

Volume 4, Chapter 24: Cooking Competition Logistics

Heroes of the Past

Third DayBookmark here

Felicity and I headed to the clubroom after school. Time to receive answers about the cooking competition and my role in it.Bookmark here

“Yuki, back me up when I try to recruit him! Our team would be so much better with him,” Felicity believed.Bookmark here

“That’s only if he agrees to listen,” I pointed out.Bookmark here

I knocked on the door, hearing no response. Felicity turned the doorknob and headed inside. All the windows were open, sunlight filling the room. Minato laid down near a window, eyes closed. Was he sleeping?Bookmark here

“Hey, should we wake him up?” Felicity whispered.Bookmark here

“Of course!” I answered, heading towards him.Bookmark here

“Hold on! Let’s wait it out. I don’t want to make him mad,” Felicity hissed, grabbing me by the shoulder.Bookmark here

“Who knows how long he’ll just be there sleeping? Standing here will only make us look like fools,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, consider all the things that could go wrong. One wrong move and he won’t give me a chance,” Felicity argued, tightening her hold.Bookmark here

“Are you even listening to yourself? Let go of me!” I escaped Felicity’s hold.Bookmark here

Pots and pans available everywhere. Perfect! I reached for the cookware, but Felicity blocked me. Really, we were going to do this? I twisted her hand and shoved the woman away. She looked at me in surprise, clutching her hand with pain.Bookmark here

“Ow, where did you learn that?” Felicity exclaimed, still speaking in a low voice.Bookmark here

“Minato! Wake up!” I shouted, slamming the pot’s bottom with a nearby ladle.Bookmark here

Minato didn’t respond. At this point, he was messing with me. Felicity covered her ears, a sad look on her face. Don’t give me that shit. You’re the one who wanted this.Bookmark here

“Yuki! That’s enough!” Felicity shouted over my loud banging.Bookmark here

“He’s just laying down there to irritate us,” I responded, striking two pots against each other.Bookmark here

Minato stirred, stifling a yawn. I dropped a lid and it struck him in the left shoulder. Minato jumped up in surprise. Felicity gasped, rushing over.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay? Yuki didn’t mean to do that!” Felicity apologized, bowing several times.Bookmark here

“I’ve gone through worse while cooking. Yuki, huh? I guess Long did say you were stopping by. That was a great nap,” Minato said, stretching.Bookmark here

“Tama, I really want to ask you for a big favor!” Felicity geared up for a big speech.Bookmark here

“Yuki, what do you want to learn today? Pastries, entrees, desserts, I can do it all,” Minato questioned, glancing at me.Bookmark here

“Before that, my friend has a request. She’s uh…,” I blanked on Felicity’s last name.Bookmark here

“Kaisi Konoe, so nice to meet you!” Felicity greeted, shaking Minato’s hand with both excitement and urgency.Bookmark here

“Go ahead, Konoe,” I said.Bookmark here

“I saw you at the cross country practice before and you were just amazing. You have so much talent. I’m sure we could make it to nationals with you,” Felicity gushed.Bookmark here

“Hold on. Are you part of the girls cross country team?” Minato inquired, his eyes filled with slight interest.Bookmark here

“Yeah. We were hoping to get to Nationals this year, but the boys have several injuries. With you there, it would really help out,” Felicity disclosed.Bookmark here

“Why me?” Minato wondered.Bookmark here

“I just told you! It would be a shame for you not to at least try. Look, I’ll make it even easier. Just practice with them, you don’t even have to join. At least you can do that, right? Please,” Felicity pleaded.Bookmark here

“How about this? I join one practice, but you do something for me in return,” Minato negotiated.Bookmark here

What was he after? Felicity’s face lit up with excitement. Calm down. You still haven’t heard his terms yet.Bookmark here

“I heard several people on the cross country team excel at making pastries. You introduce me and I’ll do one practice for you. Sound fair?” Minato offered.Bookmark here

“Yes! Thank you so much for doing this! You have no idea how much this means to me!” Felicity agreed immediately, no hesitation at all.Bookmark here

