A/N: Welcome to chapter 5! It's the beginning of a new arc! I lied in the last chapter about this being updated next week... more like next year! Haha (I'm sorry)
A guest left a question – I have no way of replying to them so I will respond to them here!
Q: I love this chapter! I really like the interactions between Komatsu and Toriko. Though is Toriko a love interest for Komatsu? If he isn't, ok then. If he is, that might take a while. Who is a love interest? I'm so curious :3
A: Honestly, this may disappoint some of you readers, but I seriously love all of the heavenly kings. I haven't FULLY decided on who, but judging on the amount of interaction Toriko has with Komatsu, it will inevitably end up being Fem!Komatsu x Toriko. (But I'm still thinking, it depends on how the chemistry turns out between the characters)
P.S Sorry for the REALLLLLLYYY late update!
But one thing I can assure you guys – I will always try to finish writing the RAW draft of the whole ARC before I post it. I would hate to leave you guys months in the middle of an arc. At least give you guys some closure. Haha.
P.P.S Thank you to everyone who followed, favourited, and reviewed my story despite the long hiatus. The activity on my story relit the passion inside of me to finish this darn story!
Okay, enough, dilly-dallying. Enjoy this chapter!
Chapter 5: Enter Coco, the Gentleman of the Four Heavenly King!
It had been one week since the Rainbow Fruit fiasco. Komatsu lazily brushed her teeth and dragged her feet into the living room. She turned on the news to fill the quiet morning.
"Next is about the Legendary Puffer Fish Whale!" the TV announcer enthusiastically said, "you heard it right, folks! There's a rumour floating around that a herd of Phantom Fish Whales, often called the deep sea delicacy Puffer Whales, are to migrate to a shallow sea for their once-in-a-decade of egg-laying!"
Komatsu's paused brushing her teeth and enviously thought of how great it would be to try cooking the Puffer Fish Whales. "Haha, but there's no way that's going to happen!" she skeptically said. After all, it was just a rumour, a tabloid at best.
"It seems the Gourmet Stock level, specifically companies that are hiring bishokuyas to capture the legendary Puffer Whales, are rising dramatically! The IGO's legal team are working away to determine if this rumour is true or not. Back to you, Tina!" The TV announcer said before Komatsu turned off the TV to rinse her mouth.
She brushed her hair and applied a rose lip tint to bring out some colour. She couldn't wear makeup, as working in the kitchen would end up with her sweating it off anyway.
She arrived at the restaurant at 6:30 am on the dot. "Ah, good morning, Manager!" she greeted the nervous balding man.
"A-ah, Komatsu!" Smith said, "the bishokuya isn't here, is he?"
"You mean Toriko-san?" she asked, confused as to why Smith would care if Toriko was here or not.
"The legendary Puffer Fish Whale is said to have appeared, so I thought that bishokuya would whisk you away!" Smith sobbed in dismay.
"Well, that's only just a rumour, manager! There's no way Toriko-san would go off on just a silly rumour!" she said, laughing at Smith's dramatic nature.
"R-really?" Smith cried while grabbing her shoulder, "if you're not here, the restaurant just feels like it's falling apart."
Her face felt warm, and she scratched her cheek with her index finger as a nervous tick, "don't be like that, Manager. Mary-san, Dolan-san, and Sam-san are great chefs, if not better than me!"
"Oh, don't be so humble, Komatsu!" Smith wailed, "I'm just so glad that you're back to your regular working schedule."
She smiled gently; her manager was a very kind-hearted man. Suddenly, Smith's face turned ghastly white."E-eh? Manager!" she cried in worry, "you're looking a bit pale."
"Komatsu!" a voice matching a certain blue-haired man called out to her.
She turned around to see Toriko giving her a quick wave, "T-Toriko-san?"
Toriko walked over and easily towered over the manager and her, "have you heard about the legendary Puffer Fish Whale?"
"A-ah, yes, but that's just a rumour, isn't it?"
"It's not," he smirked.
"No! Absolutely not!" Smith interrupted, "Komatsu, don't tell me you're going to skip work today!"
"A-ah..." she looked at the grief-stricken man. She was unreasonable if she asked Smith to skip work right on the day of. She sighed, knowing there was no way she could get today off, "I'm sorry, Toriko-san. I have to give the manager some notice before I can ask to take a day off work." She felt a pang in her chest, knowing that she may have missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the legendary Puffer Fish Whales. Her inner chef was crying in dismay. Unfortunately, in her case, adventures don't pay for her bills.
Toriko pondered for a bit before snapping his fingers, "Oh, is that all?" he said, "then we'll depart tomorrow."
"E-eh? Tomorrow?" she repeated, wanting to make sure she heard right.
"Yea, that's no problem right manager?" Toriko bent down closer to the manager's height and grinned while flashing his sharp canine teeth. "After all, you got some notice."
She could only sweatdropped, wanting to tell Toriko that typically the workplace needed an advance notice of two weeks.
