The PreyFox Bread
“Sorry!” Yizhuo shouts as she practically slides across the concrete floor of the kitchen. “Sorry, I’m late! I slept through my alarm!”
While setting portioned dough out onto a baking pan, Minjeong sighs, not at all surprised. “You didn’t bring coffee, did you?” she asks, disappointed in her tardy friend.
“ANCK!” Yizhuo fakes a buzzer sound as she lifts up bag. “Convenience store!” she laughs as she pulls out a can of coffee. “Catch!”
The can immediately sails over the center steel table and Minjeong naturally screams and flinches. Luckily for her though, Jimin reaches out and catches the coffee before it smacks the baker in the face.
“WHOA! Ninja indeed!” Yizhuo exclaims.
“Are you okay?” Jimin softly laughs, now setting the can of coffee down in front of Minjeong.
The blonde breathes a quick sigh of relief. “Yeah. T-thanks.” Her grateful eyes quickly freeze into an icy glare as she turns towards Yizhuo though. “I’m going to kill you!”
The farfetched picture of Minjeong actually committing murder passes through Jimin’s imagination. She smiles at the amusing thought. The little—okay, Minjeong’s actually almost as tall as the fox, but Jimin still finds her tiny for some reason—blonde baker would probably sooner cry than hurt a fly.
It’s been nearly a week since the fox’s arrival in this realm and Jimin can’t believe her luck. Minjeong’s been absolutely pampering her since the day that they met.
On any other given hunt, the gumiho not only worries about seeking out prey, but also needs to juggle the difficulty of where to live during the duration. She usually resides in her victim’s homes after she’s done feasting on them, but never stays for longer than the night in fear of being discovered.
This hunt though, not only has she been given shelter where she can sleep in the same spot, night after night, but she’s been rather well fed for the past few days too. Even if it’s just human food that she’s been given, it has still been enough to tie over the ache in her belly. And all of this has been achievable without the fox even having needed to lift a single finger.
And it’s not only Minjeong that’s nice, but her friends are too.
“Jimin-ie! I know you didn’t like the coffee yesterday, so I got you a cola,” Yizhuo says, walking over and nicely handing the cola can to the fox rather than hurling it at her face. “Get your caffeine boost, girl!”
Though the gumiho still hasn’t ventured outside of the bakery in search of a hotspot to feed in yet, she finds it comforting that there’s the option of three convenient snacks who are working here in this bakery, day in and day out. But still, she hopes that she never grow that desperate because they’re so damn skinny and probably more trouble than they’re worth.
She had briefly worried if she needed to bring Minjeong and her two friends under her enchantment, but she can’t use that ability on more than one individual at a time. And though the gumiho can’t stretch her gifts that far, she also doesn’t think it’s necessary because these bakers are just making everything too damn easy.
Are women always this…stupid?
“Thanks, Yizhuo,” Jimin politely replies. She pops the tab of her can, hearing the delightful fizz of carbonation. As she takes a sip of the sweet drink, the third baker walks into the kitchen.
“Morning!” Aeri greets, giving everyone a small wave.
Though Minjeong and Yizhuo have easily welcomed the fox with open arms and few questions, Jimin can tell that Aeri is a little wary of her. The girl is still polite and respectful to the new baker, but the fox can tell that she has been under her scrutinizing eyes for the past few days. She had even overheard the entire conversation between Minjeong and her friends the morning that the blonde had revealed that she had taken a stranger into her home. And hearing Aeri correctly accuse the fox of being a serial killer sent a chill down the gumiho’s spine.
So in an effort to keep Aeri from realizing that her worst-case suspicion is actually correct, Jimin keeps her head down, works hard, and honestly is mildly intrigued—and a little distracted—by how lumps of mushy dough turn into delightfully, aromatic loaves of bread when they comes out of the oven.
The fox has been keeping up with her disguise as an employee of this bakery for a couple days now. It hasn’t been long, but she’s quickly fallen into a routine with Minjeong. While the shop owner is up long before sunrise, Jimin finds that it takes a bit longer for her to leave the comfort of the couch, so she usually trails into work an hour after Minjeong, closer to the time that Aeri and Yizhuo arrive at the bakery for work.
One morning, Jimin’s surprised when Aeri comes upstairs into the loft rather than meet downstairs in the commercial kitchen.
“Aeri,” Jimin says, somewhat on edge about the individual who has wandered up into their living quarters. “Good morning.”
