I do not own the Xiaolin Showdown characters, or the Xiaolin Showdown universe.
They are copyrighted and belong to Christie Hui and Warner Brothers.
The storyline, however, is mine. So no pilfering, please. Thanks.
TUN* Publishing Company
Kimiko smoothed her hand over her lavender tee shirt and pushed the drawer shut. With her laundry all put away, the chores were officially over for the day. Now she could grab her book, go outside, and enjoy the last rays of the sinking sun until it was time to go to bed.
She pulled the curtain of her cubicle shut behind her and headed down the hallway in the direction of the living room.
In the living room, she grabbed her book off the end table and was about to turn around when she heard the soft, but distinct sound of whistling. She stood still and tilted her head. Yes, that was definitely whistling coming from the kitchen. The owner of the tune was Raimundo, she was sure. She took a few steps in the direction of the kitchen and listened again. Yep, that was Rai. And when Rai was in a cheery enough mood to be whistling, it was sure to mean he was up to no good.
Slowly, she crept toward the kitchen, her footfalls silent and steady. When she got to the archway she peered around the frame. She wasn't exactly sure what she was expecting to see, but it certainly wasn't the sight of him pulling apart english muffins and placing them on a cookie sheet.
Curious now as to what on earth Rai was doing, she made her presence known. She straightened up, walked into the archway, and knocked on the wall.
Rai looked up at the noise and smiled upon seeing Kimiko standing there.
"Can I come in?" she asked.
A puzzled look came over his face. "Sure. Why couldn't you?"
She shrugged. "Well, I didn't know if you were doing something you wanted to be alone for."
His smile came back. "Nah. I'm just making pizza muffins."
The puzzled look that had previously been on Rai's face cropped up on Kimiko's. "Pizza muffins? What are pizza muffins?"
Rai stopped, a muffin in his hand, and looked at her, dumbfounded. "You've never heard of pizza muffins?"
She frowned. "In all the time we've been here, I've never heard any of you guys mention anything about something called pizza muffins."
Rai's expression turned thoughtful. "Hmmm. Well, come here."
She walked over to where he was standing and put her book down. "Okay. Now what?"
"Well," he began, "how many would you like?"
Kimiko looked from Rai to the muffins on the cookie sheet. "You have six muffins," she said, "can't I have two?"
Rai shook his head, an amused look on his face. "No, no, no," he replied. "This is only three muffins." He picked up three of the muffins and place them on top of the other three. "See? Three muffins. You split them in half. That's how you get double. So, how many do you want?"
Kimiko considered for a moment. "Give me….four?" she asked.
Rai smiled and picked up two muffins and handed one to her. The other one he put on the table in front of her. "Here," he said, "this is how you split them."
He took one of her hands in his and turned it over. He placed the muffin in the palm of her hand and took her other hand and placed it on top of the other side of the muffin.
Kimiko did nothing to fight him, although she was naturally a bit wary of whether or not he was going to try to pull something. He didn't seem to be though. She noticed that her heart was beating a little faster than it had been previously. She also noticed that his hands were warm. She swallowed suddenly, nervous for reasons she couldn't quite explain.
"Take your thumbs and stick them into this separation here," he said, pointing to the middle of the edge of the muffin where it seemed to have been cut in a zig-zag sort of pattern. She did as told and turned the muffin around in her hands, sliding them in between the separation to pull the muffin apart. She put that muffin down and picked the other one up and did the same.
"Now what?" she asked.
He took the split muffin she was still holding out of her hands again. His fingers brushed against hers and her breath quickened at the touch. Without thinking, she picked up the first muffin and held it while Rai placed the one he'd just taken from her on the cookie sheet. He then pulled the other muffin from her hand and put that down as well. His hands felt so…..strong, too.
"Now we'll put them in the oven on broil," he said. "This is the tricky part. You want the muffin to get a toasty golden brown color. You have to watch them like a hawk. If you don't, they'll burn and start smoking." He shook his head, his chestnut bangs falling into his eyes. "And burnt muffins aren't any fun to eat on any day of the week."