"Just let her go, manager," a new voice called out. It was Mary walking towards them while stretching her arms up in the air. "What are you gonna do? Fire your best chef?" she taunted.
"A-ah, Mary-chan!" Komatsu yelped in distress when Mary casually mentioned the idea of firing.
"I could never fire Komatsu-chan!" Smith declared passionately.
"Eh? Chan?" Mary raised her eyebrows, "Hooo, Manager's getting a bit bold these days, eh Komatsu?" she nudged Komatsu's arm.
Smith turned bright red as he huffed loudly, "w-well, as long as Komatsu is working today, then she can get a day off tomorrow."
"E-Eh? Is that really al-" Komatsu started before Toriko's voiced boomed.
"Sweet!" Toriko cheered. "Ah, I'm hungry, is your restaurant opened?" he asked as he followed behind a snickering Mary and a grumbling manager into the restaurant.
Komatsu watched their retreating backs while trying to process what the heck just happened.
Somehow...Toriko managed to get her a day off tomorrow.
The next morning, Komatsu was packing all of her essentials. Since this time it was seafood, she probably would have to go underwater. She was searching through her swimsuits and realized they were all fairly old tankinis. She regretted not going swimsuit shopping with Mary when she was asked to go last month. She sighed in discontent as she searched through her current inventory of bathing suits. She saw her favourite white tankini with a wine red trim. There was a red lily print on the bottom of her tankini.
Memories of Ootake complimenting her swimwear popped in her mind.
"That looks really great on you, Koma-chan."
She couldn't wear this. So she opted for just a plain black tankini with white ribbons attached to the sides of the bottom.
She wore her tankini underneath a beige crewneck top. She slipped on her khaki pants and decided to wear black rubber boots for this trip.
She mulled over what else she needed. If there was a possibility of cooking the pufferfish, then she needed her apron. She could go for the full chef uniform, but then her bag would get bulky, which wasn't ideal if she was planning on walking around a lot. She looked at the plain white apron hanging from her chair; she supposed that was good enough.
At 6:00 am, she was waiting at the train station for a certain blue-haired man.
"Komatsu!" Toriko called; he was wearing a tight orange spandex jumpsuit with a black tee underneath. She could see his defined muscles through his clothes, which left little to her imagination.
"G-Good morning, Toriko-san!" she gave a small bow hoping he didn't notice her ogling at his body.
"Yo!" he greeted back. The train whistled for the passenger to start entering, "ah, here just in time!"
When they entered the train, she fished for her wallet to pay for a ticket.
"You don't gotta pay, Komatsu." He said.
"Eh? What do you mean?"
"Bishokuyas ride this train for free, and since you're with me, you get a free pass," he explained.
"O-oh..." She had no idea that Bishokuya received such special treatment.
They found a whole cart to themselves and settled into a booth with plush seats and a large table. She set her backpack next to her and felt the seat shift towards Toriko when he sat down next to her. "By the way, Toriko-san... were you hired by the IGO corp to capture the Puffer Fish Whales?" she asked.
"Nah, I just want to eat the Puffer Fish Whale," he said simply.
The first two times were just her luck that she got a chance to go on an adventure with Toriko. The first time was using the company that hired Toriko to tag along, and the second time was just by chance encounter with Toriko at the World's Kitchen. But this time, Toriko actually sought her out to come with him. Her cheeks felt warm, to stave off her one-sided awkward feeling, she blurted the first thing that came to her mind. "A-are you going to tell me to write my will?"
"You should always have your will written with every adventure you go on with me," Toriko replied a bit too seriously.
She wasn't sure whether he was joking or being serious with her, most likely the latter. In any regard, that response killed her mood and conversation.
The stewardess came by with a beverage trolley just in time to break up the tension, "can I interest you to any drinks?" she asked.
"OH!" Toriko exclaimed, "give me four of everything you got."
"Yes, sir." the stewardess gave a slight bow, "it will just take a moment to bring the rest, but please enjoy what I have right now on hand." She placed shot glasses in front of Komatsu and Toriko. Then she put a tray of different citruses, followed by sealed bottles of varied liquors. After the stewardess emptied her whole cart, she gave a small bow once more before leaving.
"T-Toriko-san... isn't that a bit too much alcohol?" Komatsu said and winced from her recent memory of drinking a bit too much and having to nurse a killer hangover.
"Nah," Toriko said as he poured a whole bottle of Cectus Jeck's Tequila in a sizeable cup. He picked up a wedge of lemon and sucked it dry before downing the entire cup. He let out a content sigh, "That was good! Platinum lemon goes really well with Tequila! Right, Komatsu?" He said as he pushed a normal sized shot glass of tequila in front of her.
