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How Bad Can it Be?

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To get good at any skill one has to practice. It wasn’t as if anyone got good at singing, dancing, or martial arts overnight. People had to work hard to hone a skill. Cooking was a skill just like any other, right? Tetora just figured he needed to work harder at it and maybe find a really good teacher. Any time he had mentioned it to Taichou or Taishou he was immediately told no. How unfair it was that the two of them were close and Chiaki had to go and run his mouth to Kuro about how he had blown up an oven once during Chocofes. It wasn’t like he made a habit of blowing up ovens. He had managed to use the electric kettle correctly after all, hadn’t he? 

 

He knew that among one of the new groups as ES was Niki’s Kitchen. So far as he knew no one in the group knew about his horrible cooking skills and he was certain Shiina-senpai would be a good teacher. Afterall, lots of the idols at ES had his cooking before since he worked at the cafeteria there. Even Tetora had a few dishes and it was always amazing. Certainly someone who was so well known for cooking, enough to even have his own circle would make a great teacher! Tetora just had to catch Shiina after his cooking lessons to ask for one on one lessons. 

 

Seeing as how Tetora was close with Hiiro he was able to learn from the younger brother that the elder brother knew when the circle was meeting up cause it meant he could bother ‘Niki-kyun’. Locating the correct place and time was easy. Tetora could see inside the room, Shiina was talking with Saegusa and Kanzaki while Sena and Fushimi were working on the finishing touches of some sort of fancy looking pastry before putting it into the refrigerator. 

 

Tetora was too nervous to just enter when everyone seemed so engrossed. Instead he got on his phone to check social media and waited for them to finish up. It wasn’t more than five minutes or so before everyone started to leave. Tetora quickly returned his phone to his pocket and called out to Shiina. “E-excuse me, Shiina-senpai? Can I borrow you for a moment?” Tetora asked, still a little nervous, what if his poor cooking skills really was a well known fact and even Shiina would consider him a lost cause?! 

 

“Hm?” Niki paused glancing back to see the young man and trying to place who he was while waving off the rest of his circle. “You’re black right? Ryusei black?” Niki couldn’t remember the kids actual name but he had been one of the kids that showed up when Rinne was running amok. What little Niki did know about him was that he seemed really earnest. 

 

“Yeah! You remembered me!” Tetora was grinning widely, he had at least managed to make some kind of impression it seemed. “Ryusei Black, Nagumo Tetora! Ah, but I’m also Ryusei Red at school but you can just call me Tetora. No one really calls me Black or Ryusei Black aside from Taichou.” he explained while laughing lightly. 

 

“Noted.” Niki smiled easily, leaning back on his heels. “So what can I do for you, Tetora-kun?” 

 

“Well, you see, I’m not the best cook but I’ve heard that you’re like a mega super amazing culinary master and I was hoping you could teach me how to cook better!” 

 

Ah, he really was so earnest and it was also really enduring to hear someone praise Niki so highly even if it was all in service of getting his aid. “If that’s the case you can join Niki's Kitchen? We’re always making something together. Sometimes we even make sweets for the Sweets Fan Club. It’s the least I can do since Kohaku-kun and HiMERU-kun are involved. You’re one of Hiiro-kun’s friends right? I’d be happy to help you out.” 

 

“Oh, uh, well you see.” Tetora fidgeted. “I don’t really know how well that would work. I know it’s a lot to ask but I was hoping for some uuuhhh hands on one on one learning? My cooking is, uh, really bad.” he laughed nervous. He was not gonna mention the oven. “I burn all the meat I cook. Baked goods too. I recently figured out how to work an electric kettle though so I figured now was a good time to improve!”

 

“You what?” Niki gaped, all one had to do was follow a recipe, how could one kid really be that bad? Perhaps no one had ever taught him properly? He seemed like a good kid and probably had his parents making all his food. Niki had only gotten good at it from repeatedly having to make all of his own things. “Okay, I guess it wouldn’t hurt since I’m cooking whenever I’m not busy with idol practices. Here, I’ll give you my e-mail and we can work out when we’re both free for lessons, okay?” Niki offered before handing over his phone so Tetora can put in his contact information. 

 

“Thank you very much, Shiina-sensei! I won’t let you regret this! Ossu!” Tetora handed the phone back and was about to run off when Niki spoke again. 

 

“Hey, Tetora-kun, why the desire to get good at cooking? Most guys are okay with just ordering food or hoping they get a girlfriend that will be good at it.” 

