Staring out the window, Nakiri Erina let out a sigh as she waited for her last class to come to a close. She noticed the sunlight slowly start to fade as dusk soon overtook its arch-nemesis. The day was passing by much too quickly for her liking, for it would soon be after hours, and that meant she would have to confront him…
That man… and his cooking.
Her heartbeat started to increase once again, with just the thought of him.
Looking back down at her notebook, she continued listing her feelings hoping to not drift off again. She was soon starting to realize that was another side effect of the scarred face boy, he drew too much of her attention.
Now where was she, ah yes, she was making a pro's and con's table for her said dilemma.
Pros: Creative, Determined, Hard Worker…
Cons: Forever A Plebeian, Arrogant, Stupid, Weird Cooking Habits, Womanizer, Dense…
To be honest, she had not even paid a single piece of attention to anything at all today since first period. He had reminded her then, that he was going to make her confess his cooking was good. Not like she needed reminding, she had thought about it all night! But then he even went a step further and even invited everyone else in the class as well!
Erina grit her teeth. She already hated the idea of acknowledging his cooking, much to her heart's dismay, but to now do it while everyone else was present. She couldn't even fathom the idea.
She shook her head, and refocused back on her chart. Her life as she knew it was completely dependent on it. It was obviously a matter of life and death. Even though her heart wanted one thing, her brain could not help but categorize this man. He was a threat to her very existence and beliefs.
She continued to list more of his traits, as her mind then started to trail off again to what he had said the night before. She had replayed his words like a favorite song over and over again. It was practically the only thing on her mind all day.
"Tomorrow... I'm going to make you a dish. It's time we settled things. If I get you to say "it's good" with that mouth of yours, I'll kiss you unconscious."
Erina then slammed her face on her notebook completely embarrassed. Her memory of it was so vivid; it caused her to blush furiously. Some of the students looked around at her suspiciously but didn't dare to question the Nakiri Erina.
Erina sat there with her face pressed against her notebook, in deep thought. How in the world could he even say that with a straight face! Just thinking about it was causing her much embarrassment.
And then to go as far as to say he would kiss her unconscious!
Her! THE Nakiri Erina! God's Tongue and future ruler of the cooking world! HE would kiss HER unconscious? She pictured his cocky grin and didn't feign from rolling her eyes. She would show him.
He caught her off guard last night! That was the only reason he was able to leave her like a lovesick schoolgirl when Hisako came in… God all the explaining she had to do... And then she had to do it again when Alice came over! Which made it even worse! To her surprise though, both of them took it quite calmly and she was the only one left truly flustered.
Though when she got to explain all the racy details of their kissing… she was completely mortified. And Alice kept wanting her to be so specific, truly enamored with their kissing. She wanted to know every detail, all the way from the build up and their argument in the hallway, to the hundreds of kisses he put on her. The only thing that actually redeemed all of her embarrassing confession was the fact that Alice kept whining how she wanted to kiss a boy before Erina. The snow-white princess then promptly ran off to find Ryõ. It was obvious to Erina and Hisako what the little princess had schemed.
Well… at least that was another thing she had over her cousin. Their rivalry continued to weigh in her favor. Erina sighed as her thoughts then went back to the red haired boy.
What Sõma did to her… that man! She glared at no one in particular, though a certain student thought she was glaring at him and ran out of the room in pure terror.
The bell rang at around the same time and everyone paid the fleeting student no mind, assuming he was just in a rush to get out of class.
Lifting her face now off her book, Erina had to stifle a scream as she realized while during her daydream and rampant thoughts, she had subconsciously been filling out only good things about the boy now.
Roguish, charming, confident, good kisser, and many more things she wish not mention were now under the "Pros" column.
She practically died inside as she read each and every single one.
Taking her pen, she scratched out the entire positive column.
There was NOTHING good about that man!
God! He was just too much for her…
And to make matters worse, weirdly enough their relationship had not changed even in the slightest. Well from his perspective at least. He still treated her the same, poking fun and even teasing her like he always did in class today. Erina on the other hand over thought everything he was doing. She couldn't even sleep since he kissed her last night. She was completely restless; her mind had raced with thoughts as to what would happen when they met up in class earlier today.
It was a bit awkward at first, in truth only for her as Sõma acted like nothing happened. But now as it dawned on her the day was ending, it meant it was getting closer to that time where she would have to acknowledge his cooking.
She had no idea why it was so hard for her. She had already kind of confessed to him that she liked him. Like really, that should be the most demoralizing and humiliating thing ever! But for some reason, the idea of her telling him his cooking was actually enjoyable, and delicious scared her even more.
Maybe it was because this was something she had held on to for so long. For THREE unforgettably long years! She continued to put him down and reject his cooking. Now today, not even one complete semester into their final year, she was going to tell him she had actually liked his cooking?
It was unbelievable. The thought of it actually scared her. Their relationship dynamic was going to change forever after she tells him she approved of his cooking…
This was a secret she held on to for far too long… Erina was starting to panic, as thoughts of avoiding the boy once again rose up in her mind. She felt guilty that she was even thinking such thoughts; after she had just promised him she would stop avoiding him.
Everyone had the classroom already, including the professor, leaving the Tõtsuki princess alone. Erina groaned to herself, unsure of how to proceed…
It was now officially night, and the Polar Stars dormitory was jam-packed with all the third years. Everyone had taken his or her places in the large dining room, awaiting Yukihira Sõma's much talked about dish. They gossiped back and forth, chatting about all sorts of random things. From Sõma's dish and what it could be to memories of their first high school year; everyone was having a good time.
Sõma smiled as the voices of his friends filled the Polar Stars. It reminded him of his first year when it was so lively with everyone. He was now in the kitchen, finishing up the last touches on his dish. Any minute now and it would be ready, and he couldn't wait for one particular person to try it.
