by Shinju Yuri (真珠百合)
illustrated by calintz
(as always thank you to everybody who ever listened to me whine on LJ and then told me what I was doing wrong, and also to Sakkit, zee partner in crime. ♥)
There are many ways to cook tofu: You can serve silk tofu with sweet sauce or red sweet beans; cut it into chunks and marinate in soy sauce; or serve it in miso soup, appearing through the misty broth and entangled with brilliant green seaweed. Frozen and thawed, it makes a good substitute for ground beef; and it can also be used in chili or taco soup. Make it into a spread with mayonnaise; fry it like scrambled eggs with vegetarian chicken bullion; or deep-fry and serve in broth, with onions and grated daikon radish. Blended with fruit, it can be served in martini glasses. Alternatively, it can be used with bananas and raspberries as a smoothie. Sliced thin and deep fried, it makes aburage, a sort of pouch. Aburage stuffed with rice makes inarizushi, which foxes are said to favor.
The first time Sakito met Hiraku, Hiraku was wearing a shirt that said YOU LOOK TASTY in English, with a pair of cherries as the two ‘o’s in ‘look’. Sakito walked past and Hiraku reached out, caught his hand and said, “I’m a fox. Can I eat you?”
“That is the dumbest line I have heard in my life,” said Sakito, and yanked his hand away.
“No, I’m serious,” said Hiraku. There was something thin and ravenous about his face; his nose was very slender, and his eyes were set at a slant. Their color was foxish, too; a sort of wheaten brown. Sakito realized what he was thinking and scowled at him. “I’m a fox and I need to find another soul to eat so I can become a heavenly fox.”
“If you’re that hungry I’ll buy you something from the vending machine,” said Sakito.
Hiraku sneered. It was a very good sneer and Sakito was mildly impressed. “The vending machine?”
“Oh for God’s sake,” said Sakito, and stalked off toward the cafeteria. He didn’t know why he did it; something about the other guy just made him feel irritable and broody, like he did around kittens and puppies. Which was absurd because this guy was not either. He sort of looked like a junkyard dog with all the metal he was wearing, though.
He returned with two boxes, one of which he thumped down in front of Hiraku. “Here.”
Sakito had once known a cat that would repeatedly assure him that it truly, passionately desired his food, and upon Sakito giving in and giving him a piece, would take one disbelieving sniff and demand to know why the hell Sakito felt the need to poison him with hot dogs. Hiraku had nearly the same expression on his face. His lip was curled up slightly, as if he was smelling it with his mouth. “What is it?” said Hiraku.
“It’s from the cafeteria,” said Sakito, exasperated. “It is expensive and organic and good for you. Eat it.”
“But it’s made by a machine.”
“You can tell?” said Sakito blankly. “What does it matter?”
“It’s not the same,” said Hiraku. “See … if someone makes it, it has part of them in it. Even humans can tell, can’t they? The difference between food made with someone’s feelings and machine-made food.”
“Oh,” said Sakito. “I guess.” Something occurred to him. “Why am I feeding you when you haven’t even told me your name?”
“Your soul knows me,” said Hiraku promptly.
“You’re full of shit,” said Sakito.
Things sort of went on from there.
In no particular order, things Hiraku did:
- Ate three term projects
- Stole and reprogrammed Sakito’s cellphone so the first number on the list was his own
- Convinced the entirety of the culinary arts department that he was Sakito’s boyfriend
- Got punched repeatedly by Sakito —
- for attempting to stick his tongue down Sakito’s throat
- for staring at him with unnerving steadiness as Sakito attempted to cook lunch
- for attempting to eat five cookies at once and succeeding.
- Clung piteously to Sakito until the mean old fifteen year old Pomeranian was led away on his pink-spangled leash, still panting with lack of breath and friendliness. (“But it’s a dog,” said Hiraku, peering from behind Sakito. “But it’s half blind and has no teeth,” said Sakito.)
Hiraku was not attached to any particular department; he took a class here and there as fancy took him and flirted with everything with a pulse, as far as Sakito could tell. He apparently spent a lot of time drinking hooch with music students and arguing about punk and post-modern music; Sakito considered this yet another sign that Hiraku was basically a barbarian with an eye toward driving him crazy. Hiraku said that anybody who willingly listened to Spitz had no room to talk.
