A/N: EDIT: Flames will be flames, I suppose *shrugs*
Blast it, I wanted this chapter to be longer! Alas, work calls...
As ever, we're sticking with the tried and true "Embers" Rule for this story.
If folks don't like it, it'll be deleted. So speak up! Make yourself heard! Your voice matters!
That's no joke!
I have very little time to write these days, so feedback plays a large part in this. Daily updates ensure that I'm constantly busy working on one project or another. I cannot afford to stop and write something that folks don't like; if only because I feel that would a cold disservice to those of who who have stuck with me for so long.
Now then, time for some quick questions and answers.
Q: Naruto has kids?! With whom?!
A: Someone who's no longer around...or are they?
Q: Can we expect new stories again now that you're finish your old ones.
A: There are three that I'm mulling over at the moment, though I'm trying not to write them:
Trickster of Beacon would entail an actual Teacher!Naruto who essentially took over Port's position...with Tyrian as his sidekick.
Ninja's of Love is Author!Naruto and most likely going to be rated M for mature. In other words, intimacy, smut, that kind of thing. Fair warning on that front.
Weapon Masters of Remnant is the Naruto and Tenten in Remnant story everyone's chomping at the bit for.
Of course, I'll only write them if folks actually want to see them. I have other stories to finish.
Q: Foodgasms when?!
A: Careful what you ask for...
Q: Does Naruto qualify as a teacher in this story?
A: Not really. He can be a substitute when pressed, but he's certainly not a teacher.
Q: Was Cardin expelled from Beacon? Because if he's in a preview, that implies he's still about.
A: He was kicked out of the cafeteria and Naruto won't serve him...or his team. Alas, he's still around. He serves a purpose.
Q: Who's the antagonist in this story?!
A: Someone most unlikely. I wonder when everyone will notice the clues I've been dropping. Suppose I'll wait until then.
Alright, I've kept you long enough! Kick up your feet and get ready to grin. Hope you brought some popcorn~!
As ever, I own no quotes references, themes or memes. Not a wit or a one! Seriously. I mean that.
The Food Wars research intensifies. Its...given me ideas.
Also, loads of food names and references.
"One bite, and your fate is sealed."
A Devilish Dish
"Soooo, someone came back late last night. How was he?"
Weiss refused to rise to the bait. She was a Schnee, and a Schnee did not allow themselves to be poked and prodded like some lovestruck lass. Not here, not now, and certainly not with the rest of her team grinning at her like a bunch of cats with a canary. Still, she did smile a little as she brushed her hair. And if there was a faint hint of color in her cheeks, well. Surely one would've mistaken it for the early morning light.
And if anyone said otherwise? She'd stick them with Myrtenaster.
"He was quite nice, actually." she didn't look up while she corralled her hair into a ponytail. "A fine instructor; the very essence of a gentleman."
Judging by the drawling sigh that followed, those words were precisely what Yang Xiao-Long didn't want to hear.
"Ah, boo!" the blond flopped back on her bed with a sigh. "That's no fun at all! Where's the juicy details?!"
You want details? A nasty little voice hissed in the back of Weiss's head. Ask my sister.
She winced immediately thereafter. No, such thoughts were unbecoming of her.
She and Winter had never really competed for something before. Much less someone. Time and age had prevented such petty sibling rivalry when they girls. Indeed, by the time she'd was old enough to realize just what Naruto might've been to her sister, Jacques had been been poisoned. Shortly afterward, Winter ran off to the military, leaving her to shoulder the responsibility of the SDC alone. Yet now, when she thought of what she had seen between those two that day...an odd ache manifested in her chest.
"Weiss? Weiss!" A hand waved before her face, startling her. "Remnant to Weiss! Anybody hooooome~?!"
"Ruby, stop that!" she flailed at the pale palm, swatting it away. "Get your hand out of my face!
"Sorry, not sorry." her partner rocked back on her heels. "You weren't paying attention!"
Long lashes fluttered in an irritated blink. "Attention to what? What question?"
Yang leaned forward. "Did he at least give you a goodnight kiss?"
Weiss whipped her pillow at Yang's head, empowered at least two glyphs. It struck the brash blond dead in the face and sent her toppling out of her bunk with with a squawk. When she tried to rise another pillow sent her crashing back down to the floor and kept here there. True, she hadn't been paying attention. But that was no excuse for Yang to mock her. Really, it wasn't her fault. She had every reason to daydream!