Making sure everything was to his liking, he covered his creation, and made his way out with it into the dining hall. He tried to refrain his eyes from searching for the blonde, but he couldn't help it. However, he was soon to be disappointed as he saw that she was nowhere to be found.
Hisako and Alice noticed his expectant and warm eyes cast a bit downward, and the goofy grin he always wore shortened to that of barely a smile. Unsurprisingly, Tadokoro Megumi had noticed it as well. To everyone else, nothing was amiss.
Sõma however forced on a large grin and greeted everyone. He told them thanks for all coming and cracked some stupid joke that caused the group to laugh and snicker. He put on that nothing was wrong, and revealed his dish to his fellow Tõtsuki compatriots.
Everyone was completely blown away to say the least! Their taste buds were shook and there was foodgasm after foodgasm as each of the students took a bite of his new creation.
There were absolutely no words to describe it. Even Sõma's three main male rivals: Takumi, Akira and Ryõ were all thoroughly impressed.
"Y-Yukihira!" Takumi exclaimed. "How did you do this?"
"Yeah! Explain yourself Yukihira!" Ryõ chimed in. "There's no way your dish can taste this good!"
Sõma smiled wryly. "It's a secret. Don't worry guys, you'll find out one day…" Much like his father, Sõma wished to let the boys find out on their own.
Akira looked at Sõma knowingly. "It seems you've found someone…" was all he said.
Sõma scratched the back of his head a bit nervously and gave a small laugh. Darn that Akira, he was always so insightful. Last night when he made his dish, he realized those years ago why he lost to Akira in the finals. Why Akira's dish stood out among his and Ryõ's, even though they were all relatively amazing dishes. Akira's just had that little bit more, that extra umph! And he now knew where it came from.
"I guess… maybe…" He winked at Akira who surprisingly nodded approvingly and went back to tasting Sõma's dish.
The girls on the other hand were more vocal about their approval of red head's creation.
Ryõko gobbled down her piece and stood up for seconds! The moment she got up, she didn't even have control over her body and toppled over onto the nearby couch. This caused much laughter from those around her.
After taking a single bite, Tadokoro Megumi was left blushing all over. She even hugged herself from how good she was feeling.
"Sõma-kun! This is amazing!" Megumi chirped. "It makes me feel so warm inside!" She then cooed as if some random heat was truly embracing her.
"Yukihira! You sure went all out on this one!" Alice said, giving her approval. She couldn't even remember the last time she tasted a dish with this much impact. Alice then took a pause and looked at him mischievously. "I wonder what was your motivation…"
Much like he did with Akira, Sõma laughed a bit nervously, starting to wonder just how much the white haired teen knew. However he wouldn't let on anything.
"Nothing much, just had a spark is all…"
Alice hummed and continued to eye him while smiling evilly.
Hisako was next to give her approval of his dish. She smiled warmly at Sõma and gave him a knowing glance.
"If she tasted this, I think she would approve Yukihira-kun."
"E-Eh!" Sõma was a bit caught off guard. It was obvious now; Hisako and Alice both knew what transpired the night before.
"Oh don't play coy now Yukihira-kun…" Alice's grin widened. "We all know why you called us all here. You could never beat a woman's intuition!"
Sõma raised a brow and smirked a bit daringly. "Woman's intuition… or did Erina just tell you?" he teased.
"Hey, it's intuition!" Alice smirked back, and they both shared a small laugh.
"Too bad Erina-sama has not shown up yet…" Hisako mumbled.
Tadokoro cast her eyes downward. She knew it… from the moment he stepped in and looked around.
This was for Erina.
This dish he made, that he stood up all night to make… this was all for her. She actually even knew it before he walked in just now; she knew it since last night…
When she had randomly gotten up during the late hours to get something to drink, and she found him still in the kitchen…
And when she taste tested it and said it was great, but he responded back saying it wasn't good enough…
She knew then and there, this was for her.
Sõma noticed Megumi's change in emotion and tapped her on the head.
"Hey Tadokoro, you ok?"
Megumi jumped and started to fidget around.
"Y-Yes Sõma-kun! I-I'm fine! Nothing wrong here! H-Hold on, got to use the bathroom, b-be right back!"
Megumi shot out of her seat and ran upstairs, obviously not in the direction of the bathroom. Sõma watched her run off and couldn't help but feel guilty. He had no idea why he felt that way, but something in him was making him feel uneasy.
Tadokoro was acting strange and if anything was troubling his best friend, he would find out what. However before he could make his way in pursuit of Megumi, Hisako stopped Sõma and jumped on up.
"I'll go see what's up. You stay here," she said.
"I'm coming to…" Sõma replied.
"N-No!" Hisako said a bit more loudly than she intended. "Y-You stay here. It's a girl thing, I got this. A-And anyways, this is your dinner for everyone right, the host can't leave!"
Before Sõma could even argue against, Hisako ran off after Megumi and Sõma let out a sigh. Maybe he should let Hisako talk to her; maybe it is a girl thing?
Alice bit her lower lip at the recent developments but didn't say anything. She knew exactly what was going on. Poor Megumi, her heart felt out for the navy haired girl. As much as she also wanted to go to Megumi's comfort, she knew she didn't know much about the teen.
Instead, she decided to fix the other problem…
"I'll be right back too Yukihira-kun! You stay put ok!" She gave him a wink and ran out the Polar Stars.
Sõma was left there confused as all hell. 'Just what in the world is going on?' he thought. Deciding that he should just do as the women say, he made his way to Shun to see how he felt about his dish.
Hisako made her way to the sounds of silent sobs and sniffling. She had no idea why she was doing this. She barely knew the teen aside from them being in groups together but she couldn't let Sõma come up here and see the sure to be mess Tadokoro probably looked like. She didn't really have much experience comforting someone, but she was going to try her best.
