Every Thursday evening, the butcher gives them some leftover minced meat. After solving her case, it's the least she can do, because the images of her ex-husband in that outfit are burnt into Shinjuurou's memory for life.
Every Thursday night, Shinjuurou puts on his panda apron, and removes the matching apron from the cupboard in case Inga is bored enough to come in and help. Shinjuurou is fine with cooking on his own, but it goes smoother when Inga helps. Even if it does get messier.
Shinjuurou stares at the package of meat, and thinks of what to make.
It's spaghetti tonight. Well, actually, it's tagliatelle, since Inga wanted to buy the thicker noodles. But it's cooked the same way that Shinjuurou cooks spaghetti. A sauce of finely chopped carrots, browned onions and browned meat, simmered with canned tomatoes and Italian herbs, with the noodles cooked separately but finished with the sauce. It's nowhere near a traditional bolognese, but they both like it well enough.
When he sets the plates down on the table, Inga seizes his fork, and attempts to twirl the whole portion of noodles around it. He fails, and most of it falls back onto the plate.
Shinjuurou asks, "Is that why you wanted the thicker noodles?"
"I thought it'd be less trouble to twirl," Inga says, forlornly twirling a single strand around his fork. "Then I could eat it all at once."
"You'd choke. It's better to eat it slowly," Shinjuurou says, sprinkling some grated parmesan cheese onto his pasta. "That way you'll feel more full."
"You could always cook more, though, Shinjuurou," Inga says. "That way I'd be full even if I ate fast!"
"Then there wouldn't be enough meat for the sauce, or enough sauce to coat it."
"Good point," Inga says, as he dumps the whole bowl of parmesan onto his pasta. He takes a bite, and chews slowly. "I think I preferred the thinner noodles, Shinjuurou."
"I'll buy them next week."
It's bondage tonight, and Inga is deftly tying the thin ropes around Shinjuurou's body. She doesn't ask any questions, doesn't negotiate with him, just does whatever she wants. There's a certain asymmetry to whatever she does, as if she knows the perfect pattern and is deliberately refraining from it.
"I'll take it slow tonight," she says, and Shinjuurou nods. He can hardly do anything else when he's caught in Inga's wake - going against her flow would mean death, would mean setting her loose on the world. He murmurs a thank-you to her, avoiding words like "mistress" or "ma'am" or "master". None of those capture their relationship, and attempting to put words to it would only cheapen what they have.
"An offering as beautiful as this should be savoured," she says, and Shinjuurou whines, low and soft, from the bottom of his throat. He doesn't arch up into Inga's touch, doesn't do anything to hasten the pace, just lies there and accepts the things that she says about him, even if he thinks that calling him beautiful is an outright lie.
"I suppose you'll need some help with the savouring," she murmurs, and ties a long, flat ribbon around his cock. Its ends tickle against his skin, and he can't come with it in place, and his whole body relaxes as he surrenders to whatever Inga has in mind.
When she next calls him beautiful, Shinjuurou isn't in any condition to think.
It's mapo tofu tonight, with the creamy white tofu that Inga likes. Shinjuurou's used more Sichuan peppercorns and ginger than usual, since they were both on sale, and the tofu and minced pork are covered in an oily red film. Shinjuurou prefers to eat one thing at a time, and has decided to methodically tackle the onion omelette before starting on the mapo tofu and the rice.
"Shinjuurou! Shinjuurou, this is so spicy! Look, look, I'm practically crying! And my tongue is red!" Inga sticks out his tongue, and dramatically fans it with his hands.
"Do you want to eat something else?" Shinjuurou starts to get up, mentally eliminating the possibilities based on Inga’s tastes and what they have – he can probably toss the chilled noodles with some vinegar and soya sauce, and garnish it with the leftover spring onions.
"No, I love it! Can you make it like this again? Forever?"
Shinjuurou pauses, his train of thought derailed, and finally nods, settling down to eat.
