Chapter Two: In Minto's Case
"Minto, are you absolutely sure you wish to carry on with this bet? If you cross any uncertainty of the sort, feel free to back down."
Minto Aizawa blew a sigh passed her lips for the tenth time that afternoon.
"Seriously, Ichigo, there's no need for you to keep nagging me like this," she said torpidly. "I'm persistent, now stop it."
Following the previous issue from catering class, the red headed girl had been following her endlessly, jamming tons of questions along the lines of "Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure?" galore. The dialogues were beginning to bounce out of hand. Minto quickly found herself becoming greatly disturbed.
"But Minto, you don't know Kish! He can do some really weird things . . ."she began.
"Believe me Ichigo, I know Kish," Minto drawled. "I mean, let's face it. He's been bothering me like heck for a long time now so what's not to expect? And even if he hadn't been bothering me, surely he's after you! Believe the unexpected!"
"A-after me . . .?" the girl with the shoulder length crimson hair stammered. Though Ichigo fully comprehended what she meant, she didn't at all enjoy being given reminders of the eavesdropper that had been tailing her for years.
"It's called observation, Ichigo," the strutting student stated knowingly. "You observe things—or living things for that matter around your friends, see? And I happened to have learned plenty during those bothersome interactions in which that insane guy goes hunting you down."
A mist of embarrassment surrounded the middle region of Ichigo's face, painting her former pale cheeks a tainted red. Minto smirked lightly at the picture.
"So there's nothing to worry about! It'll be a piece of cake!" she assured, sustaining her prolonged sermon. "You saw his junk back there, didn't you? HA! He can cook alright! Not!"
Ichigo was unimpressed. She shuddered uncomfortably, pondering frantically for further justifications. "If you lose, you'll have to crawl under his foot for three whole months! THREE!" she cried, pushing three firm fingers in the air, only to have Minto thump them down absent-mindedly.
"I won't lose! Quit saying discouraging things like that!"
"But what if you do? What then?"
The young lady accompanied by spherical buns upon the head averted her gaze. This was SO not her day. It was enough that she was under heavy pressure. But with Ichigo jumping around in her front of her like some kind of demented maniac all through the school building made it much worst. Glancing up at the ceiling in exasperation, she exhaled—loudly; one of the most unlike-Mint things to do.
"Ichigo, can you please do me a favor and grab a brain? I'm not losing! If I had planned on losing to start with, I wouldn't have agreed with this bet! . . . Therefore, I'm asking one last time, STOP IT!" Minto yapped, huffing out shipments of unwanted oxygen.
Ichigo laid back. There were still, unfortunately, doses of excuses clotting her expression. She didn't appear to be satisfied at all.
The taller teen glanced around nervously, while following behind the stiff Minto, eyes shifting back to the occurrence prior.
"Okay, class, the next step will be the most crucial part in the recipe. If you mess this one up, there is a good possibility your whole cake will get ruined. Remember, do it exactly as I tell you. Don't take twists and turns to attempt adding in more flavor; it'll most likely result in a massive rock of ineligible gunk. Please proceed with caution."
With the teacher's instructions blaring against the walls like echoing letters, it was easy to assume everybody should be able to collect the words. However, in this case, someone manifestly failed catching the vital announcement.
Minto stood by her table, jumbling her ingredients intensely. Her whitish slim fingers clutched the wooden spoon soberly, nearly causing it to crack. She was concentrated only on her bowl of immoveable flour, nothing else. There lingered barely one motive in her intelligence as she attempted desperately to churn the clammy substance: Move. That was it. Move. She gritted her teeth, forcing the tableware deeper into the depths of the tacky glop.
She wanted critically for the stubborn piece of dough to budge—even one puny centimeter if possible. Move.
She uttered a gasp of sheer disappointment as the spoon halted—halfway along the bowl's sticky curved wall. Lifting her hands up from the troublesome deed, she frowned, eyebrows weaving together in a scowl.
"You're awful," she croaked poorly at the unreasonable chunk of matter. "You're really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, awful!"
Growling like a hungry bear, she seized the gizmo and plunged it in again. Hardly different from rapacious quicksand, the brew grasped the sharp metal hungrily, refusing to allow it to get through. Minto rejected accepting this. She squeezed her incoming inhalation. Closing her eyes two-thirds the way as to provide sight protection, she began tugging the cooking equipment leftwards. Her wits mouthed the single word over and over: Move. Move. Move.
When her strong exertions bought about no signs of life, her anger level increased. Much like a furious witch, she tugged the utensil at full might.
Fatefully for her, the abrupt force caused a fair blanket of dough to shove vehemently onto her lower chest. She shrieked soundlessly at the gruesome breakdown.
"Damn you," she groused.
"Minto . . . ?" Ichigo questioned wonderingly. The female pupil glanced at the tyro beside her. Her eyes speedily attached to the scene.
Then, it disclosed. "What did you do to your cake?" she blurted in a whisper.