“How the hell did you convince everybody you were my boyfriend anyway?” said Sakito irritably.
“Well, it wasn’t hard,” said Hiraku. “They already thought you were kind of gay after that A+ you got on that wedding cake.”
Sakito thought about kicking him but he was full of ham sandwiches made with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce picked from a garden, with stone-ground mustard and butter spread on freshly-baked bread, accompanied with lemonade made from fresh-squeezed lemons and soda water. He felt comfortably warm and lazy, and somehow Hiraku had managed to maneuver himself so he was propped against Sakito’s legs. “Jerk,” he said.
“Uh-huh,” said Hiraku lazily. He was playing with a small glow-in-the-dark ball, about the size of a ping-pong ball. He tossed it up and caught it and then bounced it against the flat of his palm.
On one of the tosses Sakito grabbed the ball in mid air.
“Hey,” said Hiraku, “Give that back.”
Sakito held it away from him. It was oddly warm, and somehow silkier than he would have thought; it wasn’t soft but something about the surface of it reminded him of bread dough. “Why do you carry this thing around?” he said.
“It’s mine,” said Hiraku. His mouth was set in a tight unhappy line. “Give it back.”
Sakito held it for a second more, and then dropped it on Hiraku. Hiraku caught it and put it in his pocket. “I should have asked you a favor,” said Sakito. “That’s what you do with a hoshi-no-tama, isn’t it?”
“Don’t be stupid,” said Hiraku. “I’d do it for you anyway.”
“I think you’re serious,” said Sakito after a second.
“Of course I am,” said Hiraku, in a voice somewhere between insulted and sleepy. “You wouldn’t have to hold my power hostage.”
Sakito closed his eyes and gave up on the conversation. Such as it was, he amended.
Ways foxes are sneaky, continued:
- Like ninjas, they are always behind you. Ready to pounce.
- They know when you’re cooking before you finish the thought ‘what should I make tonight?’
- They get keys to your house even though you swear to God you had your eyes on your keys the entire time, except possibly when they were kissing you for five minutes without coming up for air, in front of your entire work group and their lascivious whoops of encouragement, to win a bet
- And you found your keys three minutes later and you know there wasn’t enough time to have a copy made
- They only pretend to cringe when you promise to make couilles de renard frites if you come home and find the cake eaten.
- And then they eat the cake anyway
- Plus the extra one you’d hidden from them
- Without any apparent weight gain
- But kindly don’t eat the extra extra you had prudently made
- They wrap their arms around you and bury their face in your neck until you’re blinded by a half-sorrowful feeling, as if at a distant memory.
- Even if you are a very deliberate person and really like Spitz and taking your time and sensible clothing and long walks in the park or whatever, by the time you’ve known them for a month you have had a crash course in punk, unexpectedly making out, and also removing ten bazillion belts and glove things.
- Also you have a horrible feeling that the only reason why you aren’t wearing contacts and actual fashionable clothing instead of your comfortable jeans is because foxes seem to find the glasses, as they say, ‘kind of hot’.
Sakito didn’t know when he started to believe Hiraku. Or maybe he didn’t really believe him. Maybe it was more that he was more willing to play along. Then again sometimes there was something about the way Hiraku moved, his head held alert, his mouth slightly open as if tasting the air. When he watched something – Sakito cooking, someone playing an instrument – his eyes were intent and focussed, almost predatory. Even the way he walked was vulpine, his pace quick and silent. His hearing was uncanny (Sakito said, Can opening from a hundred yards? Hiraku said, You try catching mice sometime) and his sense of smell was so strong that he could tell small mistakes in the proportions of recipes or if an ingredient had gone bad.
He didn’t like to think about it. Once he found himself thinking hopefully that maybe he was one of those otherkin weirdoes — but he’d met them before and Hiraku was nothing like them. He spoke of being a fox as a simple fact, without elaboration or pride or mythology; as simply as Sakito talked about being a cook.
