2013-10-18 - "So if it's not my cooking, you'd rather just starve?"
|"So if it's not my cooking, you'd rather just starve?"|
Mai comes back home after a long day to discover Mikoto faint from hunger. She uses the power of food to convince her to go to school properly. The power of food is like the power of friendship, right?
Yamanote High City - Ohtori Academy, Dormitories
| OOC - IC Date:|
10/18/2013 - 10/06/2013
'School' is weird! Weird! No one's tried to take Miroku from her, but they keep making her do weird things with numbers and asking her things about dead people. And no one -- no one -- has seen Mikoto Minagi's brother.
She's pretty sure this is the land of Fuuka... she wouldn't be fooled, would she? Fooled into entering an arena of pointlessness and people who want you to write with pencils instead of brushes?! ... no. Absolutely not.
She thought she smelled him, but the trail went no-where. She met a cat! The cat had also not seen her brother. She was just looking for food. And so Mikoto went looking for food with the cat. They didn't find any food, but they did find another cat! And that's the story of how Mikoto spent all afternoon climbing trees and missing the second half of classes for the day.
Finally, with no shred of evidence as to her Lord Brother, Mikoto retired back to Mai's home.
And waited some more.
Mai will come home to find the door unlocked and the lights out, with the sword propped up against her bed being the only clue as to Mikoto's presence.
It's later than Mai's usual return time when keys finally jangle outside the door. There's a brief fumbling, then a click, and the door opens to admit the room's other denizen. Mai Tokiha is - while not quite staggering - visibly worn out by her day.
Mai doesn't seem to notice the state of the room upon first entering - her right hand cradles her forehead, even as the left fumbles with keys. "What a day...sorry I'm late, work ran late and then the bus lines were jam-packed. Apparently some jewelry store decided today would be a great day to hold a seventy-percent-off sale. I don't know about you, Mikoto, but that seems kind of..."
"...Mikoto?" Mai finally looks up when she remains untackled. A darkened room, an abandoned sword - what's going on?
The darkened room is still. There's no hint of a struggle, no hint of anything being wrong. The beds are made, there's nothing out of place. The exceedingly heavy claymore Mikoto calls 'Miroku' leans against what is ostensibly her bed, despite the fact that she always seems to gravitate over to latch onto Mai every night. The girl couldn't have left -- she's never let that sword out her sight. She wouldn't start now, would she?
The window curtains flutter in the breeze. Perhaps someone lured her out with cake? What if it's a predator who sneaks onto school grounds and preys on innocent girls--?!
The sound of an empty, rumbling stomach dispels any questions as to whether Mikoto has been stolen away. It also gives away her location: fallen off the side of the bed, face-down on the floor, completely limp.
"Mikoto!" Mai rushes over in a hurry - her roommate could be injured, could be ill, could be...hungry? After a moment's inspection to make sure nothing worse has transpired in her absence, Mai rises to switch on the lights.
With the flick of a switch, fluorescent bulbs flicker to life, illuminating the shared dorm room. Once some light has been cast on the situation, Mai kneels by Mikoto's side with a sigh. "...Mikoto? Did you happen to remember to eat anything today?"
As if on cue, Mai's own stomach growls - a long day hasn't exactly left much time to eat for her. But that's different. It's not as big a problem for her, the feral girl is still young and needs her nutrients to grow up right!
Mikoto can barely flop her head towards Mai as she inspects her. She looks absolutely dazed, barely able to murmur the cause of her distress. "H... hungry..."
The lights hurt her eyes when they're turned on -- did she collapse before the sun went down?! -- and she blinks heavily. She doesn't move, but when Mai kneels next to her, she looks up at the older girl with big gold eyes. With a weak and shaking hand, she latches onto Mai's skirt. "Mai food," she insists in a wavering voice, and then more insistently: "... I want Mai food!"
Mai sighs, and stands up, pulling Mikoto up with her. She leads the younger girl over to a nearby bed to seat her upon, admonishing as she goes. "So if it's not my cooking, you'd rather just starve? You can't do that, Mikoto! Growing girls have to eat if they want to stay healthy!"
