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“Another helping, Flower?” Nobu asked, offering Hanabi the pot of food.
“Thanks, Dad!” the girl said gratefully, holding up her bowl so he could ladle more sukiyaki into it. Even a week after her little incident in the forest, she still felt like she was always hungry. But it was hard to mind that too much when it meant getting to eat more of her father’s home cooking. He was almost always in charge of meals, usually with Hanabi’s assistance. Every so often Kamio got the urge to try and do some cooking himself, but, well… there was more than one soot mark on the ceiling. “Any news about that Levi guy?” she asked as she nibbled on some beef.
“He had a lot of bluster at first, but a few nights in jail fixed that,” Kamio said, still working on his first bowl. It always took him longer to eat than everyone else because he had to sort the food out first, and then eat one category at a time. “I almost feel sorry for the poor man. The way he cried and begged for forgiveness…” he chuckled. “Can you imagine?” Everyone laughed at the idea of someone that pathetic.
“That was very good work you did out there, Hanabi,” Nobu said as he put the pot down on the stove and rejoined them with a fresh bowl of his own. “Who knows what kind of mischief he might have caused if not for you?”
The white haired girl blushed, but there was a smile on her face. “It was no big deal. Just some illusions and stuff. Same old, same old.”
“I wish I could have seen the look on his face when he saw who he was up against,” Kamio said. “Thinking he could go toe to toe with a daughter of a mine! He’ll never make that mistake again.” The doorbell rang. “Ah, that must be Tomo. Is there enough sukiyaki left for her? If not, I suppose I could be persuaded to…”
“No,” said Nobu firmly. “There’s still plenty, and besides, I’d sooner roast one of my own tails on the grill than let you cook food for a guest. At least Hanabi and I have developed a tolerance to it.” Everyone laughed again, even Kamio. “Do you mind letting her in, Flower?”
“Not at all!” Hanabi said cheerfully, and rose from her seat after sipping some of the broth. If there really was plenty left, maybe she’d even ask for a third bowl… she opened the front door.
“Did you really think you could just run away?” Levi hissed. The fox girl froze.
The blond man’s hand shot out and grabbed her by the throat. He lifted her up by one hand like she weighed nothing as she gasped for air, his grip an iron vice. “Who told you that you could wear clothes?” he said sourly, grabbing the front of her shirt. One pull and her clothing ripped away, leaving her completely naked. She clawed at his hand on her neck, and attacked him with her tails, but he didn’t even seem to notice her attempts to resist. “Or eat food? I told you before, fox slut, you live on cum now.” He punched her hard in the stomach, and she gagged. A second punch, and her dinner rose up and spewed from her throat. Most of it hit the ground, the rest running down her front. “Filthy little bitch,” he growled.
“I-I’m sorry, master,” Hanabi pleaded. “I’m sorry, I didn’t… I didn’t mean to…”
“Didn’t mean to what?” he asked, stepping into the house. Her parents moved aside as he walked her over to the kitchen table and slammed her down on top of it. “Run? Disobey? Pretend you’re anything more than a used fleshlight?”
Hanabi tried to roll off the table to get away, but her arms and legs wouldn’t work. “Please, help me!” she cried out, looking at her parents. They turned away, refusing to meet her gaze.
Levi laughed. “Why the hell would they do that? They’ve had to tolerate you for a hundred long years, slut. You think they ever wanted white furred trash like you for a child?” He rammed into her, pushing her body across the table like a ragdoll and knocking the sukiyaki pot onto the floor.
Nobu sighed and bent down to pick it up. “Can’t even do that much right,” he said bitterly, looking at the mostly empty pot and its spilled contents. “We should’ve done this a long time ago.”
“No!” Hanabi pleaded as she was fucked hard on the kitchen table. “I’m sorry! I, I’ll try better, I promise! Please, please don’t let him rape me!”
“It’s your own fault,” Kamio said calmly, eating from his bowl as he stood and watched. “We tried to help you, but you were a lost cause. All that time wasted trying to teach you, just so you could prance right into someone’s arms and become his piss drinking fucktoy. Did you even try to fight back, Flower?”
“Her?” Levi snorted. “This submissive slut wanted to become my furry cumrag, didn’t you?” When she didn’t answer, he drove himself in deeper, and she screamed as his cock stabbed into her like a spear, ripping through her internal organs. “Didn’t you?!”
“No!” she insisted weakly. “No, I didn’t!”
“She’s lying,” Nobu said bluntly. He had his back to her, washing the pot in the sink. “If she didn’t really want it, she would’ve tried harder. She would’ve made you work for it. But she sucked your cock right away, didn’t she? And swallowed every drop, every time. You never even told her to do that. She was just looking for an excuse to become a cum guzzling whore.”
“Nooooo,” Hanabi whined. “I… I had to…”
“Says who?” asked Kamio. “My daughter is supposed to be smart and resourceful. She’s not supposed to give up the minute things get rough. But all that was a lie too, wasn’t it? You’ve always been this pathetic crybaby, you were just better at hiding it. You tricked us for years, Flower, but now we know what you really are.”
