Hello everyone! Thank you to all of you for the amazing reviews, follows and faves. I really appreciate them. I just want to let you know that, in case you get notifications for this (I'm not sure you do), I will be going through the first three chapters over the next few days and correcting some typos and other minor mistakes I found. I wanted to get this next chapter up for you first. Anyway, if you see any extra alerts, that's all it is.
Hope you like this one. Enjoy!
It was a bright and clear morning and most of the Polar Star Dorm was fast asleep, recovering from the late night partying and shokugeki waging they had immersed themselves in most of the day before. Unsurprisingly though, one dorm member, ever the early riser, Isshiki Satoshi, was hard at work outside behind the dorm.
Isshiki was renowned for his uncanny ability to be full of energy very early in the morning, regardless of how little sleep he received or how much energy he used the previous day. Even the boy himself couldn't fully explain his own energy, but as he had been following this schedule since the early days of his childhood, he assumed his body just evolved itself to be like this over the years. He was always like this and that wouldn't change.
Currently Isshiki was busy clearing the fields and planting new seeds as the spring season was upon them. He considered waking up one of his friends to help him, but given their state last night, he came to the, very unlike him conclusion, that he'd let them sleep. Even he didn't want to mess with his juniors all the time.
He had Soma help him the other day with this task, as well as help him with various crops in the greenhouse too. The potatoes in there had just recently grown in and were ready to be picked, something he graciously let Soma handle. However, now it was time for many of the outdoor crops to be planted, something he also let Soma handle, but there was still a lot more to be done before the fields were truly ready. Many things, that only Isshiki himself could actually do, as his secret farming techniques could actually be considered the preliminary prep work and ingredients for many of his dishes.
Acquiring that truly fresh and nature based flavor was his specialty, but it required a lifetime of rigorous training in farming and agricultural based techniques in order to perfect that flavor. Yet, Isshiki also had great experience in other areas as well, particularly when it came to things like business and city life. He was the product of a rather unique life.
Isshiki had grown up on his mother's farm and immersed himself in nature. However, at the same time, his father was a businessman and had a lot of ties and connections in various cities, so he was travelling constantly and Isshiki would sometimes tag along. As a result, Isshiki found himself gaining a lot of experience in both of these two very different worlds.
Although Isshiki mainly lived on the farm for most of his childhood, there were various periods where he went traveling with his father and learned quite a bit about various businesses and industries as well as the city life. Still though, he found that he resonated most with that rural lifestyle and more importantly nature in general. However, it wasn't until Isshiki started to cook and discover things about food and himself that he found his true calling.
Isshiki didn't have the same experience as many of his friends who were from a family of elite chefs or the heirs to restaurants and large food empires. Neither of his parents were professional chefs. Truth be told, his father wasn't much of a cook at all. His mother though was a great cook, albeit not professionally, but it was her homemade cooking and use of the ingredients she cultivated and grew herself that really inspired Isshiki in his own cooking. With that in mind, he began to cook on his own.
At first he didn't know exactly what he wanted to do with his cooking, but when he remembered the various food he ate on city trips with his father and how the freshness and flavor varied and was inconsistent, he came up with the goal that he wanted to bring that freshness to as many people as possible. With that he eventually entered Totsuki, and here he was.
"It's about time I had something to eat." Isshiki thought as his stomach growled. He usually woke up and jumped right into whatever work he planned on doing. He saved eating for a little after he began his work. "Hmmm. Maybe I'll have a western style breakfast today."
After gathering a few of the eggs from one of Yuki's chicken coops, they all shared their ingredients with each other, he made his way back inside into the kitchen. However, to his surprise, the kitchen was occupied.
As he stood in the doorway, he realized he was once again going unnoticed. "Am I really that light on my feet?" He questioned. "Perhaps I should have been a spy or a professional thief?"
He decided to observe the female chef as she focused intensely on what she was making. He was surprised to see her there, but thinking on it, perhaps he should have expected this. The girl seemed to have a serious aura about her recently, like she was very determined to do something. He had a good idea about what that was too. The girl's blue hair was tied back as she focused on the dishes before her. Every so often she would taste her dish and shake her head if it was wrong. It seemed like she had been at this for a while. The way she focused on her recipe and her own unique graceful manner of cooking was a beautiful sight to Isshiki.
"I wonder if this is how Soma felt." He was reminded of the similar situation between Soma and Erina a few days ago when she made him breakfast. They were, at least so they thought since they didn't know he was in the ceiling above, alone together in the kitchen in the wee hours of the day.
He had been a little frustrated with Soma in recent weeks, but it was mostly due to his obliviousness towards Megumi and the suffering that would probably cause her. Still, he couldn't blame the guy completely. After meeting Soma's father and having lived together with Soma for months now, it was obvious he was clueless when it came to anything related to romance, as his whole life revolved around food. In a certain way this made him realize that Soma and Erina were really made for each other. The finer points of their relationship aside, they have so much in common in a general sense with both of their lives being primarily devoted to food. Isshiki was actually happy for them. He saw these newfound feelings as something that will help both of them grow tremendously, as chefs, and people.
"Love truly is a strange thing. It can impact a person so much that their whole life is turned upside down. It can be a wonderful experience." Thoughts about love brought his mind back on the girl cooking in front of him. In regards to his own love, he'd just keep it to himself for now. It wasn't the right time and it was rather obvious anyway how it would turn out if he did anything. "Ahhh, that's right…love is also…painful."
Thinking about it, unlike the obvious mutual attraction between Soma and Erina in the kitchen the other day, it was quite different in this situation. Instead, it was two people suffering from a one-sided love. Seems like they had that in common.
"Hahahaha…" With those thoughts in mind, Isshiki began laughing. He couldn't help but find them funny. "How cruel and funny fate can be."
"EH?!" Megumi was startled by the laughter behind her. "Ohh, Isshiki-senpai, good morning!"
"Sorry…hahaha…Good morning Tadokoro-chan, a funny thought popped into my head. Didn't mean to startle you."
"That's okay!" "Senpai really is light on his feet."
"I'm rather surprised you're up early given the festivities of last night." Isshiki said. He really was because even though Megumi was known for getting up relatively early, she would still sleep in late like everyone else after a long night of fun. He had his ideas about why she was up though and they all involved a certain red haired boy.
"Ahh well, I just felt like waking up early I guess." Megumi hesitated. The truth was that she had resolved yesterday to confess to Soma and to do it soon, but those thoughts ended up infiltrating her dreams and so she woke up because of that. Instead of lying awake and thinking of him, she decided to try and make a dish for him instead. She knew he probably wouldn't be up for a while, but she could play around with some new ideas until then and really come up with something great and have him try it later. At least that was her plan. Things weren't really going her way recently as far as love went. "Anyway, what about you Senpai? You were still awake when I went to bed so why'd you get up early? I know it's part of your usual routine and such, but don't you ever feel like sleeping in? Even only if on rare occasions?"
