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barrierwatching ([personal profile] barrierwatching) wrote in [community profile] ghostsugar2016-03-09 06:18 pm
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Every Fox Needs A Den, Every House Needs a God

Nao was busy in the small kitchen of the Kasuga home. She was putting the finishing touches on lunch, the trays laid out for five. She'd made cabbage rolls, a simple but homey, tasty dish which consisted of spiced ground pork and vegetables wrapped in a cabbage leaf and a slice of bacon, secured with a toothpick, then boiled in broth to cook.

She lined up the cabbage rolls on each plate and then added homemade pickled cucumber and carrot salad. A bowl of chilled silken tofu, a glass of iced buckwheat tea, and a sliced orange from the garden finished off the meal. Nao switched the plates and bowls around a bit! Trying to figure out how to best arrange them. Then she shrugged and picked up her grandmother's and mother's trays, balancing them carefully.

The two women were out in the family's fruit and vegetable garden, clearing weeds and tending to the plants.

"We need to get a chicken or two," Grandma was saying, bent over the tomatoes. "A hungry hen'd make short work of these tomato worms and grasshoppers."

"Find out where to get one, Mother, that's fine with me," Nao's mother replied, from where she was pruning and picking cucumbers. "Though how would we keep the wild animals from eating them? There's all sorts of foxes and badgers around."

Aha, a segue. "Speaking of eating," Nao spoke out, setting the trays on the veranda.

The two adult women stopped and straightened and began heading over, removing gloves and hats. "Oh, Nao," her mother said. "You've brought lunch for us! How thoughtful."

"Trying to butter us up, are you?" Grandma quipped. "Are you still on about giving House God-sama that gift? I already said yes. So, you've made us lunch for no reaso- Oh, what perfect cabbage rolls you've made, Little Girl. Just look at those, so perfectly uniform! You'll make a man very happy and proud someday.

Nao plastered a fake smile on at that compliment, which didn't feel like a compliment at all by her way of thinking. Grandma could be horribly old-fashioned in her way of thinking.

"Cabbage rolls are my favorite, Nao. Thank you for cooking." Nao's mother patted her shoulder and smiled. "House God-sama is coming to lunch, isn't he," she asked, a strained smile on her face. "Do... Do give him my regards. He is welcome, really. It just... brings back old times to see him about."

Nao blinked and nodded, clueless as to what that was supposed to mean. "He is coming, I hope! I have to go get ready, so please excuse me."

"Have a nice time," Nao's mother said with that same mysterious, sad smile.

"Don't eat all of the coconut cookies I made," Grandma announced. Then she added in a grumble, "He can have five."

Nao hurried off to the kitchen again and delivered the tray for Grandpa, who was taking a nap in the study. That left just the trays for herself and Shichiro.

Hmmm. Did they look unbalanced? Maybe she should have put more leaves and flowers around the food! Or some kind of sauce. Kimchee?
accidental_deity: (Side-eying So Hard)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-10 03:38 am (UTC)(link)
Shichiro had been kind of surprised when Nao invited him to lunch. Oh sure, that sort of thing was to be expected for full house gods, and Nao had started treating him as such, but he hadn't thought that she'd actually go through with it. An actual lunch, with food as an offering and everything... hah, if that didn't make him feel nostalgic, nothing would. Then again, perhaps he should have expected this, considering that Nao was such a determined young girl, and once she set her mind to something, nothing seemed to stop her. Just like her grandfather and his mother, and it seemed like life went around in another cycle again...

Those kinds of thoughts preoccupied him as he made his way up to the shrine. In human form, because Nao still didn't know him as the fox kit she had grown up with, and that was something to worry about later. No, he looked like a normal boy going to visit a friend, and he knocked on the door as such, as a guest. He knew a hundred ways to get in on his own, but today felt like a day for doing things properly.

Besides, he was curious to see what Nao had in mind. She had such interesting ideas, he'd be happy just to follow her lead for now.
accidental_deity: (Smirk)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-10 10:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Shichiro frowned when he heard Nao calling out. He knew her well enough that he could pick out the sounds of mild distress, which meant that she was in some sort of state. But what? His nose said there was cooking going on in the kitchen, but none that he was used to. Hrm.