She stared at her shot glass now full to the brim with tequila. The burning smell of alcohol assaulted her nose. She did tell herself she will slow down on the drinking after the last party with Toriko, but one couldn't hurt, right? She took a wedge of lemon and sucked it. Her lips puckered out from the sourness, "Ugh..." She then picked up the shot and downed it as quick as possible. "Gah!" she stuck her tongue out from the intense, fiery sensation clawing down her throat. "How can you drink a 750ml bottle of tequila in one stroke..." she barely even survived a shot of this.
He just laughed, "we have to drink to celebrate, right? After all, we're gonna meet the legendary Puffer Fish Whale!"
"Haha, I guess so..." she said as Toriko ordered enough alcohol for at least a party of 30.
The stewardess later came back with boxes of alcohol, and soon Komatsu was surrounded by crates filled with alcohol. "Oh, can I also order some food too?" Toriko said.
"Certainly," the stewardess said as she brought out her note pad, "What can I get you, sir?"
"Mhmm..." Toriko looked at the menu before saying, "ah, just give me one of everything," he paused shortly before adding on, "oh, and can I get some more alcohol?"
"Certainly, sir." The stewardess was not at all fazed by Toriko's appetite.
"Great! Then seven more of each, please!" He happily ordered.
"Of course, sir," then the stewardess looked at Komatsu, "and you, miss?"
"O-oh!" Komatsu scrambled to look at the menu, "uhm, just a fruit salad, please..."
"Eh, you're only going to eat that?" He looked horrified at her choice.
"W-well, I'm nervous and excited! So it's hard to eat when I'm feeling all jittery!" she defended.
He cracked opened a bottle of brandy this time, "that's true the Puffer Fish Whales are such a delicacy that only comes once every ten years...though..." he took a swig at the bottle, "there is just one problem."
"A problem?" She asked.
"These Puffer Fish Whales are extremely poisonous."
She clasped her hands together in delight, "if you're talking about the license to take out the poison in a pufferfish, I've got it!"
He downed the whole bottle and picked up another bottle, this time it was a 1987 Crown Scotch, "Even I got that sort of a thing, the problem is that it's not going to be that easy."
"Ah, yeah I thought so," she laughed awkwardly, "the Puffer Fish Whales are classified as a special caution food."
"Yea, and it's said that there are only ten cooks in the world that can successfully take out the poisonous organ."
After hearing that statement, she realized that she doubted Toriko knew how to take out the poison sac, and she certainly didn't know how to take out the poison sac. "Uhm..." she hesitatingly asked, "you do know someone who can take out the poison sac right...?"
"Well..." he took a sip of his scotch, "he isn't necessarily a cook, but-"
Suddenly a loud shatter interrupted their conversation. "WUURRAAAAA," an unpleasant screech followed after. She peered past Toriko's large body and saw a boorish large man with a long moustache that was attached to his sideburns. He held a broken glass bottle and pointed the sharp edges threateningly to everyone. "GIMME SAKE, YOU BASTARD!" he yelled while swinging the broken glass bottle around.
She cringed at his large axe strapped behind his back as well as his weird fashion statement of only wearing a simple fur... dress? In fact, he reminded her of a caveman, plus her face distorted into disgust from seeing more than she would like as he wasn't wearing any pants.
"Why aren't there any good liquors on this train, huh?" the caveman's voice boomed out loud, "this freaking piece of junk!" He was looking around and met Komatsu's stares. "Hey, hey!" he angrily growled as he walked towards Komatsu and Toriko's booth, much to her dismay. "I was thinking that the quality of liquor here was shit, but it was you who bought it all!"
Toriko just glanced up to see the hulking caveman breathing heavily down at them.
"You shitty bastard!" the caveman sneered, "do you know who I am?" he rummaged through his clothes until he pulled out a piece of crinkled up paper. On it was written, "Full Korse Menu." Komatsu looked at the paper with a disappointed sigh; she couldn't believe he misspelled the word "course" and was proudly showing it to people.
"Oy, you spelled the word course wrong." Toriko pointed out light-heartedly.
"SHUT UP, YOU BASTARD!" the caveman screeched, "I'm Zonge, a bishokuya! Look at my full course menu and tremble in fear, you bastard!"
Komatsu leaned a bit forward to try and read the terrible scrawl on the paper:
ZONGE FULL KORSE MENU
HORS D'OERUVRE – GOLDEN SALMON ROE
SOUP – THE SOUP OF SERPENT FROGS
FISH DISH – STRIPE SALMON
MEAT DISH – CRAB PORK
MAIN – GALALA CROCODILE
SALAD – ALMOND CABBAGE
DESSERT – WHITE APPLE
DRINK – ENERGY HENNESSY
Uwahh, Komatsu was definitely impressed all right, you can get all of these ingredients at a local supermarket, she thought. Now that the Galala Crocodile was able to be cloned, it was more accessible to the public.