Rai turned the knob to 'broil' and pulled the oven door down. He pulled out a rack and slipped it into the top position. Then, he picked up the cookie sheet and slid it onto the rack. He pushed the oven door forward, leaving it open a crack. Finally, he pulled a chair away from the table and motioned for her to do likewise.
They sat in front of the oven, bent over so they could see through the glass of the door.
"So…..why don't you just eat regular pizza?" she asked. "I've seen you eat regular pizza. Heck, even Omi eats pizza. As long as it doesn't have any meat on it."
He shrugged. "I was in the mood for something a little different. Regular pizza dough is sometimes a little too dense and chewy. It depends on who makes it, I guess."
She gave him a sideways look. "I didn't realized you were such a pizza aficionado."
He grinned. "Oh, I'm an aficionado on all kinds of food." He paused. "They're starting to get brown now."
He leaned over to the side so he could see under the tilted door better. His hair brushed against hers and for some reason, instead of leaning away to give him more room she turned her head in his direction. He felt the movement and turned to look at her as well.
Their faces were only inches apart and Kimiko's eyes went wide. She sucked in a quick breath and straightened up. "Sorry," she said.
He was regarding her now with a strange expression on his face. "Gee, you didn't flinch when I held your hands." A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he spoke.
Kimiko felt her face getting hot. She thought furiously about what she could say to refute his statement. "Well, you were showing me how to split the muffin apart." That sounded totally lame, she knew. But Rai just nodded his head and made an "o" with his mouth and said nothing.
"Well, it's time to pull them out," he said suddenly.
He stood up and grabbed the oven mitts. After pulling the cookie sheet out he went over to the fridge and got out the butter, the pizza sauce, and some mozzarella cheese.
"Can you grab a knife and a table spoon?" he asked.
When Rai came back from the fridge she offered him the two utensils. Rai laughed softly. "Not a measuring tablespoon, Kimi. A regular table spoon. Like the kind we stick in the vegetables to scoop them out."
"Oh," Kimi replied, just a little crestfallen. "Well, I didn't know."
"It's okay," he said, keeping his tone light. "No harm done."
She came back with the regular table spoon and he stuck it in the jar of sauce and stirred it around.
"Now," he said, " we're going to put butter on them."
He picked up the knife, scooped some butter from the tub, and spread it on the muffins. After he was done, he handed the knife to her. She did the same, exactly the way she had seen him do it.
"And now for the sauce."
He scooped some sauce from the jar and put it on the muffins, swirling it with the back of the spoon as best he could on the small amount of space he had to work with.
"You can put just a little sauce on, or you can put a whole spoonful on if you want," he said.
He handed her the spoon and she stuck it in the jar. By this time, after having gone through six applications already, the jar had some sauce splashed on the rim of it. In the process of pulling the spoon out, Kimiko's fingers brushed against the rim and got some sauce on them. She gamely ignored the red substance and attended to her muffin. However, her hair decided at that moment to fall forward over her shoulder. She rolled her eyes and sighed. Without thinking, she dropped the spoon into the jar and reached up to push her hair back. Her fingers brushed against her neck in the process, transferring the sauce from her fingers to her neck.
"Aw, man," she said, feeling like a dork.
Rai reached up and grabbed a paper towel. "Here, let me get that for you," he said. She lifted her chin up so he could wipe the sauce away. Instead, he leaned down toward her and the next thing she knew, she felt his lips on her neck, his mouth moving to suck up the sauce there.
"Oh….." she muttered, unable to think of anything else to say. Her mind was suddenly very fuzzy and her breath came in quick gasps. The only thing she seemed to be aware of was the overpowering feeling of Rai's body being very, very close to hers and that his lips were on her neck. "Oh….." she tried again. "……Rai….." His scent was musky, but airy, and …….
Suddenly, snapping back to reality, she dropped her muffin and put her hands up to push him away.
"You tricked me!" she exclaimed. There was no anger in her voice even though she had wanted it to sound that way.
"No I didn't," he said, smiling. He took her hand in his, the one that had had the sauce on it, and used the paper towel to wipe what little there was left off of it. Kimiko wisely clamped her teeth together to keep from asking him why he didn't just suck the sauce off her fingers, too.
