Final going away lessons

Unmei and Kun go shopping in preparation of her soon leaving the ECFH. While looking through the food, they meet Mikoto!

Date: 2017-08-12
Pose Count: 23
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 01:41:00 81392
Unmei Tama hummed as she stared at the two brands. "Well... this chicken is cheaper and easier to cook. But... ummmm..." She then looked at the other bag. "This... one has almost twice as much. Right? And it's not that much more. I get almost twice as much for the money. And it's harder to cook, but once I thaw it, I can just cut it up into thin strips like the other stuff, right? So I just... defrost what I need, then leave the rest in the freezer. Right?" she asked, glancing to Kun.

She'd grown up a LOT since they met. She was even able to eat soft foods now! She still had trouble with like... puddings and stuff like that. Stuff that was kind of... gummy or like frosting. But she could eat chicken and even had some soup a few times. She liked soup. She was in way better shape. She had a bit of meat on her bones, but not too much. She didn't bother them nearly as much to come help her. And she had even been the one to broach about moving out! Well, sorta. Kun had brought it up. But she had talked to her girl friend about it before he'd mentioned it, she'd just been looking for the right time.

School was still a bit nerve racking, but there hadn't been any incidents. In fact, Pin and her sister in law had been... quiet. Very quiet. As far as she could tell, there hadn't even been any attacks!

Granted, in total mahou fashion, stuff was going on in the background. The protagonists just never saw it, since they always happened to turn a corner right before the villain came walking out. Dun dun duuuuuun.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 01:54:31 81393
There are always attacks. Kazuo doesn't tend to mention them, per se -- no 'I ran into Sayaka and we took out a couple of groups of Wraiths,' no 'so Alexis broke Lacrima's brother's nose' -- but there are days when there are complete strangers turning up in the middle of the night, or at breakfast.

There are days when there are /batches/ of them.

He hasn't heard of Pin-related attacks, either, though. That undoubtedly worries him.

Unmei making chicken no longer worries him. She's had half a year of food safety lessons; she's probably safer cooking the stuff than the parents of half the people he knows. Even the endless lure of convenience to teenagers, she's more likely to be able to resist.

That may possibly put her ahead of most of his housemates. See also: what Nephrite once did because he wanted a slushie. (Better not to ask.)

"Right," Kazuo confirms to Unmei, in the mean time. "You can pay for the labor in time, and do the work yourself; or you can pay for the labor in money, and have it already done. Which is better for you will change from occasion to occasion. But for a while, you're likely to have more time available than money."
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 02:07:04 81394
"Old saying... time is money." Enh. Cliche. But Mikoto's in a good mood for what seems to be the first time in a few weeks, ever since some sort of rain-cloud spirit started harassing her. There's no sign of it now, whatever it was seems to be gone. And she's out shopping, perhaps to cook something special for herself and Hikari. And anyone else who might show up. Or not. No, Mikoto, don't think about it, you'll just get grumpy again.

Think about the new girl hanging out with Kun instead. Cute, at least, and the shiny blue hair is an interesting highlight. A chicken fan by the look of her. Well, that's okay. Mikoto's getting fish. Fresh salmon.

"Never mind that, though. Hello, Kun, hello, new person. Gorgeous day, isn't it?" She flashes one of her trademark wide, warm smiles, and leans casually against a shelf. "Been a while, neighbor."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 02:11:49 81396
Unmei Tama nodded. "Right." She didn't mention that, technically, since she wasn't paying for any of this, she had lots more money than time. Nope. She then sighed. "Not like I have any magical business or... anything to deal with. I've got lots of time..." She did notice that people came by from time to time. She was always friendly, or tried to stay out of the way. But other than that, she didn't mention it much.

Didn't mention how they were all working so hard. How they were saving the world or making it a better place. Mention how, at best, she'd done nothing but make things worse and become a drain on everyone around her. At worst, a threat who had, on multiple occasions, endangered all of their lives.

No, instead she tried to be helpful, clean up a lot(she didn't touch the bathroom. Four boys. NOT happening. She didn't care how much she owed them. It. Wasn't. Enough.) She'd even cooked a few meals and left them out for them. It was pretty obvious who cooked them, too. Her food was good, but plain. It didn't look good, kinda... all the foods would blur together. And often mostly vegetables. But it still ended up tasting decent, sometimes even really good. And more importantly, it was already made so they didn't have to do any of the work. And it would be pretty obvious that she, well.... liked it when they ate her food. It made her feel useful. Like she was helping.