When he got into the kitchen, he saw what it was. And he had to bite back a laugh. Even still, he snerked like anything, because poor Nao was fighting a losing war against frosting and gravity, but her stubbornness kept her from giving up on it. Something, clearly, had gone horribly wrong somewhere, and Shichiro was tempted to make it go even worse.

If it had been anyone other than Nao, he very likely would have. But. He was a benevolent house god now. He had to do some benevolent house god-y stuff, right?

So, he retrieved a pair of plates from where they were kept, and smoothly slid next to Nao. "Here. Let me." And, quick as a wink, he slid one layer onto one plate, and then slid the other onto the other. His reward? A smirk to Nao and fingertips covered in frosting, which he promptly cleaned with a happy hum.

"Mm, that's good! Did you make it yourself, Nao-chan?"
accidental_deity: (I Transformed)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-13 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
"Heh heh, see? It's just fine." Shichiro grinned at Nao's smile, glad to have put her heart at ease. Such a good gesture deserved the best possible result! The question of a 'refrigerator' made him blink, since he wasn't that used to the idea, but if Nao thought it the best course of action, Shichiro would take her word on it. "You just tell me where to put the cakes, and that's where they'll go, mm?"

And heh, Nao was so cute when she had a prideful look about her. Made his grin a little wider, too. "Then, let me keep one, and we can have the other two later, huh? That top one has all of your decorations on it already, let's have it."

Besides, he'd be honest, he was a bit of a glutton when it came to offerings, and his mouth watered at the temptation of chocolate and sugar and the energy put into making it for him. If Nao looked closely, she'd see that his shadow was starting to show the signs of tails and ears, because this kind of thing always got him a little careless.
accidental_deity: (Bloody and Demanding)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-15 12:41 am (UTC)(link)
"My shadow?" Shichiro spun around, and then cursed as he scowled at it. It quickly shifted back to its proper form, then he turned to Nao. Met her poker face. Encouraged her to guess. And...

And if he had fur, it'd fluff up in indignation. "I am not a nekomata! Three tails, not two!"
accidental_deity: (Bloody and Demanding)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-22 08:45 pm (UTC)(link)
"I am not! Who could confuse me for some dog!?" Shichiro snarled at that, enough that his fox-like teeth showed and his hair acted more like fur than anything else. "I'm a kitsune, kitsune! Hmph, who could confuse me for an inugami!?"
accidental_deity: (Bloody and Shocked)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-03-29 02:30 am (UTC)(link)
"Ah...!" Shichiro's jaw drop as he realized what had just happened. She'd out-foxed him! She'd gotten him to say what he really was, when he'd been keeping it to himself and wanting her to figure it out! He huffed, and had she not mollified him so effectively, he might well have kept growling. But she did, so instead, he found himself smiling.

And then... then there was inarizushi. Sweet, fried, seasoned, and utterly perfect inarizushi. Which meant, the instant Nao offered it to him, Shichiro swiped it off the tray and stuffed it into his mouth. Oh, the sweet explosion of taste and flavor! The tinge of power and energy that came from an offering! The wonderful texture and the equally wonderful filling!

"Mmm..." And Shichiro started sinking down to the floor, a dreamy smile on his face- along with some rice grains- as he wolfed down the treat. "It's so good, Nao-chan..."
accidental_deity: (Sleepy Fox)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-03 01:48 am (UTC)(link)
"Ah, well..." Shichiro grinned around the tofu. "This is a great start, Nao-chan. Mm..."

He refused to budge until he'd eaten down all of the inarizushi, no matter how Nao might ask. No, it was delicious and perfect, and he wouldn't think of anything else. Once it was all down, though, he picked up the tray and eagerly followed Nao. "Something in the garden? Like what?"
accidental_deity: (Happy)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-08 02:57 am (UTC)(link)
Now this was nostalgic. Shichiro remembered how Tadayuki had planted a lot of these plants, how the family for generations had cared for this place. A nice little oasis of order and tranquility in the dark lands of these mountains. Shichiro's smile took on a distant, wistful look, as he remembered other days of going through this garden, seeing it grow and change...