The mapo tofu turns out to be too spicy for Shinjuurou, but even if he can feel his face turning red, even if he finds himself drinking glass after glass of water, he tries to maintain his composure. It would be embarrassing to admit defeat to a plate of mapo tofu - especially when he was the one who made it.
When Inga shoves a cool glass of milk in front of him, he realises that he hadn't been fooling anyone. The excess milk sloshes over its rim, and drips on Shinjuurou's shirt as he gulps it down.
"Thank you," he says, and Inga grins.
It's wax-play tonight, with the tapered white candles from the dollar store. They could probably afford more expensive ones, but Inga likes the way that the white wax looks when it splatters on Shinjuurou's body.
"Do you think you can hold back?" Inga asks as she lights the first candle. "Or do you think you'd start spilling your secrets, one after the other, as the wax hit your bare skin?"
"I..." Shinjuurou pauses to hiss, as the candle hovers closer to his back.
Inga waits for his reply.
"The second. The second one. I can't...not today. I can't."
Shinjuurou is on the edge and they haven't even got past the foreplay yet, but it's been too long since the last time, and Inga hasn't let him come since then. His control is torn to shreds, and he's almost ready to grind his cock against the floor, but he waits for Inga to tell him what she wants. It's better that way, for both of them.
"Oh," Inga says, and she sounds like she's considering something. "Open your mouth, Shinjuurou."
He obeys, and something round and red and rubbery is placed into his mouth. The straps cut into his cheeks. He can't talk around the gag, and he has to breathe through his nostrils, but the only sounds that Inga will hear will be his desperate, muffled moans.
He closes his eyes in a mute thank-you, and Inga pats his head.
It's hamburger steak tonight, the meal that they have when they can't think of anything else to do with the meat. It's simple and comforting to make - Inga helps to chop the onions and make the breadcrumbs, and Shinjuurou mixes everything together and shapes the patties.
"This was the first thing you tried to cook after solving the butcher's mystery," Inga says.
Shinjuurou nods, swirling the oil around in the frying pan. He gently lowers the patties into the pan, and they sizzle as they hit the surface.
"It was the first time I cooked for years," Shinjuurou says, recalling the charred meat and the ruined pan, and how Inga drowned the burnt patties in sauce and ate them anyway, because he was so curious about how they tasted.
"It was a good meal," Inga says, staring at the patties as Shinjuurou flips them over. "Even if you didn't eat any of it."
"The fun was in the cooking," he says. It's his cheap excuse for why he didn't eat any at the time, but somehow it doesn't ring false now.
Maybe it's better when there's someone to cook for.
Inga has nothing planned tonight, and that's the most dangerous time of all. All Inga's plans stop once she's satisfied or when she notices that Shinjuurou can't take any more without breaking. Once there's nothing to fuel her fire.
But when Inga has no plan, she'll consume anything in her vicinity. She'll burn everything and everyone to ashes if she thinks it's fun, and Shinjuurou needs to keep her attention on him.
Inga's curled up near him, looking docile, seemingly asleep, and Shinjuurou half-flinches as she starts to speak.
"What would you do, Shinjuurou, if there were no more mysteries to solve? No more little snacks for me to eat?" Inga purrs, reaching up, tickling his nose with her furry shawl.
"That would never happen," Shinjuurou says flatly, trying not to sneeze. "The nature of humans -"
"But if it did?" Inga sits up, tilting her head to one side. A curious predator, toying with her prey. Even if she's not using her powers, Shinjuurou can tell that this question needs to be answered, and the words thrum in his body, dying to burst out, to be heard by her.
"I'd create more," he says, in one long exhale. It hurts to admit it, but he can't say anything else. "On my own."
"That's not your job, is it, detective," Inga says, pressing her chest against his, straddling him. Her razor-sharp fingernails tap against his throat, and her fingertips tense up, threatening to tear him apart.
"My true job is to feed you."