“Why?” the fox asked.
It was still the middle of the same night, though it would be morning soon enough. Both prisoners had been chained side to side around one of the large trees at the edge of the clearing. Not wanting to repeat past mistakes, Levinson had left a man to watch them until their “punishment” at dawn. He needn’t have bothered; Morris couldn’t even walk anymore after getting shot in the leg, let alone the damage they’d taken as a result of the beating. Given immediate medical treatment and a lot of luck, he might have managed the feat after a few months of good physical therapy. As it was, the chains were the only reason he was even upright.
“Why?” she repeated, a tired and defeated look in her eyes. She didn’t sound like she really expected or wanted an answer. He wasn’t sure if she was even talking to him. She was just expressing her disbelief at the entire situation.
“Because I don’t want to be a monster anymore either,” he told her. They were going to kill him tomorrow, there was no doubt about that, but he felt surprisingly calm about it. Better than he had in years, really, despite all the pain. Even if things hadn’t worked out, he’d finally decided what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be. That was more than a lot of folks got.
The fox woman flinched at the sound of his voice, then looked away, refusing to meet his eyes. “I… I am a monster,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “Every time I try to run from the truth, I only end up hurting others even more.”
“And why would a monster care if she hurt others?” Morris asked. She made no answer, her eyes still turned away from him.
He’d resigned himself to the silence by the time she spoke, her tone sullen. “…It doesn’t matter if I care. I still hurt them. It’s all I’ve ever done in life.”
“So you’re a monster because you hurt people?” he asked. She gave no response. “I used to agree with you there. But now I don’t think hurting people alone is what makes someone a monster.”
“What does then?” she asked harshly.
Morris struggled to think through the constant pain, and to put the thoughts that had been on his mind for weeks now into words. “Not caring. They like to hide it with talk about the greater good, or the ends justifying the means, but at the end of the day only one thing really matters to them, and that’s themselves. Everything else is just window dressing to help them feel better about it.” He looked down at himself. “And I’m just like them. Told myself I was some kind of hero, enacting justice on those who deserved it, but that was all crap. I just wanted someone I could take my pain out on.”
“You… didn’t take it out on me,” she said softly. “You even tried to help.” She gave a quiet, bitter laugh. “It’s been so long since I last saw kindness that I couldn’t even recognize it. And now you’re going to die because of me. I’m sorry.”
Morris shook his head. “I knew the risks before I started. That’s not on you.” He paused. “There is one thing I’d like answered before it’s too late. What’s your, I mean, do you have a name?”
She finally met his gaze then, and something almost like a smile came to her lips. “Yes, I have a name,” she told him. “I am called Seo-yun.”
“Seo-yun…” he said, rolling the name around on his tongue. “That’s a nice name.”
“I’ll let my parents know you approve of their choice when I see them in the lands beyond,” she told him. Her almost smile faded. “If they will allow me to show my face in front of them after everything I’ve done.” She opened her mouth to say more, but hesitated. “What… what will happen to me, when this is over?”
There was no point sugarcoating it, so Morris didn’t bother trying. “Once Levinson is satisfied that he’s broken your spirit, you’ll be shipped back to the client who requested us. We’ve never dealt with this buyer before, so I don’t know their preferences, but most mon- most people that we do this to end up in permanent sexual servitude. If someone is rich enough to pay our fee, and this one paid double, they’re usually looking to do things that they wouldn’t be allowed to do to a human being that would be missed.”
The fox woman didn’t react much to his words. Morris doubted any of it was surprising, just unpleasant. He cast about for a different topic. “My name is-”
“Morris. I know.”
“Oh,” he said, feeling deflated. “Right. Um, my full name is Jack Morris, actually. You can call me Jack if you want…” She didn’t seem to have anything to say about that.
This was one of the very last conversations of his life, and he was spending it on awkward small talk. He thought for a moment. “Hey, what’s your favorite food?”
That made her stir slightly. “My favorite… food?” Seo-yun gave him a quizzical look. “Why?”