"See this!" Zonge pointed at his main dish, "My main dish is the Galala Crocodile!" He looked at them smugly, "I killed it just a while ago!" he stuffed the sheet of paper closer to Toriko's face, "You surprised? You're shaking, right? HAHAHA"
One of his goons who wore a similar outfit spoke out, "Zonge-sama, please don't pick on the likes of him. I mean, he's trying way too hard to impress that lady over there." he pointed right at Komatsu.
She gave him a blank stare, if only he knew that Toriko did not see her as a woman in any aspect. She looked over to Toriko, who had his eyes closed with a small smile on his face.
"Wh-What's wrong with you?" Zonge screamed again, or was that his normal volume?
Suddenly, Toriko stood up from his seat. Zonge took a small step back and had to tilt his head up to see Toriko's face. Toriko clasped his hand on Zonge's shoulder, "Zombie-kun! Well, that's a pretty impressive course right there!" his voice was light and friendly, yet somehow he still managed to make himself intimidating. "If you want some liquor, take as much as you want!" he patted Zonge's shoulder again, "After all, it's my fault for buying them all for myself, Zombie-kun!"
Zonge just stared before squeaking out, "I-it's Zonge...remember my name..." he said weakly. He shrugged off Toriko's hand and picked up a whole case of sake, "Y-You haven't seen the last of me, you bastard!" his voice trembled as he quickly retreated.
After they left the cart, Toriko sat back down in his seat and finished the rest of his scotch.
"Are... are you okay with that, Toriko-san?" she asked, after all that guy seemed like bad news, and she would rather not make any enemies.
"With what?" he asked, completely unfazed from the whole event.
"Well, I mean, that challenge right now..." she was worried about their safety.
He shrugged nonchalantly, "His real purpose was probably not the liquor..." a small pause, "probably."
"Eh?" she tilted her head in confusion.
He rolled his shoulders before sitting more comfortably in his seat, "this train is filled with bishokuyas, and all of them are seeking the Puffer Fish Whales." he pointed at the cart over, and she could see one man wearing a cloak glaring at them before turning away. "It's possible for them to fight over the few whales on site," he gave a confident smirk, "they're all sizing each other up, and I'm sure that Zombie guy is just trying to intimidate the others."
"Then he's just a bully!" she exclaimed, "why would you give him your liquor for free?"
His eyes seemed a bit distant, "as they say, in travelling company, in life's sympathy." He rolled the bottle back and forth in his hand, "there are times when we need to help each other out."
She understood where he was coming from, except she doubted that caveman guy needed any help considering he was bullying others to get what he wanted.
"E-excuse me...?," a raspy voice spoke.
She saw a shivering old man, with a white pompadour. He was hunched forward, and his age rendered him from standing up straight.
"Can...you spaaare mee shome liquor pleash...?" the shivering old man had a bit of a lisp, and she noticed some of his teethes were missing, "I'm kinda not good with high places... so wheneva I looka outa windows... I get so scared I can't stand..." the shivering old man chuckled.
"Are you trying to get rid of the terror by getting drunk?" Toriko asked before noticing the shivering frame of the old man, "or are you sure you're not shaking before you ran out of alcohol?"
The old man laughed again, "well, there is that too..."
Toriko downed his last drink, and he pointed to the crate still full of various alcohol, "you can have all of them, mister. We're getting off the next station anyway."
"Eh...? the next station?" the old man asked.
On cue, the announcer informed the passenger of the next stop, "The next stop is Gourmet Fortune, Gourmet Fortune."
"Ah..." The old man nodded in understanding. He struggled to grab the cart under the table, and feeling bad for the frail old man, Komatsu got up from her seat.
"Let me help you, mister." she said, "where are you sitting?"
"I can just sit right here," the old man said as he pointed to the booth right next to them.
"Okay!" she said, before taking a deep breath and strained herself to carry the crate. It was heavy, but it was still manageable.
"Oh my, you're so strong, miss." the old man said.
She laughed lightly, "it's really nothing..." she set the crate on the table.
"Thank you for the liquor, hic, I will someday repay hic-" the old man had trouble finishing his sentence without hiccuping.
The train finally stopped, and the doors opened. "Don't worry about it, old man," Toriko said, "just don't drink too much!"
"Ah! You shouldn't be talking, Toriko-san!" she quickly remarked, pointing at their table that was littered with over at least 50 empty bottles of alcohol.
Toriko laughed heartily, and she shook her head in bafflement.
"I hope you have a nice trip, mister!" she said to the shivering old man. With a final wave, the doors closed and the train chugged along.
Toriko and Komatsu walked out of the station, and she looked back at the train now in the distance, "I gotta say, Toriko-san, that was my first time seeing someone sporting a pompadour!" she adjusted her bag, "that old man sure was funky..."
Toriko pulled out a cigar and lit it; he took a long drag from it. "We're here, Komatsu."
"Wah! So there's someone who lives here that can handle the Puffer Fish Whales?" They walked until they entered the street with buildings and houses lined up side by side. She looked around, but there wasn't anyone in sight. "Huh? I don't see a single person..."
