Tales of the Nightfall
Part 1: Metamorphosis
Chapter 1: Encounter
Ruku awoke to the buzzing of his alarm clock. Reaching out from under the covers, Ruku’s paw came down hard on the clock, and, after fumbling blindly with it for a few moments, finally managed to turn it off. Groaning, he turned over onto his back, the cover half bellow him, half on top. Yawning to reveal rows of sharp teeth, he got up out of bed.
Dressed only in black boxers and a black undershirt, the 19 year old Fox walked into his bathroom. Suddenly he jumped into the air and began levitating to the hanging shelves above him. The shelves were of his own creation and were positioned throughout his one bedroom, one bath apartment. The shelves easily blended in with the ceiling which made them almost impossible to see. Because they were so high up, the only way to reach them was either by ladder, which he did not possess, or levitation.
"Mmm...lessee..." he said, groggily as he looked around each of the shelves, searching. "Ah!" he said as he found what he was looking for: his toothbrush, toothpaste, a hairbrush, and a comb.
After brushing his teeth, and brushing and combing his fur and hair, Ruku got dressed in black Levi's that had an extra section in the back, closed by a button, for his tail to go through and a black Chinese silk, sleeveless shirt that had the design of a golden, Japanese dragon on it.
As he entered the kitchen, he looked up at the clock for the first time. "Eight o' clock, huh?" he said, groaning "I'd better hurry or I'll be late..." He decided that, to save time so he could get to work on time, he'd just eat breakfast at the cafe.
Ruku worked at the 'Kafei Me no Neko' or 'Cat's Eye Cafe'. His boss, Rouge, didn't like him to be late and would sometimes dock his pay because of tardiness. Rouge's real name was Akemi Yamaguchi, she was called Rouge because most people thought she wore entirely too much of it. She didn’t mind being called that, but she would deny any one saying she wore too much of anything.
Ruku started working at the cafe three months ago, when Rouge had just become the manager and was looking for an exciting new name. When Ruku first presented the name 'Kafei Me no Neko' to her, she thought that the name was to cliché in English, but went with it anyway. When the cafe was filled with New York customers who said that they loved the cliché name, Rouge promoted Ruku to assistant manager.
Ruku arrived at the cafe with ten minutes to spare. "Ruku!" said Rogue, "Where have you been? You were almost late!" Ruku walked behind the counter, grabbed a blueberry muffin and stuffed it in his mouth. "Sorry," he said between mouthfuls, "I almost overslept...didn't get chance to...eat breakfast." With that said, he went into the back, still eating the muffin to get the new dark green aprons that read 'Cat's Eye Cafe.'
Compared to the old aprons, these were an improvement. The cafe's previous name was Sakura's Cafe; the aprons were pink and had the insignia of a Sakura -cherry blossom- flower on them. The cafe's employees loathed these aprons, but would’ve been fired had they refused to wear them.
Just as Ruku finished tying the apron around himself and swallowing the last bit of muffin, Rouge came in behind him and he got a good look at her for the first time that morning. Rogue was very beautiful female human. She had long black hair that came down to her shoulders, dark brown eyes, and, as mentioned before, seemed to always wear too much rouge. She wore long black khakis and white, short sleeve blouse. She also wore the cafe's apron, which had a black cat on it.
Just then the front door jingled. Ruku, heading back into the front area, said "Me no Neko ni irasshaimase!" He stopped short as he saw who was entering.
"Why thank you, Ruku." she said, "You're looking rather dark today."
Yukiko Haruno; she preferred to be called 'Yuko' which was short for her given name. Yuko was also a beautiful Japanese-American female. She had long black hair, red eyes, and a stare that made you think she was looking deep into your soul -the smile that accompanied it only made you feel creeped out.
“Yuko…” Ruku said dryly, his ears pointing outward and his tail sagging, "Hey, how's it going?"
“Now is that any way to treat your friend?” Yuko said as she walked up to him, “You wouldn’t want your little secret revealed now would you?” this she whispered in his ear.
“What’s you twos relationship anyway?” came Rouge’s voice from the door to the kitchen.
"Oh, there's no real relationship." Yuko said, "Aside from the fact that I know Ruku's deepest, most personal secret." Ruku frantically shook his head, and made the 'cut' gesture, but Yuko continued on. "A secret that he would tell his lover, but apparently not you, Rouge."
"Yuko, shut up!" Ruku said, but Rouge was on him in an instant, obviously mad.
“So! What this big secret of yours Ruku? You know I don't like people keeping secrets here."
Ruku looked at Yuko who was silently enjoying this, "Oh, go on, Ruku." she said, "Tell her, or I will."
"Don't you dare!" Ruku said.
Ever since Yuko caught him using his powers three months ago, she's been threatening to tell Rogue, who hates witchcraft. Yuko was also a witch, but she never showed Ruku her powers; nor did he ever catch her using her powers.