"Hmmm. I suppose I don't." Isshiki thought about it and it just wasn't like him to sleep late, barring unique circumstances like pulling all-nighters and things like that. Surprisingly the partying well into last night didn't count as that. "I would have to be extremely tired for that or there had to be some other unique reason."
"That's just like you Senpai." Megumi giggled. "Always the early riser, even if you were up so late the night before."
"Yeah and of course I don't want to waste too much of my youth sleeping after all."
"As expected of you Senpai." Megumi nodded her head in a matter of fact way.
"Exactly. So, I see you're cooking there. Just trying out some new recipes or is it something else?" Isshiki asked
"Uhm…well I was just experimenting with certain dishes. Just trying new things." Megumi fidgeted. She didn't want to let him know that she was making something for Soma. She remembered all too well the teasing Erina suffered because of that and she probably couldn't handle the embarrassment.
Plus, there was also that other thing that Isshiki said to her that day, about making him a special dish. She didn't really understand that either and she'd be lying if she said it also wasn't on her mind. Part of her wanted to ask him about it, but part of her wanted to hold off. He hasn't acted like that since then and nor has he brought it up, so she still wasn't even sure if she imagined it or not. It was a very strange thing for him to say after all.
"New dishes? Ah, I know!" Isshiki exclaimed. "I was planning on making breakfast myself and maybe a couple other things so how about we taste each other's dishes while we cook? And if either of us has any criticism or advice, we won't hold back okay?!"
If Megumi was planning on making something for Soma, like he suspected, then she'd have his full support. Just having her smiling, whether it was at him or someone else, was enough for now.
"Alright. I like that idea." Megumi smiled. She was happy at that and glad the Isshiki was acting like usual.
And so, they spent the next few hours of the early morning, cooking a variety of dishes, and giving advice and criticism when needed. Although Megumi couldn't find as much to critique, as she was sure he could, she never once felt any form of pressure or tension when giving helpful criticism to Isshiki. She couldn't explain why, but despite his Elite Ten level prowess in the kitchen, he never once made her feel intimidated. Instead, in a certain way, she found his presence to be rather welcoming and comforting. It was a fun and peaceful time.
"So what do you think of this one?" Isshiki asked as he pushed a small portion of the most recent dish he was working on over towards Megumi.
"Wow! It's very delicious Senpai!" Megumi said excitedly. Isshiki had a unique way of adding a fresh and invigorating flavor to all his dishes. Megumi was always amazed at his ability to do that. He was even able to use a lot of out of season vegetables he grew in one of the polar star greenhouses. It was truly extraordinary what he could do. "Here try mine."
Upon eating Megumi's dish this time, Isshiki felt a wave of comfort and loving warmth wash over him. Megumi's dishes always gave him this great feeling. He could also taste the many subtle differences in her cooking compared to some of the earlier dishes she had made from when he first met her. She truly had come a very long way. One thing was for sure, this was a truly delicious dish and he couldn't get enough of it.
"It's delicious Tadokoro-chan…truly delicious." Isshiki smiled brightly at her in a way he hadn't before.
Megumi froze at that smile. It was different from before. She didn't quite understand it, but it was almost captivating. His eyes even held a similar feeling to that other time a few days ago. They seemed to have both a gentle and sincere light to them, but she thought there was a hint of something else behind them as well.
The chiming of Isshiki's phone shocked Megumi out of her gaze. "I wonder what that was?" She pondered.
"Ahh, sorry Megumi. It seems this message is rather important so we'll have to stop here." Isshiki said looking at his phone.
"O-okay!" Megumi stuttered. "Thanks for all your help Isshiki-senpai!"
"No problem and same to you. Your advice was pretty helpful too." Isshiki said. "Oh and one more thing…" Isshiki leaned in close, as if to whisper something. "Good luck Tadokoro-chan!"
With that he left, once again leaving Megumi frozen in place.
"EHHHH?! DOES HE KNOW WHO MY DISH IS FOR?!"
As Isshiki chuckled to himself while heading back to his room, he began to read the message he received.
"Ohh ho ho…seems like we'll be getting some rather interesting guests later. This should be fun!"
"You look pretty cute when you laugh"
"KYAAAAAAA!" Nakiri Erina released a muffled scream into the pillow she was hugging, while rolling in bed. To say that she had a restless sleep was an understatement. How could she sleep when thoughts of the day before kept replaying over and over in her head and even in her dreams. The boy who had been on her mind more than anything the last few weeks had told her she looked cute. Sure he said it was when she laughs that she looked cute, but that still counted right?
Anyway, it didn't matter, he used the word "cute" as an adjective to describe her and even strengthened it by adding the word "pretty." For reasons Erina couldn't explain, the fact that Yukihira Soma, the boy who she may or may not have potentially developed some semblance of a romantic inkling towards, called her cute and she felt happier than ever. She felt like she could fly or that she was lighter than air. Every time she replayed the memory her heart would pound. She felt giddy and excited, reminding her of some of the heroines in the shoujo manga she read. It was exhilarating. She loved it.
It wasn't an easy day though after he said that however. First, when she inevitably went back and joined in with the party in Marui's room, she took her time doing it mind you, the two of them avoided each other's gazes almost completely. They seemed to be careful not to interact as best they could too, but a few brush ups and accidental encounters (it's the biggest dorm room, but it's not that big) really caused her a lot of embarrassment. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of blushing happening on her part, she didn't even want to directly look at Soma, so she couldn't say for him. Luckily, most of their friends had partaken in quite a bit of rice juice at this point, so they didn't seem to notice. Even the all-seeing Alice seemed to be distracted by something for the rest of the night.
"Yukihira Soma…." She whispered. Even saying his name brought about slightly different feelings than before. Or perhaps they just felt like stronger feelings than before since she was more aware of what those feelings meant.
"Okay. So…I li-li- may-maybe li-lik-like him? No. No wait…maybe I lo-lo…lov-love him." Erina didn't know exactly why, but she thought "like" was just too weak a word to describe what she felt. It kind of reminded her of her admiration and childish crush for Saiba. When it came to Soma though, they had been through so much together and it just felt like her feelings were growing stronger by the day. "Yeah. This must be love. I need to say it out loud."
"I lo-lo-lo…" Erina stuttered. This was harder than she expected it would be. "What is wrong with me? I am THE Nakiri Erina. I am THE God's Tongue. There's no way such a thing as this should be difficult for me. It's just saying one sentence." Erina tried to encourage herself.
