Flipping through the channels, Rio sigh and looks over at Kotori, who’s watching the tv blink quietly, humming a little to herself.
“I’m bored,” Rio sighs again, blowing her bangs out of her face loudly.
“What do you want to do?” Kotori yawns, twisting her legs into a pretzel and brushing some hair behind her ear. She studies Rio for a second, “Want to watch a movie?”
“No,” Rio breathes out.
“Shopping?” Kotori’s not really in the mood to go out, she’s still in her pajamas from their sleepover last night and doesn’t want to shower or get dressed, but she will if it’ll make Rio happy.
Rio thinks for a moment before shaking her head, “I can tell you don’t want to.”
Kotori laughs a little, and turns back to the television suddenly, “Hey, wait, go back.”
“What?” Rio asks, flipping back one channel.
“One more time.”
Rio clicks the button again and sees a heated battle of Iron Chef come into focus, “Do you want to watch this or…?” Kotori catches Rio’s eye and there’s an undeniable a sparkle that she knows too well.
“I can’t believe we haven’t had an Iron Chef competition yet,” Rio says, nodding her head as she makes her decision. Standing up quickly and offering her hand to Kotori, she grunts exaggeratedly as she helps pull the other girl off the couch.
Kotori rolls her eyes a little at Rio’s little gesture before ignoring it altogether.
Rio straightened up and asks, “Should we go look for a secret ingredient?”
“No! It’s not a secret if we pick it.”
Kotori has a point. “Okay, we’ll ask Ryouga and then he and Yuma can judge.”
“Sounds great!” Kotori says, slipping her arm through Rio’s and following her through the house to find the boys.
“Are you guys ready?” Yuma practically yells in excitement while Ryouga holds a bowl over the secret ingredient, looking much less than amused.
“If it’s tomatoes you’re going down,” Kotori says to Rio as she twists her hair into a bun. She’s wearing what she assumes to be Shark’s apron, while Rio is wearing her own.
“You wouldn’t pick tomatoes, would you?” Rio asks Yuma, who wrinkles his nose in disgust. Rio’s so excited for this that it’s kind of ridiculous; she even got out the chef hats for them to put on.
“No, the secret ingredient is not tomatos. Now, are you two ready or what?”
“Yes,” they respond in unison, eyeing each other before breaking into grins and turning towards Ryouga and the secret ingredient.
“The secret ingredient iiiiis…” Yuma pauses for dramatic effect and Rio starts a drumroll on the countertop, “Chocolate chips!” He elbows Ryouga in the ribs, who flinches and rolls his eyes, before lifting the bowl to reveal four giant bags of chocolate chips.
“Chocolate chips?” Rio raises her eyebrows. She was kind of hoping for something weird or difficult to prepare like earthworms or eel.
“Hey, it’s not my fault we have ten bags of these things because you were going to bake chocolate chip cookies for everyone for the holidays but ended up making sugar cookies instead,” Ryouga shrugged, opening a cabinet and putting the bowl away.
Ignoring him, Yuma sets a timer and looks at the girls intensely. “Okay, you have two hours to make three dishes and anything you can find in the kitchen and pantry! Shark and I will award points like in the TV show!”
“And you have to do the dishes after,” Ryouga added.
“Of course,” Rio agrees, nodding. She’s practically bouncing on the balls of her feet and Kotori can see her going through a bunch of different recipes in her head.
“And, go!” Yuma lets the dial on the timer go, watching with interest for a few seconds before following Ryouga out of the kitchen.
As they start rummaging through the cabinets and refrigerator for ingredients, Kotori decides she’ll make chocolate chips cookies (a classic, but something she can nail and spice up with cinnamon), homemade hot chocolate, and a chocolate sauce she saw on tv once to put over noodles (she isn’t sure she really knows how to make it, but she’ll give it a go; she doesn’t want to seem completely uncreative).
Looking at everything she has on the counter, she starts measuring out the ingredients for the cookies: sugar, brown sugar, flour- the basics. “Hey Rio, you want to turn on the radio?”
“So you can sabotage my stuff?” Rio asks, sticking her tongue out at Kotori. She has the muffin tray in front of her and is separating out star-patterned muffin linings in the cups.
“No, so we have something to listen to,” Kotori laughs at her, biting her lips as she tries to decide how much cinnamon she actually wants in her cookies.
“Okay, but only because I trust you.” Kotori can hear Rio laughing she walks over to the stereo. A moment later music is floating through the room and Rio is running back to her preparation area. “Better?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Kotori’s cookies are in the oven, and she’s trying to be very stealthy about the chocolate sauce, but it isn’t working very well. Finally giving in, she bites her lips and asks, “Rio, if you were making a chocolate sauce to go over noodles, what would you put in it? Hypothetically.”
“Hypothetically,” Rio begins, looking at Kotori with one raised eyebrow, “I would put some sort of hot sauce in it and maybe prepare some kind of meat to go with the noodles, too.”
“Hmm,” Kotori muses over the advice. The meat definitely isn’t a bad idea, and hot sauce goes well with just about everything, “How much time do we have left?”
Rio glances at the timer, “About an hour and a half.”