 

Tetora turned back around grinning from ear to ear. “My girlfriend is a great cook but she spoils me way too much. I wanna become a good chef so I can spoil her too. I want to be able to care for her. That’s what a good man tries to do right? I wanna be the manliest man of all so that means I gotta be able to provide for my girl.” he explained. 

 

“Ah, I see,” What a strange child. “Well, I guess I’ll see you for lessons.” Niki waved him off. Niki suddenly felt very tired and wondered if he signed up for a hassle. It seemed like a good idea, it meant he got to cook more, but he was suddenly worried if Tetora really was that bad and how well he could be taught. Well. He seemed like a hard working kid and Niki was confident in his own cooking so certainly this would be fine. 

 


 

The first lesson hadn’t gone that well. Niki figured it would be best to learn Tetora’s current cooking level. Something simple. All Tetora had to do was make white rice and a hard boiled egg. The rice had been given too much water and turned into a soupy rice mess while the egg had been over cooked and offered a sulfur like odor and Niki wouldn’t eat either of them and quickly disposed of the wasted food. Tetora’s excuse was that it was hard to focus on the rice and egg when it was ‘boring’ and not ‘cool’ and ‘manly’ like cooking meat. There was no way Niki was letting Tetora graduate to cooking meat. 

 

The second lesson consisted of no actual cooking and just Niki teaching Tetora the basics. What utensils were called, what they were used for, how to check to see if the water was boiling, turning the oven and stove on and off, where the fire extinguisher was, and most importantly introducing him to the measuring cups. If nothing else perhaps Tetora could make rice if he knew how much water to put in. It was boring not being allowed to cook but Tetora did his best to still pay close attention. 

 

The third lesson was Niki cooking with Tetora aiding him. Tetora’s job was primarily to watch and see how Niki did things. Tetora measured out the water and poured it into the pot. Niki told him how much to get and then told him how much rice to pour out. Niki added the rice and did all of the cooking while Tetora watched and asked questions while Niki instructed him. 

 

The fourth lesson consisted of the same set up but Niki stood to the side and allowed Tetora to measure everything. He got all the ratios correct and seemed to be cooking the rice correctly until the pot boiled over due to Tetora putting it on too high of a flame. Niki explained to him again that having a high flame didn’t mean it would cook faster and would just cause a mess. They tried again but this time Tetora cooked the rice too long in the water and it turned into mush. 

 

By their fifth lesson Niki had learned enough about Tetora to more or less guess at the problems. He wanted things fast but he was also bored easily. Stirring a pot and focusing on something to make sure it didn’t burn wasn’t something he was good at. He had also mentioned during their first lesson that he knew how to use an electric kettle. It didn’t take too big of a leap for Niki to go from electric kettle or electric rice cooker. There was no open flame involved, no stirring, and Tetora could get bored and walk away from the cooker without fear or burning or fire because it automatically turned off when it was done. 

 

Niki explained all of this to him while showing him how to work the cooker. Measuring out the rice like they had before, washing it, adding it to the pan and then adding the water. Niki made sure to have a handy cheat sheet attached to the rice cooker with how much water to add depending on which type of rice was being used. Once everything was in the pan they put the lid on and clicked the switch to turn it on. 

 

For their sixth lesson it was time for Tetora to try using the rice cooker on his own with only Niki there to guide and make sure nothing went wrong. During the time that the rice was cooking Niki told Tetora about how cospro had gone to the same amusement park that it seemed Tetora had gone to with his girlfriend and some of his friends. It would stop being summer soon and things would start moving to fall type activities. 

 

“Hehe, I’m actually pretty excited for it to get cooler out. Ara-chan doesn’t like the cold so I’m hoping we get to cuddle under the blankets together and have a lot of a hot coco.” Tetora explained. That was something Niki had become very well aware of. Tetora was the type of guy that never managed to stop gushing about his girlfriend. If it wasn’t ‘ara-chan’ this it was all about his unitmates or his ‘taishou’. 

 

“Huh, I guess sickenly cute couples like that really do exist.” Niki remarked, playing with the ends of his ponytail and thinking about how when he was cold Rinne would just offer to do ‘something’ to warm him up. Niki would smack him and pull on a sweater instead and watch as Rinne pouted as Niki put on more layers. 

