Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Fox's Family: Chapter 1


Chapter 1

The Passage of Time is Transient

As was per the norm since her daughter’s disappearance, Camellia found herself sitting on the balcony to her clan’s estate in Tampa Bay. Situated on the table next to her was a hot cup of tea, from which a beautiful fragrance wafted, relaxing her mind, even as the worry she’d been feeling for the past three months continued to plague her.

She looked down at the garden below, expansive and lovely, filled with a wide variety of well-maintained and beautiful flowers. Even though it was fall, the flowers continued to bloom, courtesy of her maid’s prodigious gardening abilities. They were some of the loveliest blossoms she’d ever seen, and once upon a time, Camellia would have already been down there at this early hour, admiring them up close.

Despite staring straight at them, she did not see the wondrous array of colorful blossoms and hadn’t for a while now. Unable to grasp the complexities of multiple thoughts at once due to the degradation of her mind, Camellia could only focus on a single subject. Her missing daughter, Lillian.

On August 4th, Lilian had disappeared from the grounds of this very mansion, vanishing without a trace. While some worried that she might have been kidnapped, the general consensus was that she had run away.

Neither Camellia nor anyone else knew how the young kitsune had managed to escape without being noticed. Evidence pointed towards excessive use of her Celestial abilities, which could, in the right circumstances, render Lilian all but invisible. Since then, Camellia had done little more than fret.

She might have had a mind reminiscent to that of a child, but she was still a mother.

“My Lady,” a voice came from behind her. “You have not touched your tea. Is it not to your liking?”

“Hmm?” Camellia looked down at the tea, blinking. She then looked at the woman standing by her chair, a female with hair the color of midnight and three fox-tails waving about behind her. “Ah! Sorry, sorry. Camellia got lost in thought. Tee-hee!” After gently knocking her knuckles against her head, the five-tailed kitsune took a small sip of her tea. “It’s very good.”

Her complimentary words earned a gentle smile from the fox-woman dressed as a French maid. “I am glad to see that you still enjoy my tea. For a moment, I was worried that my skills might have slipped.”

Camellia felt a small sense of dread well up inside of her at the maid’s mention of “slipping skills.” A shudder coursed through her body for reasons she couldn’t understand.

The shudder went away, as did almost everything else, when a hand covered in a white glove began petting her on the head.

“Hawa…”

“Still so easy to please, My Lady.” The kitsune maid was nothing if not amused by her mistress’ reaction towards something as simple as head petting. It reminded her of, well, it sort of reminded her of a dog, though she would never say that out loud.

As the utterly blissed out Camellia enjoyed having her maid’s fingers scratch behind her ears, a familiar presence appeared before them, floating just a few feet from the balcony.

“Oh. It’s one of my sister’s Kudagitsune.”

The wraith-like fox-spirit with the pipe-like body couldn’t have belonged to anyone but the maid’s elder sister. The scroll, ghostly and translucent, much like the creature carrying it, told them as much. Kotohime was the only Pnév̱ma clan vassal who still used scrolls to deliver messages.

Most kitsune made do with simple envelopes these days.

After the fox-spirit dropped the scroll on the table and vanished back into its ethereal existence, the three-tailed maid unfurled the object and read its contents. Her eyes widening in a mixture of surprise and delight, she rolled the scroll back up, and then looked at the woman she served with a warm smile etched upon her fetching lips.

“My Lady, it appears Kotohime has found your daughter.”

“My daughter?” It took Camellia a second or two to get out of the blissful state that her maid’s head petting had put her in. It took another second for her to hear the words spoken, and then one more to process them. “H-hawa! You mean she found Lilian?!”

“Yes. According to my sister’s report, Lady Lilian is currently living in Phoenix, Arizona.”

“I can’t believe it… my daughter’s finally been found…” Tears leaked from Camellia’s carnelian eyes, and a smile so joyous and bright it put the sun to shame appeared on her lovely face. “Camellia… Camellia needs to tell Iris that her sister has finally been found!”

Camellia scrambled out of her chair, stood up—

“H-hawa!!”

—And then promptly spilled to the floor when she tripped over her own five tails.

“M-My Lady!” A very worried maid knelt next to Camellia, who pushed herself into a seated position. “A-are you alright?”

Like every fall she’d taken this past century, Camellia took this latest one with good humor. “Ah. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.” She looked down at her chest. “Camellia’s breasts broke her fall.”

The maid felt a small drop of sweat trail down the right side of her face.

“R-right…

***

“A strong body is a necessary component to becoming a balanced warrior. It doesn’t matter how good your technique is, or how fast you can throw a punch, if you lack the strength needed to harm your opponent. A thousand punches at the speed of light will mean absolutely nothing if each punch has all the power of a fly. There are ways around this, of course, such as using weapons, but that’s not always a viable option. You can’t carry a sword or a knife everywhere you go, after all.”

While Kiara spoke of warriors and swords and the necessity of being physically fit, Kevin Swift grunted and whimpered as he did push-ups. Doing a couple of push-ups normally wouldn’t be too much of a problem for him, but several extenuating factors were currently making this exercise exceedingly difficult.

Kiara was making him do 200 hundred of them.

She was also standing on his back while he did them.

And there was a floorboard covered in nails directly underneath him.



Kevin stared at the spiky floorboard, his eyes wide and his pupils dilated. Sweat dripped off his nose, splashing against a nail, making it glisten brightly and bringing a stark reminder of what would happen should his arms give out.

His arms shook from having exerted them so much. It felt like his triceps and chest were being ripped to shreds from the inside out, contracting and expanding painfully each time he completed a push-up. The only reason he hadn’t fallen flat on his face yet was because he feared being impaled by the hundreds of tiny nails.

He was really beginning to regret asking Kiara to help train him.




“Please make me into a man!”

His words were met with an awkward silence. Sitting behind her desk, staring at him with unusually wide eyes, Kiara F. Kuyo looked like someone had just blindsided her. The moment soon passed, however, and the woman gave him a feral grin that caused chills to run down his spine.

“I could make you into a man if you want me to, but I don’t think your mate would appreciate me taking away her chance to steal your chastity.”

Kevin gave the woman a vacant stare for several seconds, the time it took for him to realize what she’d said and why.

His eyes promptly widened.

“Ah!” He squeaked like a rat trapped by a cat—or a small fox kit trapped by a great dane. “T-that’s not what I meant!”

“Ho?” Kiara’s eyes glinted with an animalistic viscosity. “Then what did you mean, boya?”

“I-I m-m-m-meant that I wanted you to make me s-stronger!”

“Stronger, eh?” Kiara rubbed her chin and studied Kevin, who did his best not to look away, even though his face was about ready to explode. “Tell me, boya, why do you want to become stronger?”

The question sobered him. Embarrassment gave way to solemnity. Kevin looked down at his feet, unable to hold Kiara’s gaze. “Because I’m tired of being weak,” he confessed, his voice a soft murmur that made Kiara’s ears twitch.

“What was that?” she asked, even though Kevin was sure she’d heard him. “Speak up, boy!”

“I said it’s because I’m tired of being weak,” Kevin practically shouted. “I’m tired of having to rely on Lilian for protection. I’m tired of not being able to help her when she needs me. I want to be able to stand by her side as an equal. I want to be able to help her. I want her to be able to rely on me.”

“So you’re doing this for Lilian?” Kiara raised an eyebrow at Kevin, who shook his head.

“Not just for Lilian. I’m also doing this for myself. I made a choice. I chose to become Lilian’s mate, and that means I’m now a part of the world you and she belong to, but I’m… I’m still just a human,” he choked out, as if admitting this fact physically hurt. “I don’t have any supernatural abilities that would let me stand up to a yōkai…”

Kevin looked at his hands, clenching them both into fists, before looking back up to present Kiara with his determined glare.

“I don’t want to be weak anymore. I’m sick of it. That’s why I want you to make me stronger.” He then bowed to the woman, a formal bow at the waist. “Please help me get stronger.”

Kevin clenched his eyes shut and didn’t look up, which was why he nearly squealed like a little girl when a hand landed on his shoulder.

