Dedication: For Tinuleaf's birthday. Happy Birthday! X3 Hope ya have a good one! ...I haven't talked to you for a century long! –cries-

Lol, this is a really early birthday gift. : D but I might as well, since I guess I might be really busy when the fall semester starts.

This! Is a sign that I've watched a lot of Food Network and has been cooking recently. Lawlz. And I guess you could say that this is inspired by Julie and Julia too.

The Flavors of Life

Chapter 1

The Chef

"And you mix half a pound of beef into the pan! Now, you have to watch it really, really close. See that it's pink right there? When it's done, the pink shouldn't be there!"

The audience laughed, watching the redhead that was performing at the cooking station that was set on the stage. Hundreds of audiences were gathered there, glued in their seat to watch that one man, chirping wildly in front of the whole stadium, teaching them how to cook.

"See, that's why I said cooking is like magic! You have to cook and sauté the minced beef for roughly around ten to fifteen minutes. But of course, as I usually say, there is no need to go get the timer or look at the clock at all!" the man grabbed the timer that was set on the counter and threw it behind him. A loud clunk could be heard echoing across the silence of the room. He grinned, stretching his arms wildly. "All you have to do is use your feelings! Your instinct! Use your soul and cook!"

A blond boy, who happened to switch on to the cooking channel, watching the man live, squinted his eyes and scoffed. "This guy's whacked..." he frowned. "What is this show?"

In the other part of the world, the redhead was cooking passionately, smirking all the while, having fun even when he was sweating under the stare of his audiences and because of the heat of the kitchen. His hair was hidden inside his chef hat, but strands of red hair could be seen sticking out here and there. It was a wonder that his hat didn't fall off.

"So, when it is turning a little brown, flip it again and again, press it. After that, add in a salt and pepper to your taste. Then... all you can do is wait! When you're done..." the redhead muttered, bending down to take the prepared beef. "This is the result. Wonderfully done and well cooked. Remember, no one wants to eat raw meat. Unless they're cannibalistic of course, but then again, some even cook."

The blond boy narrowed his eyes. "Oh...kay?" his face showed a look of confusion and disbelieve, eyes wide.

"Ok, let's put the beef aside. And take out the salsa that we set in the fridge just now. Put the fresh salsa on top of the meat and then, some cilantro to bring out the smell and flavor."

The blond boy showed a look of disgust now. "Cilantro... ew..."

"So, what do you do if you don't like cilantros? Simple, take it, and throw it away! Don't use it at all!" the redhead grinned as he took the cilantro he had previously put and threw it in the nearest garbage can. "No one is forcing you to put it in."

"Huh..." by now, the boy was nodding and the audiences muttered a small 'o'.

"And of course, the angel hair spaghetti. Drain and fork it to the plate. Place the spaghetti around the beef so that it looks appealing and beautiful. Add the previously heated spaghetti sauce on top of the noodles. And there it is. Your easy to make dinner spaghetti. If you're a vegetarian or if you don't have any meat in your refrigerator, then it's even easier. Use sautéd potato, broccoli, carrot, and any kind of vegetables you have in your fridge, season them well and arrange them as substitutes for beef. The salsa already has flavor by itself, so there is no need to tinker with them," the redhead said thoughtfully, smiling all the way, staring at his audiences, making small gestures.

The blond boy flicked the channel away, still blinking his eyes, looking around him, feeling rather weird. Then, he settled into his couch, sitting Indian style, watching "Family Guy." His face was plastered with an expression of boredom the whole hour he was watching said show.

--

There was nothing much to say about his life. He worked, went to the university, he was home, he cooked, he ate, he did his homework, he watched TV, and he slept. That basically summed up what he was doing on a daily basis. Being a home person, Roxas hardly went out or socialize. Sure, he used to have friends, but as he became busier and busier, he started to ignore them, never calling them, or even reply to their messages on the internet. He just got bored, thinking that there was no use for him to keep in contact with friends who lived far away from him anyway.

Hayner used to be his best friend in college, but he transferred to a University far from where Roxas attended. Pence moved away to another country because of his dad's business. Olette enrolled in a prestigious university out of town.

Roxas also moved out of his hometown, pursuing his study in a foreign country. He rented a room and he had to work in order to pay for his own living. His parents took care of his tuition fee, but the rest, he had to work for it. And hence, with only money and university in his head, Roxas hardly went out of his way to socialize or even to seek entertainment. There was no need to. Study came first, work second, everything else later.

Needless to say, however boring it was, he was content with his life.

He cooked, but all that he cooked was easy instant prepare meals. He was too busy to really cook or even go to buy his ingredients. He frequently searched for sales in the supermarket for any kind of fast food that he could eat. Spaghetti meatballs in a box, chicken bake, chicken nugget, hamburgers, burritos, taquitos... life was easy these days. Just toss those fast foods in the microwave or oven and voila, everything was done and it was time to eat.

He certainly knew that he was leading a very unhealthy life style. However, until he had time, he seriously didn't have any other choice. And he wasn't thinking about changing his lifestyle either. It was such a hassle to change.

--

The City was crowded as usual on the weekend. Roxas had no choice but to go out since he needed to buy his supplies. He always dashed through the convenience market, only grabbing the stuff he needed. There was no need to stop by at the section that didn't contain what he needed. And he had memorized every last one of the section in that supermarket and what they contained.

His eyes darted through the racks of products and his hand accurately grabbed a bottle of the cheapest shampoo. The day's budget was to spend no more than twenty bucks. He grabbed a couple boxes of fast food that was on sale, a tooth brush, a bottle of hair gel, and a tooth paste.

