Zed's snow day
Zed is extremely lazy on snow day because he has the right to be!
(a.k.a Zed's answer to the question if you'd want education over a warm, cozy stay at home. Hint: it's exactly what you think.)
Set before the fall of the old Kinkou Order.
Characters: not yet Shadowy preteen Zed, not yet Eye of Twilight preteen Shen and Shen's Dad.
Warning: excessive swearing because the cold deserves all.
It was freaking freezing.
Who on Valoran thought winter was a good idea again?
That day, like any other winter day ever, Zed woke up to a chilling freeze. As usual, this was what he said
Zed hated winter with a passion.
He deliberately ignored many of the winter training sessions, because why the hell not? No one would know where he went, or care where he went, he'd concluded. Not when, they too, were freezing outside the cold.
So, the future Master of Shadows shut his door tightly and went off to procure some firewood.
"Where's Zed?" the then Master of the Order and Eye of Twilight asked.
His students' responses came shivering
"Who knows where he went?"
"It's really cold over here!"
"Can we just get it over with?"
It seemed like Zed wasn't alone.
The then Eye of Twilight sighed. Zed was always an avid learner, even if he appeared lazy at times, and was a pleasure to teach. Except on snow days. The Grand Master never failed to realize that the boy would always play truant on winter trainings. He doubted Zed ever attended once.
"Come now, ninjas, winter shouldn't scare you."
"Except when we're frozen. Please, can we not screw Zed and get on with it?"
"A true ninja is unfazed by all conditions. You must all embrace them and turn them into your allies."
"Well, you can't be fazed if you're frozen to death." Someone said, and there were some giggles.
The Master sighed again. Zed wasn't alone on hating winter, anyhow. The thing was, even he himself never succeeded in finding out where the boy went (because he had to host the class). Zed was too slippery for the average student to find.
"I'll get Zed," Shen spoke up.
The Master looked at his son
"You know where he is?"
"No, but he's probably locking himself inside some room. I can find him."
"Alright," he consented "do tell him he had detention to attend."
It took Shen half an hour rummaging through the Temple before finding Zed at one of the attics, with several coal stoves littering the floor.
Zed was not amused.
"Shut the damn door, Shen. You are letting the cold air in." the ninja complained, pointing a kitchen knife at Shen.
Curiosity took over Shen and he asked
"What are you doing?"
Zed grunted "Cooking oden, of course."
Indeed, he was dicing some fishcakes, and there was a big pot set on top of a stove.
"Yes, oden. Problem?"
"You're skipping training."
Zed gave him a "oh really?" stare of contempt.
"You can guess why."
"You're not supposed to skip training."
"It's fucking snowing outside, what training do you want to do?"
Zed peeked out of one of the nearest window and scrunched his nose in disgust.
"Eh, no!" he slammed it shut "it's cold as fuck outside, why would anyone want to do training there? Answer: that's not me."
"I mean, would any fool want to freeze over in this weather? Why can't everyone stay at home and have a fucking break?"
Shen raised an eyebrow
"You are not afraid of the cold, are you?"
"Of course I am, you idiot! You can't do shit when you freeze over!"
Shen laughed. It was rare for Zed to admit fear for anything.
"That is why we do winter training: so that you'd know what to do when you have to battle in the snow…"
"That's the fucking point! Why would anyone want to battle in the snow?! Heat I can deal with, not clattering my teeth and freezing my muscles fighting someone!"
"By utilizing your ki, you can resist most weather's conditions…"
"And why would I want to do that? You're fucking dense, you know that?"
"What if you're stuck in a sticky in situation, like in Freljord?"
"Why in Valoran would I come to Freljord?" Zed deadpanned.
"Or other emergencies possible…"
"Well there will be no emergencies if I stay indoors in the first place! Are you an idiot?"
"So you are not going, then?"
"No. Damn it, Shen, shut the door!"
"You know, the Master says you are in for some detention."
"Yeah," said Zed drily "see you all when winter ends. Why can't we all be bears – sleeping peacefully throughout the winter?"
They stayed silent for a few minutes, with Shen staring at Zed and Zed paying Shen no mind. The future Master of Shadows was putting finishing touches on his oden.
Reluctantly, Shen began to see Zed had a point. The room was comfortably warm. Zed must have put quite a lot of effort in arranging the stoves the most efficient way – he would be a genius if he'd put in the efforts. Plus, Shen was feeling rather hungry…
No! He could not indulge himself like Zed was doing.
But that oden smells nice, his inner voice suggested.