“It’s a relief, really,” said Nobu. “Now we can stop pretending to care about you. We only ever did it because we were scared of you, you know. Scared you would be another Yuki. The whole village will be so happy when they find out you’ve left to become a fucktoy instead.”
“She won’t be one for very long,” Levi said. He pulled out and began to cum on her, shooting gob after gob of semen onto her until she was soaked in it. It was in her hair, in her eyes, clogging her lungs. “We’ll probably fuck her to death within a year. Hell, I might fuck her to death right here.”
Nobu shrugged. “Whatever. She’s your property now.”
“Hanabi?” called someone outside. “Hanabi!” They knocked on the door.
“Oh, that must be Tomo,” Nobu said. “She’ll be so happy when I give her the news.”
“If I were you,” Kamio advised Levi as the man began to fuck the bloody void between Hanabi’s legs again, his cock even harder and longer than before, “I’d kill her sooner rather than later. Just because she’s a furry cumrag doesn’t mean she’ll ever be a competent furry cumrag.”
“Hanabi!” called Tomo again, knocking insistently.
“Don’t worry, I’m not expecting any miracles,” Levi replied. “Just some warm fuzzy meat to pump full of piss and cum. Which reminds me…” She felt his hot urine begin to spray his insides while he kept pounding her.
Kamio shook his head ruefully. “If only I’d known better, I could have been training her to be a toilet all this time.”
“Please, I’m sorry I was bad!” the white haired girl begged. “I’m sorry for everything! I’ll go away and never bother any of you again, I promise! Just please help me! Pleaaaaaase!”
Hanabi opened her eyes slowly. They didn’t want to obey, and her vision spun for a few moments before coalescing into a gray sky.
She’d never felt so weak, or hungry, or thirsty. Her body was utterly drained. But for the first time in a long time, she wasn’t cold. She could still feel the winter air on her naked flesh, but there was a soft warmth on top of her that drove away the chill. “Hanabi!” it said. “Hanabi!”
Hanabi opened her mouth and immediately coughed violently, expelling flakes of dried semen. “T… To… mo…?”
The brown haired girl looked down at her, tears in her eyes. “Oh Goddess, you’re alive!” The words came out of her in a rush. “We were all out looking for you and I saw your body and you weren’t moving and you felt so cold and I thought I thought…” She hugged Hanabi tighter. “You’re alive!”
The white fox felt tears of her own drip down her cheeks, making wet tracks in the grime. “I… I’m… s-sorry…” she managed, and coughed again.
Tomo was saying something, but the words seemed to come from far away, and Hanabi’s eyes were refusing to stay open. The world faded as she drifted away, sinking back into a dark sea of nightmares.
“Physically speaking, she should be fine after some bed rest,” Dr Emi said. The small dark haired kitsune wore a grim expression despite the good news. “There was no damage that couldn’t be healed, and the most severe wounds have already greatly receded. At worst, there could be a few scars due to the combination of exhaustion and the limbs healing unevenly, but the chances of that are very low.”
“And mentally?” Nobu asked. His heavy tone expressed that he already knew the answer, and just needed to hear it out loud.
Tomo felt awkward being in the clinic with him and Kamio. This was the sort of conversation that was normally between a doctor and the patient’s family, not the family plus a friend that was tagging along. Perhaps she should have left after they’d all arrived with an unconscious Hanabi in tow, but she’d wanted to stay until the girl woke up. Hanabi had seemed so horribly, wretchedly sad during the few seconds she’d been awake, and Tomo longed to see her familiar smile.
“Mentally…” the doctor hesitated. “There were clear signs of sexual assault and violent abuse. Whoever was responsible for it-“
“Will be given a very long time to regret what he’s done,” Kamio said. His words were spoken softly and he wore no expression, but his eyes burned with a fire that Tomo had never seen from him.
“I’m not here to talk about revenge,” Dr Emi said. “I’m here to help that girl heal.” As one of the village’s few doctors, she didn’t always have much work to do, but kitsune were as vulnerable to disease and illness as ordinary humans, and she’d saved more than a few lives over the centuries. Six medical certifications lined one wall, each bearing a different name; she returned to medical school every couple decades masquerading as a fresh student, picking up what new knowledge humanity had acquired. “Whoever was responsible for this seems to have detailed knowledge of kitsune physiology. Or at least, how to make us hurt.” Tomo shuddered. “Given time and a positive environment, I have confidence in Hanabi’s ability to recover from the trauma. But it will not be quick, and it will not be easy. Not on her, nor on you.”
“What can we do?” Nobu asked.
“For now, move slowly. Don’t interrogate her about what happened. Let her set the pace of things and decide if and when she wants to share the details. It is critical, especially in the next few days, that you make sure she feels safe and loved. Don’t expect her to be in a good mood anytime soon, and don’t make her feel like she should force herself to be.” Something stirred in the other room, and there was a quiet groan. “That will be her waking up. Come, we’ll see if she’s feeling up to having visitors.”
Tomo had seen what Hanabi looked like in the forest. She knew all too well what an awful state her friend had been in. But somehow, none of it was worse than seeing the white haired girl flinch in fear when the door to her room was opened. Hanabi had been her best friend for decades, and in all that time Tomo had never seen her anything less than fearless.