"Don't ask me what I did to my cake, ask the cake itself!" Minto howled. She snatched several napkins from the center of the table and wiped what she could off her azure apron.
"You did put in exactly as much of each ingredient as Mr. Narutaki instructed, did you?" Ichigo inquired. "If you had, I doubt it'd turned into something like that."
"I did exactly as the stupid cookbook told me," she answered. "I followed all the instructions."
Ichigo shot a judging look at Minto's performance. She carefully backed a foot for a farther inspection. She analyzed her classmate's efforts to and fro from all different angles. Each time she looked, her brow tautened. It almost occurred to Minto that Ichigo was ridiculing her.
"Gee, Minto, what did you put in there?" the strawberry colored haired teenager questioned as she poked and prod the repellent article.
"Flour, eggs, sugar, salt—well, you get the idea. Everything needed to make a magnificent cake!" her mate answered shrewdly.
" . . . You put salt in there?"
"Well . . . duh."
"Why?" Ichigo questioned vigilantly.
"I figured it'll enhance the flavor. Everything requires some salt."
Ichigo mentally spanked herself. "Minto, we are talking about SWEETS here. SWEETS!" she cried in a forced murmur, emphasizing on the word "sweets" a tad too dramatically. "You are not supposed to dump salt into what's destined to be sweet! Didn't you hear what Mr. Narutaki said?"
"Why, of course! But food needs salt! I bet he forgot to tell us to do so!"
"Not likely," Ichigo sputtered. "Umm . . . how much?"
Minto's lips twitched in rhythm, seeking for an accurate response. "Errm . . . . About four teaspoons . . ."
"Oh, my go—FOUR? What were you thinking? . . . You . . . what else did you throw in?"
On hearing the somewhat scornful remark, Minto shifted her full attention to the hypersensitive classmate not a respectable yard distant from her; uniting her eyebrows to generate a violent yet incensed glare.
"Stop mocking me!"
"I'm not mocking you," Ichigo defended. She looked slightly offended by her friend's discourteous reply. "I am merely stating a fact!"
"Well . . ." Minto huffed, turning away insolently. "You could have fooled me."
"Okay, class three, put exactly one teaspoon of baking powder and one teaspoon of baking soda in," Mr. Narutaki commanded, cutting the two at variance girls' conversation short. "Don't misunderstand between SODA and POWDER."
Ichigo injected one last disgusted look at Minto's so called "production" before carrying out the ordered task. Cycling around in an, "I'll show you the correct techniques" attitude, she seized a flour coated teaspoon from the messy table. Perturbed by the layer of unwanted crust, she wiped the metal off on her apron, cleaning and revealing the true shiny nature of its structure. Being the determined girl she was, Ichigo didn't want to risk getting the measurements incorrect. Subsequently grabbing the small palm-fitting container of baking powder, she dumped exactly one teaspoon of the content into her bowl. The baking soda followed suit.
Minto couldn't help but envy the functioning girl as she stirred her almost through cake without faltering. The mixture was decent—no, more then decent. It looked great. Watching Ichigo's confident spiraling turned her rage level up, up, up.
"See, Minto, it's important to follow directions," Ichigo said after completing her exercise. She set the creamy filled item down.
However, the navy haired girl wasn't the least paying awareness. She was engaged in pure anger. Ichigo didn't notice at first glance, but when she did caught sight of her friend attacking her cooking materials viciously, slamming various tools into her rock-hard cake, daring it to stay rigid any longer, she immediately sweat-dropped a thousand beads.
"Uh . . . Minto . . .?" she whispered in awe, voice sounding more like exclaiming in terror rather than actual whispering. "You're . . ."
The perplexed girl pulled her throat to a halt on hearing a spiteful snicker coming obliquely from her position. She jerked her neck up. It was none other than Kisshu, one of the worst class clowns in the entire school. She glared coldly. Kisshu, unfortunately, failed to detect the penetrating stare. His concentration was fixated on something else. And Ichigo quickly found out what it was. Before she could tell him to back off, get lost, cut it out, or anything fitting in that category, Minto had already opened her mouth to an unpleasant sizzle.
"What do you think you're looking at?" she croaked.
"At you, of course," Kish answered in a too casual of tone. "Oh, I mean, your beautiful cake."
Minto felt her cheeks madden in mortification and she dropped her stirring tool instantly.
"You have no right to do so," she hissed.
"It's a free country . . . besides, I worried you're sick. You don't look like you're in any shape of the sort to cook—if anything, it'd have to take someone who has serious imagination problems to make an unconventional dessert the likes of that. . . ."
Minto grimaced. Practically steaming on the inside, she closed a fiery, flaming, hand around one of her tools, nearly causing it to break. This was the best her brain gained as a plan to help hold back her uprooting anger. She silently pleaded for the fight to collapse as soon as it began, but, unluckily for her, it had merely activated. The jade-haired alien tackled her with yet another unpleasant remark.