He looked up to see a grinning Kiara staring down at him.

“All right. I’ll help you get stronger,” she said, causing hope to swell within Kevin’s chest. “Come back here tomorrow morning and we’ll begin your training. Be sure to dress for the occasion. You’re gonna want something that you don’t mind getting ruined.”

Kevin would have wondered what she meant by that, but was honestly too happy to care. “Okay. I’ll do that. Thanks!”

“You’re welcome, boya.”

As Kevin left, he never noticed the devious grin that nearly split Kiara’s face in half, nor did he hear her diabolical chuckling.

“Ku ku ku… training a human to fight yōkai, huh? Sounds like fun.”




A grunt escaped Kevin’s lips when Kiara dug her heel into his back. “Come on! Keep going, boya. You’re not even close to being done yet.”

“I don’t.” Grunt. “See how.” Whimper. “You can.” Kiara dug her left heel into his shoulder blade. Kevin nearly squealed. “Expect me to.” Kevin’s face became a deep scarlet when something hard ground into his back. “Do push-ups.” Sounds reminiscent of a dying cow escaped his mouth when his chest scraped against the bed of nails, drawing blood. “With you on my back!”

Even though he couldn’t see her, Kevin could practically feel Kiara’s grin. “It’s all part of your training.”

Kevin would have cursed, but since he didn’t swear, he settled instead of spewing insults within the confines of his mind. Due to his mild nature, they weren’t particularly mean insults.

Despite the fact that his body ached like nobody’s business, as if he’d been chewed apart by an inu yōkai, Kevin continued doing as many push-ups as possible. Oddly enough, his current exercise was one of the easiest Kiara had given him thus far.

He didn’t know whether that should please him or not.

Kevin still remembered some of the exercises she’d had him do these past two weeks. Hellacious did not even begin to describe them.




“Um, are you sure this is a good idea?” Kevin asked as he stood outside with Kiara. His new trainer in the ways of badassery had strapped a harness to his torso, which was attached to a tire that she sat upon soon after. In her hands was a whip.

“Of course it’s a good idea,” Kiara said, talking down to him like he was some kind of idiot. “You wanna get stronger, don’t you, boya?”

“Well, yes, but—”

“The fastest way to get stronger is through intense physical training,” Kiara interrupted. “It is only when a warrior pushes their body to the brink, when they take themselves to the edge of their physical limits, and then shatter those limitations, that they gain the strength they so desire.”

“Um, if you say so.”

“I do say so. Now…” Kiara’s eyes gleamed as she pulled the whip back. “Start running!”

The sound of a whip cracking, followed swiftly by a number of girlish squeals, echoed throughout the city. Rumors would eventually spread about a masochistic young man who let his mistress tie him to a harness and pull her around while she whipped him. Eric would not be happy when he learned that someone had beaten him in the masochism department, and no amount of denial would convince him that Kevin was only letting Kiara do this so he could become stronger.





In the end, Kevin couldn’t get to 200 push-ups. He couldn’t even break past the 100 mark.

“Eighty-eight,” Kiara muttered, mostly to herself, though Kevin heard her all the same. “Not bad, boya. It’s definitely an improvement from the twenty push-up limit you had when you first started.” She looked down at the young man laying on his back, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he gasped for breath, and his body covered in a thick layer of sweat. “Good job.”

“Gu… ugh…”

Kevin could not answer. For obvious reasons.

***

After taking a shower, Kevin, having donned his outfit of faded leather jeans, a white T-shirt and sneakers, left Kiara’s mercilessly untender hands.

He didn’t ride his bike back home, mainly because he couldn’t ride his bike. His body was in too much pain for that. His arms were sore, his legs were burning, and his chest felt like someone had injected acid straight into his muscles.

And yet, despite the pain, he felt good. Maybe not physically good, but mentally, emotionally, Kevin felt incredible. Accomplished. It wasn’t noticeable yet, but he felt like he was getting stronger.

Arriving home and grunting his way up the stairs, Kevin entered his apartment to find Kotohime cooking breakfast. He knew it was her before even looking in the kitchen, as he could smell the Japanese cuisine being prepared. Lilian rarely made Japanese food these days, preferring to try new dishes each time she cooked. She had a predilection for American breakfasts.

“Good morning, Kevin-sama.” Despite her greeting, Kotohime did not look up from her task of setting the table.

“Um, good morning,” Kevin muttered a tad shyly. Even after two weeks, he still couldn’t get over the new suffix she had added to his name. He remembered asking her why she’d decided to switch from using “-san” to “-sama” once. Her answer had been rather enlightening.




“Because you have officially become Lilian-sama’s mate. I must afford you the respect that comes with such a position, even if you are not quite deserving of such respect yourself.”




Kotohime was a very traditional woman, believing that respect must at least be afforded to the position, if not the person who held it.

“I hope your workout with Kiara-san was productive,” she continued as her tails reached into a cabinet and pulled out several plates.

“Uh, yeah, I like to think it was pretty productive.” Kevin rubbed the back of his head, and then winced. It seemed even the simplest of movements hurt. “Kiara’s tough, but thanks to her, I think I’m starting to get a little stronger.”

“That is good. You’re going to need that strength if you plan on standing by Lilian-sama’s side.”

“Believe me, I am already well-aware of that,” Kevin said with more than just a hint of dryness.

“I’m sure you are.” Kotohime’s demure smile held an amused gleam, and her eyes glimmered in ways that still bothered Kevin. He felt like she was taking pleasure from his predicament.

After he had decided to become Lilian’s mate, Kotohime had taken him aside and informed him of the dangers he would face—some of them anyway. She had not been pleasant about it either. There had been no reassurances, no “don’t worry, I’ll protect you” speeches or anything of the sort. Just straight up, brutally honest information given to him in a way that made the whole issue seem almost mundane.

Kevin was sure Kotohime had gotten a kick out of the whole thing.

“Breakfast will be ready soon,” Kotohime’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “Could you please wake up Lilian-sama for me? I believe she will enjoy being woken up by you more than she would me.” Her smile as she said this was more than just a little devious. The way her eyes sparkled with a strange sort of mischief didn’t help.

“Don’t I always wake Lilian up?” Kevin retorted, “And of course she’d prefer me. I’m her mate.”

“Ufufufu, indeed.”

Kevin left Kotohime to her cooking and entered his bedroom. However, he paused in the doorway when he caught sight of his mate lying on the bed.

His heart skipped a beat.

Lilian lay on her back, her eyes closed. Even from a distance he could see her thick eyelashes, which presented a stark contrast to her fair skin. Her pink lips that looked far too kissable to resist were slightly parted as she rhythmically breathed in and out. Her breathing also had the added benefit of causing her bountiful chest to jiggle enticingly within the confines of the overly large shirt she wore, which looked far better on her than it ever had on him.

The covers had been thrown off at some point after he left. He knew this because he’d made sure they were covering her before heading off to Mad Dawg Fitness. Her left leg had fallen off the bed, and her right hand rested on her flat stomach. Crimson locks of hair fanned across the white sheets like an additional layer of silk, each strand shimmering in the morning light, haloing Lilian in a curtain of fire.

Even though Kevin had born witness to scenes like this for over two months now, it never got old. Everything Lilian did, even something as simple as sleeping, managed to combine astonishing sensuality with an innocence that was nothing short of criminal. He was sure that no one else in the entire world could pull off something like this.

***

Camellia let out several sneezes.

“Kuchu! Kuchu!”

It was an oddly cute sound coming from a woman with such a killer body, though those who knew her would not be surprised, given her childlike personality.

Unfortunately, she happened to be walking down the stairs when she sneezed and, as her sense of balance was like a child just learning how to walk, she ended up slipping. With a loud cry, Camellia tumbled down the stairs.

“HAWA!!!”

“M-My Lady!”

Fortunately for the poor maid who hurriedly rushed to her mistress’ side, Camellia’s breasts broke her fall. Again.