Still...Mai is hungry too, so it can't hurt to make something for supper - even as tired as she is. Once Mikoto has been led to the bed, Mai starts to make her way over to the kitchenette. "Couldn't you have found the cafeteria?"
Mikoto, despite being terrifyingly strong, weighs about as much as a wet paper bag. It's not difficult to reposition her, especially with her pitifully empty stomach. "Nuh," she huffs, grabbing a pillow once she's on the bed and hugging it to her. Somehow, the edge of said pillow ends up being gnawed between her little Mikoto teeth. It was plainly obvious to her why she wanted Mai's food over everyone else's... Mai's food was so much better than everyone else's! And the yens she needed for cafeteria food were confusing. Besides, she knew Mai would come home, so she wasn't going to starve.
But Mikoto explains none of this. Instead, she just insists, "no, I want MAI food." Her weary, hunger-stricken eyes follow Mai as she heads towards the kitchenette, and her nose does much the same.
"I swear, I have no idea how you even survived before..." Mai mutters to herself as she pulls out the rice cooker, swiftly filling and starting it with practiced ease. In fairness, Mai has a tendency to avoid the cafeteria - buying the ingredients herself and cooking them tends to be cheaper, anyway. As for better...
In any event, the rice will be a few minutes cooking - she really needs to invest in a slow-cooker to more easily have food ready after a long day. Though perhaps that would be unwise with a Mikoto in the same room...
Mai rummages around for a pan, pondering. "Mikoto, what do you think about stir-fry? I can have that ready in..." A quick glance to the rice cooker. "...twelve minutes. Can you hold out that long?"
Mikoto knows how she survived before. Her grandpa took care of her! But she's mum on the subject of her secrets, instead just flopping forward against the pillow. Sniff, sniff. She can smell the food which Mai is preparing. It's good food. She knew Mai would be back and make food. Mai's food is great!
The grin which spreads over Mikoto's face is inarguably food-related.
"Stir-fry..." Mikoto repeats, as if testing the words out in her mouth. "Mai stir-fry..." Twelve minutes is a long time, but she has faith in Mai's food. Mikoto nods, nibbling on the edge of the pillow again. "Yup." Thus begins the longest twelve minutes of Mikoto's life.
The refrigerator still has a couple of cuts of meat from this week's sale - Mai adds a dash of oil to the pan to begin heating, then sets out the red cutting board. Given how hungry Mikoto is liable to be, and in the futile hopes of having some sort of leftovers...the cook takes out all the meat, and starts talking while she slices it into thin strips.
"So, if you weren't eating at all today, what exactly were you doing?" Two more cuts to get the pieces into the right shape - that should do the trick. Knife and board go to one side, and a green board and second knife are set out - cross-contaminant food poisoning being the way to ruin an already stressful day. There's still half a bell pepper, and onions are cheap enough....
"Looking for Lord Brother," Mikoto answers, a little muffled by her pillow. By the tired little huff, it's evident she didn't -find- him, but she gets off of that subject soon enough as she adds: "and I met cats. We had fun! Big trees here."
Suspicious, isn't it, how she didn't mention school anywhere there?
In the time it takes Mikoto to complete this brief description of her day, Mai's already started slicing the first of three onions. Which sauce should be used with this? Probably best to avoid something spicy at this hour, and at this time of year.
...suspicious, yes. Something was missing there. "And how was school? Have you settled into your classes yet?" A glance at the cooker - still ten minutes left.
It would, indeed, be best to avoid spiciness. Mai's seen a little of how Mikoto reacts to spicy food. She's very sensitive to it!
"School is good," Mikoto nods, "nice grass, good trees. I found good places to settle! Lots of sun, really nice." She seems entirely content in her answer. Is she avoiding the question...? And how many classes has she even attended?!
That is, in fact, what Mai would like to know as the rapidly chops the onion into rings. "Yes, you've mentioned the trees, Mikoto." Onion done, start on another - the knife is nearly a blur to most eyes. Though perhaps Mikoto's won't be so easily fooled.
