Summary: Second Seat of the Elite Ten Rindou Kobayashi has always marched to the beat of her own drum. Unconventional, unorthodox, and with a playful persona - Rindou could never find the appeal of a rather boring, cooking school. Nothing held her attention for long, that is, until a particular transfer student came along…
Doesn't it make your Heartbeat Flutter?
Shokugeki no Souma
A Rainy Farewel-
A light rain fell, hiding Megumi's tears.
'At least I've made a few good memories,' Megumi thought solemnly. The bus wouldn't be arriving for another hour. She was content to sit and wait. Sit and wait. Wait and sit. Sit and wait and wait… Wait for what felt like years and years of sitting and waiting for the bus that will take her back home. Back home to Mom. She'd step off the steps and see Mom waiting. There might be some tears, a few words exchanged, and Megumi would definitely get a hug.
Then she'd spend a few days readjusting. Things would change. There would be no more Polar Star Dormitory for Tadokoro Megumi. At least she wouldn't have to wake up in the middle of the night because Ibusaki's smoker set off the fire alarm again. Nor lose any sleep because of late night drinks with Sakaki. Megumi wouldn't have to wrangle Yoshino's wild animals. She wouldn't have any cramming sessions with Marui, or hear comforting words of encouragement from Isshiki. Or deal with Fumio's demanding expectations of her. She'd even miss Aoki and Sato.
And the worst of it was, she'd never get to see him again.
He didn't know. They didn't know.
At least, not yet.
Megumi preferred it that way. She'd be long gone by the time they'd realized what had happened. Hopefully then, it would be easier for them to forget about her. Maybe in time, they'd forget her name, and Megumi would be a footnote lingering in the memories of far superior chefs.
Earlier that morning, Megumi was summoned to Shinomiya Kojiro's office before her training session began. At first, she assumed the worst, but then tried to rationalize some optimism. Maybe he wanted to give some pointers? Maybe he wanted to put her through another test… but in the end, her worst fears were realized.
Megumi was expelled.
Shinomiya had a gleefully perverse smile as he told her. But he would be generous, he said. Instead of summoning the hotel security to immediately escort her off campus, he would allow her to be expelled with some amount of dignity. She could enjoy the resort facilities for a day before the evening bus would arrive and take her home. "Go swim in the pool or get a massage," he suggested. "You are still a guest of Tootsuki Resort… but you are no longer a student of Tootsuki Academy."
Megumi felt cold.
Like she was falling into a dark pit.
Megumi wasn't allowed to participate in the day's challenges. She went to her room and packed, alone. She was grateful for that, at least, to be able to pack her clothes alone. A pang of guilt struck her heart, knowing her friends struggled through another brutal day of camp training.
Megumi needed to repay their kindness, since they would never see her again.
Using a spare kitchen, Megumi cooked up several meals worth of food and packaged them. There were rice balls, cut rolls, and plenty of sides. What started off as just a few simple dishes soon became a massive glut of food. She sprinkled a bit of extra salt to make the food go better with Sakaki's refreshments. She used a bit of Yoshino's meat as filling, and Ibusaki's smoked tuna for an extra kick. Her friends would undoubtedly be exhausted, so Megumi added some extra spice, sugar, and wine to enhance the flavor's impact.
Megumi smiled, hoping at least her friends would find her food decent at least. She wiped her eyes. Her stupid self had forgotten an umbrella, despite packing for virtually every conceivable scenario. Ha! Of course… Megumi figured this was why she was expelled. She was stupid. Plain stupid and incompetent. Her friends wouldn't even like her food at all… And they'd say it'd be a waste of ingredients…
A thunder strike roared.
The rainfall began to hasten, as did Megumi's tears.
"Oi, pigtails! Whatcha up to? Hey… what's with the waterworks?"
Megumi looked up. It was Rindou Kobayashi, the fearsome Second Seat of the Elite Ten. In her hands, was a rice ball filled with smoked tuna.
Rindou glared at Megumi.
Rindou quickly got Megumi in a headlock. "It's Rindou-nee! Rin. Dou. NEE! Say it. SAY IT!" With Megumi stuck under one arm, Rindou used her other arm to continue enjoying the rice ball. "Submit!"
"Rindou-nee! Rindou-nee! Rindou-neeeeee!" Megumi sobbed in surrender, her hands desperately tapping out to no avail.
After a minute or so, Rindou finally relented. Megumi gasped for air.
"So why were you crying?" Rindou asked.
Megumi had forgotten her tears.
"I-" Megumi averted her gaze. "I was expelled…"
The statement caused Rindou to stop eating. Her mouth was slightly ajar.
"You. Were. What?"
"I was expelled," Megumi repeated softly, ashamed.
"Shinomiya… called me into his office this morning. He said he found a loophole that gave him the authority to expel me and-" Megumi sniffed, smiling a bit. "That's that, I suppose."
Megumi expected Rindou to offer some words of encouragement. Some sentimental 'you're not so bad, Megumi!' or 'You can do it!' or 'It's not your fault!'.
Instead, Rindou bluntly stated:
"I hate you."
Megumi blinked, stunned. Rindou Kobayashi, the famed Second Seat of the Elite Ten… hated her?
"I hate you," Rindou repeated, only this time louder as if she was speaking to a foreigner who didn't understand a lick of anything. "I hate everything about you."