She was also being smarter, too. She didn't bottle up her worries anymore. She tried not to bother mamoru much. But Kun likely got an ear ful at least once a week as she had a panic over something or another. But then, multiple times a week, she'd ask him for advice, or help with a project, or tips on how to do something. She... was growing. Quite nicely. She was very polite, a lot less frantic and worried. She was helping, actually contributing to the house hold(albeit not financially.) She was getting pretty good grades now(considering her rocky start, it was a toss up if she was doing better because she was smart, or if it was her magic helping her to learn faster, or what. But she was, all around, doing quite well for herself thanks to them. Considering the frightened, terrified, broken child they brought in and rescued so long ago, she was almost a completely different girl now.

She chose the more, harder to make chicken, placing it in the cart, before walking a bit and... "Okay, so I want to make a stew, so the vegetables for it, I should get fresh. But I should get some frozen, so I can make it later without them going bad, right?"

And then a new girl! She yelped and lifted her arms up as if to protect herself... then lowered them. "Oh! Err! Hi! It's... nice to meet you. Miss. I'm, um, Unmei. Nice to meet you." She folded her hands and bowed politely. She was still a tiny, itty bit nervous around new people. But hey, she hadn't actually screamed when someone walked up to her in months.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 02:27:35 81397
They may be using someone else's money, but there is a budget applied all the same, so money isn't unlimited. As for working hard -- they've had that conversation before, Unmei and Kazuo. About the way that everyone who lives there, except Mamoru and maybe the fox, is doing the same work she is: trying to do better, one way or another. Trying to get other people what they need to be able to do more.

They each try to the extent they can. Saburo -- Jadeite -- isn't generally expected to do much of anything but pick up after himself, and he forgets that often enough. Nephrite's 'job' is as much keeping up the others' spirits as anything else. Unmei cleans, and cooks, and goes to therapy sessions official and unofficial, and doing her homework and asking for help count as contributing as much as anything else does.

(Kazuo is best not used as a yardstick. Some of the others make a habit of annoying him into stopping working and going to lurk in his room, and that habit's a contribution, too.)

"Frozen vegetables are an option," Kazuo agrees. "But freezer space is also always limited, and some vegetables don't freeze well, or last a long time without it. So there are advantages to both choices." He plays cart-escort --

-- and pauses, turning to regard Mikoto for a moment. It takes that moment, and another one; then it clicks, and he bows to her somewhat more deeply than might be expected for a chance encounter in a supermarket.

"Been quite a while," he says. "Forgive me, please; I forget what you prefer to be called." Or, also possible, he's never actually known it. They've met in these guises, but not in situations that allowed for all that much in the way of introduction.

Unmei's lack of screaming is undoubtedly highly appreciated, therefore. Look! A new chance!
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 02:39:43 81398
Mikoto, still smiling, offers Unmei a nod. "Pleasure to meet you, Unmei-san. It's always pleasant to meet some of my friends' good friends." She waves one hand casually, the other occupied with her shopping basket. "Chicken stew, hmm? Good luck with that, it can be really tasty if done well."

She pauses and looks at the shelf for a moment, then picks out a pair of pre-packed chicken breasts and adds them to her cart. (Not that she's aware of the subtext, but Hikari has been known to leave a mess as well... and Mikoto certainly doesn't have the time to spare to keep the lab clean. Somehow they manage, between them.)

She returns "Kazuo"s bow, and answers. "Well, it's not like it's a huge secret anymore. Call me Mikoto." She pauses for a moment, and then adds, "I don't think I ever got your own preference there, either." Meeting in civilian identity for the first time. How convenient.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 02:45:30 81399
Unmei Tama nodded, smiling to Kun. She really was doing better. And she was trying, too. She failed a lot. But she really was trying her hardest to be useful to all of them. To not fail. She'd probably done it more times than she liked to admit. But she really, really, really was doing a LOT better.

Her eyes then widened. "Wait, you called him Kun! That must mean you're one of the..." She tensed up. She hadn't seen this girl at the house before. Her eyes widened. Wait, was this woman part of Eclipse? Was she a threat?! Her eyes turned to Kun and he could see the panic beginning to boil up within. The fear. The worry.

But then she quickly got it under control and smiled. Kun didn't get protective of her. That meant she was likely NOT a threat. "Nice to meet you, Miko!" Ah, yes. Unmei's tradition of shortening everyone's name continues. Luckily she hasn't angered anyone with that. Yet.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 02:54:14 81400
"Naru always introduces me to people that way," Kazuo says to Unmei, a casual aside. "And she knows a ridiculous number of people. So it means less than you might think." When he glances away again after, though, he keeps Unmei in the edge of his vision, monitoring absently for ay resurgence of that panic.