Hanabi’s parents tried to hide their reaction, but Tomo could tell they felt equally distraught at her uncharacteristic behavior. Nobu recovered first and offered his daughter a forced smile. “How are you feeling, Flower?”
It took her a second to speak, and when she did the words were quiet and almost unintelligible, even for kitsune ears. “…get out…”
Nobu frowned, then quickly forced the smile onto his face again. “If you want to be alone right now, that’s-“
“GET OUT!” Hanabi screamed, her voice breaking. “Get out get out GET OUT!”
Nobu opened his mouth to speak, but his husband laid a hand on his shoulder and silently shook his head. Nobu nodded, and they all withdrew, Tomo included. The brunette tried to get one last look at her friend before she left, but Hanabi had already pulled the sheets over her head, her lithe form scrunched up in a ball and wrapped up in her own tails.
Hanabi stayed buried under the sheets, listening to the footsteps fade away. Even after she was certain that she was alone, she remained like that, preferring the silent darkness over the real world. She hugged herself, trying to become small enough to disappear completely.
The look of sympathy on their faces had nearly made her throw up. She didn’t deserve any of it. It was her own stupid mistake that had gotten her in trouble in the first place. And if she hadn’t been such a smug, prideful cunt without a lick of common sense, she wouldn’t have even been out there. It was only a matter of time now before her family and friends realized the truth about her. That she was weak and worthless and not worth loving.
She was a fuckup, that’s what she was. She’d always known that she was a fuckup, just like the other white furs before her, but she’d also been dumb enough to think she might be able to hide it. Not anymore. Hanabi thought of the things Levi had done to her, and the things he’d made her beg him to do. She was disgusting now. Defiled. Ruined.
The crying fox hugged herself tighter, digging her fingers into her arms hard enough to draw blood.
“What do you mean, you can’t find him?!” Nobu snarled. His tails whipped back and forth behind him, creating a small breeze that threatened to demolish the precarious piles of paper spread across the desk.
Despite his harsh tone, the woman on the other side of the desk didn’t waver, though her stern expression held compassion. “I don’t know what you want me to tell you,” Ichika said. “We found what must have been his campsite, but there was no trace of anyone there, and no trail we could follow. I sent people all the way to the outskirts of the forest, and none of them saw anything. As far as we can tell, he’s gone.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it,” Hanabi’s father snapped. “There’s no way a hunter manages to, to find one of us and then just walks away!”
Ichika sighed and rubbed at her eyes, the sight causing a small stab of guilt in Nobu’s heart that penetrated his rage. His sister-in-law obviously hadn’t gotten any sleep since Hanabi had been discovered two days ago. She’d taken the girl’s assault as a personal failing of her duties, and pursued the man responsible as earnestly as anyone. “It’s unusual, but not unheard of. He might have anticipated us retaliating after we discovered what he’d done. He might have gone back to gather more people now that he’s confirmed our presence. There are a hundred different reasons why he could’ve retreated, and he didn’t bother writing us a note.”
The woman stood. The ceiling wasn’t a low one, but she still almost brushed at it at her height. “We haven’t found him yet. I’ve sent a few messages around to see if anyone outside the village has any information on him. And if that turns up no leads, we’ll keep doing this the old fashioned way. If he’s smart, he will spend the rest of his life far away from this place. If he’s not…” the statuesque blonde cracked her knuckles. “I’ll make him regret ever crawling out of his mother’s womb.”
If he ever came back. The thought of this Levi just vanishing and never returning made Nobu’s blood boil. That monster had to pay for what he’d done. But a temper tantrum with Ichika wasn’t going to help make that happen, so the dark haired fox forced himself to calm down. Just a little. “If there’s anything I can do to help the search,” he growled. “Anything…”
Ichika’s blue eyes regarded him with sympathy. “You can help Hanabi recover,” she said, sitting back down. “We didn’t get much more than a name from the poor girl, and that his companion had some sort of ability that could counter foxfire.” The notion of someone immune to foxfire had made Nobu’s skin crawl the first time he’d heard it, and was the reason why there were now sentries posted throughout the forest to spot any hunters before they could even get near the village. “The more she tells us, the better our chances of tracking him down.”
Nobu laughed bitterly. “Help her? Hanabi still refuses to even see me or Kamio. And who can blame her?” After all, she’d ventured out of the village because the two of them had given their approval. They’d been arrogant enough to think that they could impart the knowledge that she’d need to keep her safe, and that arrogance had gotten her so terribly hurt. It was no wonder that she hated them now. And the entire thing had been Nobu’s idea in the first place. If he hadn’t convinced his husband to go along with it…
The captain sighed. “Have a drink with me, Nobu.”
“I don’t think-”
“Have a drink with me,” the blond fox repeated firmly, though not unkindly. “That’s not a request.”
Nobu begrudgingly sat down. The captain’s office wasn’t a large room, and it felt even smaller with someone of Ichika’s sizable height in it. For a long time, things hadn’t been nearly so organized. The village’s police force had been a more informal group that communicated mostly in person, foxes running back and forth to relay messages. But eventually the conveniences of the modern world had taken root. They’d built a full police station instead of just guard huts, started keeping better track of records and implementing more formal systems. A few years back they’d even commissioned uniforms, for both human and fox forms.