"But what about your classes? Are you getting along with your classmates?" Another glance at the timer - probably enough time to finish slicing the pepper before she needs to start cooking the meat.
Sniff sniff. Mikoto can easily see what Mai is doing to those poor vegetables, but she chooses to trust in the power of the Tokiha when it comes to dinner. Besides... if Mikoto tried to cut up an onion, she'd probably use Miroku, and that would be a bad time for everyone.
"Class...?" Mikoto sighs, flopping against her pillow. "Oh. It's weird. No brushes. Too many numbers. And dead people. I don't really care."
"Mikoto..." That's it for the onion - the pepper's already had the seeds removed, being leftovers, so it's easy to slice into thin strips. Mai's grip on her knife is a good bit tighter than it really should be, though. "You need to go to class! That's the whole point of going to school!"
...oops. Might have sliced that too thinly - if she adds them too early, they'll practically liquify. But if she adds them at the end, the flavor will be harsher. What to do?...not let Mikoto dodge the issue, that's what. "What were you thinking?!"
"Nuh," Mikoto shakes her head. "Gotta find Lord Brother. School's just here." Sniff, sniff. Mikoto glances over at the food to check on how it's going... only to see Mai's tense grip on her knife. Mikoto frowns, tugging on the edge of the pillow with her teeth. Is going to class important to Mai..? Her thought process spills out as Mai demands to know, as transparent as glass. "Will Mai be sad if I don't go?"
Mikoto likes Mai being happy, and Mai doesn't sound happy. It's a problem.
Oh dear. Mikoto's voice there sounded... Mai's done chopping anyway, the knife can be put down. "It's...education is important, Mikoto! If you don't go to class, you're just hurting yourself..." A glance to the timer - the meat needs to start cooking, regardless of what she decides to do about the pepper.
With a deft motion, Mai slides the sliced meat into the pan, and lets it start sizzling away. She's got a minute while it starts searing, and she takes advantage of this to approach the girl for a hug. "I'm just worried about you is all."
"I'm educated!" Mikoto huffs, momentarily offended. "I can do everything I need to do." Maybe she went to Susanoo's School For Super Swordsmen or something, because if she did, that would be an absolutely valid statement. But the fact remains that subtraction is very difficult. And that Mai just sounds worried about her.
Mikoto lets go of her huffiness as Mai scoops her up, latching onto the older girl, not unlike a barnacle. "If Mai is worried, I'll go. So don't worry, Mai!" ... doesn't Mikoto realise how awkward it is for her face to be -there-...? She doesn't seem to, as she looks up with an insistent tone and an uncertain expression. "Don't worry, 'kay?"
Mai smiles warmly at Mikoto, and ruffles the younger girl's hair with one hand. "Thank you, Mikoto. I'll try not to - but if you're having trouble, make sure to let me know, okay?" She squeezes Mikoto one more time, and then goes to continue cooking...
...or rather, she would if not for the clinging Mikoto. "I...do need to get back to cooking, you know."
Mikoto nods in response to Mai's question with an affirmative grunt. She can surely survive against these classes, but she's equally sure that Mai knows what she's doing! She seems to have been going to them for a long time. She guesses that Mai traded family education for school education? City people sure are weird.
Of course, she doesn't let go. Once Mai brings up her problem, Mikoto blinks up at her. Oh! She releases Mai from her grip, flopping back down against the bed. "Mai," she implores, "food soon?"
Mai quickly checks on the pan, giving it a shake to flip the pieces of meat, and takes a glance at the rice cooker. "Five minutes, Mikoto." The onions go into the pan, and Mai quickly washes her hands while she thinks about how to salvage things. A sauce that would go well with raw bell pepper - perhaps a sweet vinaigrette would work.
Next implements: bowl and whisk. A few drops of honey, some rice vinegar, a dash of dried cilantro...it's dribs and drabs, but Mai is able to whip together a sweet-smelling sauce while the onions sizzle away. "Almost ready, Mikoto - could you grab some plates and chopsticks for us?"