"Yikes." Ruby peeked down at her twitching sister and winced. "Remind me to stay on your good side. Don't wanna end up like her."
Weiss huffed, her temper mollified by Yang's groan. "Refrain from making crass comments and you'll be quite safe."
The little reaper beamed. "Whatever you say, bestie~!"
"Bah, let her daydream about her teacher." Yang ribbed from the floor. "Not like she'll get any."
A spot of high color hit Weiss' cheeks. "He's not a teacher!"
Besides! Such a thing would be...well, indecent!
"No?" Yang grinned. "Isn't he teaching you?"
Weiss made angry Weiss noises.
"I think he might be." Blake didn't look up from her novel, but her words carried weight all the same. "A teacher, that is. Miss Goodwitch said he covers for her and Oobleck from time to time."
Weiss perked up. That was news to her. And hadn't she left one out there? "What about Port?"
Three eyebrows rose as one. "What about Port?"
"Alright." she raised her hand to fend off their incredulous stares. "I'll admit, I walked into that one."
"You did." But their resident bookworm wasn't finished yet. "Still, he's quite the capable cook." she turned a page without looking up, seemingly ignorant of their attention. "I like his seafood dishes. He makes a mean tuna melt, to say nothing of a casserole."
"Always the fish dishes with you." Yang sniggered. "What're you part cat or something?"
Blake's bow twitched. "No...?"
"Bah, have your tuna!" Weiss waved a hand. "Some of us have a more refined palette."
"And what would you know about good food, Schnee?" Golden eyes peeped over the cover, utterly devoid of mirth. "You probably ate caviar all day back in Atlas."
"I did no such thing!" She rather disliked caviar, thank-you-very-much!
"Heh," Yang thumbed her nose. "Watch out there, Weiss-cream. You've got some competition."
Lovely. First her sister, then the mention of that made, and now this? This was the last thing she needed.
Was it so wrong to want something-someone!-for herself? Someone who treated her not as a Schnee, but as a normal girl? Make no mistake, her team was wonderful and she adored them -even if she did want to throttle Blake on occasion!- but there was something about him that spoke to her as nothing else did.
She refused to call it attraction. Not yet. Her pride wouldn't allow it.
But she was curious all the same. Perhaps it was his stubborn refusal to quit. It might be his patience; for anyone willing to attend so many students surely must be a saint. Maybe it was pure determination - in that he seemed determine to defy her expectations with every dish. Unfortunately, others had taken note of him. Winter was bad enough, but at this rate, she'd be beating girls off with a stick just to get her lessons.
Besides, she'd seen him first!
You really didn't. Ruthless reason betrayed her. Winter did. He was cooking for her long before you were a twinkle in your mother's eye.
Then...then I found him first!
Was she jealous? No! Certainly not!
Her mind began to whirl. This would not do.
Nor sir, it simply would not do.
Something must be done.
Someone giggled. It wasn't Weiss. All the blood drained from her face
She'd said that aloud, hadn't she?
Against her better judgement, Weiss looked up.
Yang's grin reminded her of a wolf, ready to pounce. Ruby didn't quite grin, but she was the one giggling. Blake's smile was insufferably smug, not at all hidden behind her book.
"Thatta girl, Weiss-cream!" Yang pumped a fist into the air. "Fight for your man!"
Another pillow sailed out to smack her in the face.
Weiss dove on Yang with a mighty holler.
"YOU HEARD NOTHING!"
Winter found herself torn between her wants and her needs.
Case in point! What she wanted to do right now and what she intended to do were two very different things.
She wanted to retreat to her quarters, dive under her bed and pretend none of this happened. But what she needed to do...well.
That was something else entirely.
Her heels clicked harshly against the empty halls of Beacon as she walked -stalked!- to her destination. The few passerby she encountered took one look at her stormy expression and made way. Just as well too; she was so lost in her thoughts that she might well have bowled them over without realizing it. More than once she muttered a halfhearted apology when she nearly ran someone down.
'Foolishness.' she rebuked herself. 'How could I let myself slip like that?'
