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Procuring ingredients for Chef to work with is easy enough of a task. No one who walks through the front doors of Gregory House has anyone who's going to miss them. And despite all the shouting and growling indicating the contrary, he's not exactly picky about the visceral slop Gregory delivers to him every few days, or so. A noxious mixture of meat, bones and offal and who knows what else. Gregory certainly can't say, he doesn't make a habit of spending more time with his arm shoved up some poor sod's vacant, bleeding torso than he needs to.

Again, procuring the ingredients is the easy part. What really chaps Gregory's rear is "preparing" them.

He's getting to be too old for this. He's been too old for this for decades, possibly, but that's not going to stop him from complaining.

"Where the hell is he," Gregory whinges, shaking blood off a gloved hand. The sorry-looking corpse he's got sliced open messily in front of him very rudely denies the old rat an answer. Gregory had already snipped out its tongue and tossed it into a bucket with the rest of the offal a few minutes before. Its teeth had been pried out in kind, and though Gregory never could quite deduce what anyone could need some unimpressive human teeth for, he'd put them in a dish to rinse the blood from them later, when he's not covered in gore.

An apron like the one he's wearing is never enough to protect his fur and his clothes from getting doused, when will he learn. The thing's already drenched, and he has blood sticking in the patchy fur around his elbows. Ho-hum.

"Just what does he expect me to do with you, hm? You're nearly twice my height. And he could've, at the very least, helped me drag you in here... I'll have you know you're quite heavy, my friend."

His arm gouges through the sliced skin, the strands of musculature to fish up, into the carcass' rib cage. He's done this enough times that it takes hardly a second to locate the heart, closing gloved fingers tight around it and yanking, wrenching it free with a disgusting, audible pop. Gregory can't honestly tell if it's from a puncture (his claws may need a trim, hm-hm) or from a rib snapping. It doesn't exactly matter, he supposes, discarding the slimy muscle into the half-filled tub.

As far as Gregory can tell (and according to his mental checklist of standard human innards), that's the last of this schmuck's organs that'd been in dire need of scooping out. With a hum, he moves the bucket of offal to the nearby sink to get it out of the way.

The next two parts are easier. Chef's less particular about the cuts of meat he's given when they come from a human, and so long as there isn't still skin and hair clinging to them, Gregory doesn't get barked at about how he doesn't understand the fine art of cookery. ( - which, maybe he doesn't, but neither does his mother, so really, who can blame him? Hmph.)

Shedding his gloves, it's the most convenient (for Gregory) to just use his claws. He tucks the nails of his thumbs between the carcass' skin and meat so easily, and all he has to do from there is a bit of wiggling, some pulling, and the dermis peels right off. Where it sticks stubbornly, Gregory pauses, yanking open a drawer to fetch and put to use a boning knife- if only to save himself some hassle. He foregoes bothering with the hands and feet all together, letting the sheared flesh bunch grotesquely around the carcass' wrists and ankles like a particularly gruesome set of gloves and socks. Chef will chop them off and make some other use of them later. They might boil as well as anything does, Gregory thinks.

The rest of the skin is as good as trash, Gregory hopping down from his dirty old wooden stool to drag it across the kitchen floor. It's not nearly as heavy as its owner had been, but Gregory's a meter tall at the very most, and for God's sake, he's old! He's not the spry young thing he used to be, capable of manhandling corpses and their bits like the best of them. He huffs in exertion, thankful at the very least for the amount this unfortunate sod had bled on the trip here. The blood and mucilage ease the way to the trash shoot that Gregory promptly dumps the bag of skin down.

Of course, Gregory almost slips and cracks his hip on the trip back to his stool. He squawks, managing to catch himself with a hand gripping the nearest counter for dear life. "Have mercy," he wheezes, though he doubts whatever God there is is listening.

Righting himself on his bloody paws, Gregory mutters foul, meaningless words under his breath, batting dust uselessly off the fur of his behind as if he isn't coated in blood. Among other things, surely. Just as he steps back up onto his stool to start properly carving up his company, his ears shoot up. He turns his head towards the kitchen doorway not a moment before it swings open heavily, Hell's Chef ducking to fit his intimidating self through. He snarls, less than pleased with the mess that's been made of his beloved kitchen. But it's a necessary evil, which is the only reason Gregory's spared the introduction of that massive cleaver through his stomach.