"I…lo-lo-lo…lov-love…Yukihira-kun." Erina whispered and it felt wonderful to finally say it, but she needed to go just a bit further. "A little further Erina. Say his first name, like 'that' time."
"I love…Soma-kun." She said it. She finally admitted it after everything that's happened. She had finally realized what these feelings were. Why the boy always had such a unique effect on her like nobody else could ever have. How he could manage to rile her up and infuriate her to the point where she wanted to kill him while simultaneously breaking all her barriers and making her feel all sorts of wonderful emotions she'd never felt before.
"I wonder how long I've really loved him for?"
When she thought about it, ever since she met him, he has been causing her to feel and experience things she never felt before. To say though that she loved him since then, is probably stretching it, especially since she thought he was mocking her. Instead she probably would say she realized it on "that" day some weeks ago.
She had been planning on thanking Soma around that time and had been thinking a lot about how to do that leading up to "that" day, but once the day finally came, once that moment came, she realized things were different. She also remembered there was that slight awkwardness between them at the onset of most of their interactions following that time, although it seems to have dissipated since then. Her feelings however, were certainly different. "That" day was one of the main subjects of her dreams in recent weeks as well.
"Yeah…it had to be since then. Maybe there were some feelings building up before then, but that specific day was the tip of the iceberg, and ever since then my feelings were much stronger than before. Ever since the annual Totsuki Culinary Academy Holiday Ball…I've been falling more and more in love with Soma-kun."
As she thought more about it, that day just had to be where her feelings really started to grow. When she found out who his father was, she realized how wrong she had been and they became friends, but after that and once the Ball happened, her interest in him grew even more. They spent so much time together since then as well. A lot of that time just with each other.
"Well…I'm sure I'll be dreaming about it again tonight, so no sense thinking about it right now."
With that Erina, stretched and decided it was about time to get up. She felt like she had a ton of energy given her newfound feelings. It was an incredible experience for her and she was excited about what would happen from here. However, as she cheerfully began to get ready, a thought occurred to her that froze her in place.
"Wait a minute…what am I supposed to do now? How should I act now? Am I supposed to…" "con-con-confess..." Erina whispered aloud the last word. Suddenly her mind began spinning. Was she supposed to confess now? Is that the next step? "Am I supposed to tell him?!"
She was at a loss. She had only just realized what these feelings were, but now…now what? She realized she was in love, but so many other things started to rush back into her mind. Reality was overwhelming her.
"Should I tell him? Would he even reciprocate my feelings? Am I allowed to tell him? Am I allowed to feel this way? Am I allowed to…love?"
Before she knew it, various memories and images of her life were racing through her mind. In her recent stupor and giddiness, she had forgotten them. They were buried deep within her, but now they were resurfacing. They were overpowering her. It was like they were turning back time, almost like she was regressing back to the way she was before. Back into the dark.
"As expected of the God's Tongue…a true culinary genius…"
"Look! It's the God's Tongue…should we say something? No way…she's way above our reach…we can't approach her."
"The Nakiri line is in good hands with the God's Tongue as the successor and heir…
"She'll go far…she's the God's Tongue after all…"
"Erina-sama please taste this dish…Erina-sama please give us your guidance…Erina-sama…Erina-sama…Erina-sama…"
"OWW!…FATHER STOP IT….IT HURTS!"
"DO AS I SAY!"
Erina was panting for breath, shaking. Somehow she had ended up back on her bed and clinging to her pillow again. Tears streaming down her face as various dark memories of her past kept resurfacing in her mind. The darkness that had been plaguing her for so long.
"Now, now Erina…remember that only the food I approve of is considered delicious…"
"Come Erina we have a full day of dishes for you to taste…remember what I taught you…"
"Central will guide the world to culinary greatness…all opposition is worthless commoner trash…"
"You are the possessor of the God's Tongue…your life has already been decided…"
Erina couldn't take it. So many terrible memories of her past bombarding her at once. Reminding her of her fears, of the darkness that wouldn't leave. The darkness always there deep within her. Reminding her that she was not meant to love. That she did not need to love. That love was not something that the God's Tongue or heir to the Nakiri family would ever require. She imagined her father's shadow looming over her whispering to her and telling her that she was the successor of the "True Gourmet." It would be her who continued her father's work. It was like an icy cold chill that wouldn't leave her body. She hated it. She wanted it to go away. She wanted all of it to stop. She tried to clear her mind. She tried to think of something, anything other than her terrible past.
"Anything to make these memories stop!
"I call it…Transforming Furikake Gohan!"
"Soma-kun…" Erina began to feel warm again at the memory of their first encounter. Her heart beat happily in the warmth she felt thinking of Soma or saying his name.
"It wasn't much!"
"Happy to serve!"
"I feel those who only recognize one 'right' way will never go beyond and reach truly amazing things."
"The journey is no fun if you know where you're going."
It was as if that warmth, like the light in her dreams, was washing the cold darkness of her past away. "I won't let Father take this feeling…this love from me."
"You look pretty cute when you laugh."
Erina began to feel that lightness again, that gleeful feeling. The tears falling turned into those of happiness. She also began thinking about her friends and the memories they made too.
"We're your friends Erina-chan!"
"Welcome to the Polar Star Dorm Nakiri-san!"
"Here's some herbal tea if you like…"
"Erina-sama I've brought the manga you asked for…"
"Erina! Let's go play at the pool!"
Erina felt like her pain was subsiding. Like that darkness was subsiding. "That's right. I'm not alone anymore. I have friends now. I have…love. I won't let Father take these things away from me. No matter what happens…I will not go back to the way I was before. I will not carry on Father's wishes. I will resist him. I will defeat him. I will move forward together with these people here…my friends and…Soma."
With that in mind, Erina got up and washed away the tears she shed. She resolved to continue the goal that she and her friends had. They would defeat Central and her Father no matter what. She didn't know what the future held. She didn't know what Central and her Father had planned. She also knew her time at the dorm may even be limited. She may even be forced to return to her Father once more, but…she would not give in. She would fight him every step of the way. She would never give in no matter what. Not anymore. As far as her love goes…
"No matter what happens. Possible or impossible, it's irrelevant. All that matters is that I love him. I know that now. Confessing or not…well…I still don't know anything about that, and the timing with the FSP and Central…as long as I love him and cherish these feelings…that's enough for now."
Nakiri Alice was feeling determined. She couldn't wait any longer. She didn't want to keep fighting. Today she would finally make up with Ryo. She didn't like this…silence between them…she hated it. She wanted everything back to how it was before they fought. She couldn't explain it, but being apart was causing her to feel all sorts of things. She felt depressed, sad, lonely, and everything she did seemed like it was lacking something, like something was missing, like part of her was missing. All of it was unbearable for her.