Five minutes? More like a LIFETIME, Mai! Mikoto stretches out on the bed, her stomach rumbling in protest again. For those few, torturous moments, she is alone in her hunger. It mounts on her mind again, reminding her that it never truly left. She's hungry. She's huuungry!! She's--
--being asked to set the table. "Yup!" Mikoto chirps, pushing herself up and onto her feet in one smooth movement. She scurries to the kitchenette, gravitating to the cupboard with the cutlery inside; once plates and chopsticks are retrieved, she puts them down somewhere Mai-convenient. And stares at Mai as she prepares the food. If she watches a pot, won't it boil faster?!
In this case, it almost might. The sauce is in the pan by the time Mikoto's done retrieving cutlery, and there's a sweet tangy smell from the sizzling stir-fry. Rather than waste time getting a spoon, Mai just gives the pan a few deft flicks to toss the ingredients together.
"Almost ready, Mikoto - make sure you wash your hands before we eat." It's important. Mikoto's likely to eat with her hands anyway. Mai watches to make sure Mikoto follows instruction while she adds the thin pepper slices for the last minute of cooking.
Mai is so cool! She can make food look exciting AND taste delicious!! Mikoto's eyes widen as she sniffs the wonderful sniffs. It looks so good~!
Unfortunately, Mikoto is not allowed to watch the food forever. Mai tasks her with washing her hands, and so Mikoto goes to the sink and turns on the cold water. For a moment she stares at it, poking at the stream of water -- faucets never fail to entertain her, with their magical summoning of water from far below and their sage ability to heat it when you turn one of the handles -- but then she gets down to business, soaping up her hands and washing both soap and dirt down the drain. She turns off the water, and turns back to the food. Is it finally, finally done?!
Oh rapturous joy - Mai has opened the rice cooker, and is dishing out a serving onto each plate! While a rice bowl would normally be more appropriate than a place, she has a plan - using the lumped rice as a bed for helpings of tangy-sweet stir-fry. In a matter of seconds, two generous helpings of supper have been dished out.
"Supper's ready, Mikoto!" May inhales through her nose - good, it smells like the sauce and bell pepper have worked well together. Hopefully it tastes all right...
"Ooooh...!" Mikoto stares at the rice as it becomes a host for stir-fry, grin spreading over her features. She sits herself down at the table with the food, staring at it as if it were the philosopher's stone itself. Mai can transmute ingredients into delicious!!!
Her staring contest with her plate doesn't last long. Clasping her hands together, Mikoto declares, "Thanks for the food!" -- and then her chopsticks are taken up, and her hands become a blur as they begin transferring the food from her plate to her stomach by way of her mouth. Mikoto sure is a fast eater... but she seems to be enjoying every moment of it.
A warm smile settles on Mai's face. Takumi was never this appreciative of her cooking while she was learning - and as fun as cooking is in and of itself, watching Mikoto happily dig in is an even better feeling. By the time Mai recovers from the sight, completes her pre-meal ritual, and takes two bites...it's already time to refill Mikoto's plate.
"It's not too spicy, right?" Mai scoops another lump of rice onto Mikoto's place, and pours another helping of saucy meat and vegetable on top of it. Bell peppers usually aren't too spicy, and cooking them for a minute should have dulled what tang there was, but Mai does worry at times...
Mikoto happily holds out her plate, pausing to lick her lips as Mai asks her question. She considers the exact taste metric, puzzling for a moment. "Spicy? This is spicy?... not like spicy I've tasted. Oh! I know!" Mikoto brightens as the answer occurs to her. "Mai's sauce makes it good!" Once her serving has been appropriately served, Mikoto pulls her plate back to herself and nods. "Yup, good."
And then the food magically begins vanishing again. Wanna see a magic trick? Mikoto will make your meal... disappear!
It is incredibly difficult to worry in the face of such enthusiasm - so Mai doesn't even try. She digs into her meal as well - the short-grain rice clumping together well in tandem with the sticky sauce. Pepper slices have softened enough that they can be wound around everything else, onion and meat cooked just right, and the green peppers plus the sauce give the whole thing a sweet-tangy flavor with just a hint of kick....