He woke up at night from a dream where Hiraku flew to heaven, his tails spread behind him, glowing like the moon, and shook for a long time, even with Hiraku beside him, asleep and unquestionably there.
if I promise to cook for you will you please stop eating final projects
what r u making? : )
tofu human tastes nothing like the real thing >:O
i am not even going to ask.
seriously PLEASE stop eating term projects.
it was there. and it was tasty. btw i asked aiko what she would serve a sakito in and she gave me a funny look??
THANKS FOR DESTROYING MY REPUTATION ASSHOLE
i will make an honest man of you. aiko says chocolate?
tell aiko to piss off and that she knows I don’t like chocolate.
aiko says ‘creampuffs’???
I DENY EVERYTHING
but she says you did a DANCE.
NO PUPPY EYES.
:< :< :<
you suck. would your majesty be fine with inarizushi tonight?
did any one ever tell you that you’re easy
only if you feed me.
“Make me a cake,” said Hiraku, crowding into Sakito’s personal space.
Sakito pushed up his glasses and sighed. “Why?”
“I’m hungry,” said Hiraku, “And you won’t let me eat your soul.” He said this in an aggrieved sort of voice, as if he didn’t understand why anybody would deny him such a thing.
“I wish you would stop that stupid joke,” said Sakito. “It makes you sound like an idiot.”
“It’s true, though,” said Hiraku. He watched with avid eyes as Sakito pulled out a bowl and pan. “What are you going to make? The numbers cake?”
“What on earth is a numbers cake?” said Sakito.
Hiraku waved his hand around irritably. “It’s like … you count off one two three –”
“Oh,” said Sakito. “You mean 1-2-3-4 Cake. No.”
“Why’s it called that?” asked Hiraku curiously. “And what type are you going to make?”
“It’s the proportion of the ingredients,” said Sakito. “I’m making a Bête Noire Cake.”
“Hey,” said Hiraku, feelingly. “My fur is not black.”
“It should be,” said Sakito. He pointed at the sink. “If you’re going to be in the kitchen you’re going to have clean hands — and stop looking at that olive oil.”
“Borrring,” said Hiraku, going to the sink. “Olive oil is useful.” He looked at Sakito over his shoulder, his teeth bared in something like a smile. “Don’t you think?”
“That is extremely expensive olive oil and frankly, that’s really kind of gross,” said Sakito firmly.
Hiraku leered at him. “What did you think I was thinking of?”
“What did I know you were thinking of,” corrected Sakito. “I need five eggs and the butter from the fridge.”
“Butter is useful too,” said Hiraku, hopefully.
Sakito glared at him. “Do you want a cake,” he said.
Hiraku looked away, slightly ashamed. Probably. Sakito was almost sure, but it was as likely that Hiraku was simply pretending so he got his cake. “You’re no fun,” he said, spoiling the act completely. He watched as Sakito expertly cracked the eggs into the bowl.
“Yes,” said Sakito, beginning to beat the eggs viciously, “but I am the cook.”
Bête Noire Cake from WikiBooks Cookbook:
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate,
- 8 oz unsweetened chocolate,
- simple syrup [1/2 C water plus 1 1/3 C sugar],
- 1/2 lb butter,
- 5 beaten eggs.
- Chop chocolate in food processor
- Drizzle in syrup
- Add butter one tablespoon at a time
- Add eggs slowly
- Cook in 350 degree oven in a 9-inch round pan (lined with parchment) for 25-30 minutes.
Sakito scraped off the batter into the pan. It was more like a hard fudge than a real cake but it was still very good. The batter smeared against his hand but he didn’t bother to wipe it off; it was more important that the cake get safely in the oven. He turned and found Hiraku blissfully scraping out the bowl, a dot of batter on his nose. “I’m glad you like it,” said Sakito, politely.
“‘S good,” said Hiraku. “Kind of fudgy, isn’t it.”
“That’s because there’s no flour,” said Sakito. “There’s no gluten to make it rise.” He stopped and eyed Hiraku narrowly, who was licking one of his fingers and not paying attention at all. “Also it’s made of the souls of the unwary and if you eat the batter raw you become a restless ghost.”