Only more time has passed since they fought and Ryo was being incredibly stubborn about this whole thing. She was getting worried as it was very unusual for them to stay apart this long. She had even tried texting him and calling him this morning, but to no avail. She didn't care if he was still mad or if he yelled at her or threw a fit, she wasn't running this time.
Unfortunately, she was still the only one who communicated anything "rebel" group related to him, so neither of them ever bothered having Ryo exchange numbers with anybody else really. Although she thought maybe he and Soma did, but she forgot to ask him.
"Alright! I can do this!" Alice yelled to the forest around her as she made her way back to the Nakiri estate. She had just left the Polar Star Dorm, but got a late start since they were all partying well into the night. It was partially her fault since she always brewed some rather interesting liquids for them to drink.
She only recently got into creating various juices and other beverages. She found that it was rather fun using gastronomy to make some of these drinks and it became something of a pastime for her. It was her recent friendship with Ryoko that sparked this. The two of them actually hit it off in Hokkaido as they ended up in one of the divided rebel groups together. As she was still getting used to having friends, like her cousin, she wasn't sure about getting as close with some of the other girls just yet. However, her newfound bonding with Hisako and her mended and deepening relationship with Erina were allowing her to grow close to others now.
Actually, since Hokkaido, she had been working on some interesting drinks with Ryoko, who gave her some of these ideas, so, she hoped that she would continue to grow closer to some of the other females in the Polar Star group as well. Oddly enough, it was also Yuki and Megumi, as well as Erina, who encouraged her to go and talk things over with Ryo as she eventually ended up telling them last night a little bit about what happened, since they asked where he was.
"Yeah…they're all really great. Erina's lucky…fufufu maybe I'll move in there next." Alice giggled aloud. "I wonder how Ryo would handle living there?"
She wondered if they'd be able to adjust to his berserk and calm mood switches. "Hmmm…well they have Isshiki-senpai and if you can adjust to him, adjusting to Ryo-kun shouldn't be that hard."
Thoughts of Ryo had once again filled her head, increasing her desire to see him. She decided to quicken her pace back. "I want to see you Ryo-kun…where are you?"
Part of her couldn't help but worry that he was still mad, even if she wasn't going to back down. Another part of her, although very small, was worried that something happened to him. Despite them fighting, this was not like him at all. He'd never go this long without contacting her in some way.
They've been separated at various instances in the past, but usually due to expected circumstances and never for very long. In Hokkaido for example, there was a small period of time where they were placed in separate groups, but things turned out okay and they kept in contact. Now though, Alice couldn't help but worry. The more she thought about it, the more something just seemed off.
"I should've went back soon after that day. I should never have run away…damn it! Why are we both so stubborn Ryo-kun?"
Alice finally made her way back into the Nakiri estate. She knew exactly where she was going to go to. She wasn't going to stop at her room or anything else, she was going straight for Ryo's door.
As she reached his hallway, she noticed that it was quiet. Too quiet. It was unlike him. She expected him to still be training or something at least, or maybe even just cooking or working out. Anything would be fine, but silence was strange. "Maybe he's sleeping?"
Upon finally reaching his door, Alice began to knock, but noticed the door was ajar and it seemed like the light was off.
"Ryo-kun?" Alice pushed the door open and flipped the light switch.
Alice gasped in shock at the sight before her. The room was…empty. There was nothing there. There wasn't even a sign that anything ever was in the room.
"Ryo-kun?!" Alice ran into the empty room and looked around the corner, beyond the sight of the door to see if there was anything at all. It was a large room, more like a large studio apartment so there had to be something.
There was nothing. Ryo's bed, his clothes, his personal belongings, all his furniture, even the private kitchen that was installed and the cabinets and other things, all of it was gone. The closets were empty too. Everything, everything was gone.
"RYO-KUN?!" Alice began to panic now as she ran to the center of the large empty room. She didn't know what was happening or where he went. She began to spin around looking all over the room. She wondered if she was dreaming or if this was a joke. She clutched her head as various thoughts raced through her mind.
"What's happening? What's going on? Where's Ryo-kun? Why is his room gone? How did this happen? Is this my fault? Is it what I said?"
She tried to calm herself down. There had to be a valid reason for this.
"Ohhhh, if it isn't Alice." Said a voice from the entrance of the room, and for the first time ever, that voice struck fear in Alice.
"He never comes down here. He shouldn't be here. This is too much of a coincidence. This must be his doing." Alice thought while not yet turning to face the voice.
"How are you my dear niece?" Nakiri Azami said in a dark, albeit cheerily manner. "What, may I ask, are you doing in this room?"
"Un-Uncle…" Alice turned. She wouldn't cower from this man, this terrible man. Composing herself, she continued. "Where is Ryo-kun?" She said firmly. "Why is his room empty?"
"Hmmm…Ryo-kun? Room? Who or what are you talking about?" Azami responded in a seemingly confused manner.
"You know exactly who I'm talking about." Alice stated angrily. "He's my…assistant. Where is he? What have you done with him?"
"I'm sorry my dear, I truly have no idea what you're talking about." Azami said smiling innocently. "Are you perhaps ill?"
"Don't mess around with me. You have no right to interfere in my life." Alice said raising her voice, approaching the man. "Now, why is his room empty? What did you do to RYO-KUN?!"
"Ahh, I think it's best if you calm down. Everything will be quite alright I'm sure." Azami said in his incredibly arrogant and condescending manner. "This room will now be a storage room. I've had all the trash in here discarded."
"WHAT?! This is Ryo-kun's room! What are you talking about?!" Alice shouted.
"Please my dear, remain calm." Azami said feigning reassurance. "Hmmm…Ryo-kun, Ryo-kun…you keep saying that name…hmmm."
"Don't screw with me Uncle! You have no right to interfere with me. You're no parent or guardian of mine. Tell me where Ryo-kun is!"
"Hmmm…Ryo-kun, Ryo-kun…" Azami said while stroking his chin. "Ahhhh, I remember now. Ryo-kun yes, yes I remember. He was that deplorable mongrel that used to follow you around on occasion right?" Azami added darkly with a sinister smile on his face. "I remember it would occasionally sleep in here. The poor thing."
"Wha-what di-did you say?" Alice said frozen at his words, an eerie chill running down her back.
"Oh my dear, you have no need to worry about that 'thing' anymore." Azami said reaching his hand out to caress her cheek. "As the western saying goes when a dog becomes useless, it is 'put down.' You won't be seeing him again."
"Wha-what are you saying? What did you do? Where is he?" Alice brushed his hand off and backed away from him. Her eyes were wide in shock. "My-my parents…I'll call my parents…they won't allow this."