Knocking on the door to announce she was coming in, Hisako opened it up slowly to see Megumi on her bed balled up and silently trying to control herself. The fragile girl then turned to look at Hisako and the sadness held in her big yellow eyes caused instant pain in aide's chest.
Hisako hesitantly made her way over to Megumi, unsure of what to say and took a seat on the edge of the girl's bed. She had no idea where to even start. She already knew what this was about; she wasn't as dense as the red head downstairs, there was no need to explain why someone as joyful and happy-go-lucky as Tadokoro Megumi would be here in her bed with tears rolling down her soft cheeks. Reaching out she went to place a soft hand on the girl's shoulders.
Before Hisako could even make contact, Megumi lunged at the pinkette and embraced her into a tight hug, while shoving her face into the secretary's chest and started bawling uncontrollably.
She cried out muffled incoherent sentences though some of her words Hisako could make out such as "this is not fair…" and "why did he choose her?"
Hisako was at a crossroads. Her Erina-sama would soon learn the taste of love, something she knew her dearest friend was truly interested in, even if she would deny it. But on the other end of the spectrum, this meant heartbreak for the teen before her.
Hisako was caught off guard by Megumi's sudden outreach, but looked down with gentle eyes nonetheless and hugged the tearful girl in return. Placing one of her hands on her back, she rubbed softly while mumbling words of comfort such as "it's going to be ok," and "you'll one day find happiness too."
Alice's journey to find Erina was a short one. As soon as she stormed out of the Polar Stars, the Nakiri princess was literally sitting outside on a nearby bench contemplating her next actions.
"Erina!" Alice yelled.
The blonde snapped out of her thoughts and looked up, a bit surprised to see her cousin.
"Alice? What are you doing here?"
The white haired teen looked at Erina skeptically.
"Me? What are you doing here! You should be inside already! How could you have him waiting like this! Last night, didn't you say you were going to confront him today?"
Erina bowed her head guiltily. Yeah, sure she said that yesterday… but that was yesterday! That was after all that steamy rush filled action colluded her mind and turned it into mush!
"I-I know what I said…" Erina looked back up at Alice. "I just… I don't know… I'm scared I guess…"
Alice raised a brow and took a seat by her cousin.
"Scared of what?"
"I-I don't know…" Erina mumbled. "Him… me… everything I guess. If I go in there…" she stopped. "I'm just confused. What should I do Alice!"
Her dear cousin smiled a let out a small laugh at Erina's overly dramatic plea. "Erina relax, you don't need my help. You're strong enough as is. Just go in there and face him! You'll know what to say when you see him."
Erina looked down again and played with her fingers. Would she really?
"Also," Alice added. "Be honest. Be honest to him, and more so, to yourself."
Erina looked at her cousin and let out a small groan. She hated to admit it but Alice was right. She just had to go in there and fix this situation.
She was the one making it awkward. She was ALWAYS the one making it so. Didn't she just tell him yesterday she would stop avoiding him? Why does she keep doing this to herself? Where did the strong and confident Erina go? Why is it that everything about this man just throws her completely out of her comfort zone? All these questions…
Erina face palmed herself, frustrated with her own actions.
Hearing some footsteps the pair then looked up to see some of their classmates making their way down the hill from the Polar Stars. Apparently the festivities had come to a close.
Taking a better look, Alice noticed something interesting and grinned evilly. Making their way down the hill, Takumi was carrying Ikumi on his back, as the tanned girl was in a complete state of stupor. Alice guessed she must have gotten a bit too drunk after drinking an excessive amount of Ryõko's rice juice. She swore, the red-haired girl's drink was like a staple for all their get-togethers. And now Takumi had to take responsibility.
Ryõ waved over to Alice, noticing her with her cousin and Alice waved back, signaling she saw him.
"Look's like we're done here then…" Erina mumbled, and got up and dusted off her skirt.
"We are," Alice said, pointing to herself and her other fellow classmates. "But you're not! You're going in there whether you like it or not!"
"A-Alice w-wait!" However, Erina's pleas were met with deaf ears. Her cousin grabbed her hand and dragged her past the leaving third years, also letting Ryõ know to wait there, as she would be right back.
Before Alice could ponder on how to get the door open and shove the resisting Erina inside all at the same time, Hisako was conveniently making her way out.
"Ah Erina-sama! Where have been! We were waiting for you!" Hisako asked a bit more upbeat now, from a few moments ago. The sight of her best friend was having an instant effect on fixing her mood.
Erina bowed her head in apology. "Sorry Hisako… it's… complicated…"
Hisako let out a giggle and held the door open for Erina. She figured as such. When were things ever simple when it came to her beloved ojou-sama?
"Get in there!" She ushered and with the help of Alice, the two gave the blonde princess little-to-no chance and shoved her inside.
Hisako and Alice then shut the door immediately and held the knob, already predicting Erina's next actions.
The heir to the Nakiri throne grabbed the handle on the other end and frantically tried to pull open the door, but it was to no avail. She could not beat the strength of the two girls on the other end.
"Alice! Hisako! Please! Let me out now!"
"No!" The two shouted in unison. Hisako and Alice then looked at each other and shared a small laugh. Who would think they'd be on the same beat.
Erina struggled with the knob on the other end for a little while longer and after coming to the conclusion that her aide and cousin were not going to let her out, she gave up.
"I hate you two…" Erina said defeated from behind the door and then made her way inside the building.
"We love you too Erina!" Alice playfully chirped back.
"Sorry Erina-sama! This is for your own good!" was Hisako's reply.
Content that Erina had left and she was not going to try and escape, the two then met up with Ryõ who was waiting patiently for them.
"Hey where's your B.F.F. Akira?" Alice asked.