As one of the older kitsune in the village, Ichika had had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new conventions. Most humans of this era would have found the computer on her desk to be laughably ancient, but for a woman who still considered ballpoint pens to be a minor technological marvel, it was as advanced as she could tolerate. She’d reluctantly started wearing the uniform too, though not before ripping off the sleeves. All to set a good example for the men and women under her.
“How’s my brother handling everything?” she asked as one of her tails curled around a dark bottle on a nearby shelf without her leaving her seat. She sat it on the desk and cracked it open with her hands while her tails retrieved two cups. “I figured he’d be the one to come see me, not you.”
“He’s… been better,” Nobu said. “You know how he gets sometimes.” Beneath his snarky attitude, Kamio was surprisingly sensitive. It was one of the things Nobu loved about his husband.
“Well, for what’s it worth, I can’t even remember the last time he got himself into a proper funk,” Ichika said. “You’ve been very good for him.”
Nobu shrugged, the compliment ringing empty in his ears. He couldn’t identify the liquid inside the full glass Ichika passed to him, but it smelled like strong stuff. “From the twins?” he guessed.
His sister-in-law nodded. “Miku’s been working on a new formula for celebrating the New Year. Sends me a bottle or two of her failed attempts every once in a while.”
Nobu sipped his glass. It was smooth and sweet, and burned pleasantly on the way down. If this was a failed attempt, the finished product would be something spectacular. “How long has she been working on it?”
The captain chuckled a little. “Since the last New Year’s celebration, of course. And she’ll start over again after the next one.” She downed her entire glass in one go, then carefully set it down. “These things take time, Nobu.”
He knew she wasn’t talking about the alcohol. “It’s already been two days…”
“And eventually it will be two weeks. And then months, years, and decades. Two days isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. Give her time.”
Dr Emi had said much the same thing. “Everyone wants me to be patient,” Nobu said. He looked down at his glass, and resisted the urge to crush it in his hand. “Do you know how damned hard it is to just sit here being patient?”
Ichika spread her arms wide. “I’ve got no idea what that’s like,” she said wryly. ”I’m perfectly calm and relaxed while I’m stuck here in this stupid office waiting for reports and trying to get this… this heap of nuts and bolts to do what I want.” She leaned forward. “The ugly truth, Nobu, is that this isn’t our fight. It’s hers. All we can do is support her from the sidelines, and yes, it’s unfair and awful. I could personally hunt down the asshole that did this to her and bring back his head, and it wouldn’t make her pain go away. But Hanabi will get over this. And when she does, she deserves to have her fathers there with her, not off feeling sorry for themselves and nearly breaking other people’s antique glasses, thank you very much.”
Nobu sheepishly let her pluck the glass from his hand, though not before finishing its contents. “There has to be something more I can do,” he said stubbornly
“There’s always something more you can do,” Ichika told him. “And when she’s ready, she’ll tell you what that is. So right now, your job is to stay safe and sane until she gets to that point. And if you can help my brother do the same, I’d be grateful. You think you can manage?”
The brown haired man sighed. “Goddess, I hope so.”
The brunette started at the sound of her name, and her sewing needles clattered to the floor along with the clothing she’d been working on. She looked to see her brother with a serious expression on his face. “You’ve been staring into space for the last five minutes,” Tobi said. “Why don’t you just take a break?”
Tomo scrambled to pick up everything that had fallen. “I’m fine,” she said quickly. “I promise. I, I can keep going.”
Tobi eyed her skeptically. He was older than her by only a couple years, but from the way he acted sometimes, you’d think it was more like a couple centuries. “Those needles are sharp,” he admonished, as though she could have somehow overlooked that fact in her decades of working with them, “and you can hurt yourself if you’re not being careful. The village won’t crumble to dust if one of its seamstresses takes the night off to rest and clear her head.”
“I don’t want to rest,” Tomo said, softly but stubbornly. “I want to work.”
Spending a winter’s evening in her family’s warm and cozy house, sitting near the fire and steadily working through the latest pile of clothing to be restitched, had always been one of Tomo’s favorite activities. There was a gentle, relaxing rhythm to it, one that she enjoyed letting herself sink into for hours on end. But her heart wasn’t in it today. The brown haired girl stared down at her latest piece, and tried to tell herself how satisfying it would feel to get it finished. It didn’t work.
“Then why do you look so miserable about it?” Tobi asked.
“Because I should have been out there,” Tomo said grimly as forced herself to get back to work. “Hanabi invited me to go with her the other day. She wanted me there to help celebrate her first trip out of the village in three months… said the people she was going to play with out there would be perfect for my first outing.”
“And she was wrong,” her brother said bluntly. Then he softened his tone just a little. “I hate what happened to her as much as you do, but if you’d been there with her, the only difference is that you would have gotten hurt too. You know that, and so does she.”
“No, we don’t!” Tomo insisted, pausing her sewing again. Part of her wanted to throw the stupid needles into the fire. “Maybe they wouldn’t have tried to capture two foxes at once. Maybe she would’ve been more cautious because she had me to protect. Maybe one of us would’ve gotten away, and been able to go get help from the village. There are plenty of ways things could have turned out better. And even if I had gotten hurt just like she did, then… then… at least she wouldn’t have to be going through this alone right now.”