“Cool,” Kotori begins to look through the cabinets for spices. She should have paid more attention to the recipe when she’d seen it on tv instead of thinking about how cool it was.
She finally thinks she has something figured out (she’s not sure it’ll actually work, but at least she’s not going to stand there looking at a bag of chocolate chips doing nothing) when Rio flicks some flour at her.
“Thank you, but I don’t need a thickening ingredient,” Kotori says, sticking her tongue out.
“Carbs make you happy,” Rio throws some more flour at Kotori, “When are your cookies going to be done? I need to put my cupcakes in.”
“Maybe, like, twenty minutes?”
This time Kotori sees her grab the flour, so she ducks behind the island to hide.
She waits for a moment, but when she pops back up Rio’s right across the island, invading her designated preparation area and throwing a handful of flour right into her face, causing Kotori to sputter, cough and blink a few times. “Rio!?”
“You look adorable,” Rio says, reaching across the island to pinch Kotori’s cheek.
Cheeks flushing noticeably, Kotori turns away and takes two steaks out of the fridge. As she waits for the grill pan to heat up, Kotori runs over to Rio, who’s rolling out some puff pastries from a can, and grabs a handful of flour. Standing on her tip-toes, Kotori dumps it on Rio’s head.
“Oh, this is war!” Rio shouts, reaching for the flour and tossing some back at Kotori.
Shrieking, Kotori grabs two large handfuls of flour and drops them into one of her bowls so she can have her own stash. She ducks behind the island with her bowl, peaking over the counter to watch Rio carefully. Rio throws a handful of flour at her and she ducks completely to avoid it.
A few minutes later and flour coats the countertops, but the girls haven’t escaped cleanly either. They’re both laughing loudly; Rio’s giggling and tossing weak handfuls of flour in Kotori’s direction and Kotori’s given up entirely, having run out of her stash.
“You’re cleaning this up,” Kotori manages to breathe out.
“You started it.”
Rio rolls her eyes and smiles widely, suddenly noticing the song on the radio, “Wanna dance?”
Kotori takes a few deeps breaths so she can calm down enough to hear the soft melody floating into the kitchen. Nodding her head, she glides over to Rio, putting one hand on her shoulder, lacing her fingers through Rio’s.
“Why do I have to lead?” Rio asks, situating her hand on Kotori’s waist anyway.
“Because you’re taller,” Kotori smiles brightly up at Rio as they twirl around the kitchen. Her socks are perfect for sliding around the flour-coated floor, and Rio’s humming along to the music in a way that makes Kotori feel giddy.
When the song ends, it’s replaced by a fast paced one that makes them both laugh and spin around in circles while waving their arms above their heads. Kotori’s singing at the top of her lungs and Rio’s laughter bubbles through the song in this way that reminds Kotori of how her chest feels right now.
Grabbing Kotori by the hand, Rio twirls her around the kitchen until Kotori feels dizzy and is laughing so hard her sides ache. Leaning back against the counter, Kotori smiles, hearing the timer for her cookies beep. “How much time to do we have?” she asks.
“Oh shit! One hour,” Rio covers her mouth quickly before taking Kotori’s cookies out of the oven and putting her muffins in.
“We can do it,” Kotori says, conjuring up her Kattobingu spirit and putting her steaks on the grill pan and trying to focus on cooking and not the flour dust that’s clinging to her eyelashes.
“So who won?” Rio asks as Yuma and Ryouga finish trying the last of the food.
“It’s a tie,” Ryouga says, looking down at the scoring sheet.
“Really? Are you sure you did it right?” Rio leans over, trying to get a look at it. “You hated my chocolate noodles as much as you hated Rio’s turkey chocolate puff pastry sandwiches?”
“They were both amazing,” Yuma says through his still full mouth.
“I guess that’s fair,” Rio laughs and bends down to put her chin on Ryouga’s head, wrapping her arms around him despite his scowling face, “Thanks for judging you guys, this was really fun!”
“Get off me,” Ryouga blushes a bit but makes no move to remove her arms, “Now clean, the kitchen is disgusting.”
“Okay,” Rio follows Kotori into the kitchen, leaning against the counter, “Nice job.”
“You too,” Kotori says, shaking Rio’s hand before piling dishes into the sink.
“Wanna do a rematch later?” Rio asks. She grabs a washcloth and starts to wipe some of the flour off the counters.
“Duh,” Rio laughs, deliberately bumping into Kotori as she goes to grab the broom. “And what was wrong with my turkey chocolate puff pastry sandwiches?”
Kotori giggles quietly, “you couldn’t think of a more creative name for them?”
“Steak and noodles with chocolate sauce is not much better.”
Kotori plans different things she could make for the rematch as she cleans, wracking her brain and vowing to surf the internet for ideas, “Hey, maybe we could plan the rematch ahead of time and get the whole numbers club to come over and judge it.”
“Sounds perfect,” Rio says, sweeping a pile of flour into the dustpan.
“Perfect,” Kotori repeats, staring at the smudges of flour still on Rio’s face.
Yeah, Kotori thinks, Perfect is the right word.