This was another one of those things. Another one of those how the hell did I get in this mess!? sorts of things. Because here he was in the daunting company of a rice cooker — doubly daunting because it was Kakei-san’s rice cooker (or Saiga-san’s rice cooker in Kakei-san’s kitchen, whatever) — and a bag of rice, not to mention the fish and the vegetables, none of which he had any real idea what to do with...
Well. It was just one of those things. And not even one of those Kakei-san’s-sneaky-ways things, though he would probably owe his soul or one of his limbs for the use of the kitchen, particularly if he burned the bottom out of this rice cooker too, as he had done to the one upstairs. No, Kakei-san wasn’t responsible. No one was responsible. This was his own fault…
Well, no. He had made an art of finding ways to blame That Jerk for absolutely everything, after all. That Jerk was the reason he was here, in Kakei-san’s kitchen, and woe to him if this one ended up destroyed. Too. If this one ended up destroyed too. He probably had to pay for a new stove to put upstairs. And the rice cooker. Maybe to paint the wall. Maybe if he hung a poster there or something, no one would notice.
Except Kakei-san noticed every damn thing.
With a growl, he dumped some rice into the rice cooker until it was half full. He stopped, considered, decided he probably needed to measure it out. That Jerk always measured it out. That Jerk made everything difficult! He glared at the offending rice, poured it back into the bag (ignoring the kernels he spilled on the floor) and repeated the dumping process with a cup.
One… two… three… okay. Why wasn’t the rice up to the little line that said “3?” Why did this have to be so stupidly complicated? Saiga-san had offered his help half an hour ago, but he’d be damned if he took it. He was doing this! By himself! The rice cooker was probably just faulty! That was it!
He poured water into the stupid thing until it looked mostly full, then put the lid on and flipped he switch and decided that come what may, he was done with the damn rice. He ignored the water that sloshed onto the floor until he stepped in it, at which point he cursed, because wasn’t this bad enough without wet feet!?
Okay, vegetables next. He could do stir fry. That Jerk managed stir fry in ten minutes, didn’t he? This was obviously easy if That Jerk could do it, so he was going to do it too. He stared some more. They didn’t usually look like this, did they? Was he supposed to peel? Chop? What!? Better safe than sorry, he decided, and took a small knife and a large carrot in hand. When he sliced his finger open, he yelled loudly enough to bring Saiga-san into the kitchen. Once he beheld the carrot peels and rice and water and drops of blood on the floor, Kazahaya’s left pointer finger in his mouth, and the bubbling rice cooker — was it supposed to do that? — his expression of mild concern changed to one of amusement. “Don’t overexert yourself or anything, kid.”
“OUT! OUT OF MY KITCHEN!” Kazahaya managed around the bleeding finger in his mouth.
“It’s not technically your kitchen,” Saiga-san said. “There are bandages in the drawer next to the stove,” he added, then wisely retreated.
Kazahaya threw the carrot he was still holding at the door. Then he bandaged his finger and looked at the rest of the vegetables. “Whatever,” he said aloud to them. “Whatever. I don’t need the knife.” He glared at it. “They’ll be just fine like this. Stir fry with big pieces is a great idea. I’m saving time. If That Jerk wasn’t so stupid, he’d have thought of this ages ago!” He dumped them into a wok as they were and hurriedly covered it with the rice cooker’s lid when hot oil spat vindictively at him. The rice cooker stopped bubbling too, as a bonus. There. He was totally in control of the situation.
He didn’t have much enthusiasm left for the fish, so he smeared it with miso, put it in the oven and refused to think about it. He was washing a splotch of miso off his shirt when the rice cooker started emitting a funny, burnt smell and the last person he wanted to see stuck his head in the door. “Saiga-san, I think something’s bur — huh.”
Kazahaya turned around, shirt soggy, eyes blazing. “What? What!?”
Rikuou took a slow survey of him, eyes starting at his feet and working their way up. “I didn’t say anything yet,” he pointed out. “What did you do to your hand?”
“Nothing,” Kazahaya seethed. He just knew That Jerk would laugh at him for this. “I’m fine. I’m in control. Get out of my kitchen.”
“Right, I believe that. Your rice is burning. And it’s not technically your - ”
Rikuou shrugged fatalistically. “Have it your way.” The door swung closed behind him.
“Stupid jerk,” Kazahaya said as the room filled with the scent of burned rice and fish. He got back to work.
Rikuou stared wordlessly at the feast his hapless partner set in front of him with an angry clatter of dishes an hour later.
The rice was soggy in places and burned in others, with some kernels that had escaped cooking mixed in. It was probably the first time Rikuou had ever sampled rice that had been burned and drowned simultaneously. The vegetables hadn’t fared much better, having been tossed into the cookpot whole. As a result, the outsides were black and the insides were still raw and uncooked. The state of the fish was even sadder to contemplate. At least, he thought the charred ruin on the edge of his plate was fish. It sort of smelled like miso.
“WHAT!?” Kazahaya exploded.
“I think I should be the one asking what - ”
Kazahaya turned red, then white. “Okay, you know what? FINE. FINE. HAVE IT YOUR WAY! HAPPY STUPID BIRTHDAY YOU BIG STUPID JERK!” With that proclamation, Kazahaya stomped out, slamming the door behind him.
Rikuou swallowed a hopeless laugh, looked again at the mess in front of him, then, with another fatalistic shrug, began to eat.