“Well, where I come from there’s this kind of tradition where someone who’s been sentenced to death gets whatever they want for their last meal. I don’t think Levinson is going to be quite so generous, but I can at least think about what it would be. Mine would be some chicken. A chicken breast cooked just right, nice and juicy with the skin still crisp on it, and some mashed potatoes on the side, garlic and butter. Should probably have a small salad too, have at least one green thing on my plate.” He reconsidered. “Well, I guess I don’t really have to worry about that anymore. Maybe a couple scoops of ice cream after instead, if I’ve got room. You?”
“My favorite food is humans,” she said flatly, but the hint of a smile was back. “Do you really want to hear about how I’d like to eat one of your kind? I do find your livers quite delicious.”
“Go for it,” he said. “I’m not really in a position to judge right now. Besides, it’s not the worst thing I’ve heard about eating. Some deranged people actually like mushrooms.”
“I like mushrooms,” she said archly, her smile just a little wider. “I’ve always been particularly fond of raw paengi. There are some patches in the deeper parts of the forest where not much sunlight gets through.”
“Ugh,” he said with an exaggerated grimace. “Stick to telling me about human livers.”
Seo-yun didn’t speak again for a time, and her gaze turned distant. Morris had almost decided that she wasn’t going to say anything at all when she finally broke the silence. “I was sick once with a bad fever. I thought Mother or Father would heal me, but they both refused no matter how much I pleaded. They said that it wasn’t life threatening, and that fighting it off myself would help my body grow stronger. I was too young to appreciate their wisdom, and I acted like a spoiled child, accusing them of not caring about me. For hours after that, I tossed and turned in bed, slipping from one nightmare to the next.”
Her expression turned wistful. “And then Mother woke me up, and she had a bowl of soup with her.” She inhaled deeply, as if smelling it. “Father had been out all night gathering all the ingredients, and then Mother had spent hours preparing it. I… I don’t remember what it tasted like, but it was warm and delicious, and when I thanked Mother for it she started to cry. I realized then how wrong I’d been. They’d been suffering far more than I had, possessing the power to make their daughter better and having to resist using it for her own good. So they did the only thing they could: they made me soup. And I’ve never tasted anything better.”
The fox woman let out a long shuddering breath. “For a very long time I was able to suppress memories like that one. But now the scar has been torn back open, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to seal it shut again.”
“Why does it need to be shut at all?” he asked.
The look she gave him said that the answer should be obvious. “I was a complete and utter failure at everything I wanted to achieve. The only thing I have ever accomplished in my life is bringing misery and death, usually to those who did not deserve it. The only way I was able to have even a moment’s peace was to push my past out of my mind, to somewhere deep down where it couldn’t hurt me.”
Morris shrugged. “Maybe you shouldn’t have had a moment’s peace.” He saw the hurt look in her eyes and hastened to explain. “In my experience, the only people who don’t have regrets are saints and fools. Guilt isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s our conscience pushing us to be better people. You say your life has been one failure after another, and maybe that’s true. But it’s up to you whether or not it stays true. If you feel bad about what you’ve done in the past, it means you want to do better, so learn from your mistakes instead of hiding from them. Use them to change your future.”
Seo-yun relaxed a little, and he could see that she was thinking over his words. “I don’t think either of us has much of a future right now.”
“Right,” he admitted. “That does present a problem.” The reminder of what laid ahead made his spirits fall, and he was silent for a while, lost in dark thoughts.
It was the fox woman who broke the silence this time. “What are your regrets?” she asked. “Assuming that you’re not a saint or a fool, I mean?”
Morris met her eyes, reading the concern on her face. He wouldn’t have blamed her for hating him. All his rescue plan had done was get her into even more trouble. But instead, here she was trying to make him feel better by distracting him. “I’m definitely a fool,” he said, “for many different reasons. But yes, I have plenty. You sure you want to hear them?”
This time her expression was undoubtedly a smile. “I do have many other plans for the day, but I believe I could spare you a few minutes.”