"I don't blame you, you know. You've never had to cook," he acknowledged. He allowed a slight laugh to escape his throat. "If I'm on the right track—or if you are going to continue at this rate, you'll make the most awful wife in Tokyo!"
"Well look who's talking!" she snapped, attempting to match his level; and quickly at that. "Look! You're not doing it correctly either so you're the one to talk?"
She pointed, striking a finger at Kish's work.
Unexpectedly, a new insult meandered into her head. She felt strangely lucky as the stimulation registered. Her lips curled up to expressed a wicked grin. She pondered about the new mouth weapon, preparing to launch it.
"I see now . . . it's no wonder Ichigo never praised your homemade food back then . . ." she snickered, eyeing the competing boy's flour drenched hands.
An offended and take-back growl signified she had struck the spot. Kish had often showed up by Ichigo's desk frequently with batches of home snacks to offer. Minto was always there interfering, to ward him away. Not as though it mattered. Ichigo would have done the same.
"How dare you say that!" he hissed. "How dare you bring Ichigo into the conversation!"
It was painfully obvious. Kish finally jumped into battle mode. Only he had arrived at the border too late. Minto now held the advantage to overpowering the developed argument.
"Well, it's true, isn't it?' she countered, slipping both arms behind her back in a vain way. "I mean, I remembered all those times you resulted as a failure when you bought the cookies to class. They were made using your own hands might I add." A devious glint emerged on the side of her left orb.
Minto hadn't noticed, but Ichigo was slightly blushing at the mention of her name. The outsider of the conflict zone had an uncomfortable look on her face. Her pink cheeks came no later the recollection of Kisshu's hard efforts being dismissed cruelly by her over the few years rose. She appeared the have shrink five inches as a few students watching the secretive squabble rotated to her angle. The whispery yelling from Minto and Kish was attracting quite a few numbers of people. It was quite horrendous how swiftly the event expanded.
That's it!" Kish roared lowly. "At least I can handle the "structure", even though I dumped in wrong "contents"! I got one part down, unlike you. You're so lazy; you'll never learn to cook properly! Consider yourself the dumbest chef in the world!"
Minto diverted her gaze. "That so?" she asked.
Kish crossed his arms slyly. He forced a teasing smirk. "Just as I predicted. All riches are useless. They can't even bake a pie the right side up."
She raised her eyebrows in fury.
"A rich girl? Me?"
"Richy, richy, richy!" he prattled.
"Why you little--"
"You rich, rich, rich, rich, rich, spoiled girl!" Kish gibbered. "Minty is a rich girl!"
"You freaky eared single!" she hollered.
The battle over wits continued. Numerous teens exchanged confused glances. Even Pai, the young, calm teen who ignored practically everything that goes on around him was influenced by the hot dispute.
"I bet you can't make something decent enough for one person's satisfaction," he challenged.
"I bet I can!" Minto opposed finding it the wisest she could say to maintain her strong point.
"Fine!" Frustrated, he sat down. "Fine, Minty . . . I'm going to hold that bet."
"You know the cooking contest coming up?" he asked.
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. Sure, she recognized the competition. There had been a poster by her locker just the other day informing teenagers to give it their best shot at the fest.
"What about it?"
"Well, we are to enter it!" Kish pronounced pompously. "You and I! We—"
"The person who gets the higher score tallied wins the bet!" she declared, half agape at herself for complying with his settlement so soon. "IF I WIN, YOU HAVE TO BE MY SERVANT FOR THREE MONTHS!"
Kish snickered. "But if I win, you have to be MY slave for three months."
Minto bit he tongue. This was something uncalled for. If she won, it'd be a straight victory for her. Surely, she stood a pretty balanced hand. She knew the boy leering at her had bad cooking abilities just like her. More than likely, they'd end up both failures so the bet would have to be eliminated. Her heart lightened vaguely upon the persuasive thought. She gave the lingering problem a one word answer.
--- (End Flashback)
"Minto, just so you'll have a road to freedom in case you end up bringing up the rear . . . I think you should--"
"Oh, god, Ichigo! You're driving me nuts!" Minto shouted, loud enough for a couple discussing closely together by a classroom door to jolt apart in alarm.
"But Minto, Are you sure?"
"YES, I AM SURE!" she yelled. "If you don't stop that babbling mouth of yours this instant, you'll MAKE me lose! Then . . . then . . ."
" . . . Then, what?"
"Then I'll personally have to MURDER you!"
Apple: This chapter is pretty identical to chapter one, but it plays an important part in keeping the story stable. (Uh . . . YAY! YAY!)Now I have to work on 'Music Descends' for Purin and Taruto.
Question for readers: Who'd you like to win?
Many Thanks to: Yushina Janke, Kamrya, Sohma Ritsu, Blackdevil, Mew Sahara, Phoenix Tigerlily, Young Wizard Link, Ferret Love, Ayaka-san, Mika Suzuhara, Dragon and Sword Master, for the comments as it helped. I'll make sure to return the deed if you have stories ofyour own!