“It tastes awesome,” said Hiraku, enthusiastically scraping out the bowl. There was none left, so he looked around and then his hand shot out and grabbed Sakito’s. Sakito yelped but Hiraku just licked at the chocolate on his wrist.
“If you are quite finished using me as a chew toy,” said Sakito, with awful patience.
Hiraku, of course, ignored him, licking batter off his hand.
“We have had this discussion before,” said Sakito. “Do I look like a snack food to you?”
“A main course,” said Hiraku, scraping his teeth against Sakito’s wrist. Sakito shivered. He should tell Hiraku to stop but it almost seemed dishonest. It wasn’t as if he didn’t like it, after all. “God, you make me hungry.”
“I am not feeding you my soul,” said Sakito darkly. “I don’t care what you say.”
“One more soul,” said Hiraku, releasing Sakito’s hand reluctantly. “Don’t you want me to be a nine-tailed fox?”
“No,” said Sakito, with bald honesty.
“You’re mean,” said Hiraku, crowding him against the counter. Sakito lowered his eyes. Hiraku’s groin was wedged firmly against his and Sakito was sharply aware of his erection.
“You know what’s not sanitary,” began Sakito. Not that he expected to win this argument, but the point had to be made.
Hiraku scraped his teeth on Sakito’s neck. “You know who doesn’t care,” he said, his hands sliding down and pushing Sakito’s shirt up.
“You?” said Sakito.
“Bingo,” said Hiraku. “You’re tasty,” he added, sliding to his knees and nuzzling at Sakito’s abdomen. He unzipped Sakito’s jeans. He made a pleased purring noise when Sakito ran his fingers through his hair, and pulled down Sakito’s jeans and underwear. He spent a moment nuzzling at Sakito’s groin, cupping his hand over Sakito’s cock with aggravating lightness until Sakito was breathing hard and clutching at him.
“God, just do it,” said Sakito, shifting restlessly.
Hiraku made that strange purring sound again and licked at Sakito’s cock, slowly, as if savoring it. “Really tasty,” he said, his voice low and rumbling.
“Thank you,” said Sakito, catching his breath as Hiraku blew his breath out. “I think — ah.” His world narrowed, focused until it was only the warmth of Hiraku’s mouth around him, sucking and licking, and the edge of the counter digging into his back.
Afterward he couldn’t hold himself up and slumped onto Hiraku, who propped himself on the floor. Even through the haze he could feel Hiraku’s erection. “Hey,” said Sakito.
“I’m fine,” said Hiraku, shifting a little. “Mm.”
“Stupid,” said Sakito, and closed his eyes, resting his head against Hiraku’s shoulder. Hiraku nuzzled the side of his neck. Sakito felt sleepy and oddly light. He could feel the buckles on Hiraku’s clothing pressing against his skin and shivered a little. Hiraku pushed him off him and lifted him up. “Where’re we going?” said Sakito.
“Bed,” said Hiraku.
“Fuck, the cake,” said Sakito, a little more coherently.
Hiraku set him down and turned off the oven. “We’ll bake it later,” he said.
“Okay,” said Sakito, still in a daze. Hiraku lifted him up again. His skin was terribly oversensitive. The metal on Hiraku’s gloves chilled him, not unpleasantly. “‘s weird though.”
“What is?” said Hiraku, helping him through the kitchen.
“You are,” said Sakito. Hiraku laid him down on the futon and pulled his shirt off and then his jeans and underwear and socks. He took off Sakito’s glasses and then began to unhook his own belts. “It’s stupid. You can’t be a fox, can you?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” said Hiraku. He pulled off his shirt, which said “a fire inside” and was from some punk band that Hiraku liked.
“Foxes don’t listen to punk,” said Sakito positively. “Foxes don’t send people dirty text messages in class.” He thought for a moment while Hiraku pulled down his pants with muted clinking noises from all the belts and chains and safety pins. “Foxes don’t go after people in culinary arts. They go after cool people.”
“I think you’re cool,” said Hiraku, stroking his hair.
“Yeah whatever,” said Sakito, flushing a little. He felt a little more alert now. “I still think it’s weird. I mean. Why me? Why do you think you need my soul?”
