Yukino had never really noticed the small, compacted sushi restaurant that sat between the two towering apartment buildings. Every Sunday morning, Yukino walked down past the apartments and the restaurant, wearing her Sunday best. Although she never planned to go anywhere specific, she enjoyed the brisk morning walks. The walks were a beloved past time of hers, ever since she had started her university career last month. Today, Yukino sported a white dress with a light blue floral pattern, with a white hat tied with a silk ribbon to match. As she passed the sushi restaurant, she took a look inside through the window. Smiling, she then continued on with her walk, thinking to herself that it might be fun to eat there later that day.
During her walk, Yukino went all about town, looking throughout all the stores and the public parks found within the city. Being unfamiliar with the place, Yukino soon lost track of the time, and quickly rushed home late that night. However, before she could return back to her university dorm room, the wind picked up and a heavy sheet of rain cascaded down from the once-clear sky. It was raining hard; the drops of water stinging Yukino’s face and the swift wind chilling her to the bone. She looked around the empty streets, looking for anywhere that had some cover from the cold wind, or at least from the brutal rain. There was a light a little ways away from her; it was coming from the sushi restaurant.
She stepped into the restaurant, the door ringing with an airy chime, and pulled off her soaking wet hat. Grumbling to herself, Yukino strained the freezing rain out of her dress. A voice called out to her from the kitchen: “Excuse me miss, but we’re closed.”
The voice was polite, yet seemed somewhat annoyed. A young man stepped out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on the apron he wore around himself.
Yukino replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. It’s just that there’s a terrible storm out there, and I…well, would it be alright if I stayed here, please? Only until the storm stops?” Yukino shifted from one foot to the other, her shoes filled with rainwater, as she nervously straightened her wet hair out of her face.
The man looked at Yukino and smiled. “I suppose…” he said, “I suppose I can let you stay. Would you like anything to eat?” At that, he motioned towards one of the tables, and pulled out a chair for her to sit.
Yukino was about to take a step forward, but stopped. She felt embarrassed; she was soaking wet in a fancy dress, and she felt as if she were imposing on this man’s kindness. She shook her head with a quiet, “No thank you.”
The man answered, somewhat in a disappointed tone, “Ah…I see.” However, after a moment’s silence, the smile crept back onto his face. Bowing, he said, “Ah, where are my manners? My name is Toshi. And may I ask for this lovely lady’s name?”
Blushing at the compliment, Yukino replied, “My name is Yukino. Nice to meet you, Toshi.”
The restaurant door began to open as she was ending her sentences, the bell slightly shaking back and forth. Yukino and Toshi turned towards the door. Pushing it open was a set of long, skinny fingers. The rest of the customer’s body entered the restaurant.
The customer was something you’d expect out of a fairy tale. Extremely tall, the customer stood well over nine feet. As ill proportioned as his height, he was also incredibly thin, his neck no thicker than Yukino’s thumb, and his waist smaller than her wrist. The customer was dressed in a pitch black tuxedo, with a top hat adding to his already ridiculous height. But the strangest feature of the customer was his face. Perfectly spherical, the customer had two pinpoint, black dots for eyes, and a grin that spread clear across his pure, white face. Inside his mouth were numerous sharp, daggered teeth. Without a single drop of rain on him, the customer looked around the restaurant.
“Good evening Toshi. I don’t suppose you’re serving…who is she?” the customer asked, pointing a slender finger at Yukino. “My, what a lovely little lady! She looks…utterly delicious!” he said, as he staggered up to her.
At first, Yukino took it as a compliment; however, she quickly stepped back after hearing Toshi call out from the kitchen, “Okage, she’s not here to be eaten; I’m preparing something else for you tonight.”
Okage, the customer, apparently answering to his name, called to the back of the kitchen. “Oh? Then what is she?”
Toshi poked his head out of the kitchen and replied casually, “She’s a guest.”
Okage turned to look at Yukino. The grin on his face had suddenly turned to frown. Still bearing his teeth however, Okage began to shake violently. “A guest!? I am Okage, the Demon King!!! I will not dine with a mere human!!!” With that, his black pupils began to grow. Eventually, the pools of darkness enveloped his entire head. What used to be his face was now a bubbling abyss of black fluids, dripping down onto the floor. Hissing, the black liquids ate away at the tiles, as Okage leapt towards Toshi in a frenzied stagger. “A human, Toshi!? These filthy humans dine at your restaurant in the daytime; but once it is night, your restaurant belongs to us spirits! Your restaurant belongs to me!!!”
Toshi stood his ground, with a slightly irritated look on his face, as if he had often dealt with complaining customers. By now, Yukino’s legs had collapsed underneath her, as she shook with fear. Spirits!? Demon Kings!? What…what is this!? What have I gotten myself into!? Yukino thought, as she watched Okage’s face sprout arms from the messy, putrid fluid. The arms slowly reached for Toshi’s neck, but before they could, Yukino stood up with a sudden courage.
“Stop! Don’t hurt Toshi! I’ll…I’ll go. The storm’s letting up anyways!”
Toshi turned with surprise, and eventually, Okage’s head slowly and jerkily turned towards Yukino. The black liquid began to shrink, compacting itself back into the spots where it once represented eyes.