Megumi's thoughts sunk into oblivion. A thousand scenarios rushed through her pig-tailed cranium.
"I hate your pig-tails."
"I hate your cute hick-accent"
"And I hate how you're so super adorable and everyone loves you!"
Each blow felt like a jab straight to the heart.
Please stop! I'm already dead!, Megumi's fragile psyche pleaded.
"And most of all…" Rindou sucked in a deep breath of air, preparing for a dramatic finish.
Megumi braced herself, unsure if her battered self-esteem could handle another blow.
"Please…" Megumi whimpered.
"And most of all! I hate that you're a hell of a chef worth acknowledging!," Rindou declared with finality.
"I'm so sor-! Huh?"
"Yeah!" shouted Rindou, full of vigor. She shoved the rest of the rice ball into her mouth, chewing while speaking. Each time Rindou spoke it sent rice specks flying. "Who's food do you think I've been munching on? All your friends in the Polar Star Dorm are giving it rave reviews! The seasoning is perfect after a grueling day of training! They were wondering where the hell you've been all day!"
"And that feast you cooked up was so considerate! You could feed an army or two with it. Your friends wouldn't have to cook their own meals after they've spent the day cooking for others. Plus the taste is simple and makes one think of home, instead of some tryhard haute stuff."
"And you're pretty damn good by my reckoning! You'd definitely be a First Seat contender in a year or two if you weren't part of a generation full of freaks. You know how to treat customers right, you have an eye for detail, and adjust your food depending on who you're serving. It's world class! Really!"
"...t-thank you?" Megumi replied, unsure how to take the praise. She tried to wipe some tears from her eyes but a slender finger wiped away the droplet for her. The Second Seat of the Elite Ten was praising her! Her! The near dropout Megumi!
"And guess what Yukihira said! He said 'Megumi's cooking is so great he could eat it every day! She'd make someone really lucky one day!' That's some real high praise not so lightly given." Rindou paused, stroking her chin. "Say… we really should tell him-"
Megumi froze in horror.
"Don't tell him!" Megumi snapped.
"Please," Megumi whimpered. "I don't want him to know. It's- I- I can't face him… Just let him forget about me."
Megumi felt her knees go weak. She would have fallen onto the wet concrete, if Rindou didn't catch her. Rindou held Megumi tightly, before loosening her grip. She looked at the young first-year chef in the face, wiping a tear from her eyes.
"Stop crying. You're a great chef. There's still a way you can stay in the Academy."
Megumi felt a glimmer of hope. She looked up into Rindou's magnificent fang-filled smile.
Megumi's heart began thumping. She could stay! She could stay at the Polar Star Dorm. She won't have to return home in shame to mother. She could stay… with all her friends… with Rindou-nee… with Souma…!
"It's simple! You stay through a shokugeki! Isn't it obvious? Just gotta put something up for grabs that's worth a student admission to Tootsuki and beat that Sojiro guy's face in!"
Megumi's smile weakened. She had thought of that, but she had nothing worth the price of a Tootsuki admission. Even if her mother put up her inn for sale, she still wasn't sure if anyone would accept that as payment.
"But I don't have anything-"
"Oh don't worry about that. We'll use my Second Seat." Rindou nodded, pleased with herself. "That's it! We'll use my Second Seat to challenge that old wash out Shinomiya and get your seat back! Easy!"
"R-Rindou-senpai! That's too generous!"
Rindou waved it off with a laugh. "Oh please, it's the least I can do. I love seeing cocky chefs get put in their place after all."
Megumi breathed a sigh of relief, if it was the Second Seat of the Elite Ten, she'd have a chance to stay! A more than reasonable chance! Grabbing Rindou's hands, Megumi sobbed into her, thankful for taking up her cause.
"T-thank you, Rindou-senpai! Thank you for fighting on my behalf!"
She was absolutely elated. With Rindou battling Sojiro for Megumi, everything would be all right! The expulsion would be reversed!
Then a firm hand gripped Megumi's shoulder. Megumi looked up to see Rindou giving her a confused look.
"Whatcha talkin' about? I ain't cookin'. You've got a shokugeki against a former First Seat to win."
"I'm rootin' for ya kiddo!"
As Megumi began running around in a circle underneath the rain, Rindou blinked. She folded her arms, not really sure if Megumi actually could beat the former first seat. It didn't matter though. It was interesting, at the very least. It was a one in a million chance but Tadokoro Megumi was a one in a billion chef! So that was like… at least twice the chance of winning! Two times zero percent is still higher than zero percent right?
"Oh well," Rindou shrugged, watching Megumi's unseemingly display. "Worst that can happen is I get expelled too."
Chapter Fourteen Fin
A Rainy Farewel-
Author's Notes: I'm sorry it took so long. When I started writing, I told myself this would be a hobby and (1) I would write because it's fun and (2) I'd write something I would wanna read myself. Real life happens. I quit writing for years as I focused on other things, like getting a stable income. I've graduated college, got a job, repaid loans, and man. Sometimes I look back at the stuff I wrote and I wish I had that same bleeding edge I did back then. I wish I was still that inspired. I wish I could capture that same magic.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. I'm sorry if it's not to the level and quality that it once was. I had a lot of fun writing it. I was reminded of what it was like to come up with the dumbest shit possible and put it on a doc. Lemme know if there's any typos or mistakes. I've always been shit at spelling and grammar.