He reorients on Mikoto after, and just barely restrains the urge to bow again. Nodding. Nodding works. "Kazuo Takeba," he replies. Presumably he doesn't intend to demand all six syllables every time. Also presumably he's not worried about any close family, if he's giving the surname. "And Unmei introduced herself. She's only begun learning to cook in the last few months, but for that, she's doing quite well."
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 03:02:30 81401
Mikoto nods. "Pleasure to meet you, Takeba-san." She adjusts the weight of her basket and gives Unmei a quick glance. Calling her 'Miko'... well, that might confuse some people who don't know her. At least she doesn't dress like one.

"Good on you, it must be hell keeping up with the appetites of that lot." She waves a hand casually at Kazuo to indicate who she means. "If that's who you're cooking for, stew's a good idea, and it keeps fairly well, too. If they leave any of it."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 03:11:47 81403
Unmei Tama blinked a few times, then shook her head. "Oh! No! I mean, they do. But... but that's fine. I mean, they pay for all the food. Really, I'm just kind of a mooch on them and... and I'm just grateful they let me do anything there. At all. I mean. It's not like I'm really contributing much. A meal here and there. And I can only even do that because Kun has spent so much time teaching me. Honestly, I'm really bad even that that. I'm not even that good when I do cook. I mean, if you've met Mako? She is like, a billion times better at cooking than I'd ever be. Ever hope to be. But. But I am getting better. I even made a cake! I couldn't stomach it though. But. But they said it was good!"

Oh yeah, she was definitely nervous. But hey, she hadn't punched the girl in the nose and run off screaming. So, progress!
Kunzite 2017-08-12 03:18:38 81404
"Unmei," Kazuo says, and the name by itself means that Unmei has a good idea of what's coming next. He keeps it short, though. "If you were bad at it, we wouldn't let you use the kitchen." He considers that, and adds, "We don't let half of us use the kitchen."

He leaves it at that, for the most part, since Unmei's doing more talking than they need for the both of them. And glances idly over Mikoto's basket and the visible content thereof. Whatever sharpens his attention there, it doesn't change his expression, and he doesn't lean or stare or try to pry further.
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 03:27:02 81405
Mikoto mms. "Unmei-san... Mako, if it's the one I'm thinking of, is 'a billion times better' than just about everyone I know. I've met professional chefs that would be honored to have her in their kitchens." Okay, so even Makoto might not be quite Iron Chef material, but she's still Darn Good, and Mikoto knows it.

"And he has a point, you know. Don't get discouraged by not being as good as her, just keep getting better and learn from her." Her basket contains a good mix of fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread, and now chicken. And some hot peppers, and honey.

She adds, "In my experience, you can trust this guy about most everything. So believe him when he says you're not horrible."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 03:30:54 81406
Unmei Tama turned red and glanced down. "W-well, I ummm... I mean... I..." she whispered, her cheeks getting even redder. "S-sorry. I didn't mean to... you... really think I'm okay then?" she asked softly, a smile forming on her lips. Awwwww. She loved it when he flattered her. Namely because she actually BELIEVED him when he talked about her.

"Yeah. He... he really is amazing and honest and kind," she mumbled. "Really a helpful guy. Kind of like a..." She trailed off and glanced towards him again, her cheeks burning. "So how did you meet him? Through Naru?" she asked, quickly changing the subject.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 03:36:32 81407
"The presentation of your food could use some work," Kazuo says to Unmei, straightforward, "and there are things you have yet to learn about combining texture and color, but those are usually more advanced topics. You've reached a point at which what you make reliably tastes good. That puts you ahead of most people." How to explain that? Ah. Right. Where she went to school, there are certain useful legends. "Consider cafeteria food, for instance."

He glances between Mikoto and Unmei when they start talking about him, and apparently finds something that needs close examination a couple of meters that way. Mikoto has salmon. Maybe salmon would be interesting. Very.
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 03:40:14 81408
It's somewhat fortunate for Kazuo that Mikoto isn't looking for a new boyfriend at the moment, perhaps. "Mmm, no, not through Naru, although I have met her. We met on ... other business." She isn't going to name names, not wanting to drag Ikiko and Ayana into Unmei's business unless the girl already knows them.

