As Shinobu rubbed the area between her eyebrows with her thumb while digesting Nik's words, a polite knock broke the tense atmosphere as a young lady gingerly walked in and placed a tray filled with covered dishes yet the enticing scent attracted Shinobu's and Nik's complete, undivided attention.
"Lady Mitsuri appreciates your patronage."
Shinobu smiled at the waitress and looked that the tray. There were a total of four covered dishes alongside four empty bowls stacked upon each other and a large serving of rice that seemed to be shimmering under the dim light.
As the duo remained engrossed at the lure spectacle their dish was, the waitress took a silent leave.
"Alright, usually, every single dish of hers is unusual. So... I'll be the first one to choose out of the four."
Shinobu clapped her hands and looked at one of the dishes and swiftly uncovered one of the dishes, revealing a clear bowl of soup with diced vegetables and a few pieces of meat mixed into a thick stock of soup. The green condiments above the soup enhanced the look but Shinobu couldn't help but frown, "It's normal."
Her comment wasn't unfounded. From her experience in tasting a liver to eyeballs, although the taste of Mitsuri's dishes always managed to surprise her, the visual of the dish... well, it wasn't entirely pleasing to the eyes of the viewer. And yet, today out of all days, Mitsuri managed to cook such a pleasant looking dish. Switching her gaze to the wonderfully surprised Nik, Shinobu instantly flipped the covers of the other three dishes and yes, she raged internally.
'Mitsuri... you better make sure I don't see your face.'
Shinobu vowed internally while Nik looked at the spectacle of overflowing grace that his food was. A bowl of enchanting, thick soup followed by two meat dishes and finally, a carefully diced salad that was nothing short of art. If Mitsuri really cooked and prepared her dish in such a manner at such a short period of time then truly, her skills are great.
"This looks great, Shinobu. Thank you for bringing me here."
Nik smiled genuinely and distributed the four bowls into twos amongst themselves before looking at the dazed Shinobu silently. Finally, he couldn't hold it in and whispered her into awakening.
"Shinobu... the food is going to get cold."
Finally, Shinobu looked up with a dark gaze that expressed a single word Death and unceremoniously picked the bowl of rice and served herself to the food without speaking a single word.
Finally, after the delicious but low nutritional meal ended, Shinobu 'insisted' Nik to leave a little earlier than her and wait for her at the entrance. Of course, Nik would be damned if he actually put his nose in between whatever Shinobu was currently thinking. He wasn't scared make no mistake Nik simply did not feel like annoying the beauty he is trying to please.
Meanwhile, in the mess.
'Hehe!' Mitsuri kept looking at all the gathered chefs with her legs dangling idly with a silly smile on her face.
'Shinobu is a bully! A bully! But Nik is so kind. He helped an innocent demon and he is so cool! And...'
She stuttered internally as a deep crimson touched her face before she let out a distressed sigh.
'But... Shinobu actually tasted my best cooking... I don't like that. But she also came with Nik... I cannot leave a bad impression on him...'
As it turns out, all the weird dishes were simply Mitsuri's way of getting revenge on Shinobu for all her 'poking' and 'pinching' at illicit locations of her body. But of course, she could not become discreet about the matter.
Finally, Mitsuri just giggled foolishly while playing with her chef's hat until the waitress that served Nik and Shinobu walked in with a quick pace and showed a piece of paper to Mitsuri that reduced all her mischief into worry and fear.
I look forward to your next class in my estate. *red drop dripping till the corner of the paper*
"You finally seem relieved."
Nik smiled as Shinobu's entire demeanor spoke bubbliness. It did not take a genius to understand that something happened the moment Shinobu flipped the covering of the dishes. What it could be, Nik did not know, neither did he intend to press for answers. It wasn't any fun that way.
Leaving Mitsuri's Restaurant Love Inn Nik finally recalled an important aspect of that Inn.
"The wine... we did not get any."
