Chapter 9 – ‘Fresh’ Dinner
Zhang Shaoyu fell asleep on the sofa.
Lizz leaned on the kitchen’s door. Her body felt hot, as if she’d soaked in a hot bath for too long… Her heart was thumping so loudly it felt as if it would burst out of her chest at any moment.
“What is this feeling?” Lizz placed her palm on her chest as she tried to force the feeling down, but she only made it grow stronger. Lizz tried to steady her breath as her chest heaved up and down.
She grit her teeth and cursed herself in her mind: What am I thinking? Even if I’m ‘technically’ his girlfriend, how could I possibly fall for him? My goal is the magic power of the Sacred Blood Stone, not his affections! He stole the Sacred Blood Stone from me! I hate him! That bastard can just stay a virgin his whole life!
With those thoughts in her mind, Lizz finally steeled her heart and forced herself to calm down. She took a deep breath, reaffirmed her mission, and went back to cooking.
“Shaoyu, Shaoyu! Wake up!”
He did not know for how long he was asleep, but upon hearing Lizz’s voice, Shaoyu slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was Lizz’s beautiful smile; she looked like a cute young newlywed.
Zhang Shaoyu groggily pushed himself up into a sitting position. He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was 7:30 PM. The time made him pause for a moment. He hadn’t expected to sleep for so long, and looking out the window, he found that it was already dark outside.
He stood up and saw several dishes on the dining table, and thought: Oh no! She must have been waiting for me so we could eat lunch together, but since she didn’t want to wake me up, she must have held herself back from eating until now!
With that, Zhang Shaoyu felt both touched and a little embarrassed. “Lizz, sorry, I fell asleep,” he apologized. “Your food must be cold by now… Do you want me to warm it up?(1)”
Lizz’s face turned puzzled. “How could the food have gone cold? I just finished cooking.”
“Huh?” Zhang Shaoyu’s confusion was evident from his expression. “You just finished cooking lunch?” He then looked at the antique 1973’s clock on the wall. “Is my eyesight going or is the clock showing its age? I swear it says its 7:30.”(2)
Lizz answered matter-of-factly, “What are you talking about, of course it’s 7:30! Are you still half asleep?”
“What?!” Zhang Shaoyu was stunned. “Didn’t you say you were going to cook lunch? It took you six hours? What kind of grand imperial feast did you make?”
Lizz’s cheeks puffed up with anger. “What are you talking about?! The ingredients you had in that ice coffin weren’t fresh at all! Especially the fish! Do you know how much effort it took to make them fresh? A lot of effort! And you have the nerve to say I took a long time!”
“Fresh? That fish has been in there for almost two weeks, how could you possibly make it fresh? Also, that’s not an ice coffin, it’s called a refrigerator! Saying creepy things like that makes my house sound like a morgue!”
“Whatever, let’s eat quickly before it gets cold.” Lizz pulled Zhang Shaoyu towards the dining table as she spoke. Sitting down, Zhang Shaoyu found that all three dishes were covered, making them look just a bit mysterious. Lizz excitedly told him, “Quick, take the lid off and have a look!”
“Okay! Here goes nothing!” Lizz’s excitement had infected Zhang Shaoyu. He opened the lid of the nearest dish, peering at what was inside. The moment he saw the food however, his excitement gave way to a blank stare. “Wh-What is this?”
He saw a Chinese flowering cabbage in front of him. And that was it. The green vegetable looked like it had just been plucked out of the field, complete with the scent of fresh soil.
“It’s a vegetable!” Lizz replied with a beaming smile.
Zhang Shaoyu was tempted to retort with: ‘Anyone can see that it’s a vegetable! I want to know why it’s raw!’ but held himself back, thinking: Calm down! Calm down! This must be one of her pranks!