“It’s nice to see everyone getting along so well.” said another voice by the door.
“Are you blind?!” Ruku snapped at Raven.
Raven, like Yuko, was one of the waiters at the cafe. Raven’s real name was Adam Fitzgerald, but he liked Raven better. Raven, also human, was a few inches taller than Ruku. He had wavy, black hair and dark brown eyes. Raven was dresses in his usual black jeans and plain black t-shirt. Raven was typically a sarcastic person. He was always smiling so you could never tell what he was really thinking. In spite of this, he was actually a pretty good person to be around.
“The secret is...” Yuko finally said an angry, and fuming Rogue, as they all went back into the kitchen, “Ruku has a small crush on you.”
The red in Ruku’s fur turned scarlet as Rouge looked from him to Yuko, then finally said, “Oh, well, that’s no big secret. It’s not like Ruku hides it well.” They all had a laugh at Ruku’s expense, before Ruku finally joined in, chuckling embarrassed.
“Yeah, sure, the gay fox has a crush on the beautiful human,” Raven laughed, “We ALL believe that one.”
Rouge laughed, a small blush appearing on her cheeks as she glanced at Raven whom had called her beautiful. It was an actual compliment. She could tell he’d meant it; even through his laughter.
“Ruku, you are coming to Karaoke Night, right?” Rouge asked, once they had stopped laughing.
Karaoke Night! How could he have forgotten?! “Yeah, I’m coming.” he said.
Every month or so, they held a Karaoke Night at the cafe to promote business. Lots of people showed up to sing the different songs they had, some poor singers, others some of the best you’d ever heard.
“Ruku, we’re closing early today so that Yuko, Raven and I can set things up.” Rouge said, “Yuko said that you should leave us to it, for your own good.”
Rouge looked at Yuko before continuing, “Yuko will pick us all up around six so we can get here by seven.” Ruku nodded just before the door opened again, and their first customer of the day entered. She was a seemingly very nervous female.
“Welcome!” Ruku and Rogue both said at once, forgetting to use their normal Japanese greeting.
The woman entered, timidly. She was short, yet still taller than Ruku. She had long, flowing golden locks, a pale face, and hazel eyes. She wore a long, dark blue overcoat, and red high heels.
Her hazel eyes scanned the entrance way and dining area before finally falling on Ruku. She said, “I…I heard you make some of the best Chocolate Eclairs around…could I please have six?”
Ruku nodded, and went into the kitchen to begin making them.
Almost everything at Cat’s Eye Café was made and served fresh: coffee, tea, pastries. The only things that weren’t made soon as the customer ordered it were things that took too long to make and House Specialty items. Ruku was the Head Chef, and Yuko the assistant chef. Yuko generally only came back to help Ruku with certain large orders and to tell him of long term items on display that needed replacing.
Ruku didn’t mind working alone in the kitchen. In fact, he preferred it. It allowed him to use and practice his telekinesis. By now Ruku had such control over it that he no longer needed to look directly at the object to be moved but only to keep it in his peripheral vision. He still had to be careful, however, as Rouge could come into the kitchen at any moment, and he did NOT want to be caught using magick by her.
Raven had caught him once. He had simply raised an eyebrow, looked about for strings or hidden contraptions, then smirked and told him that he wouldn’t tell the ‘boss lady’ if Ruku didn’t. So far, he’d held up to that, and Ruku was grateful.
Out in the entrance are, Yuko stared at the woman with her soul-piercing eyes, as Rogue directed the woman to the counter and rang up the charge.
“That’ll be $9.50, please.” She said, smiling politely at the female,
As the woman paid in the exact amount, Yuko continued to watch her. Once she sat down, and began to wait, Yuko finally spoke. “Who are the Eclairs for?”
The woman looked up, blinking, “They are for…a friend…” she said.
Yuko didn’t say anything for a moment, then, “’A friend’? Who might this friend be?” The woman looked away from Yuko, blushing slightly.
“He’s…someone I’ve had a crush on for a long time…I plan on telling him so today with these Eclairs.” She pressed her fingers to her cherry lips, and giggled “He loves Eclairs.”
“You should be careful.” Yuko said, and the woman looked up suddenly,
Rogue and Raven watched the scene before them. This was not the first time Yuko had done something like this. It was as though Yuko really could see into a person’s soul and tell what they were thinking. She did this every few customers or so, giving advice or warnings as though she could see the future. She even did this to Ruku on a few occasions when he came in with a far too cheerful mood –or even a far too depressed mood.
It was odd though. Yuko never gave them this look. Even though she looked them both in the eyes, she had never once given either Raven nor Rouge –to their best remembrance – that soul piercing stare she so frequently gave to Ruku and all others. They wondered why that was. Had she already given them the stare when they weren’t looking? Had she already peered deep into the depths of their innermost psyche? They wondered.