Tobi sighed. “You know that she wouldn’t want that, and you shouldn’t either. Think about it from her perspective, Tomo: if she had convinced you to go out with her, and both of you were harmed because of it, then on top of what she’s already going through now, she would also be blaming herself for everything that happened to you. Now when was the last time you got some proper sleep?” The brunette didn’t speak, but her silence was answer enough for him. “That’s what I thought. Get some rest, it will help you feel better.”
“You don’t understand,” she told him earnestly, and held up the clothing. “I chose this over her. The least I can do now is make that mean something. If I can’t even do this much… then it’s like I abandoned her for absolutely nothing at all.”
Her brother looked like he didn’t agree, but he must have recognized that this was an argument that he wasn’t going to win. “Alright,” he said gently. “Can I at least make you some tea? It’s a cold night, even with that fire next to you.”
“That… sounds really good,” Tomo admitted. Tobi smiled at her and went into the kitchen while she resumed her stitching, and soon the pleasant aroma of the tea filled the house. When it was ready, he brought a mug over for each of them, and then sat next to her chair without saying anything, just keeping her company while she worked.
Having an overprotective big brother wasn’t always so bad, she supposed.
Dr Emi didn’t ask why Kamio was visiting the clinic, but she did give the covered bowl in his hands a questioning look as she stepped aside and let him in. “We thought she might like some home cooking,” the blond man explained. “If that’s alright.”
“Yes, of course,” the doctor assured him. “She lost a lot of calories during her ordeal, and to tell the truth, I’ve been a little concerned about her lack of appetite. She may appreciate some comfort food right now.” She returned to her office, leaving him to walk the now familiar route to the closed door of his daughter’s room.
“Hanabi?” he asked quietly. “Are you awake? I… I brought you some udon.” He forced a lighthearted tone to his voice. “Don’t worry, Nobu made it, not me. You’ve already been through enough without adding food poisoning.”
There was no response.
“I’ll leave it by the door,” he said after a minute. “You can come get it whenever you want, no hurry. You know how your father is: it’ll be just as good cold as hot.” He carefully set the bowl down. “If it’s alright with you, I’m going to stay for a little longer, Flower. You don’t have to come out or say anything.”
He slid down the wall to sit next to the door and stayed like that quietly for a time before speaking again, his voice soft. “I wanted to do something for you too, but you know me. I’m pretty useless when it comes to all the things that matter. Knowing how to swing a weapon doesn’t have a lot of uses outside of a battlefield, and neither does knowing some tricks with foxfire. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow Nobu manages to be both half my age and ten times better at being an adult.”
Kamio smiled slightly. “I have no idea what I’d do without without that man. And if even he doesn’t know how to make this situation better, what hope do I have, right? But I could at least bring you the food he made, and keep you company for a little while.”
He took a deep breath. “I know it hurts. You’ve played it all out a hundred times in your head, thinking of all the things you should have done instead. Coming up with reason after reason to prove that this is all your fault and no one else’s. It feels like… like your entire life now orbits this horrible thing, and you can’t imagine a time when it won’t be the most important thing on your mind. I went through the same thing after the War. I learned the name of every single person that died, and what I could have done to save them, if I’d just been a little stronger, or faster, or smarter. By the time I started seeing your father, I didn’t worry that their deaths were all my fault. It was just a fact by then.”
Kamio idly traced Hanabi’s name on the floor with one finger. 花美. Flower Beauty. “Did I ever tell you about the time we went to the Bon Festival in Mie? It was a hundred and sixty seven years ago, and he had to all but physically drag me out of Hanei by the tails to get me to go. I hadn’t left the village in five centuries, and I fully intended to die without ever stepping foot from it again. But you know how persuasive your father can be when he wants to.
“And I made him regret it too. I was sullen and snippy the whole time, like if I could make this trip miserable for both of us, I’d never have to take another again. I kept it up all the way to the last night of the festival, when he took me to see the fireworks. And they were…” He closed his eyes and remembered. “They were amazing. We have fireworks here too, but they were nothing like those. Gorgeous, brilliant flowers in the sky. Even I couldn’t stay cynical at the sight of something so incredible. And while I stared at the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, your father leaned in and whispered in my ear. And do you know what he said? ‘You’re not as special as you think you are’.”
He grinned at the memory. “Can you believe the nerve of it? But I knew what he meant. As much as I wanted to blame myself for everything that had happened, as much as I wanted to believe that I was supposed to have done better, the truth was… I wasn’t that special. I’d tried my best, and bad things had still happened. Sometimes that’s just the way life goes. I could still mourn what had happened, but I didn’t have to regret it.
“And if he’d told me that at any other time, in any other place, I don’t think I would’ve been able to let myself hear him. But as I looked at those beautiful flowers that were so much bigger and grander than I was, I couldn’t deny what he was saying. And I couldn’t deny that even after all that I’d lost, the world still held so much beauty and wonder. And after that, whenever I was feeling miserable or depressed, I remembered his words and those flowers. Until something even more beautiful and wonderful entered our lives, of course.”