There was a short silence, as Yukino walked towards the door. However, Toshi spoke out as she was about to pushed it open, “Wait! Yukino, it’s still dangerous out there! Okage, I‘m sure a gentleman, such as yourself, would not send a young lady out into a storm?”
Okage stared at Yukino. Clearing his throat, the Demon King straightened his glossy, smooth bowtie. Yukino stood in front of the door, her hand on the handle, unsure whether she should leave or not. There was a long silence, as Okage pulled down his top hat, flipped it over, and with a light tap, poured out a large amount of the black muck. Clearing his throat once more, Okage answered, “Very well. It may stay.” Choosing the table furthest away from Yukino, Okage sat down, calling out, “Toshi, get me some onigiri and some kappamaki.”
Yukino called out with a huff, “This it has a name, you know! My name is Yukino!”
With the same jerky motions from before, Okage turned his head towards her. Grinning, he countered with a quip, “It’s not that I don’t know your name human, it’s that I don’t care.”
Yukino, either no longer afraid of the demon or too blind with rage, stormed up to Okage’s table. Slamming her hands onto the surface, she shouted, “Listen you! You are very rude! For a king, you really are a brat!”
Okage stared at Yukino’s intense eyes, and his grin quickly turned to furious frown. Toshi poked his head out the kitchen a second time with another look of fear on his face. In a single moment, Okage erupted from out of his chair in a sea of raging black fluids that seemed to spark like fire. He had completely lost his original shape, now an amorphous shadow that glowed with a bloodthirsty red. Two small slits of white fire had replaced his eyes, and a mouth with fangs that dripped disgustingly had appeared on what seemed to be his face. Blue and white flames spewed out of his mouth, heating the room in an instant. Yukino stood her ground and showed no signs of fear, even though she could feel the flames lick at her face. They were hot, but did not burn her.
Okage spoke, his voice now raspy and echoing throughout her mind, “Ungrateful worm!!!” He lunged at Yukino, mouth opened wide, eager to swallow her whole. However, before he could reach her, she picked up a small bowl off of the table, and chucked it casually into the raging demon’s mouth. Okage stopped, his mouth inches above Yukino’s head. His eyes widened and the flames within his mouth were quickly extinguished. Smoke escaped his mouth in black clouds, as he screamed in pain, “Human, what have you done to me!?”
Yukino crossed her arms against her chest, and replied matter-of-factly, “Wasabi. How’s it taste?”
Screaming, the Demon King flipped over the tables and chairs, hurling them in random directions as he crashed into the kitchen room in search of water. Toshi ran from the room, his apron sailing from the sudden rush. Looking around, Toshi ran up to Yukino, who remained unmoved. “Are…are you alright?” he asked. Yukino nodded, still staring in the direction of the doorway to the kitchen. Things went silent.
After a moment of absolute stillness, something moved from inside the kitchen. There was a noise of something shuffling across the floor, bumping into pots and pans. Long legs and all, Okage stepped out from the doorway. Although he was back to his original form, his clothes were tattered and ripped; his neatly tucked dress shirt had been stained black and was pulled out, and his top hat no longer stood straight and tall. And like his hat, Okage slumped along the floor, his face filled with stubborn annoyance.
The Demon King slowly staggered towards Yukino. Looking down at her, face to face, he asked, “You’re not afraid of me, are you?”
Yukino nodded. Okage quickly turned on his heels, cleared his throat, and announced, “Obviously, I do not want you here. And, as I have should expect, you don’t want me here either.” Spinning his head around in a complete 180 degrees to face Yukino, Okage continued, “Therefore, how shall we deal with one another? You will not leave, and I will most certainly not go, so what do you suppose we shall do to settle this? An eating contest, perhaps?” Okage suggested, as he pretended to yawn, stretching his mouth wide enough to easily engulf Yukino. “Or maybe…”
Yukino interrupted the demon’s thoughts as she declared, “Who said I wanted you to leave?”
Okage shut his mouth, and turned towards the tiny human who had turned his night into a living hell. He eyed her suspiciously, and then asked, “What do you mean?”
She thought for a moment, and then smiled. “At first, I came here to get out of the rain, but the situation’s changed. I think I would rather like to eat here tonight, and I could use some company. What do you say, Okage?”
Okage had never met anyone who was not afraid of him; at least, not any human. What surprised him even more however, was the fact that anyone could actually consider a demon king as “company.” Perhaps…perhaps he too, would like some company. Grinning, Okage announced, “Fine, but you’re paying the bill.”
Yukino laughed, as she called out, “Toshi, may I order an inari-zushi? Oh, and Toshi, please eat with us as well! And Okage, help me with the table, please?”
Yukino and Okage picked up an upturned table and placed a set of chairs around it. Wiping off the black liquid and spray of condiments, the two of them sat down.
Toshi arrived later with the sushi and the rolls. After placing them down in their respective places, Toshi sat down next to Yukino. Okage reached for a pair of chopsticks, unevenly breaking them down the middle with a hushed curse. And Yukino sat comfortably in her chair, watching her newfound friends sitting beside her. She thought quietly of how a mere rainfall and a slight breeze had caused her to stumble into a sushi restaurant for spirits and demons. Smiling to herself, she realized that simple things weren’t always what they seemed.