She does, however, nod in agreement with his asessment. "Taste is criteria number one when it comes to judging food, you know. If it doesn't taste good... doesn't matter how good it looks." She shrugs. "Once you've got that - and it sounds like you do - the rest is just, pardon, gravy."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 03:48:01 81409
Unmei Tama nodded, glancing to him. She sighed. "I really don't see much of the point of making the food look pretty, though. I mean, err, I'm sure, err, for those who care, it does. But, I mean... it's just food. It goes inside you and then, that's it. Even if it looks pretty, when you're done, the plates are just as dirty." She blinked. She shuddered. "Well, yeah. But I think the quality of the food I have access to is far better. Ugh, mom used to make me take these old bologna and mayonaise sandwiches to school. You know what happens to that kind of sandwich on a hot, summer day? I mean, the school lunches were awful but it really wasn't much, if any, better. At least the pizza looked... okay ,the pizza was nasty. But hot dogs! Who doesn't like hot dogs? I LOVE hot dogs! Well. Loved. Now they make me kind of ill and..." She trailed off and eeped. "S-sorry!"
Kunzite 2017-08-12 03:55:49 81410
That topic is safe enough to win his attention back from fish. "A ragged T-shirt and an evening gown are both clothing," Kazuo says to Unmei. "They both do the job of covering you, to a certain extent, and both do about as well at keeping you warm. But one will likely make you feel better than the other." Which it is, granted, depends on the individual. "The appearance of food becomes another way of enhancing the flavor, just as the appearance of clothing becomes another way of enhancing the wearer's confidence. We live with all of our senses, all the while; it isn't obligatory to entertain more than one of them at once, or strictly speaking even one, but it can be pleasant."

A lingering pause. "And I believe what happens to that kind of sandwich on a hot day is normally referred to as 'food poisoning.'" Possibly also true of the pizza. The hot dogs are merely likely slow toxins. "Thus my point and also Mikoto's, though. Those people are literally paid to cook; it's their job. You do better than they did."
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 04:01:31 81411
Mikoto can't argue with Kazuo here. For one it would destroy the poor girl's confidence. For another, she doesn't disagree with him. "Appearance is one of those things where you can really let your imagination run wild, too. Think about fashion designers, and how they come up with new dresses... then consider what you can make a meal look like. Sure, chicken stew is pretty, well, stew-ish, but if you make a rabbit out of sticky rice and have it sitting in the bowl, that's nice and cute."

... a rabbit in the stew bowl. Wow, what imagery there.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 04:08:16 81412
Unmei Tama blinked a few times and nodded. A look of determination covered her face and she looked down at the cart. "R-right. So... appearance matters. Too. I got it. And..." She trailed off. She then shook her head. "Right! I actually know a few more things we'll need to get, then..." Oh dear. She was up to something. It...

Actually, it'd probably be fine. Her 'up to somethings' tended to be relatively tame. The biggest one she'd done to date was end up surprising them when she added rice to a stew. So she was hardly a loose cannon. Now, if it was usagi who was doing it... be afraid. Be very afraid. But cute lil innocent unmei? They'd be fiiiiiine.

"Can you teach me how to make sticky rice, Kun?" She knew how to make normal rice so.... probably not hard.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 04:12:33 81413
She's not Jadeite. She's not Nephrite. Kazuo reminds himself of this firmly, and nods to the 'few more things.' The followup question, though -- he glances to Mikoto, then to Unmei. "Yes," he says. "I won't have time right away, but soon."

Say, sometime when they're cooking in her new kitchen. No stewing rabbits in Mamoru's.
Mikoto Nakajima 2017-08-12 04:23:44 81414
Mikoto nods and smiles a gentle smile. "Good, see? Now, just let your imagination run wild. Look at some food magazines, see how other people present their dishes, that'll give you ideas." And if she drives them insane in the process, that's not her problem, is it?

"It's been great meeting you both, but I should be heading out... don't want to let the salmon get too much time off the ice before I start working it." It's a maxim with fish: The fresher it is, the better. And in a port city like Tokyo you can get it really, really fresh. And every hour counts.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-12 04:28:00 81415
Unmei Tama nodded. "Okay! It was great meeting you!" she said before waving. She then reached out to grab Kun's hand, but then paused. Right. No touching. Sometimes she forgot, but she WAS getting better. Though sometimes she did need hugs from him. Sigh. The problems with kind of being a caretaker to an over emotional and confused teenage girl. "Come on! I have a few ideas! And... and I think I wanna try something new, too!"

Oh boy. Something new. Well... at least she was working really hard to make the food tasty. And often succeeding.
Kunzite 2017-08-12 04:30:55 81417
"So should we. I imagine I'll already have to take these back while Unmei deals with her budgeting exercise at our last stop." Kazuo bows to Mikoto, steady and straightforward. "Thank you for your suggestions."

He has not mentioned the existence of a 'last stop' to Unmei. Buying meat is always their last stop.

Of course, in this case, the 'budgeting exercise' is 'OSA-P's monthly sale is this afternoon, and Unmei is a girl who owns virtually no jewelry, and Kazuo has calmly set aside a certain amount of cash to fix this before her housewarming.' Enough for a reasonable amount of the cheap jewelry that the monthly sale features, or a piece or two of something better. She'll find that out shortly.

In the mean time, he follows her to find out what 'something new' is, and whether it will be an object of interest or of dread. No teenager actually needs evil magic to inspire dread...