Chapter 14:

Real Strength


“Hah!” Scoffs Cooking Pot. “We tracked down Pain Killer Oue, so he would tell us where you are, but he didn’t know anything. We ended up chasing him all the way here. Looks like we got lucky!”

Romeo tries to think of an excuse for why he himself came to this place. Yuri was probably in class, so it’s not like he expected to run into her, and the only person he knows that’s staying here is Endo. He takes a deep breath.

“If you’re serious about fighting me, I’ll take you on— but only the tall one. I don’t fight little boys.”

Little boys!?” Cooking Pot yells, offended. “Put me down, Pan! Put me down!!”

“Pot…,” says Cooking Pan sternly, speaking for the first time.

“So you can talk,” remarks Romeo. Cooking Pan doesn't seem to acknowledge him.

Cooking Pan obeys, settling Cooking Pot back down on the ground. As soon as his feet hit the concrete, he rushes at Romeo with a shrill battle cry. Waving his little arms around makes his uniform flap in the wind.

Romeo points the rounded end of his bat—where there are no nails embedded—right at where Cooking Pot's forehead would be, clanging against the pot on his head. Cooking Pot keeps trying to charge at him, still flailing, but unable to get any closer with the bat holding him back. Romeo sighs.

“Listen… You’re still a kid. You should stay away from guys like us. Whatever reasons you have to wanna take over a gang are probably—”

Romeo’s bat disappears from his grip right in front of his eyes. It reappears a second later when it hits the wall with a loud crash.

Cooking Pan stands between the two of them with his leg raised, slowly lowering it back down to the ground. Romeo’s eyes are wide in shock as his brain tries to process what just happened.

This guy… When did he get so close!? And he kicked my bat straight out of my hands like it was nothing!?

Cooking Pan crouches down and reaches under Cooking Pot's arms to pick him up, gently stepping aside to place him a safe distance away.

“Stay here.”

Pannnn!” whines Cooking Pot, wiping the tears rolling down his cheeks. “He called me a boy!

“Huh…?” Romeo blinks. “Wait, the little one’s a girl!?”

“I’ll handle this.”

Romeo barely has time to catch what Cooking Pan said before instinctively whipping up his arms in front of him to block Cooking Pan's heavy kick. The attack throws him skidding back.

Tch… that hurt…”

With Romeo's head still ringing from the heavy impact, Cooking Pan dashes at him, kicks raining down on all sides. Romeo blocks every kick with his arms by pure instinct, but the power behind each blow is so intense that it rocks him off balance.

Cooking Pan leaps back, apparently recognizing that he needs to change his strategy to take down Romeo. Meanwhile, Romeo grunts, his arms burning in pain, but he keeps them raised in case Cooking Pan comes at him again.

“Cooking Pan... You could take over Kappore's central division if you wanted, I’m sure. Why are you hanging around a little girl instead?”


“You don’t like talking, do you? That’s fine with me.”

Instinctively, Romeo reaches towards his back, then realizes his bat isn’t there.

Right, he sent it flying… Shit.

His eyes dart for a second towards the place where his bat rests on the floor— And in that single lapse of attention, Cooking Pan whips around with a roundhouse kick.

His kick strikes Romeo's side but is blocked by Romeo's last-second movement. This becomes a deadlock— but Cooking Pan just keeps adding more and more pressure until the sheer force slams Romeo against the ground.


Dammit! How!? This guy only uses his legs, and yet, he’s this strong!? I’ve never heard of anyone in Kappore with this kind of power…

Cooking Pan slowly steps closer, looking down at Romeo with the same, calm demeanor he’s had since the start. Romeo sweats.

I don’t have my bat… I have to think of something fast...

“Finish him, Pan!” Cooking Pot yells from the sidelines, waving invisible pom-poms in her hands. Romeo gets an idea.

“… You’re not helping her at all, you know. Getting her involved in a gang. You must really hate her.”

Cooking Pan’s eyebrow twitches. His face darkens with visible anger. He swings his leg back, kicking Romeo like a football in a single, intense motion. It slams directly into Romeo's side, sending his body skidding across the uneven concrete.