So Morris told her about Samantha and the efreet, about how his inability to stop or avenge her death had led him to Levinson. He told her about some of the things he had done over the years, and held nothing back, made no excuses to justify his behavior. Seo-yun asked a few questions, usually when he used terms that she wasn’t familiar with, but for the most part she remained quiet and listened, offering neither judgment nor forgiveness. When he finished, she told him in turn about her parents, the village she had unwillingly massacred, and many of the innocents she had killed over the centuries, ending with the young boy whose death had convinced her to abandon all traces of her humanity for a time.
“I’m glad I tried to rescue you,” he said when her story was over. “I wish it had gone better, but I’m glad I tried.”
“Then you must not have been listening very closely,” she said. “I am as terrible a monster as any of the creatures you told me about. If any of them deserved their fate, then so do I. My only regret about the last two weeks is that I’ve gotten you killed too. Another innocent to add to my tally.”
“I don’t see a monster,” he told her. “I only see a woman who gave up. And that doesn’t make you blameless, but it doesn’t make you evil either. It just makes you a person, like all the rest of us.”
“The rest of us,” said Levinson, and both of them flinched at the sound of his voice, “don’t have fuzzy ears, four tails, and days old cum still leaking from our assholes. You’re a long way from being a person, fox cunt.” He sneered at Morris. “And you. If it wasn’t for me, you would’ve slit your wrists years ago like the coward you are. I gave you purpose, and meaning, and a life that you enjoyed just as much as every one else, even while you looked down at us for it. And you gave it all up for that. Well don’t worry, I’m going to make sure you get to spend all the time you have left in the world with your furry lover here.”
“Please, Levinson, I-” Levinson cut her off with a hard slap across the face.
“See what you’ve done, you little shit?” he asked. “You give the animal some attention, and it starts to forget that it’s nothing but tits and holes. I’m going to have to be extra vicious to undo your fuck up.”
“I’ll give you my marble!” the fox woman blurted out quickly, before he could slap her again. The blond man froze, hand still held in the air. “I’ll give it to you right now, just let him go!”
There was a hungry look in Levinson’s eyes as he stared at her. Morris had never seen the man look so intense. Seo-yun cried out as he slapped her a second time, a third, a fourth. “Then hurry the fuck up and give it to me!” he growled as he continued to assault her.
Seo-yun cringed against the tree, unable to move away or lift her hands to defend herself. “I… I don’t know how!” she admitted.
Levinson snorted and let his hand drop. “Of course you don’t, you stupid fucking animal.” He stepped right up in front of her, grabbed her by the hair, and cursed. “There won’t be enough mouthwash in the world for this.” And then he kissed her. There was nothing gentle or loving about it. He mashed his lips against hers, and forced his tongue into her mouth before she could stop him. “Let it go!” he said without breaking off the contact. “Kiss me back and let it happen, cunt.”
Morris felt an odd pain in his heart as Seo-yun obeyed, her tongue reluctantly meeting his. He’d watched her get raped in every hole by every man here, and now he was feeling jealous because she was kissing someone? Then he saw the blue glow appear in her chest, under the skin. While Levinson continued violating her mouth with his tongue, it traveled slowly up her neck, until her mouth glowed with the cool light. There was a brief flash as it passed from her lips to his, and then it sank down into his own chest and faded away.
The blond man yanked his head away from hers the moment the light vanished, and spat furiously for several seconds. “Tasted even worse than I thought,” he muttered. “Filthy whore.” He looked at his men. “Come on, let’s get on with it.”
Seo-yun looked dazed, staring blankly into space, but she came back to herself when the men unchained them from the tree and started herding them back towards the center of camp, two of them having to all but carry Morris. “Wait!” she said. “I did what you wanted, now let him go!”
Levinson sighed, then turned and punched her square in the jaw this time, a blow that rocked her head to the side and left her lower lip bleeding. “Fuck you, fox cunt,” he said. “I never agreed to anything.”
Seo-yun was still struggling and yelling as both prisoners were dragged to the center of camp, back to the same stump that her initial gangrape had taken place on. This time it was Morris who was pushed down on it, face up with his arms and limbs hanging off the sides.