"He said he was going for a late night walk on his own," Ryõ answered nonchalantly. "And he's not my B.F.F."
Alice raised a brow suspiciously. It kind of made her happy he said that; she was his best friend and it should remain that way, but she decided to press on for reassurance. "Really! Aww come on, you guys definitely look like best friends. And you're so cute together!"
Ryõ placed his hands in his pockets and gave her a bored look.
"We just have a good rivalry, that's all. And we do not look cute together" he said calmly. He then started to make his way down the hill but stopped and turned to Alice. "Me and you however…" He paused, trying to find the right words to say next. However, he just settled on repeating what she said earlier, "look cute together…"
With that said he turned back and continued on his way back to Nakiri mansion.
Alice's mouth practically fell open and her face was lit crimson. WHAT DID HE JUST SAY! And how could he just say something like that in such a monotone voice!
Her heart started to beat uncontrollably and she stood there a bit shaking.
Hisako started to laugh behind Alice and when Alice shot her a glare, the pinkette returned with a playful wink.
"Seems like you also have much to learn about your own love life Alice-sama."
"I-I have nothing to learn! I got this under control! I'm not like my spineless cousin!" Alice proclaimed, through pure pride and embarrassment that she had been exposed. As much as she did put on, much like Erina, she knew nothing about love herself. She was more educated on it than Erina, but just like her cousin never tasted it. She then faced Ryõ and locked him in her sights.
"Ryõ!" She screamed and chased after the boy down the hill.
Said boy turned and saw her quickly approach him from behind, and for the first time ever, he smiled while not under the influence of his bandana. Not giving her a chance to make up too much ground, Ryõ then began to run as well, keeping the Danish beauty a few strides away from him.
He chuckled as Alice tried to catch him but eventually tired. Unlike her, Ryõ had the body of an athlete and sprinting barely even made him sweat.
Seeing the girl come to a complete stop, hands now on her thighs bent over gasping for air, Ryõ approached her and smirked.
"What?" He asked, feigning innocence.
Alice looked up at him and blushed fiercely.
Hisako now catching up with the two smiled warmly and shook her head at them, completely amused.
Megumi found herself in the gardens.
How she had gotten here, even she didn't know. After Hisako had consoled her, she had tried to do as the aid said and get some rest but the fresh sting of heartbreak had her restless. She couldn't thank Hisako enough for coming to her aid, but she just couldn't go to bed with such a heavy heart. Now sitting down by a group of her cabbage patches, she felt the leaves on the growing vegetable a sighed in content as it felt healthy and strong.
At least her plants would always be by her side…
Her mind then drifted back to Sõma.
She had always liked the fiery redhead… well that was not entirely true. Her first impressions of him were that an over-confident idiot that was going to get them both expelled. However, after her first interaction with him, she knew he was going to be someone special in her life.
And he was someone special.
He gave her courage. Just watching him cook bestowed confidence in her. The way he handled a knife and commanded the kitchen wherever he was. Sõma was the living embodiment of conviction.
He taught her to never give up. When everything is against you, you can still make a good situation out of a rotting one. Like during the time when Shinomiya-sempai tried to have her expelled, but somehow they persevered.
He was her light on a gloomy day. He was her everything… and now he was to be someone else's ray of sunshine.
And the part that pained her most was that she could do nothing about it.
And even now, after she was one hundred percent sure she knew he liked another, she couldn't help but still have feelings for him. Tears started to fall slowly down, as Megumi was losing grips of her emotions.
She was a fool right? She was only inflicting more pain on herself for still liking him…
She hated herself. Why was she so weak? Why did she never confront him and tell him she liked him! She should have done it in their second year when she had him all to herself! She should have made her feelings known! Instead, now here she was crying her heart out to her plants of all things!
WHY! WHY! WHY!
Droplets were now something of the past, as a river of tears was streaming down Megumi's face.
She started thinking up scenarios like how could a girl like her, actually be with a guy like him? He was too good for her… he belonged with Erina…. Not some poor random girl from a local district…. She had no class, no lineage…
Of course he would like someone like Erina.
The navy haired girl then fell into a deeper depression, as she hated herself for even thinking such thoughts. She was never a vindictive person but right now… she felt some kind of animosity towards Erina. She had taken someone from her, and the pig-tailed girl was completely helpless to do anything about it.
In her self-loathing, Megumi had not noticed that a figure had cautiously made its way up behind her and placed a firm hand gently on her shoulders.
Startled, the feeble girl whipped her head around shocked. What graced her was the calming face of Hayama Akira, who looked at her with a slight bit of concern in his eye.
Shamed that she had been caught in such a low state, Megumi used her hands to rapidly wipe her face clean, not wanting the boy to see her in such a ridden state.
Hayama let Megumi compose herself and decided against trying to comfort her. Instead he took a seat beside her and reached out and felt the cabbage plant.
"You do amazing work in the gardens…" he began. "From the color of the leaves all the way down to the texture of the stem, these plants are well taken care of."
Megumi's tears and crying started to settle down as her feverish sobs now turned to uncontrolled hiccups. She forced herself to stop crying as the remaining tears dried themselves on her swollen cheeks.
"T-Thank you…" Megumi watched him as he analyzed her garden and there was a calm but slightly awkward silence that followed.
"I'm… I'm sorry that you seen me like this. I… I-" Megumi tried to find the right words to say but when Hayama looked at her, she froze as his Slytherin green eyes left her speechless.
"You shouldn't cry, Tadokoro Megumi…"
The girl's eyes widened at his directness, and she looked down clearly embarrassed.
"I-I didn't think anyone would find me out here… at this time of night." Hayama heard her mumble. "H-How, if you don't mind me asking… did you find me?"
He blinked emotionlessly at the hiccupping girl, seeing that at this point she was perfectly calmed down now, aside from a few stray hiccups. Reaching out his hand, he wiped away the residue of a dried tear on her face like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to do.