"Hmm." he pointed to the sign next to her, "maybe it's time for the wild beasts to come out?"
"Eh, wild beasts?" she gasped as Toriko pointed at the caution sign for wild beasts sightings. "Ack! It's true! There really are wild beasts here!"
"They come up from time to time," Toriko said. "The fortuneteller of this town predicts when the wild beasts will arrive, and the citizens will hide within their poisonous walls."
"Poison...?" she murmured in confusion.
"There hasn't been a single person that was attacked in a few decades," he took another drag of his cigar, "and that's why people say this town's fortuneteller is reliable."
"Now that I think about it," she was trying to remember where she heard this information from, "someone said that the rumours of the Puffer Fish Whale originated from this town." she looked up to see Toriko casually smoking his cigar, "and because of that, the stock market is in turmoil right now." She looked back at the deserted streets and noticed someone walking towards them in the distance. "Ah!" she pointed at the person, "Toriko-san, there's a person! Even though it's a dangerous period right now!"
The mysterious person kept walking and just as he passed a building, something crept up behind him. It was a large dinosaur with black bat-like wings. It was snarling at the person and opened its' mouth, ready to eat him! "W-WATCH OUT!" she screamed in fright. The person didn't notice on time, and the beast lunged forward. She closed her eyes, unable to look any longer.
"It's alright, Komatsu," Toriko said.
She slowly opened her eyes and saw the beast sniffing the person before turning its' head and walked away. "Eh... what happened?"
The person continue to walk towards them until they stood face to face with Toriko.
The man wore a black suit with green bandages wrapped around his wrists, elbows, waists, neck, and head. He also wore a large beige cape.
"What a troublesome customer to have," his voice was velvety smooth, "I would say the beasts here are much cuter."
Toriko gave a raucous laugh, "did ya finish up your full course menu yet, Coco?" he gave a large grin, "or should I say, the gentleman of the four kings?"
Coco smirked and said, "three more, I guess. How about you, Toriko, or rather, the glutton of the four kings."
She stared at the man clad in black named Coco. "To-Toriko-san... you don't mean to tell me...he's one of the..." without meaning to, her voice raised higher, "FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS, BISHOKUYA COCO-SAN?" she stared at Toriko in disbelief, "Did you mean him when you talked about the one who can handle the Puffer Fish Whale?"
Toriko dug into his ear with his pinky finger, "Hey, you're being too loud Komatsu!" he looked at her with exasperation, "you get too excited easily, be surprised more peacefully.. or gracefully."
Her face started to heat up, "ah! I'm sorry," she said, "W-wait? Surprised more peacefully?" she looked to Toriko again in confusion.
"Don't mind too much about it," Coco said, "Clear water breeds no fish... which means people are more likeable when they have some sort of a bad habit." he gave her a warm smile, "your impoliteness shown by your eyes can actually make people feel your affability."
She just laughed nervously while thinking, UWAH...what an unpleasant encouragement!
"What was that loud, rude voice just now?" a voice yelled out.
"What was that vulgar scream I heard?" another voice screamed.
Wahh, Komatsu wanted to cry in embarrassment. Her voice wasn't that rude, or vulgar, was it?
"Is the beast gone yet?" another voice asked.
The people of this town slowly emerged from their homes.
"AHH COCO-SAMA!" one of the ladies squealed.
"IT'S COCO-SAMA!" another lady squealed just as loud.
"YOU TOOK CARE OF THE BEAST FOR US!" another older lady bayed out.
Suddenly, flocks of ladies from different age groups all ran to Coco. They were hugging and grabbing him.
"As expected of Coco-sama!"
"Coco-sama, tell me about my destiny. Especially yours and mine!"
Komatsu stared in awe, "Wow, Coco-san sure is popular here." Although, she kind of felt bad how incredibly uncomfortable Coco looked from all the touching and the attempted kissing. These ladies were definitely bold.
"Ahk!" Coco yelped, "S-stop it. Stop touching me!"
"S-should we help?" Komatsu asked Toriko, but he was just laughing at the display.
"Ahk!" Coco yelped again, "I will not be foretelling anything today!" He tried to drag himself closer to Komatsu and Toriko. His cape was being pulled apart, "Tori-ahk-" his cape was being pulled back into the crowd of aggressive ladies, "Toriko! We'll change the place for now!" Coco was trying to push off a woman climbing up his arm, "Let's talk at my place with food."
Komatsu could only stare in stunned silence from Coco's aggressive fans. She wondered why there were no ladies flocking over Toriko?
"Food?" Toriko asked. Immediately from hearing the words, Toriko jumped into the crowd and hoisted Coco up like a sack of potatoes. Using his other hand, he was shooing everyone away. "Hey, y'all! Are y'all chickens? Get away from here!"
"AHK! What's with this giant?" A lady shrieked.
"AHHH! He's a yeti, a yeti!"
