"Okay Coach, are you ready?"
Every member of the basketball team lined themselves up on the counter across from Riko, their forks and knives held up as they anxiously awaited their coach's death cooking.
"Leave it to me!" He words were meant to be reassuring. But to the Seirin boys, they only sounded threatening.
Mia sat on top of the large counter with her legs crossed beneath her. Staring at the female coach as she produced chopping sounds behind the piles of food in front of her, the first year continued to wonder why everyone was so nervous.
'She's cooking normally isn't she?'
"What's up with this 'Taste Testing'?" Furihata whispered to the seniors next to him. Mia's blue eyes wondered from Riko to the board behind her as she read, in big white letters, 'Training Camp Taste Testing'. It was truly something to ponder about once everyone started filing into the Home Economics room.
"It's just a cover up." Hyuga answered "We can't just tell her up front that she sucks. We'll taste it and then give her some advice so that she can improve."
The sight of Riko dumping in whole vegetables into the large pot in front of her made Mia wonder if anybody will be capable of speaking after eating.
'Maybe I should tell her.' The ebony haired girl thought 'Or at least warn everyone.'
"By the way, can you cook?" Furihata continued to ask, trying to avoid having to watch Riko cook.
"I think the best one is probably Mitobe." Izuki said "What about you, Kuroko?"
"No one can make a meaner boiled egg than me." The phantom man answered confidently.
"It's true. I've tried them before." Mia joined in. She couldn't resist.
"Oh yeah! What about you Mia-san?" Teppei-nii questioned from her left "You're a female too. Do you have any experience with cooking?"
Hearing that they may have a ray of hope for them after all, ever member immediately whipped their heads in Mia's direction, making the girl laugh nervously at their piercing gazes.
"I'm not bad at cooking as long as I have a recipe." She admitted, rubbing the back of her head "But it's not like I can cook anything from leftovers or something."
"Ha! Amateur." Kagami laughed behind her, crossing his arms in front of him as he looked ahead in triumph.
"What are you all talking about?" Riko's voice suddenly called, making everyone freeze in fear "The first dish is already done! It's curry!"
Plates of food were distributed out to all team members, including Mia. Although their coach looked at them expectantly, they all kept their heads up, refusing to look down at what was going to kill them.
Eventually though, they knew that they had to face the obstacle before them. Slowly, each male looked down at their own plate, hoping, for even a little bit, that Aida Riko's cooking actually look edible.
Whole vegetables. Meat that did not look cooked. Whole vegetables. Yellow rice. WHOLE VEGETABLES!
'THIS IS CURRY?!'
"Why are all of these uncut?!"
"What was all those chopping sounds before?"
"Are we sure this is curry?!"
"Just ignore the presentation. It tastes fine!" Riko said "It's just curry."
"I don't even think it's curry anymore." Mia mumbled, continuously twisting her spoon in the dish. She received a few nods of agreement from Kagami and Kuroko who were the only people to hear her.
"Well, then thank you for the meal." Everyone said. Picking up their spoons, they all lifted food into their mouths.
'THIS TASTES SO GROSS!'
"Teppei-nii!" Mia cried when Kiyoshi fell off the seat next to her, obviously dead. Ignoring her own dish (which she was glad not to have taken a bite out of yet), she rushed over to the fallen warrior and grabbed his shoulders.
"Hang in there, Teppei-nii!" The girl shouted as she shook Kiyoshi back and forth, trying to get a response out of him "You can't die yet! Not when you still owe me money from when you made me buy you candy after practice that one time!"
"I'm sorry, Mia." Kuroko moaned behind her. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the teal haired teen bend over with his knees on the ground. Leaning on the stool for support, he covered his mouth in an attempt to not hurl out the mouthful of food he was still chewing.
"I can't continue like this."
"I can't believe it was this bad!" Kagami spoke, setting his plate of food back on the counter as he tried to swallow "The rice is like porridge. The vegetables are crisp like a salad. The meat is fucking raw! And somehow she managed to make the sauce all sour and bitter!"
Listening to the redhead's critique, Mia stood up and patted his back as he was the only one willing enough to say what was wrong out loud. She then looked back at her own plate of food which seemed to have transformed into the face of a demon, laughing at her maniacally as it waited to slowly kill her as well.
"This is genocide to our gustative nerves!" Mia concluded. She didn't need to make any calculations for that.
"Just say if you want any seconds!" Riko said cheerfully, stirring the left overs in the large pot.
'She made more?!' Mia screeched in her head. Just to be sure that she was safe from any harm, the raven head moved away several steps from the counter of doom.
'Not only that, but did she just completely ignore the fact that she may have killed Teppei-nii?!'