“Once upon a time,” said Hiraku, and suddenly his pupils seemed almost split, like a cat — or like a fox, Sakito thought, like a fox, “There was a man who found a starving fox and nursed it back to health. He fed it with his own rice and let it sleep by his fire. There was only one thing he would not give to it.”
“What was that?” said Sakito, his mouth strangely dry.
“His soul,” said Hiraku. “The fox transformed himself to a beautiful girl and tried to lay with him, but he refused. The fox transformed himself into a boy but the man still set him aside. ‘Why will you not let me repay you?’ said the fox. ‘If you give me your soul you will be transformed as well.'”
“What did he say?” said Sakito, as Hiraku leaned over him.
“‘I’m fine as I am,’ said the man. ‘I didn’t rescue you to attain merit.’ The fox was angry, but he couldn’t hurt the man.” Hiraku’s eyes were a light gold now, with a distinctly split pupil. Sakito curled his hands against the futon slowly but didn’t look away. “And then,” said Hiraku, and there was a sound like crystal breaking, “You died and I couldn’t help you.”
Foxes are feral and they have no sense of lawful behavior, but they feel insults and obligations deeply. Anger a fox and they’ll ruin you. Help one and they will repay you, no matter what.
Let me help you, says the fox, its nose nuzzling against his face. Let me help you.
He lifts his hand carefully up and rests it against the fox’s tawny red fur. I thank you, he says. But this is my karma.
It’s not fair, says the fox, almost on a sob. Maybe he’s growling. It’s not fair!
Curiously, he wasn’t frightened at all. It was not fear, but some sort of fascination, that held him frozen. He thought perhaps he had been turned into a hare, staring at his own death.
Hiraku was wearing heavy, formal robes in patterned brocade and silks: the silk was triple-layered, golden yellow beneath nut brown and a dull, leaf-green. The effect was like a maple tree, or an oak tree; constantly shimmering. The brocade’s pattern was picked out in gold and silver thread. His eyes were a clear golden brown with slit pupils; his ears covered with fine fur, which was a beautiful golden red except for the tips, which faded into a snowy white. His tails were very long and elegantly full and brushed against the ground in continual motion.
Hiraku’s hands had long nails, claws really, painted with crimson enamel and studded with small jewels. They trailed up Sakito’s neck with exquisite care. Sakito shivered and lowered his eyes.
“I waited a long time,” said Hiraku.
“Don’t be stupid,” said Sakito. His mind was oddly clear. He reached up and touched one of Hiraku’s ears curiously. The fur was smooth and silky, like touching a puppy’s ear. Hiraku leaned into his hand. “Did I tell you to wait for me?”
Hiraku settled down beside him, still propped partly above him. “I didn’t think it was your choice,” said Hiraku. “You’re slow.”
“Sorry,” said Sakito, and his voice was sort of cracking, but that was all right. “You’re wearing too much.”
“Am I?” said Hiraku, and it was funny, really, how he could be so serious and feral-looking but still be the Hiraku Sakito knew. There was the sound of rustling cloth as Hiraku wiggled his way out of his heavy formal robes, and the next thing he knew Hiraku was lying against him, warm and bare. He still had the tails, which was really weird in a way, but it felt kind of nice, rough-silky against his skin.
“Hiraku,” he said, helplessly. Hiraku’s claws pricked against his skin and he shuddered. Hiraku placed open-mouthed kisses on his chest, half-biting him. Sakito slid his hands up and twined his fingers through Hiraku’s hair, brushing against his ears again. Hiraku shivered and made a pleased sound deep in his throat.
“Stay with me,” said Hiraku, sliding against him. “Promise. Promise.”
Hiraku’s cock was sliding against his and his tails were waving restlessly. His eyes were half-closed, very gold and beautiful. Sakito shuddered and wrapped his hands around both of their cocks. Hiraku lifted his throat and crooned wordlessly, encouragingly. For a second Sakito wished the world would just stop like this. Forever, just him and Hiraku, and Hiraku bucking against him as he hissed between his teeth and came. He slumped down over Sakito, and they lay there for a second. “Promise,” said Hiraku, finally.
“I’ll see what I can do,” said Sakito. “Someone’s got to feed you.”