“Don’t want you falling off,” Levinson said, and showed the man the hammer he was holding. Morris tried not to scream as nails were pounded through both hands, securing them to the sides of the stump. He managed to hold back, barely, but when the same was done to his ankles, he couldn’t stop himself. “Fucking pussy,” said Levinson as the last of his screams faded, and kicked the nail skewering his right hand to drive it in deeper and make the man scream again. “Bring the fox cunt over.”
Morris was in too much pain to even notice them cutting his clothes off, but he certainly noticed Seo-yun’s tongue touching his cock. He looked down, startled, so see her bent over him, steadily licking him while Levinson’s hand pushed her head against Morris’s crotch. “This dirty fucktoy was worth betraying all of us, right?” the man asked. “Least we can do is give you one last ride.”
It was also going to be his first “ride”, but Morris didn’t see any point in sharing that with the others. They wouldn’t understand or care about his reluctance to hurt her. All they cared about was money and sex, and that’s why they couldn’t imagine Morris acting for any other reason. To his slight embarrassment, it didn’t take long at all for Seo-yun’s efforts to have an effect. After being celibate for the last week and a half, his body needed little encouragement to get excited.
Morris groaned in pleasure as Seo-yun mounted him, her warm and wet pussy swallowing his erection easily. She barely reacted when his cock punctured her hymen, an experience she’d no doubt endured hundreds of times by now. She sank down until he was completely inside her softness, then Levinson put his hands on her shoulders to keep her from rising. Men used her tails to bind her arms behind her back and to lock her legs in what had to be an excruciating split before he let go. The last one was looped loosely around her neck. “Alright lovebirds,” the blond man said, grabbing the end of that tail. “Have some fun.”
Men armed with thick tree branches began to slam them against the nails in Morris’ limbs, making him scream in helpless agony. None of them showed the slightest hesitation at torturing their former comrade, nor did any of the men watching, who encouraged them on with rowdy shouts.
They’d hated him long before this for trying to keep them human, not letting them abuse their victims as much as they wanted. Most of them probably would have been happy to do this even without the excuse of his betrayal. How had it taken him so long to realize who the real monsters were?
Seo-yun wasn’t spared from pain either. Daniels and Kent were both attacking her front with whips, leaving bloody furrows across her stomach and chest. Behind her, Levinson was using her own tail to choke her, only letting up slightly every couple minutes to allow her enough oxygen to stay conscious. Even with the terrible biting pain of his limbs demanding his attention, the way she writhed with him inside her felt incredible, leaving Morris caught between agony and ecstasy. His hips bucked involuntarily to meet her, drawing laughter from the men when they noticed. “So that’s why he was always being such a pain in the ass,” one of them commented. “Masochistic little bitch must have been hoping we’d do something like this for years.”
It wasn’t a question of if Seo-yun’s torture was going to make Morris cum, only when. “I… I’m sorry!” he gasped between screams. Even if he was being forced into it, he was still raping her, and he felt ashamed that he was enjoying it so much.
She couldn’t answer him, not with Levinson’s cruel grip around her throat, but she glanced down, and to his shock, smiled at him. It was a small thing, and gone before any of the others could notice, but he understood its meaning. If it was him, her smile said, it was alright. A moment later her pussy tightened around him in a manner that had nothing to do with her torment. It wasn’t just alright, it was wanted.
More than her sinuous movements or the tight vise of her insides, it was that knowledge, the knowledge that he was welcome in her, that pushed Morris over the edge. He came hard enough that even the agony of the nails in his hands and feet vanished for a moment, overwhelmed by pure visceral pleasure. At the same time her pussy clenched his pulsing shaft and Levinson’s strangulation couldn’t stop a moan from leaving her lips as she finished too.
Levinson let go of Seo-yun’s tail and raised a hand to signal the men to stop. No longer held upright by his grip, the red haired fox fell forward, collapsing onto Morris’s chest. Her body was smooth and warm against his, and their faces were only inches apart. Her dirty red hair had fallen around them like a curtain, obscuring their view of everything but each other, and he could almost pretend that they were alone. Morris stared into her eyes as she panted, the movement scrubbing her breasts against his abdomen in a manner that made his cock twitch inside her. He couldn’t say that he loved her; he still barely knew the woman. But she seemed like someone he could grow to love. The sparkle in her eyes, the happiest expression he’d ever seen on her, told him that she felt similarly. He couldn’t tell which of them made the first move, only that her lips were suddenly against his, deliciously soft.