"Your parents? Ah, but I already spoke to your Father. We were in agreement my dear." Azami smiled brightly.
"No that's…not true…that's not…possible." Alice's mind was spinning. She refused to believe this. He was lying. He had to be lying.
"He has to be here. You have him here somewhere. Yo-you…you did something to him. RYO-KUN?!" Alice pushed past her Uncle and ran into the hallway. Tears began to swell in her eyes as fear and panic overwhelmed her.
"RYO-KUN?! RYO-KUN!?" Alice screamed as she ran down the hallway. "He has to be here. He has to. I need to find him. Please let me find him!"
"It's no use my dear, he's gone!" Azami shouted back to the screaming and frightened girl.
"GONE? NO! NO that can't be! I need to find him!" "RYO-KUN?!" Alice shouted and turned the corner away from her uncle.
Alice ran and yelled all through the mansion. In and out of rooms, screaming at attendants and employees to help her, but none would listen. She was alone. She needed to find Ryo, she had to find him. He couldn't be gone. It was impossible. Her uncle was lying. He had to be lying. Finally, she reached her own room.
"What can I do? Think…think. Ahhh, Mother! Mother will help me. She'll know what happened."
Alice frantically pulled out her phone and began to call her mother.
"Hello…" Leonora answered.
"Mother! Mother listen to me something terrible has happened." Alice yelled, crying on the phone. "I think Uncle Azami did something to Ryo-kun. I can't find him Mother! He said Father already knew? What's going on Mother? Please tell me. Please tell me what's going on."
"Alice…" Leonora sounded different. She was hesitating. "…I'm sorry Alice…I'm so sorry. There's nothing we can do. I'm so sorry."
"WHAT?! What's going on Mother? What's happening?"
"I'm so sorry Alice…" Leonora was crying now, sobbing with her daughter. "Ryo…He…I'm sorry…he can't be by your side anymore…You can't see him anymore…I'm sorry…so sorry…"
Alice dropped the phone at her mother's words. She didn't know what was happening. "Ryo-kun is…gone…he's gone? Why? What's going on? Is this my fault? Did he leave because of what I did or is it something else I did? I wanted to apologize. I wanted us to be together again that's all. I just wanted him by my side again. I wanted us to have our food battles against each other. I wanted to laugh with him again and talk to him and eat with him and just to see him. Why?! Why is this happening? Where are you Ryo-kun?"
Alice dropped down to her knees, by the foot of her bed. There was a throbbing pain in her chest unlike any she ever felt before. She could hear her mother still calling out to her from the phone, still on the line. Tears were cascading down her face and she cried out in agony.
"RYO-KUN! I'M SORRY!" Alice bawled through her tears as she laid her head onto her bed and continued to cry. "Please come back to me Ryo-kun…please…I need you…I…"
Meanwhile, near Ryo's empty room, Azami just stood there alone, listening to the sounds his niece made as her sobs could be heard throughout the mansion.
"Ohh Alice…poor girl. This is only the beginning." Azami laughed sinisterly.
"That was a beautiful look on your face, my dear niece. I can't wait to see that frightened and weeping face again. I'd save some tears though; it won't be long before Erina returns to my side after all. Do you understand now…the difference between us? How foolish it was for you and your naïve and petulant rebel friends to challenge me. I look forward to slowly breaking all of your spirits. One by one you'll fall. In the end, a kitchen will only seem like Hell to all of you. It'll embody all your fears and make you realize just how inferior you really are. You'll never set foot in one again. Your disgusting and disgraceful culinary practices will be extinguished from the world."
"Ahhhh…I can't wait!"
A few days ago:
Kurokiba Ryo was feeling a combination of angry, frustrated, annoyed, and now…guilty. He had just told his master, Nakiri Alice, to "buzz off" and that he didn't "give a damn" if she went to find some other more docile person to attend to her.
"Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!" Ryo growled. He was calming down now compared to his lashing out at his master a few minutes ago. He took his headband off too. He didn't mean what he said and he knew she didn't either, but he had been so angry since this morning that it wouldn't have mattered who it was, he would have likely lashed out at them.
Earlier this week he had a run in with Saito Somei, the sword wielding Elite Ten member. Normally, this wouldn't have bothered him too much, but he ended up encountering him twice that day. The second time he was alone and on his way to get something for Alice and the guy actually had the audacity to tell him he should practice a certain culinary technique a little more, the same technique he used in their match in Hokkaido. Of course this pissed him off in general, but what really set him over the edge was that: first he actually said this to him when he barely spoke during their match, and second he waited nearly two months after their match, a match that Ryo won, to make this stupid comment. It infuriated him.
Of course he relieved his anger through cooking the last few days, but it wasn't really too bad and in fact this morning he was fine. However, just a little while before Alice showed up, he received a message from one of Azami's lackeys telling him that he needed to report to his office later today. Now that made him angry. He had no desire to even go near the maniac for a director that Totsuki now had. He was even more angry at the director now because he had lashed out at Alice too. He didn't get to tell her about the summons either.
"I'll have to apologize to her when I get back later."
He really was upset that he lashed out at her. Even if he didn't show it often, he really did care for Alice quite a bit. In the beginning, when he first met her when they were children, she was rather frustrating to him. How condescending she could be to him and how annoying she sometimes was. Yet, he couldn't explain it, but as time went on, he grew to rather enjoy her presence and he began to respect her. Not only that, but she continuously beat him at cooking for two whole years. It took him two years to develop his skills enough to beat her.
He remembered the face she made when he finally did beat her. She was a little teary eyed and annoyed at him, she challenged him again too. He was taken aback by how she looked. It was the first time he ever saw her that way. He couldn't explain it really, but new feelings arose in him that day, feelings he just didn't understand even now. Still, one thing he knew, after looking at her then, he finally accepted his role as her aide. He finally acknowledged her as his master. He wanted to keep challenging her with their own mini food battles forever, and he wanted to remain by her side.
Following her would allow him to improve his skills in ways he never imagined, it would allow him to experience things he never thought possible. That's how he felt at that time anyway, and still does today. Plus, a part of him also just enjoyed having her around, even by that point when they were kids. He thought the idea of her being gone was terrible, even if he never once expressed that to her in any way. He wondered if that was part of the reason he was always on guard anytime they ventured outside or not. Unconsciously, he found himself glaring at anybody, particularly any male, who dared approach her after all. He remembered one particular situation when he went with Alice and Erina to a pool. He chalked it up to a habit as her aide, which also included guard duties, but part of him thought it might be for another reason too.
"I guess it's not important right now" Ryo thought as he continued to cook.