***

Sitting down on the bed, Kevin’s right hand almost absently went to Lilian’s cheek. His fingers tingled at the feel of her smooth, unblemished skin, so unlike his own rough and calloused hands. Lilian leaned into his touch, her full lips opening a bit more as she released a delicate sigh.

The urge to kiss her right then was almost overwhelming.

His thumb softly grazed over her lips. Her skin pursed slightly as she kissed the digit, sending a jolt through him, which traveled from his thumb down to his feet and then up to the crown of his head. This sensation! How could something as simple as a kiss on the thumb feel so electric?

As he admired the young woman he’d officially become, well, mated to, he guessed, he noticed something about her that he hadn’t several seconds ago.

It wasn’t the smile. She’d been wearing that since before he left this morning.

It was her eyes. Her left eye, to be exact. It was cracked open and staring at him.

He and Lilian gazed at each other for several silent seconds, after which, she seemed to realize that he’d noticed her staring and closed her eye again.

Kevin nearly snorted.

“Come on, Lilian.” He removed his hand from her cheek and placed it on her shoulder, where he lightly shook her. “Time to get up.”

“Zzzzz….”

“Fake snores aren’t going to work on me, you know.”

“Lilian can’t get up. She’s asleep.”

“Talking in third person definitely isn’t going to work. Come on. You have to get up. Kotohime has breakfast ready and we’ve got our first day of school to attend since its reopening.”

“Lilian won’t wake up until she receives a kiss from her mate.”

Kevin sighed. He really didn’t mind kissing her awake, the same way he didn’t mind when she kissed him awake, but they had school today and, well, nothing they did ever ended in a single kiss. Lilian never allowed it to.

“Lilian…”

“Nope.”

“Ha…”

Another sigh. Lilian could be really stubborn when she wanted to be. Knowing the vixen like he did, Kevin knew that she really would just lay there until he gave in.

He smiled. Just a bit. There were worse things he could think of doing than kissing his mate-slash-girlfriend.

Leaning down, Kevin let his lips caress Lilian’s with the softest of touches. His plan was to give her a small peck and nothing more. He might not have minded kisses, but he didn’t want to be late for school, or be forced to skip breakfast so they wouldn’t be late. That would have sucked, especially because his workout with Kiara had left him starving.

His plan to just brush lips ended when delicate, feminine fingers wove into his hair, grasped the back of his head, and pulled him down. Kevin, in his surprise, opened his mouth to release a yelp. A tongue pushed its way into his mouth, leaving him with no time to fight back as it began exploring, like a excavator journeying deep into an unexplored cavern.

Kevin groaned as his mouth was filled with a most pleasurable sensation. He could feel Lilian’s small tongue rubbing against the inside of his mouth in all sorts of mind-blowing ways, as if it was intent on sending him into a euphoric state of rapture.

If asked, he would never be able to adequately explain what it felt like to kiss Lilian. Words would never be able to accurately describe the feeling of her lips on his, of the wet heat generated from their kiss as his mouth became filled with her tongue and saliva. He could say it was passionate, or that it was hot, sexy, or any other number of words, but they would have been misleading simply because her kisses were all that and more.

However, he would easily tell anyone who asked that Lilian was the best kisser in the world, even if he’d never kissed anyone else and therefore had no frame of reference to back up such a claim.

This would be, of course, after he stopped blushing and stuttering from being asked such a personal question.

The world suddenly spun around. Kevin felt a disorienting sense of not-quite-vertigo, and then something soft pressed against his back, while something else just as soft pushed down on his front.

It didn’t take long to realize he was lying on his bed, and that Lillian was now on top of him. He could feel her breasts smashing into his chest as she rested against him. Her legs became entwined with his, skin on skin action that created a delicious friction as her shapely calves and thighs caressed him. Her hands were still buried in his hair. They made a mess of his blond locks, nails scraping against his skin and leaving a pleasant tingle.



“Lilian…” Kevin mumbled breathlessly as Lilian went from kissing him to sucking, nibbling and licking his neck. He’d found out early on in their relationship that Lilian, for whatever reason, loved licking him. Consequently, she also loved being licked in return.

She pulled back to stare into his eyes. They were incredibly clear; bright green orbs more beautiful than any emerald could ever hope to be, shining with an effervescent luster akin to the light of twin celestial bodies. Her nose grazed his, and he could feel her hot breath caressing his lips. It was enough to make him shudder, and his need to feel those lips back on his became almost overpowering.

“I love you so much, Kevin,” she told him, and the earnestness in her voice made his heart melt and his body quake with an emotion that vaguely resembled awe.

Kevin still didn’t know how she could say something so easily, but then, maybe he wasn’t supposed to understand. She was a kitsune and he was a human. Hers was a mind that couldn’t be fathomed by someone with his mortality.

“I know,” Kevin whispered, “I… I l-love you, too.”

Lilian closed her eyes and arched her back like a cat, a sigh of bliss escaping her delicately parted lips. She wasn’t wearing a bra, so the action did some wonderful things to her chest.

She opened her eyes again, capturing him with her viridian gaze. As she leaned down and claimed his lips once more, Kevin forgot about the reason he’d come to this room. His hands settled on the small of her back, still too shy and embarrassed to place them anywhere else. Lilian didn’t seem to mind. She moaned into his mouth, a delightful sound that was muffled by their passionate, if inexperienced, kisses.

One last thought came to him before he succumbed to raging hormones.

Deciding to become Lilian’s mate was the smartest choice I’ve ever made.

***

Nearly half an hour later, Kevin and Lilian sped down the bike lane like a pair of young fox kits being chased by a boarhound.

“We’re so late! Dang it! You see, Lilian? This is what happens when I let you have your way!”

They were, quite obviously, running late. After their gods-only-know-how-long makeout session, Kevin had realized how late they were and made a frantic effort to get Lilian ready for school. He’d practically shoved her into the shower, chosen her clothes while she washed up, and then forced them both to eat breakfast posthaste before dragging her out the door.

Lillian didn’t seem upset by his words, despite their harshness. Giggling, the redhead kept her arms wrapped tightly around his chest as she pushed her bosom into his back. She giggled even more when his spine stiffened like a metal rod.

“You weren’t complaining before you found out we were running late.”

Kevin nearly crashed into a light pole when he momentarily lost control of the bike. “Y-y-yes, w-w-well, w-who would complain about something like that?”

Lilian just smiled while nuzzling his back with her nose. She inhaled his scent. She loved his scent, and the warmth his body emitted, which had become her bastion of warmth in Phoenix’s increasingly cool weather.

October had finally come, and with it, autumn had truly come to Arizona. Many of the leaves had lost their color and fallen to the ground. The air was not yet cold, but chilly enough that Lilian could feel the coolness seeping into her bones. As a kitsune, she was very susceptible to even mildly cold weather and had a predisposition towards warmer climates, such as the warm humidity of Tampa Bay and her clan’s estate in Greece.

“Ha… ha…” Kevin breathed out deeply as he pedaled down the road. “Almost… there…”

Despite how sore he felt, Kevin still managed to haul major butt. One of the many benefits to Kiara’s training was that his legs, which had already been exceptional for an athlete, had grown even stronger than before. He proved this by making it to school in record time.

Hopping off and locking down his bike, he and Lillian rushed hand-in-hand to their first class of the day, bursting into the room with all the subtlety of a rhino dancing in a ballet.

Kevin took deep, gasping breaths as he hunched over and rested his hands on his knees. Lilian only appeared mildly flushed. Then again, she also hadn’t done a near suicidal workout routine with a merciless trainer that morning.

“You two are both late!”

If Kevin were not so breathless, he would have sighed. He really wished he had a different homeroom teacher.

Ms. Vis stalked up to them, her face scrunched up in a facsimile of outrage, her outlandish anger appearing almost comical, like some B-budget horror movie makeup artist on drugs had gone to town.

The pale woman hadn’t changed much since the last time they saw her. Her clothes remained the same, her attitude remained the same, and she still looked like a Twilight reject. If there was one person he hadn’t missed during his hiatus from school, it was her.

