by Charon the Sabercat
They tried to cook. They tried, they really did, but...
You'd think the Gundams know how to fight together, they'd know how to cook together, right? But nooooooooo, we have to do this the hard way…
“Okay…” Charon looked over the items in the pantry, surveying for food she knew how to cook. “We've got pasta noodles and Prego, we got Mac'N'Cheese-”
“Oo! Get the Mac'N'Cheese!” Shute shouted, pointing to the box and shouting. “And make a bunch, `cause I'm REALLY hungry!”
“Super Mac'N'Cheese, check.” Charon pulled out the entire Sam's Club style package of blue boxes. “Shute, go find the big pot.”
“The big cooking pot, or the big crawfish pot?”
“The cooking pot, we're not going to m-”
It was that time Bakunetsumaru decided to enter the kitchen. The “kitchen”, actually, was little more than the area of the large living room with all the kitchen stuff in it. It was separated from the rest of the house by a large counter, but that was about all. Bakunetsumaru eyed the Kraft suspiciously. “What is that?”
Charon shook the box; Baku jumped away from the “shuck shuck” noise that it made. “Macaroni and cheese.”
“Ma-ca-ro-ni?” Baku pronounced it with a slight Ark inflection, putting the emphasis on the wrong syllables.
Shute stood in front of Charon to explain, holding the cooking pot that was bigger than Baku's head. “Little hollow noodles with cheese.”
A bolt of disbelief went through Charon's chest. He couldn't NOT like Mac'N'Cheese! “What?!”
Baku wrenched his face and swung his arms around to emphasize. “That sounds disgusting!”
“Well, guess what, red boy,” Charon snapped, bending down to Baku's eye level. “This is one of the three things I know how to make, so we're having it. Deal.”
Charon turned back to the stove. Shute smiled apologetically to Baku. “We'll have other stuff, Baku, don't worry.”
Baku turned his eyes upward for a moment, pondering. After a few seconds of silence, he suddenly quipped, “We should have shabu-shabu.”
“I read about that,” Charon mentioned as she filled the cooking pot. “I thought you were supposed to eat it in the winter.”
“Winter, rainy day, it's the same thing.” The thunder clapped outside, affirming Baku's statement. Baku tapped Shute's shoulder. “Shute, I need a big cooking pot and a flame to put it over.”
Before Shute could ask, Charon pointed to the front door. “Get the little crawfish pot and the camping stove. They're in the outdoor kitchen.”
“Yes, ma'am.” Shute bowed and rocketed to the door, paused to slip on a pair of flip-flops, then rushed outside.
Baku's head sprouted a question mark. “Outdoor kitchen?”
A little bit of salt got poured into the boiling water. “Having parental units in the South has its advantages. Besides, it's basically a storage room with a sink and a stove. We never use it.”
“Where do you keep the meat?”
Charon's lip flattened, a little put off by the sudden change in subject. “In the freezer.”
“Freezer?” Baku punched his hand in happiness. “Good, the meat is already prepared for slicing!”
“You can't use the real big one.”
“As opposed to the fake big one?”
Charon went “sssspppphahaha!” from a surprise laugh. “No, you can't use the really big one because Captain's gonna make a roast out of tha- Where is that boy with the crawfish pot? It's not that hard to miss!”
One cue, the front door opened, this time with both Shute and Captain walking in with a large, but shallow, pot and what looked like a giant harmonica. “Is this it?”
“Yeah.” Charon poured the noodles into the boiling water.
The sabercat turned around, looking dorky in khaki pants and a black t-shirt with white print that read “Hookt on fonix rilly wurkt fer mee!” Despite this, she found a wooden spoon, smacked it against the stove, and held it against her chest like a military baton. The three Gundams straightened up at attention.
“Okay troops, listen up. Shute, find the roast pot so Captain can start. Captain, find the roast. Baku, ask permission before you slice up any of the meat for the shabu-shabu. And, above all, nobody move the lid on the rice pot.”
She pointed the wooden spoon to a small white rice cooker with a silver lid. The Gundams eyed it nervously.
“You all have your orders. Move out.”
They saluted. “Right.”
The neat little authoritarian moment ended as quickly as it started. A loud hiss came from the stove; Charon had let the pot boil over. She turned around quickly and started yelling, “Gah! Charon, you moron! You forgot to add the Crisco! Oy-yi…!”
Captain and Baku bumped shoulders at the freezer, and they exchanged glances. “Did that remind you of Chief Haro?”
Baku scoffed. “Reminded me of my mother.”
They reached for the handle.