The time of his summons was approaching and he was seriously considering ignoring it, but he had the feeling things would get ugly if he did. Ryo wasn't afraid of physical altercations and in fact he was rather good at them to be honest, but it usually annoyed Alice if he got out of hand so he resolved not to engage in them if possible. Sometimes though his rage would just take over.
"Well…I better get ready to go."
With that in mind, Ryo began to clean up the kitchen in his room and put away any uneaten food and any leftover ingredients. It didn't take him long to clean, as he was rather efficient at cleaning. He had developed the skill over time when he was head chef in his restaurant and then it only improved when he began being ordered to clean various things by Alice.
"Hehe, she can actually be rather lazy and sloppy herself sometimes." Ryo snickered to himself. For all her prowess in the kitchen involving a lot of precise scientific and technical methods and practices, sometimes Alice got a bit lazy. It wasn't all the time, actually it was rather rare, but there were a few times where she'd have him help her clean up her messes in the kitchen, which usually meant she'd tell him what to do and watch.
Back when they were kids though, the cleaning involved other things, like parts of their house where they lived, when he moved in. Of course there were tons of servants in the house so it wasn't like Alice had duties other kids had, or that he had. However, on rare occasions her parents would discipline her by having her clean up various places, more specifically her room.
He had one particular memory of her asking him to help clean her room in secret, since she was supposed to do it alone. Normally, this was fine, but they happened to be getting a little older at this point and were more aware of certain things and changes. So when Ryo accidentally knocked a bin of Alice's clothes and particularly underwear on him from inside her closet, well her reaction of fuming with anger and embarrassment, calling him a pervert and slapping him out of the room was probably justified. That still didn't prevent him from yelling back at her though.
"That was a fun day." Ryo laughed.
That fight reminded him of this one a little bit. If he recalled, he uncharacteristically made her some food as an apology, even though he knew he wasn't in the wrong, but she accepted it with a beaming smile, so it was fine in the end.
"That's just how she is I guess. My master sure is a handful." Ryo smiled at the thought. No matter how many times she got mad or they fought or something happened, seeing her smile at him in a way that she only really did around him was something he'd always enjoy. Of course he had the feeling he enjoyed her annoyed and embarrassed faces a bit too. I guess most of her facial expressions just had a unique effect on him.
"Ohh I wonder if that's Ojou-sama? I didn't expect her to come back though. Usually, I have to go to her. Wait…it couldn't be…"
Ryo went and answered the door. He had an idea of who it might be.
"Hello Kurokiba-san. We've come to escort you to the director's office." Said one of Nakiri Azami's men. There were about ten men behind him as well, along with another rare sight, Saito Somei, with sword and all.
"Gahhh. What is this?" Ryo spat. "Afraid I wouldn't show?"
"The Director simply wanted to give you an escort." Said the same man, who seemed to be in charge. Saito remained silent.
"Escort huh?" Ryo glared at the group. "Well, there's no need. I was just about to make my way over there."
"The Director insisted we escort you so if you'll please follow us." Said the head guard.
Ryo nodded and began to follow them. He had no desire to start any trouble here and he really was going to go to the office anyway. They couldn't fool him though; they were clearly here to force him to go one way or the other. If Saito was here, then that means he must also know how to handle himself.
"Tch." "They're afraid of me, but this guy walks around the school with a giant sword like it's natural. What a crazy bunch of people Central has."
As they made their way to the building where Azami's office was, the guards eventually left as they got inside the hallway with the office. Only Saito silently remained. Ryo was getting a little fed up with him though.
"Why are you even here?" Ryo finally asked him.
"I'm simply observing." Saito replied.
"Observing?! What the hell? This guy…" "How annoying." Ryo growled.
"You should try and calm that temper in the future. It might lead you to make a mistake." Saito said.
"What the hell did you just say?!" Ryo snapped back.
"We have arrived." Saito said, ignoring his comment as he knocked on the door.
Ryo couldn't press him further as a voice beckoned them to come in. Upon entering, Ryo noticed that the office was rather grandiose. He'd never been in here before. The old office, the one the former Director Nakiri Senzaemon used, was no longer being used as the Director's office. Ryo assumed that since his master's grandfather still lived on the campus, he continued to use that office for his purposes, but since he was powerless there wasn't much else he can do. Azami likely had no intentions of using the office of a man he hated anyway.
In the center and towards the back of the large ornamented and pompous room was the desk behind which Nakiri Azami sat. There was a man standing next to him that Ryo assumed was his attendant. There also happened to be two large men by the door they just walked through. These men were easily twice the size of the other men who came with them here.
"Welcome, welcome Kurokiba-san!" Nakiri Azami sang. "You may leave Saito-san."
Saito nodded and left the room.
"What a strange guy." Ryo thought as Saito left.
"So, Kurokiba-san, how are you doing today? How is my dearest niece and darling daughter?" Azami asked smiling. "As I'm sure you're aware, they're not very fond of me right now."
"Listen here, I'm in no mood for wasting time chatting, especially with you." Ryo snarled. "I'm not FOND of you either. I don't care that you're the director, I don't take orders from you. I came here willingly, so just get to the point of what it is you want so I can leave."
"Now listen here bo-" Said the man next to Azami, but Azami put up a hand to stop him.
"Now, now. It's quite alright." Azami laughed. "You really do have quite the temper don't you? And you're not even wearing that signature bandanna right now…my, my."
"So they caught onto that huh?" Ryo thought. He didn't exactly keep it a secret per se, but the bandanna held a special meaning for him and putting it on caused him to act in a far more heated, enraged, and highly focused manner. Ryo assumed it had to do with the battlefield of a kitchen he grew up in and anytime he was there he had the bandanna on which meant the war in the kitchen was on. When he had the bandanna off, that generally meant the fighting was over and he was "safe" so there was no need to keep it on and have all that energy. That's how his body acted anyway and still to this day.
Ryo didn't exactly realize the switch necessarily, but he retained all his memories and everything, so it wasn't exactly like he had two completely different entities living within him. Instead, his personality just became more fired up and emotion fueled whenever he put the bandanna on, but it usually just correlated with anger and determination. He could still easily get angry without it though; it just wouldn't be as much as with it.
"Of course we know all about you. Far more than your fashion sense." Azami continued.
"Grrrr." Ryo was growling in frustration and glaring at the man now.
"Fufufu, alright, I'll get to the point." Azami chuckled. "Kurokiba-san, if I told you that you were no longer going to be Alice's aide and to have no more contact with her, what would you do?"
Ryo froze at his words, his eyes widened in shock. He couldn't even believe what he just heard him say.
"What did you just say?!" Ryo said darkly. "What the hell did you just say?!"