花美. The kanji meant “Flower Beauty”, but the pronunciation – hanabi – meant “fireworks”. He and Nobu had had no idea how appropriate the name would be for their daughter: graceful, brilliant, as vivacious as a flower in fresh bloom and as radiant as a night sky streaked with fire.
Kamio rose to his feet. “I should be getting back. I hope you enjoy the udon, Flower. I’m sure Nobu is going to cook you something delicious again tomorrow, and I’ll be back to deliver it again. Maybe I won’t even steal a few bites of it for myself. Good night.”
He was halfway down the hall when her voice reached him, small and fragile. “…thank you…” When he turned around to look, the bowl was gone, and the door was already swinging shut.
Shura yawned and chewed her gum while she checked the foxfire wards for the seventy sixth time that night. They were just as stable as they’d been the seventy fifth.
Guard work was easily the most boring job in the village. When the blue haired fox woman had first agreed to work for Captain Ichika two hundred and thirty years ago, she’d thought she was going to be a brave defender of her people. The last bulwark in times of crisis. She was ready to give her all – even her life, if need be – to protect their home. The first night she’d gone on duty, her heart had been pounding so loudly that she was certain the entire village could hear it.
And now… she checked the foxfire wards for the seventy seventh time. No change.
Ichika had recruited her for her talents with foxfire, but she could do a job like this in her sleep. The wards had been created centuries ago, and constantly maintained and improved over the years by the best minds in the village. Any intruder that approached would find their sense of direction muddled so badly that they were more likely to catch their own shadow than to reach one of the guard posts. Shura had tested them out on herself before, just to see what they were like, and was completely stymied by them. Even closing her eyes and just running straight forward somehow put her further away than she’d been before. She’d tried for hours before giving up. The wards might not be a solid wall, but they were as impenetrable as one.
Seventy eighth check. No change.
Shura’s only real task here was to supply the wards with her own foxfire to keep them active. She didn’t need to craft any of the illusions herself, just drain her power into them like pouring liquid into a mould. Some of the other guards didn’t even bother keeping watch during their shifts. They just showed up, dumped their foxfire, and left. For a long time she’d thought of them as slackers and chided them for putting the village at risk with their carelessness, but their method became more appealing with every uneventful night. Tonight was even more pointless than usual with all those new sentries out there. If anything did happen, they’d be the ones to report it, not her.
Seventy ninth check. No change.
The blue haired fox blew a bubblegum bubble and let her spear rest against of the wooden wall of the small guardhouse. It seemed to weigh more with every passing minute. Once upon a time she would have been horrified at herself for so casually leaving her weapon, but she had never once, not in all two hundred and thirty long years, found cause to actually use it. It had been more than a century since she’d even practiced. Captain Ichika was the only one who still kept at it, putting in two hours at the same time each and every day like clockwork.
After a second, Shura popped the bubble and let her head rest against the wall too while she idly chewed, her eyes half closed as she looked out the window at the empty forest beyond. Right now, just staying awake for her entire shift felt like heroism enough for her. She wasn’t even lucky enough to be on the day shift. At least they got to chat with people coming in and out of the village, rare as that was. Her shift was late enough that even most kitsune were asleep, and no one was going to do any traveling in the dead of night like this. So she just waited and checked the wards and waited and checked the wards, every night for the last two centuries.
Eightieth check. No… wait.
There was a raggedness to the edge of the wards, like they were being chewed away. Shura pushed more foxfire into them and then reeled back, surprised. They were cold. It wasn’t a warm night, and the winter chill always made foxfire more difficult to work with, but she’d never experienced anything like this. It felt like waves of ice water striking the wards, extinguishing them more and more with each pass. She sent more foxfire into them, but it was as effective as trying to stoke a fire during a storm.
All thoughts of napping were gone as Shura nervously grabbed for her spear. Her trembling fingers knocked it to the floor instead, and she quickly crouched to retrieve it. Then screamed as a hand seized her by the hair and tried to yank her right out the window. Her back to the wall now, the blue haired woman struggled with her unseen attacker, limbs and tails flailing without success. She tried to scream again, to shout out a warning for anyone who might be nearby, but his other hand was clamped over her mouth to keep her quiet.
Her hands were scrabbling at the walls now, trying to arrest her movement and pull herself back into the wooden hut. She was half out the window, her feet off the ground and kicking helplessly. She saw men all around her, and uniforms, but it was too much to take in, her mind too weighed down by panic to think about anything but her immediate danger. More hands were on her, dozens of them, tearing at her clothes until she was buck naked in the freezing cold. “One of you pin this squirming bitch down,” an unfamiliar male voice snarled.
Sharp agony suddenly blossomed in her stomach, and Shura’s eyes darted down to see what had happened. The sight made her scream into her attacker’s sweaty hand again. Someone had driven a long combat knife straight into her midriff, forcing it in so deep that there was a matching agony in her back where the tip had broken through. They’d… they’d nailed her to the windowsill. The blade was buried at least several inches into the soft wood, and every movement sent waves of pain far worse than anything she’d ever felt radiating throughout her entire body.