Charon, growling softly as she was- once again- torn away from her cooking, put down the mixing spoon and looked to the Gundams. “What?”
They didn't even have to answer, because it clicked in Charon's mind the minute she said it: they were too short to reach the handle. “Get a stool!”
Baku blushed and looked at the ground, embarrassed. Shute laughed as Captain grabbed a stepstool, placed it by the refrigerator, and climbed it to open the freezer door. Charon shook her head. “You'd think they'd think of that, but n-“ She was interrupted by another loud hiss. “Dang it, Charon, not again!”
Captain grabbed his roast and the pot from Shute. Baku scanned the meats and pulled out the most frozen cuts. “Will these work?”
Charon was busy looking at the Mac'N'Cheese for the moment, so Baku put them back. She looked up. “Okay, what?”
“What- oh!” said Baku. “You didn't answer, so I put them back.”
“Well, get them out again. Oy…” Charon went back to stirring. Captain had borrowed another stool to place his roast on the back burner. His eyes wandered towards the rice pot.
She said not to open it, he thought. He wondered what was in it. There was a 99.8 percent chance that it was just rice, but that point two percent nagged at him.
And so did Charon. “You don't open the rice pot, Captain.”
At that point, Baku dug out the beef again. Seeing Charon busy scolding Captain, he put the meat back. “Fingers are getting cold, this is stupid…”
“Okay, which ones, Baku?”
Baku's entire head turned red in a fit of anger. Shute laughed at him again while Captain and Charon watched. He got the beef out, again. “These?”
“Thank you.” Baku crooked them in his arms and promptly fell off the footstool. “SHIMATTA!”
Shute fell onto the counter laughing. Charon slapped her forehead and sighed. Baku straightened himself with the last of his remaining dignity (despite a large cut of frozen beef stuck on the top of his v-fin) and ordered Shute to clear off a space on the counter.
For a few minutes, everything went smoothly. In those few minutes, Captain began to cook his roast, but he also began watching the rice pot. What was in there? If it was just rice, Charon wouldn't have told him not to open it. It must have been something secret… something special… something sinister…
“Hey, Captain, can I have a Slim Jim?”
“No, Shute, you'll spoil your appetite.”
Shute walked away to help Baku slice the shabu-shabu meat.
Back to thinking, Captain thought. He had to find out what was in that rice pot. There couldn't be something that was so important, Captain couldn't interact with it. Even Shute wasn't that precious. He had to know.
He lowered his scanner. Charon whacked him in the head with the wooden spoon. “Stop that! You're making the radio static-y!”
Captain thought of several different ways he could kill Charon and hide the body, but deleted them all shortly after.
Zero suddenly floated in through the front door, wiping off his face with his cape. “'Tis surely a torrent outside, m'lady. I am glad to be indoors.”
“Hi, Zero!” Charon smiled for the first time in a while. She was standing over the sink, straining the macaroni through a colander. “Wanna help us cook?”
“ME?! Cook?! That is a woman's work, m'la-”
Zero didn't notice until then that Baku and Shute were giving him death glares. Captain was alternating between giving Zero death glares and staring at the rice pot. He looked for solace from Charon; she was tapping a claw on the tile impatiently, stirring spoon at the ready.
“How should we punish him?” Shute piped.
“Make him cook with us,” stated Captain.
Charon nodded. “Great idea.”
Baku shifted his weight and put down the ginsu knives. “Block and tackle!”
Zero was cape-less and powerless within two seconds, and was stationed to Bakunetsumaru's immediate left. The samurai smiled smugly at the knight. “How's it feel, Winged Nut?”
Zero's face was unbelievably cross. “Just shut up and tell me what to do.”
“Cut the vegetables.” Baku took a knife and sliced a carrot into chopstick-able pieces in the blink of an eye. Zero tossed his head. “I can do that!”
He took the knife and cut the carrot into one huge chunk, one little bitty chunk, and his thumb. “OW!”
“Harder than it looks, isn't it?”
“Baku, stop that!” Charon cocked her head towards Captain's pot of roast. “Zero, stop whining, you don't even have skin. Now, come stir the gravy!”
Captain opened the lid to the roast; the aroma blasted him in the face and sent his body into shivers of bliss. “Oh…”
Charon took the lid and sniffed the browning roast. “Mmm, that smells good. Water down that gravy, though, Captain, otherwise we can't spread it on the rice.” Charon stretched. “I gotta go to the bathroom. Be back.”
Charon disappeared down the hallway, leaving the Gundams to reel in semi-disgust.
“Well, thanks for letting us know!” Shute sarcastically called. “Sheesh.” He caught Captain staring intently at the rice pot out of the corner of his eyes. “What're you doin', Captain?”
