"Hell." Shinjiro Aragaki swore as the fruit knife nicked his hand. He stopped slicing the potatoes (the fruit knife was the only one he had, so it was pulling double duty with vegetable prep as well), lay the knife on the cutting board, and stuck his hand under a stream of cold water from the sink. This was not what they showed you in all those cooking shows. No, on TV it was a hell of a lot easier to pull together a stew than in real life.

He waited for the blood to stop running from the cut. It was only a small injury, nothing worse than what he'd seen fighting Shadows with Akihiko and Mitsuru, that was for sure. But even the cold water seemed to be telling him something in the late night as it rolled over the wound, slowly coaxing his body to seal the cut. Things take time.

Time, yeah, he'll say.

He can't even count the number of hours he'd trained with Castor by this point. Mitsuru was always stressing that they had to be cautious- as a team of three they couldn't do too much, especially since one of those three members switched between active duty in battle and providing support. Shinjiro felt like sometimes he had to remind himself that training wasn't like the cooking shows: you couldn't just pull out a new attack like a chef whisked out a pre-baked tray of cookies from an oven.

In reality, he still had a long way to go.

He bandaged his hand and watched as the broth started to separate in the pot he'd placed on the stove and sighed. Well, so much for the midnight snack. At least he hadn't gotten to adding in the vegetables, so starting over wouldn't be so bad. The last of the failed broth sloshed down the drain and Shinjiro wondered to himself if it wouldn't just be easier to give up.

He glanced again at his hand, then got out the ingredients for the broth again.

One more time. It might take a while, but someday he'll get the hang of this damn thing.