“Remember, only one practice,” Minato emphasized.Bookmark here

“I’ll make sure you love it enough to join. I have to go tell Coach right away. Hang on, I have to make a call. I’ll be back!” Felicity dashed out of the room.Bookmark here

Minato sat down with a sigh. What a strange turn of events. Did the pastries mean that much to him?Bookmark here

“Maybe I should tell her the deal is off?” Minato glanced at the ceiling, regret entering his voice.Bookmark here

“No, don’t do that. Feli-, I mean, Konoe would be devastated,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I did agree. Guess I can’t back out. I really do want those recipes,” Minato decided.Bookmark here

“Is it really that special?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“I heard rumors one of the pastries is so delicious it increases relationship points between people. I really want to see that for myself,” Minato answered.Bookmark here

“Those are just rumors, right? There’s no way….,” I started but then stopped.Bookmark here

If magic was involved, the pastry rumor might just be true. Felicity burst in, pointing at Minato.Bookmark here

“Coach will be expecting you tomorrow after classes,” Felicity announced.Bookmark here

“But-,” Minato said.Bookmark here

“The sooner the better! Don’t worry about club. Just focus on running. It might even inspire you to come up a new recipe,” Felicity cut him off.Bookmark here

“Are the members who make the pastries present tomorrow?” Minato inquired.Bookmark here

“Everyone should be there,” Felicity confirmed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, can you pass along the message I’ll be gone tomorrow?” Minato looked over at me.Bookmark here

“Why don’t you just text them?” I countered.Bookmark here

“I’m feeling too lazy. I trust you, Yuki,” Minato responded.Bookmark here

This guy was worse than Shan and Kisai. But of course he was filled with amazing talent. Still, his laid back attitude was much more… refined than Kisai’s?Bookmark here

“I have to run a few laps to prepare for the meet! I’ll see you tomorrow, Yuki! Minato, don’t forget!” Felicity exited with blinding speed.Bookmark here

“I was actually going to sleep, but I realized I needed to tell you a few things,” Minato realized, moving away from the window.Bookmark here

“That’s why I came,” I reminded him.Bookmark here

“Here’s a bunch of stuff. I’ll explain the competition rules while you go through the box,” Minato said, bringing down a sealed cardboard box from the upper shelf of a storage closet.Bookmark here

He tossed me a box cutter, and I slit the tape off, revealing an apron with my name. There was also a badge for my school uniform. It also contained a handbook, utility knife, a starter’s cookbook, and more kitchen clothing.Bookmark here

“How did you get this apron made so fast?” I asked.Bookmark here

“We have a friend in the home economics club. He does quality work for us,” Minato answered, playing with his utiliy knife blade.Bookmark here

“Cool. So about the competition?” I looked at him with expectation.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, that’s right. Long told you we’ll split everyone into two teams, right? The first tier is commonly known as the “Master Cook” category or “Elite/Expert Tier”. The other one is considered “Everyday Cooking” or “Household Foods”. The judging is different for each one,” Minato explained.Bookmark here

“Why the two tiers?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“It’s to give teams better chances of using their member’s skills to the fullest. There won’t be a blatant disadvantage if a team who does better at one category
goes up against one who doesn’t do well at it. And you can’t put all of your best into one part since judging differs,” Minato replied.Bookmark here

“I see. You’ll be part of the expert one, right?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah. I’m no good with making plain dishes. It’s not my strong point,” Minato confirmed.Bookmark here

“How many participants are there?” I asked.Bookmark here

“16 total schools throughout the city. There’s also a losers bracket which will make things interesting,” Minato answered.Bookmark here

“16 teams so that means….four rounds?” I calculated.Bookmark here

“Yeah, for the main competition. However, if we include the loser’s bracket, then it’ll be five. When both the regular and losers bracket ends, there will be one more face off,” Minato corrected.Bookmark here

“What a weird way to do the competition. Who’s the actual champion?” I questioned, confused.Bookmark here

“Whoever wins it all,” Minato simply stated.Bookmark here

“It’s just weird whoever wins in the main round isn’t the final champion,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“Well, it’s a good chance to make a comeback. What if we lost in the main round, but somehow made it back to face champions? It’s such a thrilling experience,” Minato pointed out.Bookmark here