"A yeti? More like an ape!"
The crowd of ladies all backed away, screaming in disgust. Well, that answered Komatsu's question. "Toriko-san, they called you an ape..." she said, trying to stifle her giggling, "even though you have the charisma of the Gourmet Era, you need more of a celebrity aura!"
"I don't give a damn about that," Toriko huffed, "who are these people anyway?"
"They are my customers...forgive them for their...reaction." Coco awkwardly said.
They exited the town full of Coco's fans and was now walking up a gentle slope. Coco was leading the group to his home.
"Coco-san, do you do fortunetelling on the side? After all, your primary job must be being a bishokuya, right?" she had so many questions to ask Coco as she never saw him in any of the Bishokuya Times magazine.
"That's my main job at this town," Coco replied.
"Really?" She wondered why Coco would choose fortune-telling as his main job when he was one of the Four Heavenly Kings. She thought he would hunt for ingredients like Toriko.
Toriko took out another Cigar and started smoking it. "Hmph, the old man is probably lamenting right now." he took a long drag, "by the way, what happened to Zebra?" he asked.
She was now completely lost in their conversation and silently listened.
"He got caught. Right now, he's in Gourmet Prison." Coco replied.
"Wahaha," Toriko laughed loudly, "that problem child finally got caught, huh?"
"It was unfortunate and unavoidable..." Coco said, his voice went soft, almost melancholic.
"Haha..." Toriko's laughter died down, and the air suddenly felt heavy. "Remember the days when we trained ourselves?" he asked, "in that nostalgic garden?" He took another long drag of his cigar, "and in time, we got called to be the Four Heavenly Kings."
"Hmph, what an old memory," Coco said, before stopping in his tracks. "There's my house over there."
She wanted to ask more questions about their past, but she swallowed down her curiosity. It wasn't her place to probe at such a sensitive topic. When Coco said they've arrived, she looked around and couldn't see a house anywhere. "But Coco-san, there's only a cliff..." her words died down when she noticed in the distance, a small house perched on the lonely rocky pillar. "W-wait a second..." she pointed to the house in the distance, "is that your home, Coco-san?" her mouth was opened in shock, how the heck are they suppose to get across there?
"KISS!" Coco called out.
"CA-CAW," a large black crow immediately swooped down next to Coco.
"W-WAH!" she screamed in fright, "a crow monster!"
"Alright, Kiss. Get down." Coco commanded. The crow listened dutifully and folded its' wings and cocked his head sideways as if waiting for his next order.
"Hoh, I see," Toriko said, "the ruler of the sky, Emperor Crow. Was it not an extinct species?"
Coco patted the crow, and the crow nudged his head closer to Coco's body. "He's part of my family," Coco gently smiled, "Now, Kiss, can you carry three people? Toriko's really heavy, you know."
"CA-CAW," Kiss replied.
"Alright, so I'll go on first, then Toriko, then Komatsu," Coco ordered.
"Alright," Toriko said as he saddled the bird after Coco sat down on Kiss. "Come on, Komatsu."
She took a hesitant step forward, "A-ah, okay..." she said, as she realized that if she fell off, she was done for. She was in front of the small space Toriko made for her. She almost wanted to sit in the middle so that her front and back would be protected. "Uhm... could I sit in the middle?"
"I'd rather you not touch me, Komatsu-san." Coco coldly said.
Her shoulders tensed, "A-ah, sorry!" It made sense since Coco was being swamped by a flock of ladies, and her being a woman would most likely make Coco feel uncomfortable. She stared back at her seat and took a deep breath. Her hands trembled as she climbed over the crow.
"CA-CAW!" Kiss chirped.
"Ahk! S-sorry, am I hurting you!" She freaked out, not knowing if the bird would throw her off the cliff.
"He's just telling you to hurry up," Coco said.
"Ah, yes!" she replied and leaned against Toriko.
"You better hold on tight unless you wanna fall off," Toriko snickered.
She hugged Toriko's torso tighter in response, too terrified to retort.
The flight to Coco's home was quick and gentle. Coco's home was quite cozy and quaint. She looked around to see various jars of spices and herbs all perfectly maintained.
Coco started to take out the teacups, "Ah! Coco-san, please allow me to help you!" she said, as her hand brushed against Coco's hand when she tried to take the tray from him. He flinched from her touch, and she quickly retracted her hand. "S-sorry..." she bowed several times, knowing that Coco already told her not to touch him.
"Ah, no, it's alright," Coco said and gave her what seemed to be a sincere smile.
She was confused about how one moment he seemed to really dislike her and then at other times, he seemed to be quite polite. She decided not to push her luck, "P-please let me help you with any food prep...or anything!" she said.
Coco completely ignored her and began to take out some plates and cutlery.
The silence was deafening, and she felt maybe she said something wrong? But what did she say? Ah, he did say she was rude. But, she didn't know what part of her was rude. What should she do? She was waging an internal war with herself.