Megumi didn't even flinch at his actions, the way he moved; he made it feel so normal.
"My acute sense of smell… I know the scent of tears better than anything else…" He withdrew his hand from her tear-stained cheeks and looked back at her plants. "I just followed the scent… wondering whom it may belonged to."
Megumi's heart ached. Not for her own sake… but for Hayama.
He knew the scent of tears better than anything else…
Those words echoed in her mind… It only made her realize just how much more stupid she was. Here she was crying about a lost crush while Hayama, who she had come to find out had it the hardest of all her friends when they were younger, probably cried because of starvation, loneliness, and so much more.
"I-I'm so stupid!" Megumi wailed, her emotions starting to rise back up again. "I'm sorry… when you've had it so hard… here I am crying selfishly!" Megumi threw her head into her hands and started to weep again, her emotions getting the best of her. She just couldn't control herself. The state she was in, she was so fragile. "I'm such a fool…"
Hayama looked down at the broken girl, and placed a firm hand on her head. He stroked the top of her hair softly until her sobs once again quieted down.
Once he knew she was composed again, the silver haired boy began to speak.
"You are one of the most unselfish people I have ever met Tadokoro. I'm… I'm not sure why you would call yourself that. Even now, in your deepest sorrow, you think about me, and my past, and reflect that on yourself. I find you are too unselfish…" He then paused as he carefully thought out his next few words. "Being able to cry selfishly sometimes, isn't always a bad thing."
Megumi raised her head and looked at him, her golden orbs linking with his jade ones. Without a second thought, she lunged at him and wept into the boy's chest. Hayama at first was a bit taken back, but let the pigtailed teen do as she pleased. He placed a hand behind her back and rubbed softly as Megumi cried herself to sleep in his arms.
Watching her slumber for a few minutes, he couldn't help but let a small smile escape his features. She really did remind him of Jun so much. They shared too many characteristics…
Like he had done so many times with his former mentor, Akira picked up Megumi's small frame, and started to make his way back towards the Polar Stars.
However, he abruptly stopped, remembering before he parted with the crew to track down the scent of fresh tears, he remembered that Alice had ran off to find Erina. If the Danish troublemaker were to find the blonde, that would mean the Nakiri princess would be somewhere close by, maybe even already inside the dorm.
Akira was no fool. Everyone knew of Megumi's fondness of Sõma. He also noted how Sõma and Erina's relationship had changed since the start of their final year. He didn't say much, but he definitely kept his eyes open. He had already put the pieces together once he saw the girl out here in tears. He didn't know what specifically caused it, but he knew it had something to do with their dinner, and to do with Sõma and Erina.
If he was to take her inside, and she just so happened to wake up and see Sõma and Erina, it would probably cause her much heartache.
Someone as pure and innocent as her only deserves love, not pain. He looked down at her again, and eyed her slumbering form. He watched as the cool midnight breeze blew strands of her hair from her reddened face. He couldn't help but form a blush on his tanned features.
Akira sighed… here he was, finding himself falling for a girl who liked another. This was precisely what happened with his mentor, she could never fully get over her feelings for Jōichirō. And now the girl in his arms… scarred by another Yukihira man… was this cycle destined to repeat itself forever?
Akira looked up into the midnight sky with newfound determination. He was set to end it here. This cycle of pain and heartache would end now. Turning from the Polar Stars, he carried Megumi towards his apartment.
He didn't feel vengeful or anything. He knew the oblivious red head didn't mean to cause any pain to innocent girl below him. What he did feel however, was a new sense of purpose.
He had once again, found his reason to cook.
Erina wandered into the dining hall of the Polar Stars to find only Sõma cleaning up leftover dishes and cups from his little get-together. Everyone that lived in the Polar Stars seemed to have gone to bed or just randomly disappeared. She stood silently as she watched him pack up, but and took keen interest to the fact that after all his cleaning, and getting the place back in order, he still left a single covered plate on the table with the seat pulled out.
Sõma had been so caught up in his musings that he didn't even notice Erina in the room. He just picked up the last of all the remaining things and made his way into the kitchen to wash and clean the used dishes.
Erina watched him leave and then fully made her way into the dining hall, staring at the covered dish and pulled out chair before her.
She knew that the seat was for her… Even now, when the party was over, he was still expecting her.
Erina's heart panged. Why did she make him wait like this? She was so selfish. All this time she kept thinking about herself. How she felt and how he was making her feel… she never once thought about how HE felt. How much confusion and pain SHE was probably causing him, even though he lets on like nothing affected him.
The empty reserved seat reminded her of their yearly Moon Banquet Festival, where she would always leave a seat reserved for her idol Jōichirō. Even though every year he would never show up… it was still his special place. Looking at the seat before her, Erina clenched her fists and sat down. How could she do this to him? She of all people should know this feeling. Without hesitation, she lifted the tray before her and eyed the dish keenly.
Instantaneously after removing the cover of the dish, steam poured out from the plate, blinding her completely. Her sense of sight now clouded, Erina's sense of smell was the next awareness to be attacked. Unforgivingly, the strong aroma of eggs and spices consumed her. Her mouth watered a little just by smell, and she couldn't wait for the steam to disappear so she could see the source of such a tantalizing aroma. Slowly, the vapor thinned out to reveal what disappointingly, seemed like to Erina a very simple dish.
On the plate itself only sat two distinct items of importance. The first was a pair of thinly cut, long narrow slices of bread. The bread pieces didn't look too special, and held no particular treatment other than being toasted. Erina figured they were just there for presentation. What really caught her eye was what the two pieces of bread were laid next to, presumably the object of main interest.