“I have to know what's in there…” His voice wriggled with anticipation, and his pupils narrowed in concentration.
Shute seemed a little confused. “It's rice.”
“That's a weird looking rice cooker.” Baku placed his hand next to the wall of the pot. “It's not even warm!”
“Is it on?” Zero asked, peeking over Captain's shoulder.
“We should probably check on it to see if it's done,” Shute guessed.
Captain didn't need any more pressuring. He immediately snapped his hand out, pulled off the lid-
And there was rice.
Captain sighed, dejected. “It is just rice.”
“Did you expect it to be something else?!” Baku nearly shrieked.
Zero suddenly began pointing at the pot, too shocked to speak. Shute screamed, “The rice! The rice!”
Captain gave the rice another look; it had turned into foam, and it was rising from out of the pot!
“AA!” Captain slammed the lid back on, and the rest of the Gundam Force put their hands on it to try and hold it down. It resisted them strongly, threatening to both buck and burn their hands off. “I knew there was something evil in this thing! I knew it!”
“It's the attack of the evil rice from Southern America!” Baku wailed.
“Shut up and don't let it get away!” Zero pressed down harder on the pot.
It suddenly stopped.
Captain looked up.
Charon was holding the cord… and looking angry.
“Charon has saved us from the evil rice!” Baku threw his arms in the air, tossing Shute into the dining room table.
“No, Charon has just ruined the perfectly normal rice because somebody had to lift the lid and mess it up!” Charon gritted her teeth. “And if I hadn't come back sooner, Captain would have ruined the rice cooker! You can't let rice cook open! It's all carbohydrates! It boils over like macaroni!”
Captain gulped. “Um…”
“Come here, Captain.”
Zero and Baku pushed Captain in front of them and stood back.
Charon reached into a bag on the counter and pulled out a knitting needle. She held it at the point.
Charon held the hammer; Captain held his wrist. “All is forgiven!”
“Ow-how…” Captain opened his faceplate and sucked on the long, thin would-have-been-a-bruise on the soft part of his wrist. A tear ran down his face. “That hurt!”
“Listen to when I tell you crap next time!” Charon snapped, holding the knitting needle threateningly. Captain, Zero, and Baku flinched. “Now, go to the garage and get ANOTHER bag of rice!”
Shute piped up from the dining room. “I was just out there, and there was no rice!”
Charon smiled evilly. “No, that's the outdoor kitchen in the carport.
She slyly strode over to the sink and pulled back the curtain over the window. She pointed on the glass. “That's the garage.”
The garage was a dilapidated, farm-shaped building on the other side of Charon's massive front yard. It was partially obscured by the torrential rain and obscured the rest of the way by the pitch-blackness of nine o'clock at night. Lightning flashed, illuminating the eyes of a pack of coyotes.
Zero gulped this time. “We're dead.”
“You'll be deader if Mom realizes she'll have to wait for dinner because we messed up the rice!”
The Gundam Force looked at each other. They'd faced worse… right?
“Shute, go ahead and have a Slim Jim. This'll take a while.”
Later, Charon sat and ate dinner with the Gundam Force in its entirety; Captain, Zero, Baku, Shute, Genkimaru, Rele, and Cobramaru. Cobramaru and Genki especially enjoyed the shabu-shabu; they happily cooked their meat little by little in the simmering pot of beef broth and poured the resulting soup over the rice. Captain ate his slow roast with a vengeance, at one point accidentally moaning over the taste (he got a few weird looks for that one). Shute and Rele practically inhaled the Mac'N'Cheese. Zero, Baku, and Charon filled up on rice and gravy.
“An excuseable meal, neko ningen.” Cobramaru drank the last of his soup out of his bowl.
“This dish is delicious!” Rele looked up from her macaroni. “I've never had anything more delicious in all my life! This must be the food of kings!”
Shute held his mouth and laughed.
Genkimaru jumped onto the table in order to get some macaroni. Charon immediately jumped up, brandishing a knitting needle. “HEY!”
Captain quickly dove under the table, Zero and Baku following.
Genkimaru stood in awe, then slowly inched back into his seat, his face blank with shock, fascination, and fear of whatever they did, and whatever SHE did, to deserve that response.
Cobramaru blinked. “What was that?”
Charon sat back down, placing the knitting needle in Baku's empty chair. “A long story.”
Rele asked, “How long?”
Charon shrugged her shoulders. “About six pages.”
AAA! Bad joke! Bad joke! AAA! Wakka wakka! Anyway, happy SD Gundamaniac Week.