While Shen was fighting his inner battle if he should ditch training or drag Zed back with him (the latter almost sounded improbable at that point), the latter had already finished the meal and was pouring it out.
"Here," said Zed, offering him a rather generous portion of his freshly cooked oden.
Shen blinked "What?"
"Your oden. You came, anyway. You're ditching training too, aren't you?"
"Really, Zed?" Shen crossed his arms "why would I inquire you to come back to class then?"
"Isn't that just an excuse to skip training or something? No? Well, you're boring, as usual," Zed rolled his eyes. He didn't withdraw the bowl, however "you are gonna ditch, anyway."
"Come now," Zed began grinning mischievously "give into temptation, Shen. It's warm and cozy in here, and I've got food. You won't find a better oden anywhere else."
"Bragging, as usual, huh?"
"Pff, you'll see I'm not wrong, at all. Are you taking it or not, idiot?"
Zed was smiling his pleading smile at him, the oden bowl still in his hand. It was times like these that he was as persistent (and adorable) as a child.
Shen glanced out the snow outside and shrugged.
"Yeah, screw it," said Shen, taking the oden bowl. It was freezing outside, and Zed got food.
Zed couldn't have looked smugger.
"So… this is what you do every winter ever. Sneaking up to an attic and eating oden all day long?" Shen asked as the Oden was halved.
"Well, not only oden, but it is a favorite. I also have mitarashii dango ready to be cooked." Zed said, taking in a mouthful
"Where did you get the ingredients?"
"Borrowed some from the kitchen," Zed smirked "no one ever noticed anything."
"It's not "borrow" if you can't give it back."
"Jeez, Shen, you're boring."
"I never knew you cooked."
"Well, I've come to realize that practically no one in the whole Kinkou Order is a rational human being. So, I have to provide myself with comfort food. Necessary skill to survive,"
"But you just stay indoors and eat. Doing nothing and eat is not a bright idea."
"Hey, you're eating too, so stop complaining."
"Only because a persistent someone so insisted,"
"You can't blame me for your doing what you wanted to do. That's called hypocrisy."
Zed took another bowl of oden.
"Normally… you eat a whole pot of oden?"
"Everyday in winter…"
"Wow, I'm not even critical, that's amazing. How are you not fat and ugly now?"
Zed looked at him
"Trade secret, sorry," he smirked "you can finish the rest. I'll go boil the dango."
"Uhm, no. I can't eat anymore."
"Of course you can."
"I've eaten two bowls already!"
"And I've eaten three times that amount! You lack faith, Shen. If you believe you can, you can."
Shen almost groaned as he poured the last of the oden in his bowl.
"You know, you're right at one thing, Zed."
"Oh? I'm right? Once in a millennium!"
Shen ignored Zed's dramatic flourish.
"This is indeed the best oden I've ever eaten."
He didn't even mind Zed's smugness at the compliment. If there was something he could never compete with Zed, it was cooking. Especially cooking oden. The guy deserved every praise in the world.
The Grand Master sighed. This would be the worst winter training he'd ever held. After 30 minutes Shen didn't return, his students began protesting the training. It was subzero, after all, and if two of the best students (scratch that, two best students) didn't want to go, then you'd bet the others would use the opportunity.
In the end, he had to dismiss the class, since unhappy students and an upcoming blizzard would be hazardous. He was quite surprised that Shen chose to skip, and had embarked on a mission to find and chide his son.
When he finally managed to find them, though, he couldn't bring himself to scold either of them.
The two boys were sitting in a kotatsu, roasting dango together while playing go. The room was pleasantly warm. An empty pot and two bowls lay in the corner. Zed was happily chewing on a skewer of mitarashii dango while Shen was making his next move. They seemed peacefully content in each other's company.
"I win," Shen declared.
Zed made a disappointed noise, but he was smiling, and took another skewer of dango, pouring soy syrup over it.
The then Eye of Twilight smiled softly to himself. He could let this go. They were yet the protectors of Balance. After all, they were just children. And as all children, they deserved having some mischievous fun and getting away with it.
So he left the warm attic to the two boys to have their own fun as Zed called for another game.
Warm stay-at-home 2 - 0 Education! Even Shen approved.
This little piece was written because I detest the cold, and at the time it was cold as fuck (it doesn't snow in my country, but since it's humid and raining it's even worse). Getting out of bed in the morning for school was ten times more mentally and physically challenging.
I totally call grumpy, oden-eating Zed on cold days legit. Everyone has the right to hate the cold, even the future Master of Shadows.