When he got rid of everything in his checklist, he was ready to checkout. However, he bumped into... no someone bumped into him. Roxas was caught completely off guard and he landed on the floor on his bottom. "Hey!" he snapped. "Watch where you're going," he spat, looking up to see the person who had bumped into him.

"Sorry."

All Roxas could see was a wide grin. The person—definitely male from that lean built—was wearing a cap that concealed his hair. And the cap person in front of him had a really well-built face. The blond frowned. "That's it?" he narrowed his eyes in annoyance.

Cap person grinned brightly, waving his hand in a friendly gesture. "I sincerely apologize, my little friend. Here, let me lend you a hand," he smirked, offering his hand to the blond.

Roxas groaned and slapped the hand away. "Thanks," he replied, voice laced with sarcasm.

Cap-person's jaw dropped. "Hey, I'm being friendly."

"Yeah...right," the blond replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes, annoyed and upset.

Then, cap-person frowned. "You... eat those junk?" he pointed his index finger to the boy's basket.

Roxas' eyes grew smaller and smaller until they turned into mere slits. "Yeah, I eat these junk. I'm basically a garbage can. I stomach everything, okay? Now, back off!" he reprimanded, hissing.

"Whoa, hey. Sorry. I didn't mean it like that."

Roxas was walking away. He had wasted enough time and all he wanted then was just to check his groceries out and get the hell away from the cap-person. He was getting more and more annoyed when said cap-person was following him.

"What do you need from me?"

"Those are unhealthy. They're filled with saturated fat which will..."

"I know what saturated fat is and I can read the health information just fine, thank you. Now, stay away before I shout for help."

"Why are you so feisty?" cap-person smiled a friendly smile.

"One..."

"Can't we be friends? I can teach you a thing or two..."

"Two..."

"Hey, we can even talk or something and..."

"Three, alright. I've given you your chances..." the blond hissed, taking in a deep breath, about to scream for help.

"Okay, okay. Bye!" cap-person ran away, knowing that the blond was serious.

Roxas heaved a sigh of relieve.

Finally...

He hated how he always met psychos when he was outside. That was also one of the main reasons why he preferred to cage himself up in his room when he had some free time.

--

Placing a chicken bake into the microwave and setting it to four minutes, the blond quickly ran into his room, grabbed his blue towel and jumped into the bathroom for a quick, refreshing shower.

He was done at the same time the microwave started beeping, calling him, saying that the food was done. Slipping into his sleeveless T's, he went out of the bathroom and ran over to the kitchen to grab his chicken bake.

He picked it up with the plastic plate and headed back to his room.

--

Switching on his TV, he accidentally flicked to the food channel again. And coincidentally, the same redhead was on show again. He was about to switch to another channel, but he stopped, not knowing why.

"We're going to cook a super easy meal today. All you need is two potatoes, three eggs, and pepper and salt. It will only take you fifteen minutes to prepare this meal. Alright, let's get started!" the redhead on the TV chirped excitedly.

"Yeah, sure..." Roxas scratched the back of his neck tiredly. Then, he flicked over to another channel. Not really caring. He just needed some noise just so that he could sleep. It was merely nine, but he felt like sleeping early to heal his tired body.

He felt like he was already in his fifties sometimes...

--

The week after, Roxas had to again, go to Safeway to shop. Since Safeway was really his favorite place to shop and save. He had to take the bus for twenty minutes in order to get to Target. And he didn't like Walmart. So, Safeway was his only place to go which took around twenty five minutes walking.

More junk food, more varieties, more time saved. That had become a sort of Roxas' motto.

And then...more psychos.

Wait, that was the same psycho from before.

The cap-person... cap-man.

Roxas immediately turned one eighty degrees as soon as he saw that person, walking briskly away, hoping that he could go unnoticed. He didn't want any freaks in his life.

"Hey you!" there was a loud voice.

Roxas' eyes went wide, hoping that whoever it was didn't just call for him.

He began to run, carrying his basket.

"Wait!"

But Roxas wasn't quick enough, because he ended up being grabbed by the shoulder.

"I've been waiting for you!"

"Huh?" Roxas choked, turning and slowly backing away, eyes wide. His internal radar was screaming 'Psycho, run!'

"Oh, I have some very easy recipes that will take you no time to prepare. Here!" cap-man grinned, as if it was the most normal thing to do.

"I'm sorry, but I don't do cooking," Roxas tried, being polite.

"Trust me, it's easy!"

"...Why?"

Cap-man easily pointed his index finger at Roxas' basket which was filled with canned and fast foods.

"But why me?" the blond frowned, wondering if he should trust cap-man or not.

The cap-man took Roxas' unoccupied hand and put a neatly folded piece of paper in his palm. Then cap-man grinned brightly. "Tell me how it goes, yeah?"

Roxas watched as the weird man walked away, blinking a couple of times before shifting his attention towards the piece of paper in his palm. "Tell you? How?" he muttered.

Then, he put down his basket and opened the paper. There was a recipe for potato egg written down and a phone number and a little smiley face beside it.

Roxas sighed, but he smiled then. "So... I'll need an egg... and potato...and...salt and pepper. Why do these ingredients felt awkwardly familiar?"

Shrugging, he went over to the fresh food section.

--

Hope I started this out alright. Potato egg is my mom's signature dish. X3 hehe. She used to cook it and I love it so much that I began cooking it myself. It's the first dish that I've ever cooked and succeeded. Lawlz. And trust me, it takes a lot for me to be able to pull of a dish correctly. Sorry, I rambled.

Happy birthday, Tinu! Um, in two months? Hehe. :3

Love.