There on the left of the plate, sat a small transparent bowl, maybe half the plate's size. In the bowl itself there were two sunny-side-up eggs, fused together by their egg whites. Inside the egg whites, Erina noticed pieces of chopped up mushrooms. They were chipped into very tiny pieces, and judging by their light brown texture and size, Erina pinpointed that they were cremini mushrooms. Upon the two fused eggs and mushrooms, Erina noted small pieces of stemmed spinach and freshly ground black pepper were sprinkled on top to give the combination taste. However what truly caught Erina's eye was what lied below the egg-mushroom-fusion.
Because of the transparency of the bowl, Erina could see that the eggs and pieces of mushrooms were lying upon a thin layer of some kind of cream. She had no idea what the purpose of that was but it surely piqued her interest. Picking up the nearby eating utensils, Erina cut out a small piece of the dish. Pulling it up by fork, she examined it more closely and the blonde noticed nothing out of the particular. How could a dish with such an amazing scent have such a bland appearance? With a shrug, she placed a piece of the dish in her mouth.
It went completely dark. All the lights shut out in the dining room and everything around her disappeared. The only object that Erina could tell was remaining in the room was the chair she was sitting on, and that was only because she could tangibly feel it. Erina turned her head to and fro but could see nothing in the darkness.
"What in the world?" she mumbled.
"Nakiri…" An all too familiar voice whispered into her ear.
Erina's eyes jolted open and she flicked her head to the direction of the sound but saw nothing. Only complete darkness met her. There was no one there.
"Erina…" the voiced whispered again, a little more sultrier into her other ear.
The blonde jumped out of her seat and turned around, fully expecting to find Yukihira Sõma playing a prank on her, but there was no one there. She strained her eyes as hard as she could, but she saw nothing in the pitch-black darkness.
"Nakiri…" The voice teased again, this time sounding amused. It was like it was making fun of her. Erina glared at the darkness refusing to be scared by some stupid prank. She crossed her arms and attempted to sit back down on her chair but what met her behind was not the seat she was expecting, but the cold hard ground. She slammed her hands on the floor in frustration, embarrassed at her tumble.
Her chair was obviously now gone too.
"Yu-Yukihira! This is not funny!" She shouted out to no one in particular. She knew that silky smooth voice better than anyone.
She stood back up, dusted off her skirt, and started to march around the area with her hands tightly balled into fists.
"When I find you, I will kill you!" She yelled out.
The voice didn't respond at her taunt. She was hoping it would. She would have been able to dart in that direction and find the red haired prankster. Erina grit her teeth and continued to march on, however she was slowly starting to realize she wasn't going anywhere. She walked in a single direction for over a hundred steps and she had still not bumped into a wall or anything! She could see nothing in front of her or behind her. It was like she was trapped in some dark box that was infinite in every direction.
"Yukihi-" Erina began to shout his name one more time. But before she could finish, a pair of all-too-familiar hands gripped her waist from behind and pulled her soft back against said boy's chest.
"Looking for me?" He placed his head at the crook of her head and squeezed her waist.
Erina's body turned to goo; her legs were completely gone from her. She was only standing by the sheer fact that he was holding her up by the waist.
Turning her head to look at him, the fierce blush on her features could not be held down. For some reason, even in the pitch-black darkness, she could see him.
"W-What are you doing! L-Let go of me!" She stumbled with her words and they barely sounded convincing at all.
He grinned up at her from the crook of her neck, as if his smile was the only answer she needed.
"No, I don't want to."
"W-What!" Erina didn't even know what to say. What kind of response was that! His rudeness and downright stubbornness caught her even more off guard. When the boy started to nuzzle into her neck, the blonde let out a gasp and bit her lip.
The boy stopped his loving gesture and looked up at her once more.
"Alright," he started. Erina looked at him gratefully, but when she saw the teasing glint in his eyes, she knew all hope was lost. "Admit my food is to your liking, and I'll let you go."
"N-Never!" Erina immediately shouted in defiance. She had not the strength before but as soon as he made his request she had found her resolve. She would never let him hear those words.
"Hmm…" the boy hummed. "Well then, I guess I'll have to return the favor."
'Favor? What favor?' Erina thought.
Sõma directed his attention back to her neck and placed his mouth over her skin sending shocks down Erina's spine. He lightly pressured his teeth on her neck, teasingly applying and removing stress. He then licked her there, and Erina fought to not roll her eyes back.
Her chest started to rise and fall rapidly as her breathing started to get heavier and heavier.
He teasingly licked her neck again.
"Admit it… Erina."
The trapped princess' hands gripped the boy's pants and squeezed on the soft fabric in frustration. She was completely helpless before him. Her resolve was strong but her body was weak.
"N-No! A-And d-don't call me by…" Her pleas were interrupted as another pleased gasp escaped her lips. She groaned internally as her body betrayed her once more. She was having a hard time fighting against his teasing mouth and it was only getting worse as he started to leave teasing bites trailing from the crook of her neck and making his way upwards.
Erina squirmed but could do nothing, as his grip around her was too tight. His teasing was leaving her way to weak and to make matters worse, his hold on her wasn't letting up. Now at her jaw, he placed soft kisses along her jawline, deciding to give that area some attention.
Erina squeezed her eyes shut. She was fighting hard to not let her head go blank. She couldn't focus. She couldn't move. Even with her eyes closed it made no difference… she already couldn't see anything aside from Sõma with her eyes opened.
He was now at her ear, and placed a soft kiss on her pinna.
"Admit. It. Erina." With every word he said, he continued to kiss the ring of her ear.
"Ahhh!" Erina gasped. His teasing and loving kisses were just too much. She couldn't take it any more. She was losing her mind. She would tell him! She would finally admit it!
"F-Fine! I-It's… It's…"
The atmosphere had changed. Erina could no longer sense the warm heat of Sõma's chest against her back. She could no longer feel his lips on her ear or his strong hands wrapped around her waist possessively.