The cruel injury was bloody and horrific, but not fatal for a kitsune, not yet. All of Shura’s struggles ceased as she fought against the instinct to keep writhing and trying to escape the pain. If she was going to have any hope of survival, she needed to keep from widening the wound. It was all but impossible, but she stayed still while they hammered in additional knifes on either side of her, cutting tiny slices out of her sides as she hung limply, her feet dangling inside the guard station while her head dangled outside it. Her vision was blocked by something warm and soft, and a shiver of disgust ran through her, pain trailing in its wake, as she realized that her face was pressed against someone’s crotch.
“Congratulations, slut,” said the man’s voice above her. “You get to be the first fucktoy in this entire nest to guzzle my seed tonight. Let’s start by going over the most important rule of your new life.” Shura fought down her nausea as he began to rub his hot cock over her face, the shaft already slimy with his precum. “If me or any of my men ever feel a single tooth, you get demoted to paintoy. And that’s where we stop being all nice and friendly with your worthless furry hide. Understand?” His hand released her mouth, but the bluehaired woman didn’t respond immediately, still trying to catch her breath and make sense of her situation. That turned out to be a mistake; he slapped one of the knife hilts with the palm of his hand, making her screech into his groin.”Do you understand, animal?!”
“Yfff!” she said quickly, her voice muffled by the cock throbbing against her lips. Then she screeched again as he slapped the knife hilt again.
“I don’t speak fleshlight,” he said harshly. “If you understand, give those fat little fox tits of yours a good slap.” Shura could feel heat on her cheeks as they glowed red with shame, but she was in no position to argue or weigh her options. She raised her right hand and lightly smacked the side of one breast. The man snorted, and she felt warm wetness strike her chest as he spat on her. “Worthless slut. I said slap, not pet. Harder!” She tried to obey, smacking her breasts hard enough to sting, but it still wasn’t enough for him, and she squealed as he twisted one of her nipples sharply, pulling her breast straight up. “I want to see some fucking handprints, bitch. If you can’t even do that much, I’ll chop these funbags off and feed them to you!”
Shura struck her breast as hard as she could, the impact jostling the knife and making her moan pitifully. “Finally, lazy slut. Keep it up. Tenderize those titties for everyone so we can see how eager you are to please us with this warm fuckhole of a mouth you’ve got.” Frustrated tears leaked from the fox’s eyes as she humiliated herself for his amusement.
Nothing he could say or do to her stung more than her own self-hatred though. She had failed. Protecting the village had been her one task, the duty that she’d spent two centuries preparing for, and when the moment had arrived she’d crumpled like wet tissue. While she obediently abused her own flesh, she could hear more intruders arriving, walking right by the guard station she had been manning. Even with her sight still obscured, it was easy to see that the greatest danger Hanei had faced since the War had descended tonight, and she’d been utterly useless. She deserved what was happening now.
Her self-recrimination was interrupted by a hand gripping her jaw to wrench it open. “What is this shit?” he grumbled, and pushed his fingers into her mouth to pull out the wad of chewed bubblegum. “The mark of an airheaded slut,” he said, amused. “You won’t be doing much chewing for the rest of your life, cunt, but I know a better use for this.” To her disgust and horror, he pulled the gum apart into two pieces and crammed them both into her nostrils, shoving the sticky goo as deep as his fingers could manage and completely plugging up her nose in the process.
It was an intrusive and intensely humiliating experience, but nothing compared to what happened next. Shura gagged as the man’s fat prick slid between her lips and immediately jabbed at the back of her throat. She tried to turn her head away, but his other hand grabbed her hair to control her movements. “My hands are too busy to play with your tits right now,” he said as he began using that control to swing her head back and forth, making her fuck him with her face. “So you’re going to do it for me. Mash that soft flesh beneath your fingers! Show everyone how good their cocks are going to feel when you wrap those udders around them!”
Shura didn’t want to obey, but between the gum in her nose and his dick filling her mouth, she couldn’t draw any breath at all right now. His mercy was the only thing that might stop her from dying like this, and she had no reason to think he’d offer any if she proved willful. She was just a worthless, unimportant village guard, after all. His kind wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. So she began to knead her breasts for him, trying to ignore the whistles and laughter all around her that her submission provoked.
“That’s the spirit, fox slut,” he encouraged. He drew his hips back far enough to let her breathe, but only for a second, letting her draw a couple ragged breaths before her throat was being stuffed again. “God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race as easy to break in as you furry fleshlights. This is what you were made for.” Even if she had the courage and breath to respond, Shura could do nothing but gag and gurgle, her own spit dribbling down her face, as he sank into her throat.
The blue haired woman was still trying to adjust to the unwelcome intrusion when she felt someone in the guard hut pull her legs apart. Her initial reaction was to try and kick at this new abuser, one that she instantly regretted as the knife pinning her to the windowsill tore at her flesh. “Look at this dumb bitch,” said the new man as she promptly stopped struggling and tried to go limp again to spare herself. “Thinks she’s too good for a human prick up her cunt. Just for that…” Shura squealed as rough fingers dug into the soles of her feet. She’d never considered herself particularly ticklish, but she was as sensitive down there as anyone. She whimpered as she involuntarily squirmed and shook, making the knife inside her feel like it was being twisted.