“Yeah.” Kevin tried to play the diplomat. “Sorry about that. We, uh, got lost on the road of life.”

Kevin would never make a very good diplomat.

Ms. Vis’ face scrunched even more, becoming almost pinched, like a pug with clamps stuck to its face. It was also beginning to turn a rather repulsive shade of puce.

“Why I never! I cannot believe that you, of all people, would arrive late to my class, interrupt my lesson, and then have the audacity to give me such a horrid excuse,” Ms. Vis hissed, her voice sounding similar to a bed of angry snakes. “I expected something like this from Ms. Pnév̱ma, but not from you! It seems that…”

And that was about as far as Ms. Vis got before Kevin tuned her out. His eyes scanned the crowd of students sitting at their desks. He recognized the many faces present, even if he could not recall their names. Over by his and Lilian’s assigned seats, he could see Lindsay at her desk, smiling and waving at him.

“And you!” Ms. Vis whirled on Lilian, an accusing finger pointed at the twin-tailed vixen. “Do not think that I am going to let you get away with corrupting my student! I do not know what you’ve done to pollute Mr. Swift’s mind, but if you think I am going to let you cause the degradation of one of my student’s intellect, then you are sorely mistaken, young woman!”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Lilian’s eyes glowed a bright green as she cast an enchantment on the pale-skinned teacher. “I have not corrupted Mr. Swift at all.”

Ms. Vis’ eyes became dull and lifeless. “You have not corrupted Mr. Swift at all…”

“In fact, I have been doing all I can to educate him on all of the important issues he needs to know.”

“You have been educating him on important issues…”

“Now, you will let us sit down and continue your lesson as if we were never late.”

“Go sit down. I need to continue my lesson…”

“Oh! And by the way…” Ms. Vis, who had turned around, looked back at Lilian, who waved her hand in a vaguely mysterious fashion. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

A pause.

“These are not the droids I’m looking for…”

With that, Ms. Vis turned and walked up to the front of the classroom.

Kevin and Lilian shared a quick grin and a high five, before making their way over to their respective desks.

Or at least, they were going to, until they noticed how everyone else was staring at them. No, not just staring at them. The other students were giving them wide-eyed looks of incomprehensible shock, as if they had walked into class wearing matching green spandex, orange leg-warmers, were sporting a bowl-cut hair style, and shouting about their “flames of youth.”

“That was a terrible anime reference.”

… Sorry.

“It’s fine, but please don’t do it again.”

… Okay.

“Lilian…”

“Come on, Kevin.” She grabbed his hand and, ignoring his “who the hell are you talking to?” expression, dragged him further into the classroom. “Let’s find a seat.”

Kevin shook his head in a resigned manner as he and Lilian sat down. He greeted Lindsay, who appeared both amused and annoyed for some reason, and then turned to Ms. Vis as she lectured the class on Differential Equations.

***

Unlike most of the students who attended Desert Cactus High School, Lilian actually liked school.

It had nothing to do with learning, however, and everything to do with what school represented to her: Freedom. For Lilian, school was the embodiment of freedom. When she was at school, she could do what she wanted, be who she wanted, spend time with her friends, and meet interesting people.

There were also a lot of kinky scenarios that she and Kevin could get up to at school. Unfortunately, she had yet to convince her beloved that mating in the nurse’s examination room (and also in the school lockers, the gym, and on Ms. Vis’ desk) would be fun. Of course, considering she and Kevin had yet to actually do the deed, perhaps she was asking for too much.

A lot of people would have called her strange. She had learned from Kevin that most teenagers disliked school. Even Kevin considered it an obligation that he could do without.

However, Lilian was not like other people, be they human or kitsune. She was someone who, above everything else, enjoyed the freedom to make her own choices, a person who sought adventure in all its different forms and loved trying new things. That was also why she loved anime, manga, and video games so much.

The first few decades of her life as a supernatural being had been spent within the isolated grounds of her clan’s estate in Greece. Those years had been terrible. They’d been boring and lonely and hard. Her only companions had been Kotohime, Iris, her mom and Kirihime. They were nice, and she loved them, but they couldn’t give her what she had now.

Kevin had saved her from all of that. Meeting him had been what saved her from that loneliness. He didn’t know it. He couldn’t possibly understand even if he still possessed his memories of that time, but he had been her salvation, her savior. She would always be grateful to him, even if he didn’t remember the reason for her gratitude.

After class ended, she and Kevin parted ways with Lindsay and went to their next class. For the next several hours, Lilian spent time with Kevin in each class. While her mate mostly focused on taking notes and getting his work done, he did converse with her by sending covert messages through a notebook they had decided to share. After French, Physics and Social Sciences, she and Kevin walked across the courtyard toward the newly repaired gymnasium.

“Ne, Kevin?”

“Hm?”

“Is it just me, or is the roof a different color than it was before?”

Kevin looked at her out of the corner of his eye, then at the roof she was talking about.

“I think you might be right,” he muttered, his eyes squinting. “It’s still the same color, just… less worn, I guess. It looks like they ended up replacing the roof with a brand new one. I’m not surprised. It was probably easier to replace it than repair it after the damage you and Kiara caused.”

As her face reddened, Lilian puffed up her cheeks like two balloons. “It wasn’t my fault. Kiara’s the one who tore a hole in the roof.”

“And you’re the one who fought her.”

Lilian had nothing to say to that.

As they walked, Lilian noticed how they seemed to attract everyone’s attention. She didn’t know why, but a lot of people appeared to enjoy talking about them.

“Can you believe that someone as hot as Lilian is still dating a kid like Kevin?”

“Not really, no. I thought they would have broken up weeks ago. I wonder what she sees in a scrawny little kid like him.”

“I’m just surprised he hasn’t passed out yet. Wasn’t he supposed to be afraid of girls or something?”

If she weren’t in her human form, Lilian’s ears would have twitched as she listened in on the many conversations happening around her. She didn’t like how these boys were talking about Kevin like he wasn’t worth her time or attention. Deciding who was and wasn’t worth her affection was a privilege that belonged to her and her alone. These people should’ve kept their opinions to themselves!

“Something wrong, Lilian?”

“Oh, no.” Lilian smiled at Kevin. “Nothing’s wrong. I was just… thinking.”

“About?”

“About how strange it feels to be back at school.” Kevin raised an eyebrow, prompting Lilian to elaborate. “I know I haven’t been going to school for very long, but it still feels weird coming back after not attending classes for a whole month.”

Kevin nodded several times. “That’s understandable. Most students feel that way after summer vacation ends.”

“Summer vacation?”

“Mm. School lasts exactly nine months out of the year. However, the school closes down during the three months of summer, which we call summer vacation.” Kevin paused and looked up, as if a thought had occurred to him. “Of course, I don’t think we’ll get much of a summer vacation this year, since we just had a month long break.”

“Oh. That’s kind of disappointing.”

Kevin shrugged. “That’s life. We’re actually one of the luckier schools because we still have summer vacation. Most schools have become year-round schools, which people attend, well, year round. They don’t get summer vacation at all.”

“Owch.” Lilian winced. She enjoyed school, but to have it all year? “That sucks.”

Kevin’s lips twitched in amusement. “Indeed.”

***

Iris impatiently tapped her foot as she stood by the door, waiting for her mother to arrive. Really, how long did it take for that woman to get ready?

“M-My Lady! Please be careful!”

“Hawawawawawa!”

Iris sighed as her mother tumbled down the stairs for the second time that day. This time, she also had a large suitcase with her, which burst open, spilling the contents all over the floor. One of Camellia’s panties flew through the air before fluttering to land on her head.

“Geez, Mom,” she said, exasperated. “Is there ever a time when you aren’t tripping over your own two feet?”

“Hawa…” Camellia looked up at her daughter from where she sat on the floor, tears gathering in her carmine eyes and a pair of white panties lying on her head. “Sowwy.”

Kneeling behind the klutzy five-tails, Kirihime looked up at Iris as she comforted the older woman with some gentle head petting.