 

“You think we’re sickenly cute?” Tetora asked but his tone was excited. “Midori-kun says the same thing. Hehe, it’s nice to think we’re ‘goals’. Ara-chan uses that hashtag a lot whenever we take selfies together.” 

 

“Eh?! You post about your relationship? Isn’t that like an idol taboo?” Niki wasn’t much of an idol but even he knew that anything he and Rinne had was supposed to be subtle. The most they could do was let their fans think it was skinship. 

 

“Hm? Well, yes and no. We leave it ambiguous?” he offered with a shrug. “Like we call each other sweetie and honey but we never call each other boyfriend or girlfriend in public. Right now some fans speculate that we’re actually dating but a lot of our fans think that we’re just really close friends. Ara-chan says that it’s fine this way and none of the higher ups have told us it’s a problem. Personally I wish I could shout to the world that I love Ara-chan and that I wanna become the best man ever to be worthy of her!” Tetora expressed, getting excited again before laughing. “But I know as an idol I need to be seen as ‘attainable’ to my female fans, though since Ryuseitai mainly caters to kids I don’t think we have that issue so much.” 

 

That was true, Ryuseitai didn’t have a big girl fan base that wanted to get with them. Crazy:B certainly had some crazy female fans. If Niki had to guess then Knights would likely be the same. They had that princely aesthetic that young girls seemed to like. “Well, at least you seem happy.” he chuckled. “Arashi-chan is lucky to have such a kind hearted boyfriend. You even decided to learn to cook better for her right?” 

 

“Yup! Ara-chan is the best. She’s really kind and loving and always there for her juniors and her seniors and heck even her peers. She’s just really really amazing and charming and wonderful.” Tetora sighed happily. 

 

“So this is what they mean when someone says they’re whipped.” Niki commented with a nod before getting up before Tetora could remark. “The switch on the rice popped up, time to see if you made something edible.” 

 

Tetora was nervous, he had done everything right so far as he knew but he still wasn’t sure if he’d actually manage to cook something. It wasn’t like rice was exciting but it was a start. Opening the lid he scooped some out into a bowl. It was pleasantly sticky, not too hard or too soft, it was warm without being burnt. He got a passing mark! 

 

“Wanna learn something else too?” Niki asked as he grabbed some parchment paper. “You said your girlfriend likes cute things right? Well, we made sticky rice which means you can mold it into rice balls or even other rice shapes.” Niki explained as he fished out some rice and within a minute or so he managed to produce a rabbit like shape. “You can use seaweed and sauces to add features and coloring.” he explained. 

 

The next half an hour passed with the two of them making different shaped rice balls. When they were finished Tetora hurried back to his dorm. His lessons with Niki were far from over but he finally had something to show for all of his hard work. 

 

Entering his dorm he saw Arashi at her desk working on what looked like homework. He slid up behind her, pulling out one of her ear buds before presenting a kitten faced rice ball to her when she turned around. 

 

“Did you make this?!” Arashi gasped, turning around completely to face her boyfriend. 

 

“Sure did, do you like it?” He asked as he placed the plate of animal themed rice balls on her desk for her to enjoy. 

 

“They certainly look cute.” she giggled as she took the cat one. Giving him a nervous glance before taking a bite. Tetora’s cooking in the past had been horrendous. This was edible. A little bland since there was no seasoning but he was edible. It was an improvement. “Full marks?” she teased after finishing the rice ball. 

 

“Full marks?” he asked back leaning in closer. 

 

“Yup~” she chimed before leaning up to give him a quick kiss. “Now shoo so I can finish this assignment or Kunugi-sensei will have me write a report on why it was late and I can’t very well tell him it’s because my boyfriend finally cooked something good enough for human consumption.” she teased him and gave him a ‘shoo shoo’ gesture before grabbing another rice ball and going back to writing out her essay. 

 

Tetora was on cloud nine. He pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of Arashi eating his rice balls. He made sure to share it with his unit chat but also posted it to his social media with the following tags; goals, cute rice balls, brain food, most beautiful woman in the world, and most important person to me. 

Chapter Text

"Absolutely not." 

 

"But Aniki," 

 

"No, no, and no." Niki insisted while refusing to look at Tetora's broken hearted puppy dog eyes. It was harder to deny him when he was really playing up the part of being a devoted mentee. Niki was really kicking his past self for thinking it was a good idea to teach Tetora how to cook before consulting with his unitmates. "According to Morisawa-kun the last time you tried to bake anything you blew up an oven." 

