Petite Recette du Bonheur
A Tiny Recipe of Happiness
このサンタ、激細いだ。This Santa is, Extremely Thin.
There were two souls on the rooftop that night.
It was extremely freezing; every breath we exhaled turned into white smoke.
Just then, I heard a loud deliberate sigh. I turned towards my left and saw the young man sitting on the ends of my long red scarf. He looked at me as if he was not going to accept my beliefs and pointed to the empty sky.
"It won't happen today," He said it in a manner as if he was a clairvoyant and seized the current opportunity to leave the rooftop.
"But it's so cold! It'll definitely happen!" I protested like a child and prevented him from leaving. The tip of my nose had gone red due to the cold; it kind of reminded me of the reindeer that stood out from the rest. I rubbed my nose and smiled to myself. I was contented waiting for something that had a low possibility of happening.
"Whatever," He never said a word after that, he just gazed and allowed his mind to drift off along with the chilly winds.
Later it was said that Santa stashed away all the snow, and kept them in his kitchen.
It was a much-cherished morning of long-awaited peace and tranquility for the skinny pale-skinned man. His thick brown trench coat pretty much sheltered his frail body from the cold but he didn't seemed to be bothered by it – he knew he wouldn't even be affected by the strong winds even if he were to bare all of his skin – the winter wear was just an act to look normal.
If he had a much cheerful personality, he would have been seen prancing like a gazelle down the granite slabs – but that wasn't the case for him. While there wasn't a slight smile on his gloomy expression, he knew that his mood had taken on a positive side because he wasn't as drained out as yesterday. His face wasn't showing any change in expressions, but one could notice that the eyebrows were not knitted together, and that he seemed more relaxed today. This was all thanks to his devious plan to shake himself off the noisy pesky bird – he told her to select her own furniture with an envelope of money stashed in her pockets. That way, the girl would be able to find something of her own preference and given a fixed budget, she would not overspend. He would not have to follow her around as she makes her purchase decisions. The most important of it all, she would leave him alone until night falls.
I began to hum the same old melody that lingered in my head.
For a brief moment, the young man recalled the events that happened in the morning. In his head, he couldn't remember the words he said, nor the actions he did. He began to wonder if his memory was diminishing. Instead, the girl's large round eyes and her cherry lips were etched in his mind as if that was the only thing that occurred a few hours ago. He gradually traced back to the dish he prepared for her, and the comments she made. The girl seemed to quiet down her incessant ramblings after being fed with food. He concluded that perhaps if he had placed greater effort in preparing his dishes, the girl might stay silent for longer periods – he would not have to waste too much energy responding to her.
It was as if the youthful-looking man had cracked an unsolvable code, he gave his own right shoulder a silent pat before he made his turn at a cross-junction. The streets were filled with people on their bicycles travelling down to get their weekly supply of groceries. The surrounding atmosphere was sizzling with sounds from all walks of life – there were children playing tag at the park as the adults busied themselves with haggling bargains. Something didn't seem right for the man – he didn't think that the sounds he heard were annoying. While the frequency was messy due to a combination of different voices, he didn't felt the need to shut off his ears.
There is something wrong going on with her voice.
He thought to himself, perhaps the reason lies behind the pitch of her voice.
"Okay, Ulquiorra," He said to himself as he waited for his turn at the pedestrian crossing.
Forget about this morning.
Ulquiorra placed his hands into the pockets of his trench coat and made his way to the marketplace and stocked up on the missing ingredients for the menu for tomorrow. He had decided to close the restaurant for the day so that he could give his newly hired waitress some form of orientation to familiarize herself with the place. He bowed politely as the old lady handed over his bag of castor sugar. She poked him in the shoulder as she teased his sudden decision to hire the orange-haired waitress. Ulquiorra frowned at her, but the old lady didn't seem to be bothered by his change in body language.
"She's lovable," The old lady smiled at Ulquiorra.
"This means, you are going to have a hard time with her," She broke into a soft chuckle as she landed two solid pats on Ulquiorra's thin frame. It was not of his nature that he would retaliate her words with his own; he thanked her politely and walked off.
I'm already having a hard time.
Ulquiorra then made purchases at the corner store where they sold cleaning items. He decided to use the remaining time to fix and clean his baking oven. There was always a sense of serenity whenever he's working with the oven. He walked briskly back to his kitchen. As far as he was eager to start work on the malfunctioning oven, Ulquiorra never failed to heed pedestrian rules – it was his way of salvaging as much as his routine lifestyle as possible.