The hour was still early and Winter thanked the gods for it; if only because there were so few to see her making such a spectacle. Her pale face burned at the reminder. She had made an utter fool of herself and must make amends now, lest he thing her some drunken floozy.
She was not a floozy!
Even if she had rather enjoyed Naruto's hands on her...no! Stop! Cease! Desist!
She gave her head a mighty shake, hair flying behind her as she walked. Really, the booze was to blame. Not her. She'd been so happy to see him and as such, had overindulged. Her emotions got the better of her. She tried not to think of the encounter with Weiss that followed; nor the bitter argument which ensued. She couldn't remember much of that either. There would be time to mend things with her sister. For now he pride was wounded, and she must attend to it.
In all fairness, Naruto wasn't hard to find; nor did he make any attempt to hide.
"And you really do need to eat more, Velvet." He was chastising a rabbit-eared faunus in the cafeteria as Winter drew within earshot. "Your fighting style burns up a lot of calories. Here." he shoved a rather sizable boxed lunch at her. "This should tide you and your team over on that mission of yours."
She accepted it with a wince. "Isn't this a lot?"
"Its meant to feed the four of you over several months. Make sure Coco doesn't eat it all. Now scoot! And good luck!"
The bunny bowed and scarpered with her prize, forcing Winter to make way.
Even then she dithered, uncertain of what to say.
Her knees quivered, threatening to buckle if she took so much as single step. A finger twirled in her hair and she cursed herself for letting it down today. It had been a moment of weakness; a girlish flight of fancy; she'd wanted to see what he thought of it, but now she began to wonder if he'd ever notice at all.
No! She was a Specialist! She wouldn't falter here!
Steeling herself, Winter mastered her legs and crept closer. One step now. Two. Three. She was nearly upon him. His back was still turned, gaze fixed firmly some new culinary creation she didn't recognize. A hand swept out, sprinkling a line of spices across the meat. Another brought a knife down upon it, dicing it into fine chunks upon the carving board. She peeked over his shoulder, entranced by his work. It really did smell quite nice; her stomach twitched as the faint scent reached her nose.
"I hear you."
Winter stiffened, flushing like a child with their hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar. Naruto had yet to look back at her, but she could hear the smile in his voice; the amused lilt to his words. He sounded more amused than anything else. Not angry with her. Good. She'd only ever seen him angry once...Father had been poisoned shortly afterward.
One simply did not upset the Chef.
"Well?" His wrist flicked, pushing the chunks of meat onto a plate, then drizzling them with a sauce she didn't recognize. "Are you going to stand there all day, or are you going to help me?"
"You're not using your clones this morning?"
"Nah." he smacked his lips. "Got a bit of headache. So?" A blue eye peeked over his shoulder. "You up for it?"
Her eyes lit up. "May I?!"
An apron flew out and smacked her in the face. Winter donned the black garment quickly and slipped over the counter to join him. In short order, Master and Apprentice fell into a familiar rhythm. She was admittedly rusty after all these years, and he'd not taught her much, but she knew enough to help him. She gloried in it. This felt good. Right. Pure. As if he'd never left the manor.
As they worked, she found her voice. "I wish to...apologize for my behavior."
"Finally sober, are we?
Winter's pale face turned red.
"I am so terribly sorry for the mess I made...
Naruto whirled and thrust a spoon into her mouth, silencing her. Her eyes widened as plucked it free a moment later, leaving her mouth full of food. Waste not, want not. Instinct kicked in. Winters mouth betrayed her and she began to chew. Moist chunks of meat melted in her mouth, forcing her to swallow. And the moment she did?
Winter's knees buckled as she moaned.
"That's...that's no fair." she whimpered. "You can't win an argument with food...
"Can, have, and I will. I raised three girls." he leaned back against the counter, grinning form ear to ear as she looked away. "Trust me, what you did pales in comparison to their antics."
Her heart skipped a beat. "You have children?"
What did that mean? Was he married? Oh gods, Was she trying to seduce a married man?!
"Eternal youth has its perks." Naruto shrugged, heedless of her fear. "But to answer your question, yes. Only three, all from the same mother."
Winter felt her throat close. Calm. She must be calm. "Where is she now?"
"Gone." His expression became decidedly pinched. "No longer with us, I'm afraid. She didn't take to this world as...kindly as I did."