“P-please, Lady Iris, do not be rude to your mother,” the demure maid pleaded. “You know it is not My Lady’s fault.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Iris waved off the woman’s words with an air of indifference. “Whatever. Look, can we just get a move on? The more time we spend standing here, the longer it’ll be before I can see my sister.”

Kirihime frowned at Iris, whose two tails writhed behind her in agitation. “I know that you are excited to finally see Lady Lilian after so long, but please be patient. Our flight doesn’t leave for another two hours, and the airport is only thirty minutes away.”

Crossing her arms under her bust, Iris huffed. Meanwhile, Kirihime helped Camellia to her feet. Her three tails also extended to impressive lengths and gathered up the luggage her mistress had dropped.

“That reminds me… just why are we taking an airplane again?”

“Because we’re not allowed to set up Spirit Gates in the United States,” Kirihime answered as she dusted off Camellia’s clothes. “The United States has been claimed by the Four Saints and, as per the agreement set down after the war of 1868, no yōkai clan is allowed to claim any state within the United States as their territory. That’s why we had to travel here by boat when we first arrived. Wasn’t Lady Iris taught this already?”

“Maybe,” Iris admitted with an uncaring shrug, “but it’s not like I ever paid attention to what that shriveled prude, Daphne, ever said.”

“L-Lady Iris, you shouldn’t speak of your elder sister so disrespectfully.”

Iris waved a hand through the air. “Whatever. Can we get going now?”

Kirihime sighed. There was just no pleasing this girl.

“Of course, Lady Iris. Shall we get going? I have hired a taxi that will meet us at the front gate in a few minutes, if it isn’t already here.”

“Finally.” Iris lifted her small duffel bag, which contained all she’d be bringing with her. “Let’s get going.”

Camellia sniffled as Iris stalked off. “Iris doesn’t like Camellia.”

Kirihime winced at the sheer amount of hurt in Camellia’s tone. It pained her to see what this once amazing woman had been reduced to. Unfortunately, there was little she could do to help her mistress, except comfort the woman using the only tried and true method she knew of.

Kirihime reached up and began gently petting Camellia’s head.

“Hawa,” the five-tails muttered in a blissful voice.

***

It happened while Kevin and Lilian were walking to the school locker rooms. One minute they were minding their own business. The next, Eric appeared before them as if by magic.

“It is a pleasure to see you, My Lord.”

Kevin stared at his friend with his best “why the hell are you calling me that?” look. The lecherous young man knelt before him, reminiscent of a knight kneeling before their king.

It was all kinds of disturbing.

“Um, Eric, what the heck are you doing?”

“What do you mean, My Lord? Is something troubling you?”

“Yes. Yes, there is.”

“What is it? Please tell me so that I might help fix whatever is ailing you, My Lord.”

“You are.” Kevin gave the still kneeling Eric a flat look. Lilian just looked vaguely amused. “Seriously, Eric, get up. You’re freaking me out.”

“Okay―I mean, very well, My Lord.”

“Stop calling me that!”

With an unusual amount of pomp, the physical embodiment of lust and perversion stood to his feet. “If that is what you desire, then I shall do my best to comply with your wishes.”

“Uh huh…” Kevin leaned in towards Lilian so he could whisper into her ear. “Do you have know what’s up with Eric?”

“Mm mm.” Lilian shook her head. “The last time I saw him was when he and everyone else came over last week, remember? And I didn’t see anything happen to him that you didn’t see yourself.”

Kevin nodded. He remembered the last time they’d seen Eric quite well. He and Lilian had invited everyone to their home again for a movie night. All of their friends had shown up, including Christine, who’d told them she only showed up because it was common courtesy.




“D-d-don’t think I’m here because I like you or anything! I-I-I-I’m only here because you invited me over and I have nothing better to do! Hmph!”





Something like that.

He still recalled the beating Christine had given Eric when the lecherous boy managed to successfully cop a feel. Kevin still shuddered every time he remembered what happened. Humans just weren’t meant to bend that way.

Deciding to ignore his friend’s strange behavior, he and Lilian renewed their walk to the locker rooms with Eric in tow.

“So,” Kevin started, eying the pervert walking alongside them, “mind if I ask why you’re calling me ‘My Lord?’”

“I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf,” Eric declared. Kevin and Lilian shared a brief look before focusing back on the pervert.

“A new leaf, huh?”

“That is correct. I have decided… from this day forth, you are my new lord!”

“Uh huh… wait.” Kevin blinked. So did Lilian. “What?”

“Yes, I will become your lackey, and score any tail that you decide to spare me.”

“Um…”

“I can’t believe he just said that,” Lilian commented, idly wondering if Eric had finally lost it after learning that she and Kevin were officially a mated couple, even if they hadn’t actually mated yet.

Kevin used his free hand, the one whose fingers were not laced through Lilian’s, to facepalm. “I can. I can so believe he just said that. I merely wish he hadn’t.”

“Yes!” Eric clenched his fist, a diabolically pervy grin etched upon his face. It was disturbing enough to make eldritch horrors look like cute, fluffy white bunnies. “This plan is foolproof! Women always seem to flock to you for some reason!”

“Uh, no. Only Lilian’s really shown any interest in me…”

“And knowing your luck, it won’t be long now before even more women flock to you!”

“Are you sure you’re talking about me?”

“And since you’re dating Lilian, that means every other bodaciously-bodied babe will be up for grabs!”

Kevin turned a desperate look towards his mate. “Lilian? He’s not listening to me. What should I do?”

“Why are you asking me?” Lilian looked honestly confused. “I don’t know how to make him stop. Maybe you should see if he has an off switch or something.”

“I think any switch he might have only comes with two settings: perv and pervier.”

“That means every sexy bitch coming your way will become mine! Yes! I will finally obtain my goal of becoming a Harem King! Mwahahahahahahaha-BWUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

By this point, tears of joy were streaming down Eric’s face. He raised a hand to the ceiling, as if he was trying to reach out and grasp heaven.

Kevin and Lilian noticed all the people stopping to gawk at Eric as he stood in place, right hand on his hip, left hand raised toward the ceiling, his laughter reminiscent of a stereotypical anime villain.

Slowly, ever so slowly so to as not attract attention to themselves, the kitsune and her human mate began walking away from the scene.

As they walked further away from Eric, they could hear his maniacally perverse laughter becoming softer and softer until, eventually, it vanished altogether.

“Kevin…”

“Let’s just pretend this whole incident never happened,” Kevin said.

Lilian tilted her head, a thoughtful frown marring her pretty face until, ever so slowly, she nodded. “Agreed.

***

Had he not been present to see the aftermath of Lilian and Kiara’s battle, Kevin would have never believed the gym had once been the location of an epic showdown between yōkai. The once ruined floorboards were pristine, glistening with a lacquered finish. Brand new bleachers lined two sides of the interior, and the girders overhead gleamed with the luminosity of new steel.

Kevin and Lilian stood with two dozen other kids. Most of them were in groups of two or three, talking amongst themselves about one thing or another. Over to their left, a couple girls were staring at them. Whenever he or Lilian looked their way, they would giggle and go back to their conversation, which Kevin suspected he and his mate were the topic of. Standing several feet to his right was yet another group of kids, boys this time, all of whom were glaring at him. Kevin matched their glare with a stare of his own, which just caused their attempts to kill him with their eyes to grow more fervent.

“I never thought I’d see you look so confrontational,” Lilian said, studying his expression.

Kevin turned away from his peers and looked at her, his head tilting. “What do you mean? I’m not being confrontational.”

“Yes, you are,” Lilian rebutted, smiling as if she was pleased about something. “Maybe you’re not trying to bring about a physical confrontation, but you’re definitely showing these other boys more hostility than before. Back when we first met, you always did your best to avoid the looks they sent you. Now you’re returning them.”

Kevin turned his head a bit, mostly to hide his blush. “I’m just sick and tired of people looking at me like I’ve committed some great crime. The only reason they’re glaring at me like that is because I’m dating you and they’re not. I’m tired of dealing with their petty jealousy.”