“You want to relax and enjoy a good pounding?” asked the man as he continued tickling her feet. She tried to nod and voice her agreement, but she couldn’t move her head with her throat so thoroughly impaled on cock. She couldn’t manage more than a submissive whimper while its owner began using his fingers to prod his scrotum into her mouth.
“Lick my balls while you swallow my cock,” said the throat rapist after he’d finished stuffing the last few inches in. “Prove that you’re too good a fucktoy to leave nailed here all day.” She obeyed, slurping and sucking on the wrinkled lumps filling her cheeks as her lungs burned for air. All the while still jerking and twisting as the soles of her feet were mercilessly played with.
“When you’re ready to give your womb a hot cum bath, just point the way,” said the one at her front. “Show me the hole I should shove my cock into.”
Shura wanted to scream in frustration. They were already humiliating her, torturing her, raping her. Why couldn’t that be enough? Why did they have to keep pushing her down even farther? But she couldn’t voice the complaint, and wouldn’t have dared to anyway. Instead she cautiously brought one hand down between her legs, careful not to brush the impaling knife, just as careful not to stop mauling her own tits with her other hand, and used two fingers in a V to spread her pussy lips apart.
The tickling of her feet abruptly stopped, but before she had any time for relief, the man’s thick cock was forcing its way into her dry tunnel. Even the pain of the knife inside her as she was pushed forward couldn’t compare to the agony of his cockhead tearing her open and his shaft scraping her pussy walls. The brutal push soon left his head flattened against her cervix, as did the next, and the next. Each thrust came faster and harder as he loosened her up, every pass getting him closer to fucking her the way he really wanted. “Keep showing me the way to your womb, slut,” he ordered as he treated her cervix as a punching bag for his prick. “I see those fingers move, and I go back to giving your feet some TLC. And wrap your legs around me! I want to feel how welcome me and my spunk are in this tight cunt.”
The blue haired woman obeyed. She wrapped her legs around the waist of one stranger to help him rape her pussy, while she tongued another stranger’s balls to help him rape her mouth. And all the while she played with her breasts and spread herself open like a woman in heat. She wanted to die. If the knife pinning her in place could offer her a swift, clean death instead of a slow and gruesome one, if she could be certain that disobedience would really lead to being choked to death and not just even harsher abuse, she would’ve jumped for the chance. But there was no such easy escape to be had. So she licked and fingered and groped and humped like the fucktoy they wanted, while they laughed at her, mocked her, and enjoyed her body.
The two men came within seconds of each other. First was the man in her mouth, who began shooting his load down her throat. He’d been offering her short opportunities to breathe at regular intervals, but this time he didn’t let up. He didn’t want her to breathe until he’d finished feeding her his cum. Shura tried to hold on, but she’d already been dizzy and seeing spots when his cock first started pulsing. As she felt his warm goo spatter her esophagus, she shuddered and lost control of her bladder. She only dimly felt the hot urine running out of her, but she heard the raucous laughter it provoked. “Needy slut loves the taste of jizz so much she went and pissed herself!” an unseen spectator declared, to more laughing and sounds of agreement.
She was still woozy and only half conscious when she felt the gush of more warm liquid inside of her. “Yeah, gobble all that cum up with your womb,” said the man raping her happily. “I won’t be the last one to put your babymaker to work, but goddamn it, I’ll be the first! You feel all those olympic swimmers inside you, slut? You treat ‘em nice; they’re way higher quality than what any of the mangy mutts around here have ever given you.”
It wasn’t the foul taste of unwashed cock and balls on her tongue that made Shura throw up, nor was it the sticky cum clogging her throat, though both contributed. It was the implication that they intended to breed her like an animal. The idea that all of Hanei, the largest kitsune community in the world, a village whose history stretched back more than a millenium, was about to be reduced to a breeding farm. The knowledge that it was going to be partly her fault. Men laughed as all the semen she’d just been forcefed bubbled up and out of her mouth, along with what was left of her last meal.
She caught a glimpse of the men around her as the one who’d used her throat finally stepped back. There were only a handful of them around her now, but she’d heard others streaming into the village while she was used. Dozens of them, maybe hundreds, all armed and dangerous, and her people defenseless and unaware. Then her vision was cut off by another man’s crotch, and a new cock began to eagerly push into her mouth. “Guess she didn’t like the taste of your cum, sir,” said her latest rapist. “Let’s find out if mine is any tastier.” Another man was already between her legs, the cum dribbling from her pussy giving him all the lubrication he needed to fuck her with sharp, rough strokes. Shura yelped as one of her sensitive ears were twisted sharply. “Nobody told you to stop using your hands, slut. It’s gonna take a lot more than one load of jizz to fill that hungry womb.”
“And you’ve got a lot of selfless volunteers waiting to help you out,” said the man getting ready to contribute more. “Least you can do is give them a show to pass the time.”
I’m sorry, Shura said silently to everyone as she spread her pussy lips back open and resumed playing with her sore chest. If she could go back in time, things would be different. She would train. She would be vigilant. She wouldn’t treat her duty to protect her people as a boring chore to get through. But she couldn’t change the past, and there would be no second chances. Hanei was doomed.