Back in the kitchen, the first thing Ulquiorra did was to pour a fraction of the castor sugar in a see-through container for easy usage. He cleaned his hands and fitted on a pair of gloves as he switched off the main power of the oven. Ulquiorra was born with an extremely slender built, it didn't require him a lot of effort to allow half of his body into the baking oven. He scanned for the culprit that gave off the burnt whiff in the cakes yesterday, and found it effortlessly with the torchlight in his mouth. He yanked out the old light tubes and began scrubbing every single portion of the oven meticulously. It didn't matter to him that his face was stained with soot; he just wanted to fix the oven as soon as possible. After two hours of thorough cleaning, Ulquiorra replaced the tubes with new ones and heated up a bowl of lemon water to diffuse the fresh smell around the now-polished oven.
It wasn't tiring at all.
Ulquiorra began to wonder the reason why he seemed to feel more refreshed, now that his oven was back to normal. Unlike the events that he went through with the girl, Ulquiorra felt so much at ease now when he's at his comfort zone. There was a sudden urge to bake something and he had mapped out every single procedure in his head; but Ulquiorra promised himself that the restaurant was closed for the day.
The wall clock hanging above the window overlooking the kitchen was telling Ulquiorra that the sun would set very soon. It did not bother him too much that the girl wasn't coming back – in fact he wouldn't even feel cheated if she ran away with his envelope of money now. As the second-hand made several revolutions around the hour hands, Ulquiorra found himself tossing a dime from the change he received from the old lady.
Heads, she'll be back.
The dime flipped a few times before it made its descent back to Ulquiorra's palm. It was at that moment Ulquiorra realised, that he didn't really need to flip that coin.
"I'm back!" That familiar voice echoed from the window. The young man dragged his feet towards the source and realised the girl was tiptoeing and waving vigourously at the same time.
"Can you help me with all these?" She pleaded with her fingers crossed; as if she was making a prayer with her eyes wide open. Her eyes blinked rhythmically, like she was sending some kind of a mental signal to him.
How did you manage to get so much stuff?
"Ah," It seemed like the girl knew what Ulquiorra wanted to say in his one-worded question.
"I bargained of course. And then I told them I was your waitress. They all nodded and began giving me stuff I didn't even order. It seems like everyone likes you a lot," She explained and unloaded some of them off the cart.
"Most of the stuff will arrive tomorrow morning. I guess I will be sleeping in the living room again. Meanwhile, can you carry these for me? Please?" She waved some of the bags high up for me to look at it.
What are these…they don't seem to look like furniture to me?
"Ah, it's Christmas Eve today. I would usually wear red boots and wait for Santa until he arrives at my doorstep," She grinned at her shopping bags.
What nonsensical stuff is she saying again?
"There is no such thing as Santa," Ulquiorra frowned as he lifted with little effort some of her purchases with both arms. As she did not interrupt Ulquiorra in the midst of the conversation, he managed to finish saying what he wants to say.
"That's because you don't believe in it," She pouted her lips sideways.
"How about I show you that he exists?" She pointed her finger at me.
"If he doesn't appear?"
"I'll leave this place," She stared firmly into Ulquiorra's eyes as if to say that she really meant business.
It didn't seem like a bad deal for me.
Ulquiorra thought to himself that perhaps today was his lucky day. He got his oven fixed quicker than he had expected and now she's making a deal to leave this place.
"If Santa really appears, you'll make me breakfast the next day," She bent forward and gave Ulquiorra a smirk, before she ran off frantically back to the house.
It was Christmas Eve; there was so much for Inoue Orihime to do. She had to figure what to wear in order to keep herself warm as she had intended to camp outside like she always did when she was a child. She had always dreamt of meeting Santa so that she could ask him questions about her brother in Heaven – whether he's eating fine, whether he's still smiling and if he had any messages for her. Orihime never wanted any Christmas presents, she only wanted an assurance from Santa that her brother was doing fine. Every year, at this point of time, Orihime would dress herself in a red scarf and a pair of red boots and wait at the doorstep for the legendary bubbly old man.
This time, there was something extra for Inoue Orihime to accomplish on Christmas Eve – she had to convince her employer that the old man existed, even if she hadn't seen him before. It was impulsive of her to actually set such a huge wager on it, but she did not like the way he denied something so easily without even considering her feelings.
Then again, why am I so worked up over this?
I must be really protective over Santa!
So you better arrive today, or I'll have to wander round the streets!