“I never said there was anything wrong with it.” Lilian placed one hand on his right shoulder while the other began to run up and down his left arm. “I like that you’re not letting these people get to you like you used to. It’s really hot.”

Kevin rubbed the back of his neck, his cheeks growing even darker. “Y-you think so?”

“Oh, yes.”

The world around him faded as Lilian’s trapped him with her gaze. Slowly, she leaned up on her tiptoes and gave him a soft, almost delicate kiss. Kevin closed his eyes and kissed back. He didn’t hear the girlish squeals that erupted from nearby, nor did he feel the increased killing intent pouring off the boys. Everything except him and Lilian vanished from his perception.

“Not you two again! Knock it off, lovebirds! Go play tonsil hockey on your own time!”

At least until a familiar shout interrupted them.

Kevin and Lilian pulled away from each other. While he blushed and tried to pretend that he hadn’t been exploring the inside of Lilian’s mouth with his tongue, his twin-tailed mate glared at Coach Raide, who hardly even seemed to notice the angered look she assailed him with. The large wookie of a coach blew his whistle and started shouting.

“Alright, brats! Line up!”

Standing so close their shoulders were touching, Kevin and Lilian stood in line. Eric, who must have appeared around the same time as Coach Raide, moved to stand on Kevin’s left.

“I’ve got some news for you kids,” Coach Raide began. Everyone looked surprised. Their PE coach wasn’t one for giving speeches, so if he actually had something to tell them, it must have been important. “We’ve got a new assistant coach today. She’s going to be in charge of all female PE activities, so you little valley girls had better listen to what she says! Got it?!”

Coach Raide got several glares from a couple of those “valley girls,” who didn’t appreciate the insult one bit.

“Now I want you all to welcome… Ms. Heather Grant.”

Kevin only had a moment to wonder why that name sounded so familiar, because seconds later, a woman who looked vaguely familiar walked in through one of the gym’s double doors.

Her short blond hair framed a pleasantly smiling face. She wore a pair of blue sweatpants with white lines running along the outer legs, and a blue t-shirt that conformed to her generous frame. Despite himself, Kevin noticed that her bust, while not the same size as Lilian’s, was still quite large. Light bluish-green eyes looked upon the group of students with a strange sort of dazzle, as if they were a pair of sparkling gems. Several boys held a hand to their nose as blood seeped between their fingers.

The only nosebleeder who didn’t hold a hand to his nose was Eric, and that was because he was already on the move.

“Oh, baby! Where have you been all my life, you boobilicious blond sex machine! Come to papa―Gurk!”

Everyone watched in mute shock as Eric was clotheslined by a deceptively delicate arm.

It was almost amazing how the lower half of Eric’s body continued moving even while his neck and head remained practically stationary. Due to the built up momentum, his feet left the ground, swinging about in a surprisingly graceful parabolic arc. The rest of his body soon followed, rotating along the central axis provided courtesy of the woman’s arm.

Time, which seemed to have slowed down as Eric soared through the air in an out of control spin, reasserted itself as the licentious boy hit the ground. Hard.

“Urk!”

Several people winced at the strangled gurgles that escaped the boy’s mouth.

“I give you an A for effort, but an F for execution,” Heather said. Kevin’s brows furrowed some more. He felt like he should know this woman. “Seriously kid, what were you thinking, going for a frontal assault like that? Everybody knows that when you want to properly grope a woman, you need to sneak in behind them and attack when they least expect it.”

“Urk… ugh… ooh…”

Kevin wondered if anyone else was sweatdropping as much as him. Did this woman seriously just give Eric Corrompere, the epitome of concupiscence, groping advice?

Heather looked up, an amused smirk on her lips.

Then she made eye contact with Kevin and Lilian.

The smirk vanished.

“AAHHHHH!!!” Kevin and Lilian pointed at the woman, who pointed right back, all three of them shouting at the same time. “IT’S YOU!”

***

The boys and girls split up after Heather was introduced, with Coach Raide taking the boys outside while the girls remained indoors.

“Alex.”

“Rodriguez.”

“So…” Eric placed his hands behind his head. “That Heather chick with the mean WWF skills is the woman in charge of those people who tried kidnapping you and Lilian, huh?”

“Seems that way,” Kevin grunted. He and Eric were standing in yet another line, this one on the basketball court.

I hate basketball.

“Philip.”

“Brian.”

Eric whistled. “Damn. Never thought we’d bump into one of those people. Wonder how she got a job working at this school. Then again, that Japanese professor guy―”

“Inagami Takashi.”

“Right, right, him. Anyway, he also worked at this school. Maybe she had her super secret spy agency or whatever create some false identification stating she was a teacher.”

“Or maybe your dad let her have the job because she’s hot, and we all know that your dad’s as lecherous as you are.”

“Christian.”

“Zach.”

“That’s a harsh thing to say, My Lord,” Eric muttered. “My old man might be a perv, but there’s no way he’s anywhere near as perverted as me!”

“That’s not something to be proud of, idiot! And don’t call me ‘My Lord!’ It’s creepy.”

“Francis.”

“Jack.”

“So, what do you think’s going on with the girls?” asked Eric.

Kevin ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know, but I’m worried. That woman was the one who ordered my kidnapping, or at least I think she was. Either way, she was the one in charge of those people, which means she’s the one who wanted to capture Lilian. Who’s to say that’s not still her goal?”

“You could always call the police.”

“And say what? ‘Hey, Mr. Police Officer. I’ve got this woman teaching my gym class. I think she’s actually a spy sent by a secret organization to capture my kitsune girlfriend. Could you please send someone over here to arrest her for me?’” Kevin snorted. “Yeah, I can see that going over really well.”

“You know, you’ve become awfully sarcastic in the past two weeks, My Lord.” Kevin twitched. “Are you feeling alright?”

“Just dandy.”

“Haden.”

“Eric.”

“Heh, looks like they’re calling me.” Eric stepped out of line and tossed his friend a wave. “Catch you later, My Lord.”

“Oh, for the all the gods’ sakes, would you stop calling me that?!”

***

“Shouldn’t you be playing dodgeball with the other girls?”

Lilian didn’t answer Heather’s question, instead choosing to glare daggers at the blond-haired woman. The new assistant coach appeared more amused by the redhead’s attempt at making her spontaneously combust via her eyes than bothered. She was even grinning.

“Now there’s a dangerous look. You weren’t wearing that look the last time I saw you.” Heather lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “Then again, I couldn’t really see you all that well, since you were being supported by your boy toy.”

“Don’t you dare call Kevin that!” Lilian spat.

“Oh, so you can talk. I was beginning to wonder.”

Lilian and Heather sat on the bleachers. Well, Heather was sitting. Lilian stood several feet from the woman, hands clenched into fists so tight that it was a wonder her nails hadn’t broken the skin.

“What are you doing here?”

“My job.” Heather raised an eyebrow. “You know, assistant PE coach?”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it!” Lilian’s already narrowed eyes became fierce slits. Her transformation slipped for a second, whiskers appearing for a brief instant before vanishing. “What are you doing here? Are you here to try and kidnap me again? Or are you going to try and use Kevin as a hostage like you did last time? I swear, if you hurt even one hair on his head, I’ll―”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Slow down, girl.” Heather raised her hands in a “settle down” gesture. “I have no designs on kidnapping either you or your boyfriend. I’m not even a member of that group anymore.”

Lilian remained tense, still feeling wary of letting her guard down around this woman. “What do you mean?”

“I mean they fired me,” Heather stated flatly. “People who don’t accomplish their mission objectives aren’t people they can afford to keep. When I failed to capture you, they decided I was no longer fit to be a member of their group and they dropped me faster than yesterday’s trash.”

“So, if you’re not after me and Kevin, then what are you doing here?”

“Didn’t I just tell you? I’m the assistant PE coach.” Heather shrugged. “I needed a job, so I applied.”

“And they let you work here just like that?”

“Yep.” Heather nodded. “The principal said ‘you’re cute, so I’ll hire you!’ and that was how I got my job.”

Lilian took a second to think about that statement.