“Morning, Jimin,” Aeri greets, giving the fox a small smile. “We brought some clothes for you,” she says, now holding forth a couple of paper shopping bags for Jimin.
Very surprised that the distrustful woman is actually gifting her something, Jimin reluctantly takes the armful of bags. “These are for…me?” she asks, shocked by the weight.
“Yeah,” Aeri softly laughs. “Yizhuo and I shop too much and need to constantly purge our closets anyways,” she says, waving off the gift as if it’s a chore instead. “I think this stuff will fit you better. Some of Minjeong’s stuff is probably a bit…small for you.”
“Oh,” Jimin glances into one of the bags again. Though she doesn’t have an extensive knowledge of what she’s looking at, these are definitely nice clothes that she’s been given and not total rags. “Thank you. This is really nice of you guys.”
“No problem!” the other girl replies, awkwardly shifting her weight from her heels to the balls of her feet. “Y-you should come down soon. We don’t usually make cream puffs, but we’re filling an order for one right now. You’ve never had one before, have you?”
Jimin shakes her head.
“Come try one. I think you’ll like it. Also, the pastry is completely cooled, so at least I know that you won’t burn yourself,” Aeri chuckles before turning around descend back down the stairs.
Jimin had been a bit worried about earning Aeri’s trust, but luckily it seems that the problem is resolving quicker than the fox had anticipated. She breathes out a small sigh of relief as she looks down in the bags at all the new clothes for her.
Everyone’s so nice.
They’re all so stupid.
Today, the fox is helping Minjeong with the lunch rush. She’s assisting with assembling the sandwiches, but the blonde allows Jimin to do the most satisfying part. Once the sandwiches are filled, Jimin carefully folds and tapes the parchment paper around the meal before using a serrated knife to cut the whole thing down the center, so that she can fold it open and place it into a paper tray to display the cross section.
Jimin thinks that it’s pretty seeing all of the colorful ingredients in perfectly neat layers, sandwiched between fluffy slices of bread that she helped bake earlier in the day. As she piles the sandwiches onto a tray to take out to display case outside, Yizhuo walks into the kitchen, snickering loudly.
“Jimin, you’re so popular!” Yizhuo says. “I overheard some boys flocking over here to get a look at you.”
The fox blinks in confusion. “Huh?”
Yizhuo laughs again. “Apparently you were in the background of one of their pictures and now the boys are talking about how their friends want to come to see the new baker here.”
“Why?” the fox asks.
Minjeong snorts from beside her. “Because you’re…good looking.”
The gumiho is well aware that she’s attractive. She’s been batting her eyelashes at men and having them crumble at her feet for centuries now. But even after centuries of compliments, the narcissistic fox doesn’t tire of hearing them. She does however act modestly. She bashfully smiles before saying, “They could be coming to see all of you guys too.” Jimin’s also not blind. The other bakers are also quite pretty. Minjeong especially—for a human, that is.
“They are definitely here for you,” Minjeong laughs. “We’ve been here forever. We’re old news. You must be all the rage at the school right now.”
The fox suddenly goes rigid. “There’s…a school around here?” she asks, suddenly feeling a soft growl in the base of her stomach.
“Yeah. There’s a high school that’s like a fifteen minute walk from here,” Yizhuo answers as she grabs the tray of fresh sandwiches before taking them outside.
Besides going out to the shopfront to help reload the display case and the shelves, Jimin suddenly realizes that she’s generally only worked in the kitchen. She’s never paid attention to what kinds of customers come into the shop. Now alone with Minjeong, the fox pries for more information. “Do the students come here to eat often?”
The blonde baker laughs. “Yeah, those teenage boys are bottomless pits. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks—they come by a lot.”
“The girls don’t come here?”
“It’s an all-boys school that’s around here.”
Oh Gods. Jimin’s already consumed a ham sandwich for lunch, but she’s convinced that her gumiho self has a separate stomach altogether from her physical human form. (She’s sure that’s not how it works, but it’s certainly how it feels.)
“Minjeong, could I help out at the front sometime?”
“What, you don’t like being stuck back here with me?” Minjeong laughs.
“No, of course not!” Jimin replies, playing coy with the blonde. “Just curious about how the rest of the bakery runs.”
Minjeong softly laughs. “Tell you what, if Aeri is okay teaching and supervising you, you can go help her on the register after the lunch rush.”
Jimin doesn’t give a about learning how to use the cash register. She’s only out here so that she can observe the kinds of people coming in and out of the front door.
Even when the