"Gregory..."

"Hello, Chef," Gregory greets him lightly, gnarled features curling into something that borders fondness. His tail twists the sink's faucets on, Gregory leaning to quickly rinse and scrub his hands of their disgustingness without turning his attention away from the rumbling candle of a man. "Look at you, you're a mess. I know that makes me a hypocrite to say, but really, now? Is that why I was left to handle this all by myself? - Please don't tell me you just left a carcass lying around out there to stink up the place. We'll get flies, Chef."

Quick to anger but slow to words, the Chef only grunts in response to the nasal pestering. He ambles over to survey what Gregory's started preparing for him, as though human corpses peeled of their skin and most of their features ever look any different from other human corpses.

Gregory sighs.

"I suppose if you don't need it, Catherine will find a use for it. Or maybe someone else? Who am I to deny someone a fresh corpse, if they're in need." Snickering, the old rat dries his hands off on his messy apron. It defeats the purpose of washing his paws in the first place, but trying to be any sort of cleanly in this veritable Hell is a lost cause, in the end.

If Chef's even listening to a word he's saying, he makes no indication that he is. Not until Gregory hikes his scrawny ass up onto the dripping counter to step over the carcass and reach for another knife - he still needs to cut this miserable sight into pieces. A massive hand grabs him by his scruff and yanks him back, startling a shrill sound out of the sewer rat.

Chef dangles him in front of his face, and distantly, Gregory thinks he must weigh about as much as a sheet of paper to the tactless brute. Gregory's lips wobble into a timid smile fraught with mild terror, doing his best to meet Chef's gaze, but, you know - the strabismus.

" - Yes, Chef? I'm sorry, did you want to chop this one up yourself? I had no idea, you should've told me," he croons, knitting his fingers together. Chef huffs and adjusts his own much fatter digits, not even needing a second hand to get his "employer" seated in the palm of his hand. (Though, despite all his mother's insults, Gregory does actually have two brain cells to rub together. He knows where Chef's trying to get him to sit and he moves his bony rear there accordingly. For his efforts, he earns a pleased rumble from the wax golem.)

"I was.... busy," Chef tells him darkly, hovering his occupied hand towards one of his shoulders. Taking the hint, Gregory relocates himself there, tail curling against Chef's bicep. "Taking care of a customer..." The cook's tone is drenched in cruel amusement.

Gregory chuckles. "Hm hm hm... I'm sure they were flattered, being doted on by a chef of your stature, my dear friend."

Pride pulls Chef's shoulders back, out of his normal slump, forcing Gregory to do a little awkward scrabbling again. He drapes himself against the back of Chef's fat neck, his stomach pillowed against his kerchief - he looks like a very shoddy mink scarf, he's sure. From here, he gets a wonderful view of Chef readying that cleaver he's so attached to, a broad hand crushing the bloody carcass to the table to pin it still. Gregory swears he hears bones snapping.

Each time Hell's Chef brings the cleaver down it delivers a terrifying, wet "thunk", slicing straight through what's left of the corpse and dividing it into crude chunks that the behemoth arranges to then divide again, and again. The carcass' head and hands and feet get lopped off and knocked aside carelessly in favor of paying their torso and fleshy limbs more wicked attention.

"I wonder," Gregory hums. "Who is it that I'm going to find lying in a puddle of their own mess out there?"

"Scrawny thing... practically just skin wrapped around chicken wire," the cook snarls, sounding disgusted. But there's a tinge to his tone that gets Gregory snickering, bruised eyes narrowing. Hell's Chef spares the tittering rodent a quick glance and that just proves Gregory's suspicions, and then it's back to mincing.

"Is that so? That sounds awfully familiar."

Broad shoulders quake with laughter, Gregory digging his claws in to not get jostled loose. Thankfully, Chef is, of course, made of wax. He doesn't complain. "Yes," he mutters, fondly. "Worthless to bother with chopping up, or cooking... would hardly make for a single meal. The taste would be terrible, too. Sewer rat meat..."