A drop of sweat soon appeared near her temple, trailing down her face and neck, rolling across her clavicle bone, before dipping into her PE shirt.

Lilian remembered; she had been allowed to enroll despite not having any of the necessary background information for that very same reason.

“Right. I forgot the principal here is a complete pervert.”

***

Sitting in his office, behind his fancy desk made of the finest mahogany, Principal Corrompere giggled. Several feet away from him was a television, and on that television was porn.

What? This was the guy who birthed Eric. Are you honestly surprised?

“Kukukuku… oh, yeah…. you girls are looking mighty fine… oh, yes… just like that… you can do it, baby!”

As he giggled some more, mumbling out words no principal in their right mind should ever say out loud—especially at a school—a strange sensation came over him, like a feather tickling his nose.

He sneezed. Then he looked around. After several seconds of nothing happening, Eric’s father shrugged and went back to watching porn.

And people wondered why this school was so messed up.

***

Gym eventually ended.

Kevin and Lilian met up after changing into their regular clothes. Eric probably would have been with them, except he’d been sent to the nurse’s office after trying to sneak up on Heather and grope her from behind. Too bad the woman was a former secret agent of some kind. Not even the Deus Sex Machina that allowed all perverts to recover after a massive beating seemed capable of healing the grievous injuries she had dealt to him.

Almost as soon as they left the gymnasium, Kevin noticed his mate’s mood. “Are you worried about that Heather woman?”

“Yes. No. Well, maybe a little.” Lilian furrowed her brows and frowned. “I don’t like the fact that she’s working here at our school. That woman’s already kidnapped you once.”

“Ugh, please don’t remind me.”

“Who’s to say she won’t try it again?”

“Yeah, I thought the same thing, more or less.” Kevin paused. “Only our roles in the entirely hypothetical second kidnapping scenario were reversed. Anyway, there’s not much we can do unless you want to pick a fight with her or something. We’ll inform Kotohime about Heather becoming our new teacher. That way, if something happens to us and we don’t show up at home, she’ll know who the most likely culprit is. Really, that’s about all we can do.”

“I guess…”

They stopped in the middle of a busy sidewalk. All around them, their fellow students walked. A few glanced at them, and more than a few whispered as they walked past, but Kevin did his best to ignore them.

Kevin placed his hands on Lilian’s shoulders, a reassuring gesture that did an admirable job of making the two-tailed vixen relax. His touch was like a panacea for her tumultuous mind. “Try not to worry too much, okay. If anything happens, we’ll deal with it just like we’ve dealt with every other problem that’s come our way.”

Lilian’s eyes glanced up at her mate. Long strands of silky red glittered as sunlight reflected off her hair, framing her face with sparkles that enhanced her beauty beyond what mere eyes could see.

“You really have grown a lot more confident these past two weeks, haven’t you?” Lilian’s lips gently curved up into a warm, inviting smile.

Kevin’s cheeks darkened as he quickly turned his head, even if he already knew that hiding his blush was impossible. “Y-yes, well, I’m trying to be, at least.”

Slender arms slid around his neck and a lovely, alluring face came ever closer as Lilian leaned up on her toes. Kevin was forced to look back at the young woman when she placed a hand underneath his chin and turned it.

“I like how confident you’ve become.”

As if they possessed a mind of their own, Kevin’s hands settled on the curve of Lilian’s hips. Even separated as they were by the fabric of her jeans, he could feel the delightful and artistic curve of her waist.

Kevin’s face became a bastion of red, and his body twitched as if fighting against the compulsion to run away. “R-really?”

“Oh, yes.”

The arms around his neck drew him in closer. Lilian’s breath hit his lips, and the delectable scent of mint and vanilla caused his mind to grow fuzzy.

“I like it a lot.”

Kevin allowed Lilian’s arms to pull him down, closer to her face. His eyes, just like hers, began to flutter closed.

“You two really don’t know the meaning of the word discretion, do you?”

Jerking apart like someone had struck them in the face with an overpowered kitsune-bi, Kevin and Lilian looked to their left and right respectively.

“Lindsay.” Lilian did not know whether to be happy at seeing her friend, or angry at the tomboy for ruining her and Kevin’s moment.

“Hey.”

Standing a few feet away, Lindsay waved at the pair. Like most days, she had chosen to wear clothing that suited her tomboyish nature. Her black skinny jeans fit snugly on her hips, and the white T-shirt and jean jacket combo reminded Kevin of the clothing he wore back when he was 12. Walking beside her was a silent Christine, whose expression Kevin could not identify.

Smiling brightly at the girl in lolita clothing, Kevin greeted the Yuki-onna the same way he alway did.

“Christine, good morning. You look nice today.”

“W-w-what are you saying, idiot?!” Christine sputtered, her face steaming. She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her head. “D-d-d-d-don’t think th-that saying—that being nice to me and giving me c-compliments and stuff w-will make me forgive you!”

“Huh?”

And as always, Kevin had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

Lindsay chuckled. Lilian was just thankful Christine was so tsundere. If the goth girl actually acted nice and tried earnestly earning Kevin’s affection, well, it wouldn’t haven’t really changed anything, but it would have bothered her.

“It always amazes me to see how you can be so oblivious sometimes.”

Kevin stared at Lindsay like she’d just told him that he had the power to control vectors. “Um, what?”

“Exactly my point.” Lindsay shook her head. “Oblivious to the feelings of everyone except your girlfriend’s.”

Kevin somehow managed to look both embarrassed and confused.

“… Huh?”

***

Iris observed her surroundings with an amused glance. Everywhere she looked, men stared. Children, adults, teens, it didn’t matter, all males stopped whatever they were doing when she walked past them. A man pushing a cart full of luggage ran into a pillar, while another standing with what appeared to be his significant other began drooling. Even the man’s girlfriend stared at her like she was the rarest delicacy on earth.

She shook her head. These people, humans, were so pathetic. She wasn’t even using her Call of Ecstasy, and they were still tripping over themselves just to catch a glimpse of her.

Not that she blamed them, of course, but it was still annoying. Couldn’t they be a little more sporting and at least try to resist their hormonal response in the face of someone who embodied female perfection? It was no fun if they didn’t struggle against their natural impulses at least a little bit.

“Come on, Iris,” her mother called out to her. The older kitsune was walking in front of her, the ever faithful and kind Kirihime at the woman’s side. “Hurry up or you’ll fall behind―hawa!”

“M-My Lady!”

Iris wanted to facepalm, but that would have been redundant. Instead, she just sighed, watching Kirihime set down their luggage and helping Camellia back to her feet.

“Geeze, mom. You’re a complete embarrassment.”

“Th-that’s not a very nice thing to say about your mother,” Kirihime muttered, wearing a forlorn expression.

“That doesn’t make it any less true,” Iris retorted.

“H-hawa… I’m sowwy, Iris…” Camellia apologized, dewy tear drops in her eyes.

“Whatever. Let’s just hurry up, okay?”

“Hawa…”

Several more trips and a lot more staring later, they eventually made it to their terminal.

Iris’ stomach chose that moment to growl. “Ugh, I knew I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.”

“Would you like some of my Teriyaki?” Kirihime asked, pulling out a steaming plate of food from between her bosom and offering the fragrantly appetizing dish to Iris.

The girl’s face turned green. “There’s no way in hell I’m ever eating anything you make. Never again.”

Kirihime’s shoulders slumped. “That’s not a very nice thing to say…”

***

Kevin and Lilian were joined by their friends as they sat at a stone table underneath the gazebo for lunch.

“So… crap, do we even have a lunch?” Kevin asked, remembering what had happened this morning. His face warmed up and his heart threatened to explode as he recalled Lilian’s warm tongue exploring his mouth. He shifted uncomfortably and hoped no one could see the way his pants tightened.

Curse you hormones!

“Don’t worry,” Lilian reassured him, “Kotohime foresaw that we wouldn’t have time to make lunch and packed one for us. She made sure I grabbed it before we left.”

“How come I didn’t notice this?”

“You were too busy freaking out.”