She'd died, then. He hadn't said it, but she could see it in his eyes, that faint hint of mourning, not quite suppressed. Was it wrong that she felt relieved? Not for the poor woman's death, but the knowledge that she'd not impugned her honor. She had standards after all.
"I'm sorry." she said instead.
"Don't be." he beamed. "It was an age ago."
A new thought nudged at her. "Your daughters, are they...
"Barghest, Baobhan Sith, and Melusine." he recited them from rota with ease. "Barghest's the eldest, Sith's the second, and Melusine's the baby of the group. She's always been a bit of a daddy's girl, that one. They're all out traveling the world. Haven't seen them for...hmm." A rare frown marred his whiskered visage. "Years, I think? I call them every now again." if he saw her concern, he didn't show it. "They're good girls. Just...clingy, after their Mother left." quick as can be, he set the dish aside and laid it with herbs. "I should probably warn you, they can be a bit eccentric."
Winter's frown redoubled. "When you say left, did you mean "left" or died, perchance?"
He never had a chance to answer her.
A blur cannoned through the wall, bowled Winter over, and slammed into Naruto.
Winter sprang up and flung herself out of harms way as another blast rocked the cafeteria, half expecting an attack, bracing herself for pain. It never came. A bright eye creaked open to find a frightfully tall blond woman -easily head and shoulders above herself!- hoisting Beacon's Chef into the air and squeezing him with all her might.
Winter choked. "Pa...?!"
"Hurk!" Naruto grunted, quite trapped in the intruder's armored arms. "Down, Barghest! You're gonna break your old man's riiiiiibs!"
Winter blinked. Once. Twice. Thrice now. An odd, giddy thought hit her, then.
"Wait a moment." She balked. "D-Does this make me an aunt, or...?"
The towering woman dropped Naruto like a sack of potatoes.
Mismatching eyes narrowed. "We have an aunt, now?!"
Winter frowned. "Wait, who is weeeeee?!"
Her words piqued into a yelp all she realized this "Barghest" woman hadn't come alone; her sheer size had simply concealed the others behind her. By the time she realized this, it was already too late. Someone absolutely squealed and additional blurs slammed into Winter, all but riding her down to the floor. Stars spun before her vision, leaving her to glimpse wild eyes and wild hair through bleary eyes.
It would appear her intended hadn't been kidding. Not a bit.
Somewhere behind her, she heard Naruto sigh.
"I warned ya...
A/N: And the adorable madness returns.
As ever, we're sticking with the tried and true "Embers" Rule for this story.
If folks don't like it, it'll be deleted. So speak up! Make yourself heard! Your voice matters!
Seriously. That's no joke.
So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...
...Review, Would You Kindly?
And have some previews.
Also. References ahoy!
Because why not?
They hit without warning.
One moment Naruto was wrapped up in preparing another culinary creation; in the next, a slender form crashed into him from the side.
"Hello, Cinder." he didn't look up from the task at hand. "Is it that time already?"
She tried to hiss at him, but all that emerged was a whine
"Please, she begged, grinding herself against his leg. "I'm starving. I'll do anything."
"You sure about that? I gave you leftovers just the other day...aren't you being a little greedy?"
Her silence was telling.
Naruto sauntered into kitchen with a rueful smile. "Whiiiiiiiiipped."
Cinder trailed after him as a starving dog might their master. "Damn you...
Something was amiss here, but what...?
Cinder must have a reason for acting like this. She must. Because if she didn't...
"Weiss? What're you doing here?"
"He's teaching me how to cook." Her tone was colder than her own namesake. "Why are you here?"
Naruto clapped a hand to his forehead.
"Food is sacred. You have violated the sanctity of this cafeteria. What do you have to say for yourself?!"
"Whoa, whoa!" Sun raised his arms. "Chill! I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about!"
"By sneaking down here in the middle of the night?"
To his credit, the Faunus blanched. Sorry?"
Naruto's right eye twitched.
"Kids these days..
"What?" Naruto scoffed. "Why do I have to play substitute for Glynda's class?"
"I'm afraid she's not feeling well. Do try not to break them."
"I'll try, if you try my food."
Ozpin clammed up.
And her clothes exploded.
"To be fair!" Naruto raised a finger. "I warned you."