Orihime made a tiny little prayer to herself before she wrapped the scarf round her neck. She put on her pink gloves and fitted on her newly bought red boots. She opened the door and crept stealthily towards the door – she didn't want him to notice that she was going out to wait for the man. If Santa really arrives, Orihime had initially planned to take him to the house and show her employer that everything she believed was true. She was, however, stopped by the skeptical employer when he opened his room door.
"He won't arrive, woman," Ulquiorra sighed out at how stubborn the orange-headed girl was. Orihime decided to defend Santa with all her might today – she yanked his left wrist and took him to the rooftop of the apartment.
"That case, we'll wait here until he arrives. I'm sure he'll come today," Orihime pointed to the night sky.
"Whatever. There's nothing else for me do anyway," He sat on the ledge without fearing that he might fall to his death if he lost his balance or slipped on the icy surface.
"Can I sit there too?" Orihime raised both of her hands and had Ulquiorra lifted her effortlessly up. She cuddled close to the man, who felt awkward instantaneously and distanced himself.
It was really cold that night, but that man never shivered nor trembled.
He sat on the ledge in his thin long-sleeved top as if it wasn't winter.
His side profile looked so sharp and his eyelashes were so long like that of a girl.
We managed to talk a little and I told him all about the bubbly old man.
He wasn't interested in him at all, but he responded to every question.
Won't you come a bit sooner, Santa?
I'm running out of words.
"I win, woman," He stood up on the ledge and jumped down gracefully with his hands tucked at the pockets. Ulquiorra realised the two of them had been sitting on the ledge for three hours, waiting for snow to arrive.
"Can I leave tomorrow morning?" Orihime sulked and pleaded for a little time extension. Ulquiorra nodded and head towards the staircase. As he took the first step down, he heard her singing that old song again – this time with full lyrics. No one would know of the exact tune in this era, unless it was handed down by generations.
The girl with the melody of the world,
When she plays to the blue ceiling,
The bells would chime and ring.
And her people would continue to sing
"On the day where the stars would link
You and I would have a chance meeting!"
There is no way anyone would know the lyrics to this song, because it was meant as a secret Ulquiorra had kept for so long inside him. There could only be one other person who knew the entire verse of the song. He didn't want the girl to go away that soon – he wanted to know how she knew every single word of the poetry.
"Woman," He turned back and stopped in front of her.
"He's not here again this year," Orihime was crying as she looked at the starry sky one last time before climbing the steps down, but her employer was blocking her way.
"He's here," He said those seemingly childish words with a serious expression. Orihime knew that Santa is a figment of imagination by the living people on Earth, after testing out the experiment for so many years. She just wanted to defied logic for a while and escape into an alternate dimension where fantasies were real.
I was saved by his clueless yet serious words.
He probably never saw snow all his life.
And yet, he tells me child-like stuff like "Santa's here."
Ulquiorra took Orihime to the rooftop again.
"Wait here and close your eyes," He made sure that her eyes were close before he went back to the apartment.
In the past, when I did this to her,
She would run around and catch as much as she could.
Would you do the same too?
Ulquiorra took along with him a see-through container. He climbed onto the ledge and began to sprinkle the white castor sugar he bought this morning onto the little girl. Orihime opened her eyes even before he told her to, witnessing the first snowfall of the season. She beamed excitedly and laughed at how foolish-looking her employer looked as he continued to repeat his actions.
"It's snowing! It's really snowing!" She exclaimed and ran around the place, her palms outstretched; in a similar manner Ulquiorra had pictured her to be. Ulquiorra realised that he had done all of these unexpected antics to relive part of his past memories. The times he spent with that special someone, and how he stopped celebrating Christmas after her departure. He realised that by doing this to her, he had indirectly admitted defeat to her wager.
That night, Santa really came.
He was thinner than I had expected to be.
He wasn't an old man too.
The snowflakes that fluttered onto my head and gloves,
Were white, powdery and sweet.
When I asked Santa, "Where did you keep all these snow?"
He replied, with a stern face, "I stashed them away in the kitchen."
So that's why this town never snows during Christmas.
*clears dust* Boo! It's been almost one year since I last updated this chapter.
I can imagine your face when you see the notification in your inbox - no it's not a dream. haha
I truly truly apologise for the really long wait, especially when I lost the initial Chapter 2 (this is a entirely re-written one) to a crashed hard-disk.
And because it's been 12 months since I started this fic, I can't remember what I had initially wanted to write about XDD
There are quite a lot of possibilities to this fic =)
Since it's the month of December, I made this chapter a Christmas one.
Wahaha Santa Ulquiorra~~*loves*
Hope everyone likes it. I was really surprised there were quite a lot of reviews for this.
See you in the next chapter,