"Ahh as expected, you'd be annoyed. I take it you wouldn't do it right?" Azami asked smiling.
"Obviously not. I already told you I don't take orders from you." Ryo snapped. "I'm leaving; this is a waste of my time."
"Ahh, I know, I know. I understand. You follow Alice and by extension her family." Azami laughed. "I was joking, please wait a minute Kurokiba-san, let me preface my comment first." Azami said. "Kurokiba-san, do you know what position I hold?"
"What the hell was that comment? What is this guy playing at?" Ryo was visibly pissed. He didn't like where this was going.
"Well?" Azami asked eagerly.
"How stupid." "You're the director." Ryo gritted.
"Yes, yes exactly. I am the Director of Totsuki Culinary Academy." Azami said in a grand manner, emphasizing each word. "Do you know what that means?"
Ryo didn't respond at this comment. He didn't exactly know what he was getting at and he truthfully didn't want to engage with this man any longer. The original comment he made still rang in his ears.
"I don't like this."
"I don't expect you to know the appropriate answer so I'll answer for you." Azami said with a knowing smile. "That means, that I hold, arguably, one of the most powerful and influential positions in the global culinary world, and without question the most powerful position in the Japanese culinary world."
"This bastard! How full of themselves can one person be?!" Ryo was getting more and more frustrated at Azami's words, but kept silent.
"Ahh, but I'm sure you knew that." Azami smiled. "It's still rather funny to me though, that a group of impudent children seem to think their actions will change anything or have any real consequence. You and your rebellious friends are so adorable."
"THIS GUY! THIS INFURIATING BASTARD!" Ryo was struggling to keep silent here, clenching his fists.
"Ahh, I see you're getting a tad impatient. Let me continue." Azami said cheerily. "You see Kurokiba-san, my ingenious father-in-law left the system in place whereby he could get ousted as the director. To think that the Elite Ten would never overthrow him was ludicrous, but that was only the beginning of his mistake. It's the very nature of the authority and power of the Director position at Totsuki that I'm referring to. He made this position so powerful that it's influence weighs more than any CEO of any food based company. It has power and control on all continents of the world. It has more influence and prestige than any restaurateur or famous chef could ever dream of. My reach, my ability to spread my "True Gourmet" ideals has never before been so easy. This power is nearly unlimited when the Elite Ten is completely on your side as well. Do you understand what I'm getting at?"
"Talk about being full of yourself. How arrogant!" Ryo finally snapped. "I didn't come here to listen to you drone on about how great you think you are."
"Fufufu, so feisty, how funny you are Kurokiba-san." Azami laughed again. "Ahh, but don't worry, that was just a broad introductory explanation. Let me get into more detail of why I'm telling you this and why this should matter to you. First, I should say that my position allows me to buy up a great many restaurants worldwide, small and large, and simply do with them what I wish. I can even close them immediately or have them destroyed. It's really rather easy you know? Even those who refuse to sell can be ousted in other ways. For example, here's a copy of a deed to a restaurant I recently acquired. I think you'll like this one."
Ryo begrudgingly took the paper from Azami. He really didn't want to bother with this guy anymore, but it seemed entertaining him was his only way out. More men had gathered near the entrance of the door, equal in size to the two huge guards originally there. Finally reading the paper, his eyes widened in horror at the words he read.
"So Ryo? What do you think I should do with that place? Hmmm." Azami smiled slyly. "Should I tear it down and fire all the employees? Perhaps I should have them re-educated in the ways of "True Gourmet? Then there's the town as well. I was thinking of buying that too and experimenting with it. What do you think Kurokiba-san?"
"YOU BASTARD!" Ryo yelled. He unconsciously put the bandanna back on his head. He felt like running straight at the vile man in front of him and pummeling him to the ground. He was suddenly flanked by multiple men however, and some of them even moved on either side of Azami as well, anticipating Ryo's thoughts.
"Oh come now Kurokiba-san, there's no need for such language." Azami said calmly, but Ryo could sense the condescension coming out at every word, that he was being looked down on. "This is just a run-down establishment, attracting commoner trash from an old forgotten town in Denmark that has less significance than a garbage dump. There's no need to get angry over it."
"Why you..." Ryo was seething in anger now. That was his town, that was his restaurant, that was his home. This bastard of a man had no right to say anything about them or do anything to them.
"Now…I'll ask you again, if I were to tell you that you were no longer allowed to be the aide to my niece and that you were no longer allowed to have any contact with her…what would you do?" Azami smiled sinisterly.
Ryo's eyes widened. He realized now what he was supposed to say, what Azami wanted from him. This insufferable man wanted him and Alice separated. He wanted to break them away from each other.
"Ojou-sama…." A flood of memories poured into Ryo's mind. It was similar to what he imagined people meant when they say they saw their life flash before their eyes, except all of these memories had one thing in common, they were all of Alice. They were all the memories he had with his master…with his friend. Yes, she was his friend as well as his master. His first and only real friend for most of his life until recently. These memories were beyond precious to him in ways that he couldn't explain. He had vowed to serve her and be with her forever. Yet, this treacherous man before him wanted to sever that relationship solely because of his insanity. He would even literally destroy Ryo's home in order to do so.
"My home…the restaurant where I grew up and became head chef…everything." Not all of his memories of his home town were pleasant. In fact, many were not. He struggled there, he fought to survive there, and he made something of himself there. No matter how good or bad it was, it was still his home. More importantly though, as he thought about it, there was something that went beyond all of that…which that restaurant…that town gave him.
"That was the restaurant where I met her…Ojou-sama…Alice." Yes. Those were the memories that overwhelmed him the most. The memories of their time together their as children. She was the memory he treasured above all from that time. He knew there was only one answer he could give this man.
"I would continue…to be…her servant." Ryo said darkly, looking Azami straight in the eyes with such ferocity, daring him to challenge him. For a split second, Ryo thought he saw a flash of a frown pass over Azami's face, but it quickly morphed into an even wider smile.
"Tsk…tsk…tsk Kurokiba-san. Ahhh, I expected this though." Azami said confidently.
"Expected this?!" "What the hell are you even saying?!" Ryo fumed, yelling in anger and impatience at the man. "These questions are ridiculous anyway. You can't make such demands. You have no power over Alice and can't make any decisions on who is or who is not her aide."
"Quite right Kuorkiba-san. Quite right." Azami laughed again. "You should have paid more attention to what I said earlier though. I'm the Director of Totsuki Culinary Academy with a majority backing of the Elite Ten, and that position gives me authority remember? It gives me authority over a great many things, including the many different industries and companies of Totsuki and those related to Totsuki, as well as all of those related to the Nakiri family. Do you understand?"