And Chef isn't wrong, Heaven's no. Even Gregory knows he'd make for a foul main course.

But it's the sentiment that counts. The disturbing and yet undeniably flattering sentiment that Chef doesn't particularly want to fillet him and serve him bleeding on a dirty, chipped piece of ceramic dinnerware - which is all he would deserve.

The sopping mess of tissue and bone is dumped unceremoniously into a bucket once Chef's satisfied with his mincing, casting the whole thing under the sink for later use. How much later? Who knows. Gregory's known Chef to let "ingredients" stew in their own juices for well past what any normal person might advise. Of course, normal people also don't tend to keep cubed human remains lying around.

When the behemoth straightens, those glowing eyes narrow at the dish daintily sitting in the sink. Gregory had almost forgot about that.

"Their teeth," he tells Chef, earning a grunt. "I must ask - why on Earth do you need those? They seem like they'd be... well, tough to chew through, at least." (Nevermind the taste, but even Gregory isn't brave enough to question Chef that far.)

"Not impossible." Chef tells him, plucking a bloody incisor up between two fat fingers, bringing it closer to their faces. With the Gregory's piss-poor eyesight, it just looks like a very unimpressive human tooth, albeit covered in blood. "Good for boiling. Or grinding into powder..."

"Not much for looking at, though, hm?"

The thunderous growl Chef gives makes what's left of Gregory's scraggly fur stand on end, starting at the "NO" that shoots straight through one ear, out the other. He barely has a second to compose himself before a mitt closes around his middle and drags him from his perch, ignoring the indignant squawk he lets out in protest. He finds himself held aloft in front of his friend's face (again), feeling a bit like an insect being examined before it's stuck with pins.

"No," Chef repeats, quieter this time. His free hand (coated with blood and foreign mucilage) loiters near Gregory's pointy muzzle, closing into a loose fist to none-too-gracefully jab his index finger into the senile rat's cheek, pushing at the droopy skin. The digit catches the corner of his mouth and forces Gregory's lips to part on that side, giving the golem a good look at those ugly, sharp teeth of his. Why a rat as otherwise unimposing as Gregory has teeth like those is beyond anyone, but it runs in his family.

Gregory make a noise. "Chef, please," he whines, though again, he's ignored.

In all honesty, he doesn't mind too terribly - maybe Chef knows that, and that's why he keeps on his merry way. Despite his protesting, Gregory automatically opens his mouth when a thumb nudges his chin, Chef tilting his head.

"You have very nice teeth," the golem rumbles, flustering a titter out of the scrawny rat in his grip. "Could bite through my finger."

"Oh, but why would I want to do that?" Gregory slurs around the digit that's curiously inspecting his teeth. Dragging over each sharp point and bearing down the tiniest bit, no doubt leaving barely-noticeable pockmarks in the wax that makes up his body. Almost like he's trying to spur Gregory to bite him, though he won't. When Gregory doesn't, Chef lets out a low, pleased sound.

"Foolishness."

Scoffing, Gregory wrinkles his snout when the finger finally finishes futzing around with his terrifying maw. "Please, Chef, have a little faith in me. I was taught never to bite the hand that feeds," he says, his own much smaller paws finding the Chef's still lingering near his face, patting it. "And I'd hate to give you a reason to stop sharing your creations with me."

The hand around Gregory's middle rubs its thumb into the fur of his belly, concave and covered in patchy fur like the rest of the innkeeper.

Gregory's clothes sag off him, giving the illusion that there's ever-so-slightly more to him than there really is. Beneath the layers, he's a sorry sight. A corpse of a rodent with wall eyes and shaky hands. And yet the way Chef glowers at him, it's embarrassing - not like he's a piece of meat, because the brute has no interest in slicing him to bits.

Chef hoists him closer to that shadowy face of his. Not in a lifetime or three will he ever thank Gregory for his assistance, or for the flattery. Chef never thanks anyone. But for the only creature in this living Hell he has built up a tolerance for, he has something else to give him. Gregory's ears dip back and those bruised eyes of his squint closed at the touch of a wispy, barely corporeal mouth to the curve of his balding skull. He snickers, quiet and tinged with embarrassment.

"You're very welcome, Chef."