“Hey... how about we have another barbecue tomorrow?”
Several heads turned towards him as Chiaki stared back at them defiantly.
“What?” Chiaki exclaimed. “The last barbecue we had had been fun... and it’s been a while since we had them—”
Ryunosuke wrapped his arm in a stern gesture as he leered at him.
“You’re all into this just for the Kobe beef, isn’t it?”
Chiaki grinned at him cheekily as he shook his head in disapproval.
“Why not? Come to think last time when we had a barbecue, Genta wasn’t around to join us. Then... wouldn’t it be a great idea to have another one with him this time?” said Chiaki again.
“But then all this still comes back to Kobe beef, isn’t it?” pressed Ryunosuke again as Mako chuckled.
Chiaki cried out.
“What’s with you and Kobe beef, anyway?” he shouted as Ryunosuke shouted back.
“Kobe beef is good but not cheap, you idiot! Admit it... you suggest this just to eat more meat, isn’t it?”
“Now... now, Ryunosuke... you don’t mean that you’re still offended about our last barbecue night?” chided Mako as Ryunosuke pouted. Takeru laughed.
“You don’t really mean that you still remembered that incident, Ryunosuke? Come on... lighten up, Ryunosuke. And don’t worry about the meat, seriously...”
Ryunosuke turned to look towards Takeru, pleadingly. “But Tono—“
He grinned. “I promise that I won’t tease you again like last time. But you also had to tune down your tendency to have things cooked perfectly all the time. It’s a barbecue after all...”
“You heard it, Ryunosuke. Even Takeru said he didn’t mind it. You just have to forget everything else and just enjoy eating...!” said Chiaki cheerfully as he placed a firm hand over Ryunosuke’s mouth to keep him quiet.
“Oh! Can we also get some seafood along with the meat and vegetables as well?” Kotoha started to say. “I always wanted to try barbecued seafood—”
“Ha! Nice idea Kotoha! I’m sure I remember some good recipe for the barbecue marinates somewhere...,” said Mako excitedly before the other boys cried out in alarm—Ryunosuke stifling out a cry since Chiaki still had his palm over his mouth.
“L-let the Kuroko-chan-tachi handle that... Nee-san!” stuttered Chiaki as Mako glared at them, annoyed. Takeru and Ryunosuke nodded their heads as well as Mako let out an exasperated sigh.
“Can’t you guys at least have faith in me? Or you guys had already gave up on me to ever cook a decent meal?” she asked as immediately the boys tried to talk their way out of it.
Ryunosuke pushed Chiaki aside. “M-Mako! We didn’t mean it... like that,” he said as Mako looked at him pointedly. “I mean... when you finally get the hang on cooking yourself, Mako... maybe it’s all right to—not that I’m saying that you cooked very badly or something—”
Mako patted his head.
“Hai... hai! I’ll take your word then, Ryunosuke. You better eat everything that I cook once I manage to learn up cooking or I’ll make you pay for it... ne?”
Ryunosuke let out a sigh before smiling weakly at her. Takeru and Chiaki heaved sighs of relief now that ‘the coast was cleared’.
“Does that mean the plan tomorrow are confirmed?” Chiaki quipped at once as Takeru glanced at him, amused.
“Of course it’s confirmed... idiot. I’ll have the Kuroko-tachi informed about thi—“
“I’ll tell them myself, Tono...,” said Ryunosuke as he immediately left towards the room hall.
“I’ll tell Genta about this!” said Chiaki again, excited as Kotoha chirped.
“Ah! Then we could also ask Genta-san to provide the seafood!” she exclaimed as she also joined Chiaki to meet up with Genta. Takeru just shook his head as he watched his retainers made themselves busy. Mako smiled.
“It’s quite a change, isn’t it? Last time it took longer than this to convince you to join the rest of us for barbecue...”
Takeru chuckled. “Was it? But a lot has changed since then after all. Ah! I need to tell Jii about this... he was annoyed last time that we forgot to include him for the barbecue—” he cried as he also ran out of the hall to find his guardian.
Mako sighed. “Yes... a lot have changed since then. Every one of us had changed for the better. Isn’t it good... Tono-sama?” mused Mako by herself as she rose to head to her room for the night.
Ryunosuke stared suspiciously at the barbecue grill as he made no movement whatsoever to approach it or even to place any meat on it to start cooking. He just let the others do what they like as he brood on his stool.