Ryo was seething with rage now. "He couldn't be referring to…he wouldn't dare…"
"Perhaps, I don't have the authority to remove you as Alice's aide directly, but I do have the authority to let's say wipe out the molecular gastronomy department of Totsuki International. Or threaten to disband all those involved with molecular gastronomy and have the culinary method blacklisted on a global scale as a method unfit for the "True Gourmet" world I envision. You know I owe that idea partially to you. When you defeated Kusonoki, who was using a heating variant of molecular gastronomy, I realized how weak and useless that type of culinary practice is. Certainly it's unfit for the future of Central."
Ryo was angry, pissed, infuriated, enraged and so much more. So many emotions were racing through him. So many negative emotions. So many terrible thoughts passed through his mind. He couldn't take much longer listening to this. That this terrible human being would go this far just to separate him from Alice.
"Besides all of that though, I could also have the Research Division Head of Tōtsuki International replaced for a variety of examples, least of all incompetence. My sister-in-law is rather stupid you know? Ahh, there are so many things I could do, and you know what I've already begun. The reformation of Totsuki International begins next week, and molecular gastronomy being lambasted as a disgusting and worthless cuisine globally, will soon follow. Not even the lowest of restaurants will allow for molecular gastronomy in their kitchens once our campaign is over. All the wheels are in motion. Alice's father even called me to beg for me to stop, to plead for the salvation of his wife's and daughter's dignity. He said he would agree to anything I asked. Anything at all. Do you know what I asked him for Kurokiba-san?"
Ryo was at a loss. Anger and rage clouded his mind, but an overwhelming feeling of insignificance washed over him. It was like he was a weak and worthless child all over again. He fell to his knees right there in the office. His fists slammed on the ground. He heard Azami stand up and begin to walk around his desk towards him.
"You know, when I told Alice's father that I simply wanted his full agreement in having you removed from Alice's side and no longer allowed to be in contact with her, he was overjoyed that it was something so simple. That it was such a trivial request and I would, at least for now, delay the turmoil that may befall his family. Ahh, kind of makes you realize just how insignificant and meaningless you really were to that family; makes you realize how insignificant a pitiful mutt like you really is, eh Kurokiba-san?"
Azami was standing in front of Ryo now and kneeled down towards him, a sinister and sadistic look in his eyes as his glare pierced right through Ryo. "So I'll ask you again, if I told you that you were no longer allowed to be Alice's aide and that you were no longer allowed to have any contact with her whatsoever…what would you do?"
Ryo faced the floor. He felt empty inside. He felt hollow. All his rage and anger dissipated and insignificance took over. He couldn't protect anything, especially not Alice. He had failed her.
"I would…agree. I would leave her side." Ryo had lost. He was powerless. He truly was still weak.
"Excellent answer Kurokiba-san. Excellent answer." Azami said returning to his desk. "Let's see now, down to the finer points of what happens now. Don't worry, I have no intentions of expelling you. In fact, I need you, you're going to become a valuable asset to me. I find it amusing actually that all of you continue to fight so hard. Why do you think I simply didn't have Tsukasa and Kobayashi crush all of you in Hokkaido? Because this is too much fun. Breaking the spirits of the naïve and incompetent is an incredibly enjoyable experience." Azami laughed darkly. "Taming a rabid and bloodthirsty dog is even more fun!"
Ryo didn't even care. Anything, he said to him now was meaningless. His whole life had been destroyed in a matter of minutes by the man before him. This truly deplorable human being was able to completely destroy a person just by talking to them. Even Ryo had all the fight knocked out of him, and he didn't even get a chance to move. That was how much of a monster Nakiri Azami truly was, and all for the sake of his insane ideals.
"You'll be relocated to a dorm run by Central on the other side of the campus, far away from the Nakiri mansion and your Polar Star friends. All of your classes with Alice will now be switched around, but actually I don't think you'll be attending any classes, as I'll explain." Azami seemed like he was enjoying every second of his explanation. "Ahh, and should you happen to see Alice at all, I know she can be quite persistent, you will ignore and shun her to the best of your abilities. Generally, you'll be near a lot of Central staff with orders to prevent any contact between you two, but you will also need to actively steer clear from her at all costs on your own and you are not allowed to communicate with her about anything here or in general. I'm sure she'll find out in some other manner, but it's irrelevant. You are no longer allowed to associate with any of the other members of that rebellious group as well, do you understand?"
Ryo could only give a nod at Azami's instructions. It was over. He was over. He had no choice, but to leave everything behind for the sake of Alice. In order to protect everything that she held dear, he would even have to leave her behind. In order to protect her, he would avoid her and shun her and anything else, so long as it would keep her safe. Keep everything that she loved safe. Her family, her cooking, her way of life, all of it. There was nothing Azami could tell him now that would have a worse effect on him than what he already did.
"Oh and Kurokiba-san…." Azami said looking down at Ryo from his desk with the most sinister of smiles on his face. "There's just one more small thing you need to do…"
Present day, the day after the polar star party.
Yukihira Soma was extremely tired. He had just woken up a little while ago and it was already late in the afternoon. They had all stayed up late for so long last night that he almost didn't remember what happened. It was probably his fault though for making the bad decision of staying up late last night, when he hadn't been getting a lot of sleep the few nights before either. Suddenly a thought popped into his head as he was making his way downstairs to the kitchen.
"You look pretty cute when you laugh."
Soma's face began to redden rapidly. He nearly forgot he said that to Erina yesterday. Embarrassment was flooding over him.
"Did I really say that? Why the heck did I say that yesterday? What was I thinking? How am I going to face her?"
As these thoughts were overwhelming him, he was down the stairs and by the front door and on his way to the kitchen when he thought he heard something by the door, snapping him out of his racing mind and emotions.
When Soma opened the door, he was shocked on who was waiting on the other side. There were two people. The first was the Food's Demon King himself, Former Director Nakiri Senzaemon and the second was….
The Demon King nodded in greeting to Soma, but behind him…
"Yo Soma!" Said a tall muscular man waving at him, with his typical trademark cocky grin he knew so well. Soma saw it every day in the mirror, after all, he inherited it from him.
And there you have it. Let me know what you think. Are these chapters too long? I tend to enjoy longer stories and longer chapters so I write that way if I can.
On another note, in case you haven't read chapter 184 yet, the manga has recently given us some more insight into both Hayama and Azami. I think I got his threatening and extortion/blackmail-esque personality down haha. I might edit the story slightly so Soma knows a little bit about what he found out about Hayama and the Shiomi seminar, but maybe not. I won't be able to keep up with all the changes eventually and I clearly went off on my own here haha.
Anyway, I guess we'll see. Thanks again for reading and let me know what you think if you can.