Gah—!! Hack!!

“Yaaaaay!” Cooking Pot jumps with joy. “You did it, Pan! You won! You defeated Bloody Bat Romeo!”

Cooking Pan doesn’t look at her. His eyes stay fixed on Romeo, as if doubting that defeating him could have been that easy. But Romeo's coughs die off, not moving from where he lands. Cooking Pan observes him for a good few seconds in silence.

“Pan? What’s wrong?”

Cooking Pan finally snaps out of it, looking over at Cooking Pot’s direction.

“... Nothing. Let’s go.”

Cooking Pot’s mouth opens suddenly with a sharp gasp, pointing her long sleeve at him.



Romeo’s bat hits the pan hanging from his neck with a loud, metallic noise, the incredible impact forcing Cooking Pan back. Maybe, it was just that Romeo took him off-guard, but Cooking Pan understands for the first time just how hard Romeo can hit when armed with a weapon.

With blood trickling down his forehead, Romeo stands again, this time gripping his bat tightly in his hands. He spits out some blood before he speaks.

“... You got lucky, huh. Thanks for reuniting me with my bat.”

It’s at this moment that Cooking Pan realizes Romeo merely provoked him, so he’d send him flying closer to his bat. He scowls, angry at himself for falling for such an obvious trick.

Romeo taps his bat on the concrete a couple of times again before positioning himself, ready to swing again. “I’m tired of this. I’ll finish both of you right now.”

Cooking Pan’s eyes narrow into something dark and menacing.

Waaaaait!!” Cooking Pot yells, running over to stand between the both of them, arms extended to her sides. She then proceeds to hit the pot on her head repeatedly, making loud, ringing sounds like a gong. Cooking Pan gasps, as if regaining his senses.

“Don’t hurt him! He’s only doing what I tell him to do! Hit me instead!”


Romeo doesn’t move or answer. Cooking Pot stops hitting the pot and continues with her voice breaking through tears.

“If you tell him you’re gonna hurt me, Cooking Pan will get all upset, and then he’ll attack you with his real strength, and then… and then he won’t listen to anyone, not even me!”

Real strength…? You mean he’s been holding back? Is that why he only uses his legs?

Cooking Pot lowers her arms, bringing a hand under the pot on her head to wipe at her tears.

“My brother— I mean, Cooking Pan, is very strong, you see… So people always pick fights with him, but when he fights for a long time, it’s like he turns into a different person…”

... Oh.

That story has an all-too-familiar ring to Romeo. He decides to ignore the ‘brother’ part.

“... But he’s a good guy!” continues Cooking Pot. “He never wanted to join the Kappore gang at all… I made him join, so people would stop getting all up in his face. He didn’t want to, so I said I’d join on my own. He had no choice but to follow me. Of course, they didn’t wanna let me in ‘cause I’m too young, but they all wanted Pan to join so badly… I told them we’re a package deal, and they had no choice but to let me in, as long as I wear this uniform...”

As Cooking Pot talks, Cooking Pan’s expression gradually changes from bloodlust into something calmer. He breathes out, looking at the ground with shame.

“Sorry, Pot. But I can’t take out Bloody Bat Romeo without my full strength…”

Cooking Pot turns around to face him, shaking her head.

“Then you don’t have to. We’ll get him next time, yeah?”

Romeo looks at both, unimpressed, tapping his bat over his shoulder.

“So you’re just gonna bail, huh. What happened to your talk about being the next Kappore leaders? What was that all about?”

Pot turns to look at him with her cheeks puffed out.

“That’s different! We're still gonna take over, so not even Kappore’s enemies will mess with Cooking Pan! Isn’t that right, Pan!?”


Cooking Pan remains quiet as usual. Cooking Pot approaches her brother, who picks her up and sets her over his shoulders again.

“We’ll leave for now, but you know we didn’t lose. I’ll help Pan learn how to control himself better, and then you’ll see. You were the one who got lucky this time, Bloody Bat Romeo.”

As they walk away, Romeo glares in their direction with no retort... because he knows they’re right.

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