But there was something new, this time. That stone. Shichiro made his way over to it, his jaw dropping as he realized just how old, how valuable, how precious, this thing was. Had to have been around for centuries, storing up the prayers and wishes of generations of humans. And it resonated with him, in a way he couldn't quite describe. Like it was a jewel like his own, and the energy was all his own. That it was designed like a shrine already, with a new holy rope and offerings and all of that, made it even better.

After a long moment to consider it, Shichiro plopped down next to Nao and grinned at her. "You're amazing, Nao-chan. More than anyone knows, I think. Hah, finding something like that and setting it up like that... no house god could ask for anything better."
accidental_deity: (Don't You Know)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-12 01:45 am (UTC)(link)
"Huh, is that how humans used to deal with gods like me?" Shichiro blinked as he considered Nao, and then the stone in turn. It was kind of like an agreement, kind of like a contract, that would last for ages and ages. A little sad that it had been abandoned, but at least that worked out for the two of them.

Nao had sacrificed something very important to her, too, to make it all work. Good luck mattered to humans, and when Nao called it a treasure, she wasn't exaggerating. So she'd put forth great effort to get that stone here, and she'd tidied it up and made a proper shrine of it, sacrificed for it, made Shichiro an offering of exactly what he wanted...

It made Shichiro, a bit oddly, sigh and frown. He was touched, but... "Nao-chan... this is an awful lot to give anyone, even a house god. And I don't... I mean, what can I offer to match things like this?" He looked, if anything, a little lost, a little overwhelmed. "I'd expect to have to give something pretty major, to get a shrine like this, and you just give it to me..."
accidental_deity: (Side-eying So Hard)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-12 11:32 pm (UTC)(link)
The difference was, as far as Shichiro was concerned, pretty immaterial. It was a holy thingie that gave him power, and that was dedicated to him. That was pretty much the definition of a shrine, wasn't it?

Until Nao betrayed herself. Whereupon Shichiro slowly retrieved her chopsticks and frowned. "Nao-chan. Are you telling me that you're doing even more for me? A full-on shrine, even?"
accidental_deity: (Bloody and Demanding)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-17 09:12 pm (UTC)(link)
"You're building something for Hisashi? But he's barely a kitten! Working with a cat is going to be a nightmare..." Shichiro sighed, slumping his shoulders as he could already imagine the horrors playing out. It wasn't that Hisashi was a bad person, just... immature and very much unaware of how both gods and humans worked. Technically, he wasn't either, so Shichiro wasn't entirely sure how this would work, but that was a bit of theology he'd leave to those who would know better.

Instead, he again huffed, but this time, when he turned his head to the side... it was more like he couldn't meet her gaze, than that he didn't want to. Likewise, when he protested, it was far less like the reasonable explanations he'd usually give, and far more like excuses. "And what makes you think that I'd listen or care? Human wishes are silly, most times! And if you think I'm going to help some love-sick human get a date, or help them study when it's the night of, you're terribly mistaken. And if I did start answering them, that traps me anyway. Turning me from a household god to a shrine god, just like that. Hmph."

"Besides... what even makes you think I can grant prayers in the first place? I've done a terrible job so far, and you want all of the Academy to get a taste of it? You'd be better served to give up on the idea of me as a shrine god, and just answer the prayers yourself. And I'm far from the strongest god, anyway."

There, that had to be a wall of excuses and reasonings that even Nao couldn't break through, right? Even she had to be so intimidated by such things that she'd just give up the whole idea, surely! And that way Shichiro would never have to admit how badly he'd failed this family before, and never have to worry about failing the humans who might start putting some faith in him. He was a fox, first and foremost. He'd be happiest on his own, with just his small family and nothing more. Certainly nothing like what Nao was saying could possibly ever work.

...could it?
accidental_deity: (Heh Heh)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-21 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
He could choose which prayers to answer and deal with? That was something, at the least. Maintained his dignity as a fox-god, not having to jump whenever humans said so. He doubted that many people would ask for him not to hurt them, though, not considering the rules he had to work under. But... being a name they could believe in, providing them hope. That was very interesting.