Forcing her eyes open, she realized she was back at the Polar Stars, still sitting at the table and Sõma's dish still in front of her. The boy was no longer behind her keeping her captive but in actuality just standing nonchalantly in front of her with a sly grin on his face.
"It's what Nakiri?" Sõma repeated. He was looking at her with such interest. Erina felt like if he looked at her anymore intently, he would burn a whole through her face. She swallowed hard, as the remaining remnants of his dish slipped down her throat. The boy made his way closer to her and placed a hand on the table as he leaned in closer to her.
"It's…" She began.
"It's?" Sõma pressed on, more than eager to hear her answer.
His face was so close to hers now. This was definitely like their first meeting. Everything had come full circle. This moment replicated one of her deepest fears; one that formed since she had found out he was accepted into Tõtsuki. That one day… he would actually make her say it. That he would truly get her to admit, that his cooking, was, by her standards and her godly tongue, more than acceptable.
Sõma watched her struggle and couldn't help but grin smugly. This was it. This was the moment where she would succumb to his cooking. Even though the years had passed, he had never forgotten his oath. And now finally, he would hear her say it. FINALLY, he would get to hear the words she should have said when they first met.
His grin intensified, if that was even humanely possible, as he remembered what he said to her the night before. Not only was he about to get the Nakiri Erina, the most obstinate woman on the face of the Earth to admit that she approves of his cooking, but he also licked his lips in anticipation to the other reward from his declaration.
He was going to claim those stubborn her lips of hers ten-times over, and he couldn't wait. He leaned in as he waited for her; their noses were practically touching as his determined golden orbs stared down into her violet ones, filled with a mixture of all kinds of emotions. He couldn't tell what she held in them, but as soon as he started to get caught up in her eyes, noticed them hardened and turn into a glare.
"I-I-It's cold!" Erina blurted out. "It's been left out too long! What good chef serves their customer cold dishes!" She pushed her seat back trying to get away from how close he was and hopped out of her chair, her face aflame as she clenched her beating heart.
"Cold?" Sõma repeated. He was flabbergasted. Did she really just say that? Did she really just…
As he continued to think to himself, his shocked state calmed down as he regained his cool. He couldn't help but eventually chuckle at himself for being so naive. God, he should have expected this. He wasn't anticipating her to say that, but then again he should of known better. He knew how stubborn she could be. He let out a sigh and shot her a knowing smile.
"I guess it has been sitting there for a while…" the redhead started, standing up straightly now and putting his hands in his pockets.
"Yeah…" Erina looked down at her emptied plate, not sure of what to say. Was he really letting her off the hook? Did he actually accept her answer?
"Considering the fact that it was cold… I'm surprised you ate it all…" Sõma said a bit mischievously as he made his way slowly towards her.
Erina blushed, embarrassed as she too realized she had finished his entire dish.
"The theme was egg, the first time we met right?" Sõma continued. He didn't wait for her to answer. "This is also an egg dish. It's known natively as Oeufs Cocotte Aux Girolles."
Erina noted he said the words in perfect French as he was now in front of her. She backed up trying to recreate the distance between them but bumped into a wall. Sõma took this opportunity to place is hands on either side of the wall, trapping her between them.
"Better known as Coddled Eggs with Chanterelles." He continued right where he left off like nothing happened. Not a single beat was skipped as he eyed her playfully.
Erina looked past him not wanting to meet his eyes, fearing that she would lose all resolve if she did. She saw the exit to the dining room was right behind him, and started to formulate a plan of escape. Sõma noticed her flickering gaze, and realized she was trying to plot a getaway. Deciding to remove all hope from her, he pressed his body up against her, placing himself between her legs, effectively pinning her to the wall. There was nowhere to go now unless she was a ghost. The only option was through him. He was tired of her always trying to avoid him. He knew if he gave her any room to escape, she would take it.
"I learned it while working under Shinomiya-senpai. It's a dish that makes the maximum use of garlic, using it in three different ways to build flavor. Can you tell in which ways I used it? God's Tongue?"
Erina squirmed under his gaze and his questions. She had no idea in what ways he made use of the garlic. She blanked out as soon as she put it in her mouth. She didn't even realize she even finished the darn thing let alone know what it tasted like! The first time she ate something of his she had the same initial reaction. She just completely forgot to taste it. Damn him to hell!
And to even make matters worse, all she could think about was the way his body was pressed up against her and his teasing usage of her title. She couldn't even remember a time he ever called her "God's Tongue." So why now?
Sõma smirked. He knew it. She liked it. Whether or not she would admit it… well that was probably a battle fought for another day. Completely closing the gap between them, his body was fully pressed up against hers now and his face was merely inches apart.
"Why won't you admit it Erina?" he said softly to her. "We both know you like it…"
He smiled down at her predatorily. Though trapped, and flustered, Erina regained some of her composure and looked at him in defiance. Though she was sure it was to no avail as the fierce blush on her face was thwarting away any fearsome look she could muster.
"N-Never…" Erina eyed him and gripped the hem of her skirt to reassure herself. "I'll never admit your cooking is good."
Thank god for her realistic fantasy beforehand, or else she was sure she would have given in already. Her little fantasy had prepped her, made her feel more prepared.
Truth be told, Erina had already come to terms with the fact that his cooking was beyond anyone's she's ever tasted. However while musing to herself today, before she even made her way to the Polar Stars, she had come to a decision.
She would never tell him it's good.
For a very obvious, and simple reason. All throughout her life, she was the one described by everyone around her as the genius chef with a limitless possibility. She was the future diamond ready to be cut and shaped. She was the one said to be the next person to start a revolution in the cooking world.
However… who said there couldn't be another?