Nik looked at Shinobu, who shook her head and replied with an expectant tone, "Mitsuri's wine for the pillars is too strong to be drunk midday. If you... would ever stay back in my mansion, I'll let you taste some quality wine."
Nik couldn't help but frown and look at her.
"Mitsuri's wine isn't delivered to Lisa Lisa's mansion?"
"Not after Shizuka threatened to destroy every single Daimyo and their relatives for ogling her in while drinking the whole barrel."
Nik commented softly as Shinobu giggled and continued walking along the streets aimlessly. The lunch was a quick one and so, the day was still bright as Nik accompanied Shinobu. Of course, during such moments of being in company with such a beautiful lady, Nik held no thoughts of training. And even now, he kept his thoughts relaxed without controlling a single strand of gravity. Shinobu is the kind of girl whose presence demanded attention, and Nik wasn't going to ruin that image while secretly performing his own training.
"Wouldn't it be better... if demons and humans could coexist." Shinobu suddenly spoke up.
"I mean, I understand that humans are no different than demons. We eat animals, demons eat humans. It is simply survival. If it was simply for survival, we could have just offered our criminals.
And the previous generation of emperors tried that very deal again and again. But"
"But that kind of thinking would kill us... you, me and everyone."
Nik interrupted softly, "Does a chicken qualify to negotiate with humans? We eat it. Simple. The same is true for demons."
"But humans have always remained in control. Now that another intelligent life-form threatens the existence of humans... we comfortably think that we are still in the position to negotiate."
Nik smiled widely as Shinobu's smile slowly faded into a mask of impassiveness.
"Then why did you save Nezuko? And Yuriko? Don't they threaten our existence?"
"I think, you misunderstood me."
Nik finally stepped right next to Shinobu and let his hand brush back her purple-tinged hair as his face grew closer and closer to her's until she slightly leaned backwards.
"The problem isn't the threat the demons represent. The main root of the problem is that Humanity's right to sit as the best predator is doubtful."
Nik let his thumb trace her cheeks before grinning.
"What I am trying to say is, Honey, I know that behind that facade of beautiful smiles hides a lovely lady that wishes to free herself from the destiny of the demon slayers." Saying so, Nik leaned forward and softly kissed Shinobu's ear and whispered, "And even though it isn't even more than 24 hours since our meeting, I can just feel this from your actions."
"You know nothing of me!"
Shinobu finally took a step back and hissed dangerously as Nik slowly grew calm and matched her gaze. Muzan, Demons, death, life, Nik did not care for such sophisticated matters. He understood a woman's happiness and his own happiness. Only by living, laughing, crying and even loving on his own accord could Nik become happy. No therapy was needed to emphasise this fact.
"I know nothing of you? Sorry, but I do understand a little about you."
Nik smiled warmly, his gentle expression seemed to match a figure that Shinobu recalled out of a sudden and she instantly turned her heels.
"Whatever. We leave now."
She stated plainly and stepped towards her mansion as Nik followed silently and looked at the various men and women and silently observed their distinct life-force signature. The situation continued until they left the border while the sun finally started to set, leaving the sky in vermilion hue.
"You know what, Shinobu. I'll take you up on your offer."
Nik spoke as he stepped into her estate and finally walked up to match Shinobu's pace and walk by her side.
"Please, would you host a drink for me tonight."
His request remained unheard and she turned her heels to the opposite direction before disappearing away.
"Till then, cry your hearts out." Nik shrugged and moved towards the boisterous ward where Aoi had a hard time dealing with Zenitsu as he continued leeching over her while Tanjiro and the cute trio tried to stop them with a calm Brian as a spectator, who only showed a change in his expression when Nik entered the ward with a huge smile.
Gazing at Zenitsu, Nik parted his lips and spoke the words that would give him nightmares tonight.
"I am having a sleepover tonight, guys. Please take care of me."
Alternative Title: Mitsuri is in Trouble
Character Introduced Mitsuri Kanroji