His face was awash in a good natured grin when he was done. "See?" he asked, "I was going to use the paper towel. You just thought it was for something else."
She huffed, but just couldn't quite seem to work up enough anger to be impressive. "You should be ashamed," she said.
"The only thing that's going to be shameful is if I don't rescue your muffin." He paused for a moment, holding her pizza muffin in mid-air. "Hmmmm. That sounded naughty, didn't it?" His eyes twinkled with mirth and Kimiko's face flushed.
"Just…..just put the cheese on!" she said.
Rai dutifully finished doctoring up the muffins "See? I'm putting cheese on your muffin….." his voice trailed off and he couldn't help laughing at his statement.
"Rai!" Kimiko yelled. But his name came out in a choking sort of way and she started to laugh in spite of herself. Rai was actually being genuinely funny; not at all in a pranksterish sort of way. For a moment, her heart soared. She felt a strong attraction to him in that instant and she found herself wondering – just how much did she like Raimundo Pedrosa?
Her mind flashed back to the kiss she had given him the day he'd been named Shoku. Sure, technically, it had only been a peck on the cheek, but still….. There were any number of ways he could have reacted. But he'd held her firmly in his arms and seemed to truly appreciate her offering of affection.
Rai finished sprinkling the last bit of cheese on the last muffin. He pulled the oven door down again and put the cookie sheet in. After only about one minute, the pizza muffins were finally done. As they sat on the counter cooling, Rai and Kimi closed up the condiments and cheese and put them back in the fridge. Rai got two plates and heaped the muffins on them. He put the plates down on the corner of the table so that he and Kimiko could sit facing each other.
Rai didn't say much after they sat down and first started eating. He asked her what she thought of the muffins and seemed glad of her reply that she liked them and they tasted really good. She wondered if he had been seized with some sense of shyness, or if he was just faking it.
Rai knocked down two pizza muffins in silence before he looked at her again and said anything.
"Um….Kimiko…..you know…..remember…. Oh, never mind….."
Rai frowned and started spinning one of his pizza muffins around on his plate. He did this for a few seconds before he picked it up and took a bite of it.
Kimiko's mind was whirling. He really must be struggling with his feelings judging by the way he faltered. What should she do? Did she truly like him enough to jump in and rescue the poor thing? Or should she just stay neutral for now and see how things panned out from here?
As Rai pulled the muffin from his mouth, the cheese thinned out into a string, the end of which remained attached to the muffin. Rai held the muffin at eye level and studied it. "Hmph," was all he said. He reached up with his other hand to break the cheese string loose from the muffin, but Kimiko suddenly made up her mind and placed her hand over his. She put his hand back down on the table.
"Here, let me get that for you," she said with a coy smile, repeating back to him the words he'd said earlier to her. She broke the cheese loose from the muffin, stood up and put it in her mouth. She placed her hands on the table to prop up her weight and, little by little, starting pulled the string of cheese into her mouth.
Rai's eyes went wide as he watched her eat her way toward him. He didn't make any move to recoil from her. She wasn't sure if he was scared, surprised, or mortified. The distance between them closed as she came to the end of the string of cheese which ended at Rai's mouth. Placing her lips on his, she nibbled the last bit of cheese away from him. She sat down and finished chewing and swallowing the cheese, making a point to lick her tongue over her lips at the end.
Rai swallowed hard and opened his mouth. No sound came out however, and he closed it. He kept staring at her, in a stunned sort of way, which she found rather endearing. The tops of his cheeks were a faint red color. He openend his mouth again and stammered, "Uh….um…."
She patted his hand. "Yes, I like you, too," she said. "We can talk about it later."
A few minutes passed, and Rai seemed to have finally calmed down enough to find his voice again.
"We…. really need to…..make these things more often," he said.
Kimiko gave him a sweet smile, her eyes shining, "Yes. Yes, we really do."
Now don't you want Rai to come to your house and help you make pizza muffins?
Of course you do.
3/8/09: The recipe for Pizza Muffins should be on the back of the Thomas's English Muffins box. At least that's where I got the recipe myself years ago.