 

"That was only once!" Tetora protested while holding the box of cake mix close to his chest. "Please, please, please. Just one Halloween cake. I wanna share it with Ara-chan, Hinata-kun, Midori-kun, and Shinobu-kun." 

 

"Just buy one." Even as he said the words he felt himself groan internally. Buying premade food wasn't the same as making it yourself and it seemed Tetora already knew that cause he was quick to shoot back. 

 

"Food tastes better when you make it yourself with love." He expressed with a confident huff. 

 

"Urgh, fine, fine." Niki sighed before snatching the cake mix and pushing it to the side. "I'll get everything together. You're allowed to mix it and then I'll put it in the oven. Got it?"

 

"Yes! Ossu! Baking with Aniki!" Tetora cheered while he got down the mixing bowls and measuring supplies for him. 

 

Thankfully cooking was Niki's happy place. Baking was closer enough. It was certainly something he was good at but baking was more of an exact science whereas cooking was more like art. He got a lot more free reign to add and take away things when he cooked. Thankfully having a strict recipe to follow was good for Tetora who still didn't understand that a 'pinch' of salt didn't mean throwing the whole container on it. Niki patiently pointed out what they needed to be measured and would let Tetora try first before correcting him if needed. The boy certainly needed to be taught the proper way to crack open an egg. Eventually they got everything together and Tetora was allowed to mix the batter together under the careful eye of the head chef. When he went too fast and some batter began to slatter Niki told him that it was better to be slow and precise instead of quick and messy. 

 

"Quick and precise. That kinda makes it sound like doing martial arts. You gotta be really focused and careful. If you go in head first you can easily get unbalanced. Taishou tells me all the time to be more mindful." 

 

"Hmm, the same is true here. It's always better to be more thoughtful." 

 

Niki poured the batter into the pans before setting it into the oven. 

 

"Hey, Aniki. Wouldn't the cake be done faster if we cooked it at twice the degrees and half the wait time?" he mused. 

 

"No!" Niki yelled louder than he had meant. He could picture Tetora in his stupid nativity doing that too. No wonder he had blown up an oven! Tetora had mentioned watching his show as a kid, had Tetora learned nothing about cooking during all that time! He knew all the catchphrases and the opening and closing jingle but didn't even know the basics of cooking. How bad could one person truly be at cooking? "Doing that will just burn the cake and destroy the oven." he explained and set the time to thirty minutes. "You just have to be patience. Why not try meditating or something while we wait?" 

 

"I guess cooking and baking is a lot about waiting." Tetora sighed and plopped himself in a chair and placed his chin in his hands. 

 

"You said you wanted to make this a Halloween cake right? We can make some decorations and frosting for the cake while we wait?" Niki offered to which Tetora's eyes lit up. Niki went on to explain that the cake would have to cook first so they could make the decorations today and tonight when the cake had cooled off from baking they could decorate it. Decorating seemed like something Tetora could do without issues.

 


 

 

"It's...." Shinobu was at a loss of words. 

 

"Colorful?" Arashi offered with a gentle smile. 

 

Hinata laughed lightly, even he wasn't sure how describe Tetora's strange food. "It's unique?"

 

"Is it poisoned?" Midori wondered while looking at the strange mix of colors that was Tetora's 'cake'. 

 

"Of course not! Aniki helped me make it!" He chimed with a large grin as he started to cut up pieces for his closest friends. 

 

"If Shiina-senpai made it than it at least has to be edible." Hinata offered before taking a hesitant bite. "Hm, it looks kinda strange but it actually tastes really good." 

 

"I guess you can't judge by appearances. Ritsu-chan makes some very strange looking cakes too but they always taste amazing." Arashi explained as she took her own bite. 

 

"What's it supposed to be anyway?" Midori asked while still poking at it. 

 

"Well I wanted to includes things that everyone likes so I got some little pumpkins, ninja stars, teal and pink stars, black cats, and a bunch of other stuff and then I wanted to make it Halloween like so I covered it in black frosting." Tetora explained looking proud of himself. 

 

"Well, it tastes good and you went out of your way to make this for us right? It's wonderful." Arashi of course was always willing to encourage and support Tetora in his attempts to be a better cook. 

 

"Hehe, next time I'll see if Aniki let's me do it all by myself. " 

 

Midori and Shinobu who had been there during the blown up oven incident turned to him with a panicked, "No!"