Looking around hoping that somebody would tell Riko to change the way she made food, Mia noticed that all the second years were continuing to slowly chew their meal. Thinking that all of them were afraid that they would hurt her (and how most of the first years had already passed out), the manager-to-be stood up a little straighter and marched over to the coach.
"Uh…Riko-senpai?" Mia began, getting the coach's attention. It seemed like she managed to grab the attention of everyone else at the counter as they all whipped their heads in her direction with wide eyes. It was even harder for them to swallow as they realized what she was going to do.
"Yes, Takagi-san?" Riko answered, wiping her hands on her apron. Takagi saw how the coach's fingers were scattered with bandages, each digit holding at least two. Seeing that made it even harder for the girl as she cursed her observation skills.
As the two females stood in front of one another, the younger one rubbing the back of her head as she tried to piece together what she wanted to say, Hyuga glanced over at Riko's hands and noticed the small bandages as well. Realization hitting him, his narrowed his eyes at his dish.
"Umm…" Deep blue eyes avoided light brown ones as Mia felt even more afraid and guilty about what she was going to say.
"…I guess the food…wasn't that good, huh?" Riko said before the taller female could finish her sentence. Immediately, Mia waved her hands in front of her as she tried to find words to make it sound more like a 'Let's try again!' instead of a 'Please stop cooking!'
"Uh no! I mean….ummm…so I guess you could…umm…."
"EH?!" Several masculine voices said in unison, catching Riko and Mia off guard as they turned to see what the ruckus was about.
The female coach's eyes widened in surprise as she watched her captain, Hyuga rapidly eat her horribly version of curry. Her cheeks were dusted pink as he paused in the middle of his consumption to look up at her face in determination before continuing his self-forced torture.
Meanwhile, behind Riko, Mia's eyes widened and her hands were placed on her cheeks in horror, the girl mentally screaming bloody murder as she watched her senpai eat.
"Thanks for the food." Hyuga said calmly, standing up from his seat and walking towards the door of the Home Economics room "It was good, but a bit too spicy. I'm going to get something to drink."
Closing the door behind him, everyone (including the still petrified Mia) looked on in shock. No one really knew what to say after what just happened.
"It had a special taste, but that's okay." Kiyoshi piped up suddenly, taking seconds from the large pot "All that matters is that you put in the most important thing in cooking. And that's love."
'Teppei-nii, you're alive!' Mia mentally cheered, ignoring the weird stares from Kagami and Kuroko as they watched her fawn over her senpai. However, all three first years looked at each other as they came up with the same thought simultaneously.
'But that was so cheesy.'
"You may have prepared it wrong at some point." Kiyoshi continued "How about you try again?"
"…okay!" Riko said sheepishly, but happy that she had boys who cared about her.
"I'm going to go check on Hyuga." Izuki announced as everyone cleaned up their plates. Sliding open the door, the Eagle Eye holder was only gone for ten seconds before everyone heard the horror that came after it.
'Rest in peace, Hyuga-Captain.' Mia thought, putting her hands together in a pose similar to praying.
Taking away the last of the plates, Riko and Kiyoshi smiled at one another before the giant slammed his hand down on the counter in front of the other men after the coach turned her back.
"Does anyone know how to teach her how to cook?" He asked, large beads of sweat dripping off his face like mini waterfalls.
"Hey, Kiyoshi! You're producing some kind of weird sweat!" Koga exclaimed, worried for everyone's safety.
"Teppei-nii, you just died. I don't think helping yourself to a second serving was a good idea." Mia stated, patted the giant's back gently as he groaned.
"What about Mito-!"
Looking over at the silent man everyone called 'Mitobe' Mia's face grimaced. Not only Hyuga, but it seemed like they had lost Mitobe as well.
"Mia, what are you doing?" Kuroko asked beside her, startling the female as she just realized his presence.
"Eh? I'm praying for our teammate's safety up in heaven." She replied, her hands together once more.
Everyone began to freak out as the decision of who would be forced to teach Riko in the art of cooking drew near. From the second years stating none of them can cook to the first years who have to little experience to teach, teaching the coach seemed like an impossible task to accomplish.
That is until…
"Hey can I use the leftovers here?"
Looking back at one of the many stoves in the Home Ec room, the Seirin basketball team watched in astonishment as their redheaded ace, Kagami Taiga began frying up some vegetables as well has quickly cooking up some meat. Watching as the food was repeatedly flipped in the large pan, everyone's mouths began to drool.
"Here." Kagami said, placing a finished portion of food on the counter as well as some rice from Riko's left over meal.
"Woah! That looks so good!" Koganei cried out in joy "I'm gonna try some."
"It's so good!"
"Kagami you cook?!"
"Yeah, well I do live alone after all."