"I'm hungrrry!" Toriko whined from the dining room.
"Sorry..." she whimpered, "I don't mean to trouble you... I'll excuse myself..." she said with a forced smile. Best to not push her luck any further with Coco, as she didn't know what would set him off. After all, it seemed that Coco was quite the opposite of Toriko, who was very friendly to everyone and had no qualms with skinship. She was stupid to think that Coco was like Toriko. Obviously, she shouldn't treat them the same! Perhaps that was the rude part of her personality?
She walked out of the kitchen with her shoulders sagged and sat down next to Toriko.
"Hm, what's wrong?" Toriko asked.
"I think Coco-san hated me." She replied, while burying her face in her hands.
Toriko just laughed, "I told you to be surprised more peacefully!" completely missing the mark on her troubles.
"Yes, yes." she was already exhausted, and the day had barely even started!
Soon, the house was filled with a variety of different smells. She could hear the sizzling of something frying and the pots clanking together as Coco cooked for them. Her fingers were itching to hold a knife and help out with the cooking. But she had to show restraint. Coco seemed like a man who enjoyed and want his solitude.
One by one, various dishes covered the table. She stared at the creamy pasta with Zesty Yellow Parsely sprinkled on top of it. Her eyes sparkled from seeing how Coco cooked his meal and the ingredients he chose to cook with. Toriko picked up a drumstick in one hand and held a spoon in the other. He took a bite of the drumstick then scooped spoonfuls of rice in his mouth. Coco started to pour tea for all three cups. He placed a cup in front of her, and they gave each other a forced smiled. Oh God, this is so awkward, she thought in trepidation.
She hesitantly picked up a sandwich and observed the simple ham sandwich. She took a small bite, and immediately her senses tingled in delight. The ham was so savoury. The bread was soft and fluffy. The tomato exploded its' juice in her mouth, and the lettuce was crispy with tantalizing sweetness. She took another bite, and she hummed in pleasure. "Yummy..." she said as her eyes closed, enjoying the bursts of flavour and texture.
She heard a small chuckle, and her eyes shot open. She saw Coco trying to stifle his laughter behind his hand.
She smiled shyly, "It's... really good."
"I'm glad," Coco said with a gentle tone.
Her heart skipped a beat, realizing one of the reason of why he had so many female fans.
"So Toriko," Coco said as he refilled Toriko's cup with more tea, "have you've decided on the Rainbow Fruit as your dessert dish?"
"Yup!" Toriko replied with his mouth full.
Coco chuckled, "so I've told you the right thing." He opened the lid of the teapot to ensure that he still had enough tea leftover, "Well, I really like your choice; the Rainbow Fruit's taste changing seven-time is quite interesting, and the taste gets better near the end." He refilled Komatsu's cup, "But on the contrary, perhaps your meat dish should be something fundamental, like thick and heavy perhaps?" Coco finally looked up, and his face fell into an exasperated expression. Komatsu started to feel bad for Coco as Toriko definitely stopped listening right about now and was too focused on eating.
Coco gave an unimpressed look while calmly sipping his cup of tea. Komatsu couldn't believe there was such a stark difference in personality between the two.
Toriko munched onwards, and in between bites, he managed to finally say, "Hey Coco, did you think I came all the way here just to tell you my menu?"
"Are you here to request assistance?" Coco took another small sip of his tea, "Is it about the Puffer Fish Whales?"
"Yep, that's it!" Toriko exclaimed as he took a huge bite of the pasta, nearly finishing the whole plate in one bite.
Her mood perked up, "Could it be...?" she couldn't believe she got to see someone prepare the Puffer Fish Whales right in front of her! "Are you able to remove the notorious poison sac, Coco-san?"
There was almost a black substance creeping over the right side of Coco's face. Startled, she blinked her eyes, thinking her eyes were playing tricks on her.
"Ah, oops, forgive me," Coco said while using his hand to cover his right side of his face. "Komatsu-san, you said you were a chef at Hotel Gourmet, correct?" she didn't remember telling Coco anything about her, but she was more worried about what she just witnessed. "Can you handle a Pufferfish?" Coco asked.
She stared at his hand, covering a portion of his face, "Ah...yes, I can..." She decided not to press any further about what just happened. She wanted to get along with Coco after all.
"Puffer Fish Whales are also called Daphina Whales, and as their name suggests, their size is as small as a normal Pufferfish," Coco explained. "And because of their size, there are many chefs that handle them the same way they would for a Pufferfish." Coco was still covering a part of his face while maintaining a calm composure, "and so when Puffer Fish Whales come out in the Market every ten years, about a 100,000 people die of food poisoning."
"A...100,000?" she gasped in disbelief.