Takeru stepped back from the grill as he let the others grill their own meat and seafood as he brought his plateful of barbecue meat and sit beside him.
“Not eating?” he asked casually as Ryunosuke just shrugged.
“I'm just not feeling up to it. Don’t mind me... my lord.”
“Eh! Ryunosuke... you can’t say—here, at least eat some—“ said Takeru as he shoved a piece of meat towards Ryunosuke’s face.
“Mmmph! No—“ Ryunosuke protested, not letting Takeru to shove the meat into his mouth as he pushed his hand away. “No, Tono... I said—ahh!”
Ryunosuke grimaced before turning towards Chiaki who had attacked from behind; himself feeling very much victimized as Takeru succeeded to shove the meat into his mouth during that unguarded moment. He chewed the food tearfully as both Takeru and Chiaki grinned.
“It still tasted good, isn’t it? Just like last time... I think I’m a natural at cooking barbecue—Ryunosuke, come on... eat some more—“ said Takeru as Ryunosuke refused again as he made Takeru ate it instead.
“It’s okay... I’m fine. Tono... you don’t have to—“
“Aww... Ryunosuke! Don’t be such a ninny... relax a bit, will ya?” said Chiaki as well as he forced down sake into Ryunosuke’s mouth as the older lad coughed on it.
“Aah... I finished my food. Time to get some more—Ryunosuke, come on! I’d definitely won’t let you run off to your room so early...” said Takeru again as he dragged him along.
“Tono—! Chiaki—“ cried Ryunosuke helplessly as both of them pinned him and dragged him along towards the barbecue pit, where the rest of them were.
“Even Jii had been happily enjoying the food with the rest of the kuroko—“
“Tono...! I’ll get my own later when I’m feeling hungry—Right now I’m not—“
“But by then, the meat and seafood would have been gone already—you’ll miss out on some of the good stuff!” Chiaki argued as Kotoha and Mako greeted them later.
“Tono-sama! See!” exclaimed Kotoha as she showed them her barbecued squids and shrimps. “I cooked it myself... Ryu-san, did I cook it right?” she asked again as she pondered aver her barbecue beef slices.
Takeru and Chiaki snorted as Ryunosuke just shrugged helplessly at her before glancing towards Genta, who had been occupying the barbecue grill. He sighed.
“So, are you up to teaching us how to cook barbecue meat perfectly like how it should be?” teased Chiaki some more as Ryunosuke finally laughed. He slapped Chiaki’s head silly as the younger lad chuckled.
“Enough of teasing me...” he muttered irritably as Takeru laughed.
“That’s the whole point of it, silly. We just can’t enjoy ourselves fully anyhow if one of us is miserable. And it’s not fun much if we can’t tease you for a day—“
Ryunosuke turned towards Takeru in alarm. “Tono! How could you—” he whined as he started to cry. Genta, ignorant of what happened between the five; called out for them as he placed the cooked meat onto separate plates...
Kusakabe Hikoma chuckled in amusement as the Kuroko cleaned up the lawn and the leftover trash. It had been such an enjoyable evening. In fact, if he had any say in this, he would say that it had been like this ever since the four kids had joined the household. Five, if he should count Genta. Honestly, this had all been such a good change for his young master. He would never think it could happen before... that child after all, having to bear such heavy responsibilities. It warmed his heart to see Lord Takeru so happy...
Hikoma chuckled again as he glanced towards the corridors.
Mako and Kotoha had already retired to their rooms after the barbecue ended and Genta back to his place. So now, it was just this three. He smiled as he watched his young charges sleeping.
At that corner of the corridor, young master Takeru was currently resting his head on Ryunosuke’s arm as Chiaki’s legs were sprawled between the two. Too much sake, he chuckled. The three of them had fell asleep right after they managed to clean up most of the stuffs, before they started running around later. Such adorable children...
“Nyaa... Tono. Stop... the vege shouldn’t... the meat shouldn’t go there...” Jii glanced towards Ryunosuke, amused. He started talking about some other random babble as Chiaki kicked Ryunosuke’s head.
“No more cookie...” Chiaki moaned as Takeru started hugging Ryunosuke’s arm protectively, mumbling something about not letting a squid monster to take away his kitten. (When did Tono have a kitten anyway?, Jii wondered in glee.) He laughed some more as Takeru started talking about eating an ice cream.
Still smiling, Hikoma gently shook the three awake and ushered them towards their rooms...