As the two almost lovers kissed, Levinson spoke. His tone was irritated, clearly unhappy that the two of them had enjoyed the forced coupling more than they were supposed to. “I knew you were into redheads, but I didn’t realize you were into fucking animals too. No wonder you thought you had to run off with her. You still hungry, fox cunt?” Seo-yun didn’t bother answering the obvious question, her attention seeming focused solely on their kiss. “I guess that’s a yes. Well, you’re about to taste a lot more of Morris than his lips. You’re going to eat him.”
Seo-yun froze, her tongue still exploring Morris’s mouth, and the blond man laughed at her reaction. “That’s what your kind does, right? Eat humans? Don’t want you to starve in our care, bitch.”
“I’m not-” Seo-yun started to say, and Levinson yanked the tail around her neck. He put his head down next to her ear, and though he spoke quietly, Morris could still make out the words. “You have one minute to start chewing your lover up. If you do it yourself, I’ll let you make it quick for him. If you decide to be a stupid bitch like usual, I’ll put that ring gag back on you, then I’ll start carving pieces of him off and force feeding them to you. Toes, then fingers, then that cock you just enjoyed so much, and then I start getting creative. Either way, fox cunt, you’re not getting off this stump until you’ve filled your belly with this traitorous bastard’s flesh. Sixty seconds.” He let go of her tail and straightened up.
Seo-yun looked like she was going to be sick, and Morris wasn’t feeling any better, but he forced on a smile. “Sorry,” he told her, “I’m probably not going to taste very good.”
She let out something halfway between a sob and a laugh. “That’s not the problem! I- you’re the first person I’ve been close to in centuries, the first person I ever… I can’t!”
“Forty seconds,” said Levinson. “Allen, get the ring gag from my tent. Wilson, the kitchen shears. Don’t dawdle.”
“I’m sorry, and I know this is selfish,” said Morris, “but I’ll be honest. If someone is going to kill me, I’d rather it be you than anyone else.”
“But then… I’m going to be all alone again,” she said, and her tears began to drip onto his cheeks. “After I finally found someone…”
The sight of her red, crying face made tears well up in Morris’s eyes too, but he blinked them away and forced his smile to stay on. There wasn’t much he could do for her, but he could at least try his best not to make this more difficult than it had to be. “Is that all? You’re not going to be alone, Seo-yun. I don’t know anything about what’s on the other side, but I’ve seen more than enough to know that there is one. Whatever happens to me after this, I’m not going to abandon you. Even if you can’t see me, I’ll be there with you.”
“Twenty seconds.” Morris heard Allen and Wilson returning with the gag and the shears.
“You promise?” she asked, voice trembling. “I won’t have to be alone again?”
“I promise,” he assured her, then he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
This was it. He hadn’t led a particularly long or accomplished life, but it had been his, and he’d done the best he could with it. That didn’t make for a very inspiring epitaph, and it wasn’t much of an excuse for his sins, but he’d be getting judged for those soon enough. Whatever was waiting for him on the other side, he prayed that it would let him keep his promise. He remembered Samantha then, and changed his mind. No, whatever was waiting for him on the other side, he would make it let him keep his promise. It was what she would have done.
Morris thought about home. He thought about Sam. He thought about how, despite all the pain in his limbs and the filth that clung to both of them, it still felt so good to feel Seo-yun’s skin against his own and breathe in her scent. He thought about second chances.
He let out the breath, and didn’t bother drawing in another.
“Now or never, fox cunt,” Levinson said, and Morris felt the cold metal of the shears against his big toe. “Five, four…”
Seo-yun put her mouth up to his ear. “Your offering is accepted,” she whispered, quietly enough for only him to hear. “I hope to someday be worthy of it.”
Her lips brushed against his a final time as she lowered her head to nuzzle his throat. Her teeth sank into him, sharp and strong. It hurt, but only for a second, and then he was gone.