"The poison in the Puffer Fish Whales is a lethal dose of 0.2 milligrams of nerve poison. It's one of the most poisonous, even in nature." Coco continued, "they have a poison sac in their body, and if it ever gets ruptured and spills its' content, not one bit of the Puffer Fish Whale can be eaten." He paused before adding in an afterthought, "well, there are people who would still try eating the contaminated Puffer Fish Whales." He finally dropped his hand, "I will tell you this, the probability of capturing them without breaking the poison sac for me is about half, meaning 1 in 2 will turn poisonous." the dark skin that was invading Coco's face started to recede away, "And the probability of me successfully removing the poison sac is 1 in 5."
"You're good enough," Toriko said, "after all, the probability of me succeeding is none! There's no way I could successfully capture and cook it." He laughed before polishing off the rest of the fried rice.
"There's some bad news," Coco's gaze sharpened at Toriko, "the beach is in the cave, and the cave is tens of kilometres long and 800 metres deep. The probability of one reaching the destination and coming back is 0.1%!"
"It's all right! Better than diving in the sea!" Toriko happily remarked.
"There's more," Coco sighed while rubbing his temple, "the beast of hell, Devil Serpent, is now residing in the cave."
Toriko just laughed, "You're definitely more dangerous than some snake!"
"Toriko," Coco said sternly.
She couldn't believe the exchange back and forth between the two. One was trying to prepare and be responsible, and the other was so blase about the whole situation. She really hoped Toriko paid a little bit more mind of their success rate like Coco was trying to do.
"All right, I got it. I understand that it's pretty dangerous." Toriko held his hands up in mock defence. "But more importantly," he grinned widely, "can you see the death sign on Komatsu or me?"
She was confused, what did Toriko meant by a death sign? She looked at Coco, who seemed startled from that question. Coco looked down at his hands before crossing his arms, "I got it, I will come along."
"Yes! That's my Coco!" Toriko praised, "as expected from a Bishokuya!" Toriko then pointed at her, "the reward is to eat whatever you want in the restaurant at Hotel Gourmet, how about it?"
"E-eh!" she quickly interjected, "No way! How did my restaurant come into this conversation."
"Ah come on, don't be stingy!" Toriko whined.
"Wha-!," she looked at him in utter bafflement, "I am not!"
They both stared at each other with a serious poker face before both bursting into laughter at the same time. Both excited that they will soon taste the Puffer Fish Whale. She looked over to see Coco and her smile died down when she saw Coco's eyes downcast with knitted brows. She wondered anxiously if she was the cause of his poor mood.
"Alright, let's get a move on!" Toriko finally said. He successfully polished off all the food.
Coco sighed for the nth time, "Just as I thought I could get some rest after the meal, you decided just to go right away." He began to pick up his plates and stacked them up one by one, "You're as impatient as ever, Toriko."
"Heh, there's no time like the present, and anytime after that is the wrong time," Toriko said his trademark quote.
"There's no winning against you," Coco said, looking just as unimpressed as ever. "Alright, we'll head out once I clean these dishes."
Komatsu got to her bag and dug out a helmet with the flashlight attached to it. This will definitely come in handy if they were going to go into a cave. She saw Coco entering the kitchen with a pile of dirty dishes. She was kind of curious of having her fortune told, maybe it wouldn't hurt to ask? Plus, she can try to right whatever she did wrong! She walked into the kitchen and shyly called out to Coco. "Uhm...Coco-san?"
Coco looked back and seemed disconcerted to see her, but he quickly masked it with a poker face. "Yes, Komatsu-san?"
"I wanted to ask..." she bit her lower lip, thinking twice if she should have asked after all, but since she was already here, she might as well ask anyway. "What do you think is going to happen today according to your fortune?" she hoped Coco would say that they will all enjoy a nice meal of Puffer Fish Whales.
She was starting to get nervous.
She looked up and saw Coco with a dark look. She chew her lower lip feeling nervous from the unyielding silence; maybe he doesn't like telling fortunes for free? Did she offend him further by asking for his services for free?
She saw that he was about to open his mouth, and her body bowed in a 90 degrees angle, letting her anxiety get the better of her. "...S-S-Sorry!" She stuttered out, before scampering out of the kitchen.
She exited the house while holding her knapsack close to her chest. "Stupid, Stupid!" she said more to herself. She was hoping to close the distance she had caused from before, but instead, she made it even worse by running off like an idiot! She was curious about what Coco was going to say, but her heart couldn't take any further rejection. "Stupid..." she murmured, chastising her choice to run away like that. If anything, she probably offended him even more by acting like this!
"Ca-caw." Kiss crowed.
She looked back and saw Kiss resting by the side of the house, and Kiss just blinked blankly at her. She sighed before approaching the Crow cautiously, "Hey, Coco-san called you family. I-I think I annoyed Coco-san a lot and I probably ruined my reputation with him...What should I do?"
Kiss blinked once before losing interest and closed his eyes.
"Haha...yah, I thought so." She said with a defeated sigh.
Suddenly, she had a feeling that today was going to be a very long day.
Question Time!: Who likes Zonge?