The man before her, from their years so far together… she had seen rapid growth. He just continued to excel, at an unstoppable rate. Always getting better, day after day, year after year. What was his drive? What made him so? When they first met, she wanted nothing to do with him. All she wanted was to remove him from her sanctuary. But he kept on fighting back, every time coming back stronger…
Erina came to the conclusion it was she. She was his drive. She was his goal. It is not she with the limitless possibility. It was he. And she feared if she ever revealed that his cooking pleased her, his growth would come to a stop. And even more scarier, she feared he would lose interest in her.
For those reasons, she would never tell him the words he so desperately wants to here. Not now, not ever. For as long as she denies him this… he will continue to grow.
"You can however…" Erina looked him dead in eyes, as golden orbs clashed with violet ones. "Make another attempt…" she mumbled. Her heart was beating out of her chest as she found the courage to say those words. She had no idea what made her feel a bit daring, but she liked the thrill it sent through her. Everything about this man… she liked it.
"Another attempt huh? Well… I kind of ran out of ingredients." Sõma then cocked his head to the side and eyed her roguishly. "If I can't please those lips with my cooking… then for the time being, I'll guess I'll have to find another way…"
Erina already knew what he was referring to. Her legs were complete mush at this point. Her innocent heart practically jumped with joy at his words but her mind was always the faster one. Normally thankfully so but right now she just wanted him to kiss her!
"B-But… I thought you said… only if you make me say, it's… g-good?" She gripped the ends of her skirt tighter, in complete nervousness. Her breathing now completely irregular, as hot puffs of steam escaped her lips onto his face.
Sõma teasingly moved his lips onto hers ever so lightly. Erina could practically feel the soft skin of his lips on hers, but at the slightest form of contact, he moved past her mouth, much to Erina's obvious displeasure.
Stopping at her ear, he whispered, "I lied."
Erina let out a gasp, as his words tickled her ear and sent shocks down her chest and legs. The ever so honest Sõma… he could actually tell a lie? Not that she cared. This was a lie she wouldn't mind hearing over and over again.
Pulling back from her ear, Sõma captured her lips passionately. Erina mewled as she melted under his kiss, her hands now moving from the tips of her skirt to gripping his shoulders. She unconsciously found herself in a tip-toed position, to instinctively give herself a little bit more height to deepen their kiss. Sõma moved his hands from the wall and wrapped them around her slim waist, pulling her tighter into him.
He continued to kiss her for a few more moments, and then broke their kiss in need of air. He left Erina completely flushed, with heavy hot breaths escaping her. She bit her lower lip in frustration, not wanting the kiss to end. If anything, she wanted him to live up to his promise, and kiss her unconscious!
"One day, I will make you admit it… Erina."
The blonde wrapped up in his arms, smiled nervously at him but leaned back into the boy so now their foreheads were touching.
"K-Keep trying… Sõma-kun."
The boy smiled at her coyness, and rubbed his nose against hers playfully.
"You may be a genius cook Nakiri, but you sure are unintelligible when it comes to love…"
Erina eyes hardened and blew on his face as a form of retaliation, much to the boy's amusement, embarrassed that he just continued to tease her about her lack of knowledge on the subject. How he was so comfortable right now… Just yesterday afternoon he had no idea what love was and then hours later he was kissing her unconscious and pinning her to walls like some actor in a romance movie. She would have to get to the bottom of that story another day. For now, she was just glad he was hers.
"Matters of the heart… I do not know," Erina answered truthfully.
"Me either… to be honest, I'm just going on instinct… let's find out together…"
If Erina's heart was beating before, it exploded now. Her whole core was on fire, as her own form of instinct took over. She didn't even wait for him to make the first move like always. Instead, she captured his lips in a dominant fashion, creating a kiss of her own.
Even though her kiss was dominant, at her core she was the embodiment of antsy, anxious, jumpy, and all the other synonyms for words similar to nervous. She was completely unsure of what the future would carve.
But when the boy squeezed her waist firmly, all anxiety was cast aside.
If this was the start to their third year… she couldn't imagine what the end would be like.
Edit: 7.2 12:39 AM 11/16/15
Thank you once again Kusabi! I appreciate all you edits. I am grateful! I 'm glad you enjoyed the ride.
And there you have it! The final chapter of Year Three! OMG it's been a long time coming. Honestly… this was the first Shokugeki Fanfic on this site. And I'm glad I can finally put an ending on it.
I know some might not want it to end… however, for the sake of not drawing it on, I ended it here. I could of done more, but then the story would lose its purpose.
I tried to tie up as many loose ends as I could. I know I didn't delve much into the Takumi Ikumi pair, the Ryõ Alice pair, and the Megumi Akira pair. I know… it might be a bit rushed. In my next story, I will have everything planned out. It will be %100 better but for now, I wish you all enjoyed this one.
Also don't feel like this is the end of me friends. I am thinking up another Shokugeki Story. I have not decided on a set plot yet but I will assure you, that I am working on another chapter story starring our favorite duo. In what universe, setting, etc… I'm not 100% sure yet, but I already have three different plots written. I will sit, and think about which one, and then choose.
I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to every person that has read this story! You are all very special to me, and an even bigger one to all who reviewed it and stayed with me over the years. It's been fun. You guys are absolutely amazing.
I NEVER IN MY LIFE expected such a reaction to the last chapter. So many reviews! I think I got over 100 just on that chapter alone! If I were to respond to them all… we would be here for days. It would just be too much. But I want you all to know I read them all. I smiled and felt so special. You all said so many kind things, and I thank you all for that.
Now I leave you with this, a special ending quote from one of my favorite anime's of old. Who can guess where the signoff below is from? But don't be glad if you could. It only means you're probably in your early twenties like I am ;( NO! We're getting old! Someone stop time! Kidding hehe…
See You Space Cowboy!