Though Nao's guess made him scowl. "In another few decades, when I have another tail, it'll be different." But yes, he had hit a plateau. There was only so much that he could do to improve himself, after all, and he was already more powerful than he should be by rights. It was only natural that he should hit a plateau. Didn't make it easier to admit, though, and his natural huffiness only grew as he thought of it.

But then... then Nao spoke on. About how he was the strongest in her eyes. How he was special to her. How he deserved respect. And perhaps most importantly, how she just wanted to make him happy. It was such a Kasuga thing, thinking of others like that, and yet he knew he'd fall for it just like he always had. So frustrating, and yet, how could he possibly complain? "Ah, well... As long as I don't have to answer every tiny little prayer, I guess it might be fun. But."

He gave a smile, a foxy little grin that betrayed who he was more than his shadow ever could. "If I'm going to be a shrine god, I want all of it. Including you as my shrine maiden. And your koto playing. And the inarizushi. After all, you've got the strongest god on the mountain in your shrine, right?" He even flexed his arm and posed a little. After all, now that the matter was settled, why be too serious about it?
accidental_deity: (Fond Exasperation)

[personal profile] accidental_deity 2016-04-22 11:28 pm (UTC)(link)
"Yeah, it wouldn't be a good idea at all!" Shichiro nodded several times, grinning as though that had been his reasoning the whole time.

At her getting into the seiza position and bowing, though, he huffed and motioned for her to get up. "Now, now, I've known you since you couldn't get off of your hands and knees, I don't want to see you back that way. I may be your god, but bowing like that... that's not how I am. So we'll have those gifts, and talk, and that'll make me a much happier god."

He'd have to make sure that the family could afford those offerings, too. Somehow. Maybe he'd have to answer a few more prayers than he thought, to draw people back into giving their offerings for the Kasugas. Mm, yes, that might just work.

But he caught that bit of bitterness, in her eyes and in her voice, and he could guess what it was. Nobuyuki had felt it, Hina had felt it, and now Nao as well. But maybe... Shichiro's eyes softened. "I might be the only one physically here, but I'm kind of a special case. I know... at least, I know that Inari-okami-sama has a soft spot for this family. Otherwise she wouldn't have kept me here, right? So... even if I'm the only one who answers with a voice, I think there are others that hear you."

Not that he had given up his anger at those kami that just seemed to lie around and leech the devotion of someone like Nao, but he had softened a little. And he was starting to understand just how complicated the relationships between kami and humans were. Especially in the dark lands of these mountains.

At the nudge, Shichiro took one of the cabbage rolls and bit into it... and then nearly choked when she asked about Hisashi. For a few seconds, all he could do was cough and gag on both food and name, and when he'd recovered, he grumbled, "Must we talk about him while I eat? He's... so immature."

Shichiro huffed again. Not that he was angry, but Hisashi was an even weirder case than he himself. "He's still more kitten than anything else. Proud, in denial about his own superiority and importance, impetuous, ignorant of a lot of human nuances, insists on keeping his own secrets, easily excitable, forgets anything that he doesn't want to admit, can get himself into trouble he can't get out of..."

"I could go on, but you get the idea." Shichiro frowned at his cabbage rolls, as though they were the ones responsible for his frustration. Then, though, he sighed and looked up at Nao. "But he does have a good heart, and it's in the right place. He wants to avoid becoming a monster, he wants to do the best he can. I think he feels that he owes humans something, too. He's rather protective, in his very feline way. I think he wants to be a god both for the purely selfish reason that he likes being important, but also because it seems like the best way to make things better around here."

"I guess... what I think about him is that he is a good enough person, and he won't do wrong in this. I just think he might not do 'right,' exactly, and it'll definitely go to his head. He's such a handful, I swear."

Which Shichiro punctuated with a doleful, put-upon sigh, as he plucked up another roll and munched on it. Of course, Shichiro didn't see himself in any of those descriptions, not at all. It was a beast's prerogative to its own self-image, after all.

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