Hisakawa’s default response to most situations was to organize and clean. It wasn’t always exactly fun
, but it got him focused on something productive, and the focus often helped him when he was stressed. That, combined with nothing better to do, lead to Hisakawa spending most of his time cleaning. However, the sleepless night and lack of breakfast was really starting to catch up with him. He almost decided to push through it, before realizing he wasn’t sure what building he was in and how he got here in the first place.
Well, okay, he wasn’t going to be caught dead sleeping in the middle of the day, but he could at least go get some food. He doubted anyone would be in the mess hall right now, anyway…
Of course, he was wrong. While the dining area itself was empty, Flare seemed to be hard at work in the kitchen, “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you,” he said.
Yet she didn’t seem to respond to Hiroki at all, as she bent over to shuffle through a refrigerator while mumbling something unrecognizable. This went on for a while until she suddenly popped up with two packs of milk and a faint smile on her face.“Hold this for a second.”
She said as she dumped the milk in Hiroki’s hands, before diving back into the refrigerator. “Cheese, cheese, cheeee-ah!”
Holding a block of cheese, she closed the door with a kick and walked towards the kitchen counter, signaling towards Hiroki to set the milk down next to her.
Some macaroni and flour along with multiple cooking tools were already littered around the space, and it didn’t take long for Flare to start shaving the cheese into flakes.“I’m cooking mac and cheese for dinner, and with so many people, it’s a big undertaking,”
She explained before peering at Hiroki with a smirk. “And you did interrupt me, so you’re helping too!”
Besides the witty tone, her asking for help seemed sincere.Damn, I was really hoping not to get roped into anything
, Hisakawa thought to himself, then frowned, a twinge of guilt running through him, “Right. I’d be happy to help you out,” He set the milk down as Flare signaled, watching intently as she shredded the block of cheese. His stomach had no issue with reminding him he still hadn’t eaten today, but now that he was helping Flare he had pretty much given up hope of doing that anytime soon.
But damn, it has really been a while since he last had some quality home-made food…
“I think it’s pretty great that you’ve decided to cook for the group,” Hisakawa said, trying to get his mind off of it, “It’s very generous of you.”“Huuuh?”
Flare reluctantly asked as she looked up to Hiroki with cynical eyes. It must’ve felt very off-putting to have Flare act so rough all of a sudden, but something about the word generous
just made her feel very uncomfortable.“Do you know the law of the jungle?”
She stopped working on the cheese and rested her arms on the counter. “Survival of the fittest; the strong prey on the weak, right? But the only reason they do that is because they need food to survive.”
Her calm demeanor almost made it look like she could be a teacher.“I’m not doing this out of charity...This group needs an anchor, and the best anchor to keep yourself rooted in reality is feeling safe. As long as I keep preparing meals for them, they won’t starve and turn into predators hunting for prey.”
Hisakawa flinched at the harsh gaze, turning his attention to the ground, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say something wrong,” In all honesty, Hisakawa didn’t understand Flare’s logic at all. Wasn’t she still, ultimately, doing this to help everyone? But he was kind of scared of how she’d react if he questioned her. It was his fault for not getting it, anyway.
He decided it was best to drop it, and swiftly went to change the topic, “So, anything else I can do to help?”“Uhh…”
Flare blinked at Hiroki in surprise, before suddenly changing her mood to something mildly more warm and pleasant.“Iiii’ve got some water that’s heating up; if it’s cooking you can add the macaroni to it.”
She said as she returned to working on the cheese; except after a while she started giving short glances to Hiroki, until it finally turned into a sigh when she dropped the cheese once more.“How are you holding up?”
The melancholy was oozing from her voice, but it was a kind question nonetheless. “You’re very quiet, but you’re not heartless.”
Hisakawa stared at her, his attention drawn from the macaroni, “How am… I
This seemed like a trick question, or some sort of trap. Like no matter what he said it would be the wrong answer. He could say he wasn’t okay and appear weak and unfit, or he could say he was fine and seem apathetic and careless. Well… the truth is that he was doing horribly, and it was better to be weak than to not care, right? Or, no—God damn it, why was it always so hard to just decide
on something. Just save everyone some time and tell her the truth already.
“I’ve… I’ve been better. The situation has been taxing. I really wish I was home, or at least not in this death game,” He said, then frowned. Calling it a death game seemed weird. It was truthful, obviously, but acknowledging that the people around him could die was… hard to process.”You miss home?”
Flare glared at Hiroki in confusion before realizing something.”Yes, I miss it too, but at least it's...it’s not a death game, not yet anyway. As long as we keep cooking while the others search for an exit, there won't be any reason to get violent.”
She said as she put all of the ingredients in a bowl; she seemed to be waiting for Hiroki to finish the macaroni.
Hisakawa took the noodles from off the stovetop, dumping the contents into a colender. He liked that idea—that if they kept everything in order, no one would have any reason to hurt someone before they can find a way out. Maybe that was a bit of an optimistic idea, but... Well, it might work, at least somewhat.
After making sure the macaroni was drained, he handed the colender over to Flare, “Well, if this will do anything to help keep the peace, then I’m glad to do it. I’m not particularly good with cooking, but I’m always willing to lend a helping hand,” He said, adding a smile at the end, which was promptly received and returned as Flare finished the preparations.”Alright! Now we just put this in the oven and we’ll have some mac & cheese for our hungry workers.”
With the oven churning in the background, she turned to wash her hands.”Thanks for the help, I’m sure they appreciate it.”
“Anytime,” Hisakawa said, preparing to make his way out of the kitchen. He stopped, for a brief second, considering going to finally get the food he had come here for in the first place, but decided to give it up—he could get it once Flare wasn’t around. But at least him coming here wasn’t a total waste or anything. Now, he seemed to have some sense of direction… and Flare was pretty nice to him.
Hiroki and Flare grew a little closer!