“I am just saying that you should be careful.” Yuko continued, “If you haven’t told this person that you have a crush on them before now, then they may think you aren’t interested and will fall in love with another. Even if you give them subtle hints, not every guy can pick up on those. This ‘friend’ of yours may already have a girlfriend, or possible even a fiancée. Before you go and have you heart broken, make sure that this is not the case.”
The woman was looking at Yuko with obvious mixed emotions. She was angry at Yuko, yet scared at the same time. She knew that Yuko was most likely right, and yet she did not want to admit it. She looked away from Yuko, down at her lap, shaking.
They stood there in silence, until Ruku, ignorant of anything that had happened outside the kitchen, returned with a box of six Chocolate Eclairs. Smiling, and tail wagging, he held up the box as he entered through the double doors.
“Here’s your or…der…” he said, stopping short, his smile fading, “I…is everything alright?” he asked, noticing the solemn mood in the restaurant.
Yuko walked up to him, and took the box and gave it to the woman. “Yes, Ruku,” she said, “We were just having a little conversation.”
The woman took the package, sniffed and said with a slight bow,
“Thank you very much.” She said to Ruku, then turned to Yuko and added, “I’ll try to keep what you said in mind…” Then she left.
Ruku, unsure of what had happened, shrugged and returned to the kitchen.
“I have a feeling…” Yuko said, “That we will see her back here. Tomorrow.” Then she followed Ruku into the kitchen…
The lunch rush would be upon them soon; and so would the brief hour respite between breakfast and lunch. Ruku had already finished making the pumpkin scones which would be the day’s special as preparation for the harvest season starting in a few days. He was now brewing tea and setting up the little area at the side of the kitchen where the four of them would take their breaks together.
He set the fresh batch of pumpkin scones and red velvet cake pops which he’d made for them to eat at the center of the little, Japanese style table just as he heard the kettle on the stove whistle. Moving to get the kettle in his line of sight while as arranged the trays, plants and cups, he made the medium sized kettle lift off the stove and float over to him.
The kettle landed on the table, and he shut the stove off with his telekinesis just as Yuko entered through the double doors, followed closely by Raven and Rouge. Ruku smiled to them as they entered and took a spot at the table, motioning for them to sit. When they did, he put his paws together and said, “Itadakimasu.” the other three following suit.
As Ruku poured tea out for the Yuko, Raven and Rouge, before pouring himself a cup, Rouge took out her phone.
“Oh, Ruku, I downloaded the latest album from that singer you like, Kyyros.” She said, opening her music app and going to the artists section and pulling up the album called ‘Retro, Dance, Freak’ by the artist, Kyyros Reinard. “You were right, he is great.”
Ruku smiled as she selected a song from the album called, ‘Come Again’ to play. A male dragon’s voice, sweet and melodious flowed from her phone.
“It's Friday, I want to play, On Saturday don't want to stay, at home… Thinking of you… so let me party all night long…”
Rouge set the phone down next to plate, taking a pumpkin scone and biting into it as the j-pop song filled the small kitchen…
“See you later!” Ruku called as he waved goodbye to Yuko and Rouge.
He walked to the edge of the curb and held out his hand to signal a taxi. Just as he did, his eyes traveled across the street to the adjacent cafe. Sitting outside was a male fox who looked a few years older than Ruku. The fox had white fur on most of him, and orange fur everywhere else. He wore a dark blue trench coat over a black business suit.
As Ruku found himself staring, beginning to feel somewhat…odd. The fox looked up from the newspaper he was reading and his green eyes met Ruku’s blue ones. His breath caught. Those gorgeous green eyes shot down to Ruku’s feet, before traveling up his body to his spikey black and red hair before returning to meet his gaze.
Ruku, struggling to breathe again, blinked and waved sheepishly before realizing his hand had been in the aer to hail a taxi that was already present. He looked back up to see the other fox smiling bemused at him before clambering into the back seat of the taxi.
“S…sorry!” he said, quickly.
He looked back to see the fox still gazing at him, smiling warmly. There was something about the fox he couldn’t quite put a finger on. Whatever it was, it was enticing. He blushed and pulled his eyes from the fox’s muscles showing faintly through the trench coat to look at the annoyed looking, human taxi driver.
“Where to kid?” he asked, his tone showing just how annoyed he was.
“Sylvania Apartments, please.” Ruku replied, “110 Barrow Street.”
“Gotcha.” The cabby said, turning on the meter and taking off down the street.
Ruku looked back once more, but found the fox had gone. Where to, he didn’t know. What he did know was that he wanted to meet the fox whom had taken his breath from across the street. He wanted to look into those gorgeous green eyes once more. And he wanted to feel just how much muscle that trench coat hid...