“O-oh. I see.”

Kevin tried not to blush as Lilian reached into her cleavage and pulled out a large lunchbox. His eyes widened when he saw the box itself. Three-tiered and shaped like a square, the lunchbox had a lacquered finish and Sakura blossoms swirling along its surface like a mosaic.

Watching as Lilian arranged the food, Kevin saw that each story contained something different. The top story contained eggs and a variety of meats, the second held pickled vegetables, and the third was filled to bursting with rice.

Everyone gawked at the massive lunchbox, though Christine was the most vocal. “What the hell kind of lunchbox is that?!”

“It’s called a bento box,” Kevin answered, somehow resisting the urge to facepalm. “A Japanese lunchbox with several stories that can contain a variety of different foods.”

Lindsay stared at swirling pink petals and beautiful designs like they were something out of a horror movie. “Why is it that everything you do these days has something to do with Japan? We don’t live in Japan, you know.”

“I am well aware of that,” Kevin’s reply made deserts seem lush. He looked back at the bento box and sighed. “Seriously though, I know Kotohime’s into the whole ‘adding random Japanese suffixes to people’s name’ thing, but I had no clue she was this into Japanese culture. If she wasn’t from Japan herself, I would almost think she was a Japanophile.”

“A what?”

“Nothing.”

“Hey, I just noticed we’re missing someone,” Alex said, “where’s Eric?”

“Who cares?” Christine said rudely. “I’m just glad that idiots not here to perv on me like he usually does. Damn, dirty lecher.”

***

Eric Corrompere giggled with all the perversity of a dirty old man.

He’d woken up from his female-induced coma to find himself resting in the nurse’s office. After waking up and realizing that the nurse’s office was connected to both the male and female locker rooms, Eric had decided to use this opportunity to partake in his favorite hobby.

No, it wasn’t playing H-games. That was his second favorite. His real favorite hobby was, of course, peeping.

After sneaking into the girl’s locker room, Eric had swiftly hid himself in one of the many lockers. With his back pressed against the metal and his eyes peering through one of several small slits, the epitome of perversion, the entity of lecherous intent, watched as several girls entered the locker room.

Clamping a hand over his mouth to stifle his perverse giggling, Eric ignored the fluids running down his face, both the drool coming out of his mouth and the blood leaking from his nose. This wasn’t the first time he’d drooled, gotten a nosebleed or had both happen at the same time, and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Oh, yeah…” he whispered to himself, giggling some more. “Come to papa… that’s right…”

His eyes zeroed in one girl who stepped in front of him. She turned away and opened the locker immediately across from the one he’d secreted himself in. A few of her friends stepped up with her and also opened their lockers.

“Like, can you believe the nerve of that new assistant coach? She, like, totally made me run, even though I told her I didn’t want to,” one of them complained. Eric couldn’t figure out which one had spoken, and he honestly didn’t care. The girl on the far left had just slid her shorts off, revealing cute white panties. Her butt had nothing on Lilian or Christine, but still, a butt was a butt was a butt, and if there was one thing Eric liked with the same zeal as boobs, it was butts.

“Like, I know. I tried to tell her that I just got my nails done, and like, she was all ‘I don’t care’ and I was like, you’re a total bitch.”

The girls all laughed as one.

“I know, right? And then she forced us all to, like, play that game of dodgeball. My hair is now totally ruined, and I’m all sweaty.”

“Eeww!”

Eric squinted as he recognized the voice, or at least the type of person the voice belonged to. These girls sounded like the stereotypical valley girl cliche. How surprising. He didn’t think girls like that existed anymore. They weren’t living in the 90s. People should’ve learned how to speak proper English and not act so air-headed!

Weird thoughts coming from a boy who spent most of his life trying to peep on women.

He continued listening to the girls complain, or rather, he completely ignored the complaining in favor of watching them strip. He was a bit disappointed that none of these girls had much to flaunt. They didn’t have the astoundingly large and unusually perky boobs of Lilian, nor did they have the marvelously flat chest of Christine. They were all in between, never going for one extreme over the other, thereby making them normal.

For some reason, normal had become awfully boring these days.

He blamed Lilian and Christine.

“Come on, girls!” a familiar voice shouted out. Eric also heard clapping coming from somewhere out of his field of vision. “Hurry up! Another class is coming in soon, so you girls need to clean up, get dressed and get out in five minutes!”

“Tch! Can you believe that woman? She doesn’t honestly think we can do all that in five minutes, does she? Like, it takes me at least thirty just to do my makeup!”

“Totally, and it takes me fifteen to get my hair just right. That bitch totally doesn’t know how easy she has it with her short hair.”

“I don’t think she even takes care of her hair. I mean, just look at it. It’s all stiff and greasy, like she washes her hair in a tub of oil or something.”

“Like, totally.”

“Hey! Move your butts, girls! I don’t pay you to sit around talking!”

“Like, you don’t pay us at all!”

“Totally!”

“Ugh, I’ve got to take a shower. My skin is, like, absolutely sweaty and gross. I can’t wear my clothes like this!”

“Me neither.”

“Good thing I, like, brought a towel.”

Eric’s grin widened as he realized what was going to happen. These girls were going to strip naked! What a treat!

Contrary to the popular beliefs most men had of what transpired in a female locker room, girls didn’t just randomly strip naked for no apparent reason. Eric had been most depressed when he had first learned this fact. All women should get naked in a locker room just like they did in anime! Why didn’t these girls know that? Still, he’d grown used to seeing, at most, a pair of well-filled panties, and learned to make up for this deficiency in his Perv-O-Meter with hentai and H-games.

But now, none of that mattered! Because he was going to finally see a pair of real-live breasts!

“Hell, yeah! Bring on the boobies!” he shouted.

“Did you hear that?!”

Eric clamped a hand over his mouth.

“Like, it sounded like a shout!”

“You don’t think…?”

“I do.”

Eric “eeped!” when the door to his locker was suddenly and violently wrenched open. A hand grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked him out. The young pervert went tumbling to the ground, where he soon found himself surrounded by a bunch of angry females in various states of undress.

“Any last words?” one of the girls asked, cracking her knuckles.

“I regret nothing!”

“Wrong. Answer.”

Five minutes later a bruised, battered and thoroughly beaten Eric lay on the ground, twitching and groaning in pain. He looked like, well, like a bunch of women had unleashed their Righteous Female Fury upon him. His cheeks were swollen like a chipmunk whose mouth was full of acorns, and both of his eyes were black. His left eye looked worse, as it was swollen completely shut and beginning to turn purple. He was also missing several teeth and had a split lip that bled profusely.

Standing above him, hands on her hips and the most amused smirk quirking her lips, was none other than Heather Grant.

“So… was it worth it?”

Eric groaned in pain, but was still able to slowly raise his shaky left hand into the air, where he gave a thumbs up… and then let it drop back to the floor with a dull thud.

Heather nodded approvingly. “Good man.”

***

From the moment the plane took off, Iris had decided that she absolutely hated flying. There was just something unsettling about the whole thing. Maybe it was the knowledge that she was hundreds if not thousands feet above ground, or maybe it had something to do with how the plane would jostle and shake whenever they hit turbulence. Either way, she decided right then and there that flying sucked.

Iris sat in the seat closest to the aisle. No way in hell was she getting anywhere near the window. Kirihime sat beside her, humming a gentle tune to herself as she flipped through the pages of a magazine, which, judging from the front cover, was about knives. After reading over Kirihime’s shoulder in an effort to distract herself, Iris shuddered and looked away, disturbed by the maid’s fascination with pointy objects. Over by the window, Camellia had her face pressed against the glass, gazing at the vast sea of clouds with a child’s curiosity.

Trying to ignore the way her stomach flip-flopped the longer she stayed in this death machine, Iris swallowed the bile attempting to rise in her throat and closed her eyes.

Within the darkness of her mind, an image appeared, of a beautiful girl with hair the color of crimson flames and eyes that sparkled brighter than a pair of emeralds.

Wait for me, Lilian. We’ll be reunited again soon.
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