Not bad for leftovers and twelve minutes.
Once she's finished her first helping - and Mikoto probably wrapping up her second - Mai puts her chopsticks to one side of the plate. "We're not eating everything tonight, Mikoto. I made extra so you could have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch." If the girl's that determined to eat only Mai's food, then that's frankly the only solution.
...this might be enabling her, but the alternative is to let someone under Mai Tokiha's care go hungry during the day. Not happening.
Mikoto does indeed finish off her second helping! Mai gives her a heart attack with the first sentence she speaks, only to revive her with the second. "For lunch?", she asks, staring at the remaining food. Mai will give her food which she can eat... during the day?!
The implications of this world-shattering event sink in, and Mikoto grins. "Mai! You good person!" Now she won't have to worry about collapsing in the middle of her daily search!
(No, she isn't, but it's nice of Mikoto to say so...)
"Just make sure you go to class, okay? These are bento boxes for school - if you don't go to school, you don't get them." It might be harsh, but Mai can be firm. Mostly. Unless Mikoto does the whole kitten-eyes thing and then Mai's going to wind up feeding her regardless but maybe this bluff can work.
Mai claps her hands and bows to the pan to signify she's done - she did take a big first helping - and goes to dig out a couple of bento boxes. A...fairly sizeable one for Mikoto, and a smaller one for Mai herself. Though with only the stir-fry and rice... "I'm afraid these ones won't be as well-designed as I might like - once I get a chance to go shopping for proper ingredients, I can do better."
Mikoto grunts as she considers the implications. Bento box for school. If she doesn't go to school, no bento. And she has to go to class too. "But I get them if I go to class?", she asks, staring at the boxes Mai pulls out. If that's how it works... and if going to class will make Mai happy, too... "Okay!" That was easy.
She continues watching Mai intently. "It's Mai food," she says, "so it's good!" This reassurance may mean much less with the realisation that Mikoto probably doesn't know anything about the art of bento boxes, but... at least Mikoto appreciates Mai's cooking?
That was easy. But the pact is settled! Mai does do what she can with the bentos - making a hole in the rice to hold the stir-fry. A bit of deft work with chopsticks, and the sauce should settle in a circle - with extra rice marking a smiley face in the middle. Even after filling both bentos, though, there's still food left over.
"Okay, that's set!" Lids on the boxes, boxes in the fridge. "Do you want any more, Mikoto? Anything left over I'll put in the fridge - if you get hungry while I'm not here, you can heat some up for a snack tomorrow evening."
Despite the fact that food now is always superior to food later, Mikoto is starting to realise that Mai goes out for a long time sometimes. After a moment of consideration, she shakes her head. "I'm full now! Thank you, Mai!" Mikoto skitters over to Mai's position, and wraps herself around her waist like the most affectionate kitten in the universe. She grins up at her, and asserts: "Mai's food is the best!"
Doesn't she know that flattery won't get her any more food? ... actually, she seems entirely genuine.
Mikoto is full? That's...actually surprising. And then Mai gets grabbed in a hug, and...honestly that's her limit for getting things done today, the dishes can wait for morning. Or at least later this evening. She had classes, and work, and a conversation with the manager of the trust, and...she's earned a few minutes' break, right?
...maybe. But she's tired, and...frankly one of the beds isn't too far away, so she just falls back onto it, Mikoto wrapped around her. "I'm glad you like it, Mikoto." A smile for her...roommate? Friend? Responsibility? Fellow HiME?
A smile for Mikoto. And Mai closes her eyes to just relax for a minute. Just one minute, that's all she needs.
Mikoto isn't going to unlatch from Mai for something as simple as falling! Besides, there's a bed right there, so it's fine. "Yup!" Mikoto just sort of nuzzles in against Mai, the kind person who cooks good food, and...
... look, Mikoto has no illusions about 'doing things'. She's comfortable and actually in the same bed as Mai to start for once. She closes her eyes, and sleep comes soon after, as Miroku's case glints in the moonlight at the foot of the bed.