He moved towards the window and stuck his head out. The sunlight diminished, but still lit the room, casting shadows. A small breeze picked up, blowing Minato’s hair. Such a strange person. Certainly not the weirdest, but nonetheless, exuded a certain aura. After letting the wind blow his hair for three minutes, Minato yanked his head back in.Bookmark here

“Okay, time to make food,” Minato decided, donning an apron.Bookmark here

“Hold on, you still haven’t explained everything yet!” I reminded him.Bookmark here

“That’s about it. Once we enter the actual competition, you’ll learn all the rules, Yuki,” Minato suggested, taking out ingredients from the refrigerator.Bookmark here

“Yeah, if I only were as carefree as you, Senpai,” I said, shaking my head.Bookmark here

“That’s how it is with me. Want to help me out, Yuki?” Minato offered, grabbing a cutting board and knife.Bookmark here

“I’ll do what I can,” I replied, surveying his ingredients.Bookmark here

He pulled out a piece of chicken, cilantro, other assorted greens, and a block of tofu. What were those vegetables? A gentle and soothing smell wafted from them. Minato diced all the vegetables and pointed at the tofu.Bookmark here

“Yuki, help me cut. Don’t dice but slice them into smaller cubes. About sixteenths of the original piece,” Minato directed.Bookmark here

I realized my knife was dull after slicing into the tofu. Huh, what a weird feeling. I didn’t cook enough to notice things like this before. What a nice life this Yuki led. No weird hero bullshit and people were nice. No,Yuki! Enjoy it, but don’t let this reality fool you. Mirei was softening me up with this well-done illusion. Once I delved too deep, she would pounce and make her move.Bookmark here

“Yuki! Watch your hands,” Minato warned, noticing my cuts turning erratic.Bookmark here

“Sorry. I’ll fix it,” I said.Bookmark here

Minato mixed the diced vegetables and chicken in a bowl, before dumping them into a pan. He sprinkled the tofu pieces on top, and yanked the oven door open, placing it inside.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you’re free to go now. I want to think about something and prefer to do it alone. Nothing against you, of course. Something clicked and I focus better alone,” Minato requested.Bookmark here

“No problem,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“I appreciate it. Hope you don’t take it the wrong way, Yuki. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Minato said, sitting up on the window ledge again, closing his eyes.Bookmark here

I sat on the train, reflecting on my conversation with Minato. What was he thinking? I was curious about what sudden relevation struck him.Bookmark here

“Yuki! Hey, Yuki!” someone called my name.Bookmark here

I looked up and saw Kyoi’s little sister. Wait, what time was it? I pulled out my phone and saw it was almost five. Damn, how long did Minato plan on staying?Bookmark here

“Yue, what are you doing here so late?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I just wrapped up my club stuff. I’m bringing Long-niisan something actually,” Yue revealed, holding up a bag.Bookmark here

“What is it?” I inquired about the contents.Bookmark here

“Some food from the garden,” Yue answered, her face beaming.Bookmark here

Such dedication. Most people either grew grass in their backyard or turned it into a relaxation space. Very few residents took the time and effort to till the soil and plant seeds. It required time, which most working people rather spend relaxing, than doing more work. Still, Kyoi gardening? That conjured scary thoughts, ones that clashed against my established image of her.Bookmark here

“I hope he cooks some good dishes. Maybe he’ll even decide to cook my favorite,” Yue said, a hopeful look on her face.Bookmark here

I intended to make a disparaging comment about Long, but recalled he was different here. He actually might pull it off, considering his cooking skills. Plus, he was on good terms with Kyoi, so it made sense to fulfill Yue’s wish.Bookmark here

“I’m sure he will,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, do you want to tag along?” Yue asked.Bookmark here

“Sure,” I said.Bookmark here

I was grateful for an opportunity to check out Zhuyu’s house in this reality. More importantly though, discover blackmail material. We arrived at Zhuyu’s house and Yue rung the bell. He opened the door with a soft smile.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.