"WHAT!? You live alone?!" Mia shouted in surprised, startling the tall player beside her.
"And you actually cook every single night?!"
"Well I try to make enough portions to last me several nights. But other than that, yeah." Noticing her overly exaggerated expression, Kagami looked down at the girl in slight astonishment. "Why? Don't you?"
It was a simple question with a simple answer. Unfortunately for her, Mia didn't like either one.
"O-Of course I do!" She lied placing her hands on her hips.
"Cup noodles don't count."
"God damn it!"
It seemed like the atmosphere in the classroom had lightened up after the initial shock that Kagami Taiga can actually cook. In fact, it seemed like the horrible nightmare of having to eat Aida Riko's cooking never even happened.
Watching the group of happy males before her, Riko took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Looking ahead, she walked over to the table and over to the tiger himself who was happily chowing down on a large portion of rice.
"Kagami-kun." She said "I never thought I would ask this of you…but, please teach me how to make curry!"
"I don't mind." Kagami answered as he wiped off excess rice from his face "But, I'm a strict teacher."
For the first time in their lives, the basketball team saw a ray of hope for their coach's cooking.
It was a miracle.
Chopped vegetables. Cooked meat. Chopped vegetables. White rice. CHOPPED VEGETABLES!
The plates before them actually held curry that, for once, looked like real curry!
"Wow! This looks awesome!"
"This is perfect curry!"
"This time it's good!" Riko said confidently "Try it!"
"Thanks for the food!" Everyone cheered happily, lifting their spoons to their mouths as they took their first bite.
If only it was that easy.
'WHAT THE HELL?!' They all thought, pained expressions of disgust on their faces.
"No way! WHY?!" Riko cried
"That's what we would like to know." Mia said, slowly chewing her food. It was the first time she has ever tried her coach's cooking and she had to say, it was pretty damn horrible.
'At least it's edible this time.' She thought, chewing on the cooked meat. 'But how it tastes so damn bad is beyond me.'
"Kagami, didn't you make this together?!" Koga asked the teen next sitting next to Mia.
"Yeah! I even tasted it too!" He defended, just as puzzled as everyone else.
"Then why?!" Mia questioned as well.
"I have no clue."
Everyone looked at their coach with pity in their eyes.
"She sucks so bad at cooking that it crosses the boundary of human logic."
"If you think about it that's pretty amazing!"
"This is delicious!"
The sudden praise for Riko's food caught everyone's attention. Look all the way at the end of the counter, everyone saw as Kuroko ate the curry with a look of bliss on his face. Well, they at least hoped it was a look of bliss on his face.
"You don't have to force yourself, Kuroko!" Koga said.
"No, it really does taste good."
Realizing what may have happened, Kiyoshi walked over to the invisible man, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Kuroko, could it be that you served yourself?"
"Yes, since I was forgotten."
'Tetsuya!' Mia thought sadly as she looked at her friend with tears in her eyes.
"Mia, why are you crying?"
"I honestly don't know." She answered, really confused as to why she was suddenly getting moisture in her eyes.
"It may be the food." Kagami suggested.
"That wouldn't surprise me."
Before the female coach could yell at the trio for being so damn rude, she was stopped by the center of the team.
"Riko, could you serve it again?" Kiyoshi asked, holding her shoulders.
"Huh? Yeah, I guess." The coach mumbled, still upset "First I put down some rice. And then, before I put the sauce on…"
Everyone watched as she began sprinkling a mysterious powder on top of the rice to add more flavor.
"Woah! So she's been adding cheese?" Koga said out loud "That's some serious cookin-!"
"Wait! What is that!?"
Startled by the basketball player's shouting, Riko stopped adding in the curry sauce and looked at her team in confusion.
"What you ask? It's just some proteins and vitamin powder."
Looking down at the plate of rice, everyone saw how the powder had turned the plate of food into a yellow color instead of the normal white.
"SO THAT'S WHY!"
"Just curry has no balance." Riko tried to explain, waving her hands to try and calm everyone down.
"Then just add a salad!" Mia exclaimed "Don't just add that stuff in! You'll kill everyone!"
It took another several minutes to convince Riko of her mistakes and to not add in her protein goods on top of the white rice. After a third serving to everyone, the basketball team quickly stuffed their faces with their third first bite.
"It's normal!" Everyone sighed in relief, finally able to enjoy their plate of curry.
"Then say it's delicious!"
And with that, the coach's cooking leveled up.
Just a little…
"Okay it's done! Next dish is a hotpot!"
Opening up the lid of the pot, everyone saw the disastrous yet familiar scene of whole vegetables along with an entire fish and large chunks of tofu.
"Why are they all uncut?!"
It was a small level up.