With that in mind, he reached for the second plate. Inside were two red tomatoes, shining so brightly red, and still wet with dew. The surface of the two fruits seemed to exude freshness…
Still, even though he had been thoroughly disheartened, Zhang Shaoyu mustered all the courage he could and reached for the third lid. However, the moment he opened it, he lost all his spirit and slumped down in his seat.
Inside it was a fish. A strong, definitely alive fish, jumping as high as one meter before doing a 361o spin(3) and dropping back onto the plate, wiggling as a display of its vitality.
Zhang Shaoyu picked the fish up and watched it struggle in the air as he held it. He couldn’t hold himself back anymore and finally gave voice to his complaints. “This is too damned fresh!”
In the magical community, Lizz’s teacher often told her that both animals and plants contained some measure of magical power. If eaten raw, it would grant the consumer with magical power comparable to one day’s worth of meditation. Thus, Lizz had tried to live her everyday life only consuming raw food, but for what’s worth, she was still a girl. How could she bear the stench of raw food? With that, Lizz only ate once per day. While everyone else enjoyed their meals, Lizz dreaded her everyday mealtime.
To help Zhang Shaoyu learn magic, she was even so ‘considerate’ as to use her magic to revive the dead fish. The magical circle she had to draw to achieve this was the reason for her taking so long to prepare the meal.(4)
Lizz urged him happily, “Shaoyu! Enjoy it when it’s still alive and fresh!”
Despite wanting to cry, Zhang Shaoyu had no more tears left, “Oh my ancestors… Don’t tell me you jumped here from some caveman society! There’s a limit to pranks, you know…? Who the heck would eat this raw thing? Huh? Wait a sec, this has been in the fridge for two weeks, how could you make it…this fresh?”
Lizz was surprised by his question. I can’t let him know about magic! Thinking quickly, she came up with a random lie. “Um, well… I used a certain unique method for it!”
“What unique method?”
“Um… That is… Uh…” Lizz paused for quite a while before her expression turned solemn. “Yes! It’s that method! The one that only women know!”
Zhang Shaoyu frowned at that strange statement. “Huh? A secret only women know? Are you the legendary swordswoman, or are you the ‘sunflower swordart’(5)? Oh wait, the ‘sunflower swordart’ is only passed down by eunuchs… Ah! Eunuchs or not, that’s not the problem here! I can’t eat raw food, I’m not a caveman!”
Having given voice to his complaints, Zhang Shaoyu stood up and took all three dishes with him to the kitchen.
His action surprised Lizz. “Shaoyu! What are you doing?”
“I’ll do it myself! I’ll show you what real cooking is!”
Lizz tilted her head and asked, “What cooking…? What are you doing! Just eat the fish!”
Zhang Shaoyu did not respond to that statement. He only looked up towards the sky and asked, “Oh my Lady Gaga! Where do I even start?”
He went to the kitchen, turned on the stove, and put a pot on it. He also took some ingredients from the fridge, and with the tomatoes, cabbage, and fish he quickly and skillfully made four dishes.
After he finished cooking, Zhang Shaoyu took all of the dishes and put them on the table before Lizz. There was not one dish among them that Lizz recognized. The aroma from the dishes almost made her drool. With sparkling eyes she asked, “Shaoyu, Shaoyu! What is this? It looks and smells so good!”
Zhang Shaoyu explained to her with pride, “This is grilled fish, this one is sweet and sour meat, there’s also tomatoes with scrambled eggs, and finally, deep-fried Chinese flower cabbage. This is what normal people eat!”
Having lived in a foreign country since young, Lizz had never even heard of these kinds of dishes, let alone seen them. She scooped up a spoonful and sniffed the food like a puppy.
“Shaoyu, this smells so good!”
Having a beautiful girl praise his cooking gave Zhang Shaoyu’s confidence a major boost.
Even winning the lottery could not have made him happier, and a wide grin broke across his face. “Is that so? It tastes even better, you know!”
Having enjoyed the succulent aroma for a while now, Lizz couldn’t hold back anymore and excitedly asked, “Shaoyu! Shaoyu! Can I try some?! I’m starving!”
Zhang Shaoyu smiled and nodded, “Of course! Eat it while it’s hot! Enjoy!”
Lizz was delighted, and with Shaoyu’s permission, she picked up her spoon and began to shovel food with great vigor, as if she were a hungry demon that hadn’t eaten anything for the past ten days.
Zhang Shaoyu began to eat at a more sedate pace. This was how a gentleman should behave with a beautiful girl eating in front of him, right?
His good manners only lasted for a moment though. His expression changed the moment he saw Lizz with a large piece of meat in her mouth. She began to munch even more food, putting more in her mouth before even swallowing the previous mouthful. Zhang Shaoyu exhaled deeply. Who’d have ever though such a beautiful girl had no manners at all!
He realized the crisis he was in: If he continued to act like a gentleman, he would be left hungry that night! Hell no! (6)When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
Zhang Shaoyu instantly cast aside his facade and an intense battle with chopsticks began to unfold before the food. The two of them fought across the table and in the blink of an eye, all five dishes were no more.
Lizz was extremely disappointed that the meal had ended, especially when she saw the now empty plate of the sweet and sour meat. Feeling unsatisfied, she picked up the empty plate and licked it clean.
Zhang Shaoyu waited until she had finished licking the plate and put it down before sending a smile in her direction. Lizz’s face went red with embarrassment. “Um… That… That was very delicious…” she said shyly.
Zhang Shaoyu smiled with a sense of accomplishment and responded with a laugh, “If you really liked it, I could cook for you every day!”
“Everyday?” the little girl responded with her eyes bright, unable to believe her own ears.
“Really? Everyday? You’re not lying to me?”
Zhang Shaoyu’s ego inflated even further with those words, and he puffed out his chest, declaring, “Real men keep their promises! No matter when it may be, I will cook for you!”
Lizz was rendered speechless, and could only stare at Zhang Shaoyu.
Looking at Lizz, whose face was smeared with grease like a well-fed kitten, Zhang Shaoyu smiled and pulled out a tissue before gently wiping her face clean. Experiencing his gentle and sincere actions, Lizz felt her body begin to heat up and her heart begin to throb, as if it would jump out of her chest.
Overcome by embarrassment, Lizz blushed and looked down, not daring to look at Zhang Shaoyu.
Zhang Shaoyu, puzzled, asked her, “What’s wrong? Are you feeling unwell?”
Lizz replied nervously, “N-Nothing’s wrong! I’m just a little tired.”
“Why don’t you go sleep then?” Zhang Shaoyu smiled as he cleaned up the dishes on the table, and said casually, “This house isn’t too big, so there’s only one room. You can sleep there!” before returning to the kitchen with the dirty plates.
“What about you?” Lizz asked towards his back.
Zhang Shaoyu smiled back at her while answering, “I’ll sleep on the sofa.”
Lizz immediately shook her head. “No, it’s fine! I’ll sleep on the sofa!”
“Absolutely not!” Zhang Shaoyu flicked Lizz’s forehead. “I told you, I’ll make you happy. How could I let you sleep on the sofa? Now listen to what I said and go to sleep!”
Lizz felt a surge of emotion rise up within her as she obeyed Shaoyu and walked slowly towards the room. She bit her lips and said in a small voice, “You’re so kind to me… Aren’t you afraid of being deceived…?”
1. He should warm her up instead 😉
2. Like he’s getting old and couldn’t see the clock clearly or his memory is jumbled. The clock IS old though.
3. Also a reference to the 361o brand in China, specializing in sportswear. I suppose the fish does sports.
4. Errr…so she necroed the fish…? Okay~~
5. It’s a reference to a ‘myth’ that a certain martial art was passed down for the eunuchs. That’s why they are said to be so strong. It was said to be so strong and fast none could fight back.
6. As Lizz would devour everything like a Nano.