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Attraction to Outliers

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"So, Bishamonten," Fukurokuju began. "Would you characterize this as a romantic relationship?" Fukurokuju lowered his papers.The other gods of the Lucky Seven waited expectantly.

Bishamon considered. Other than the sex, which she supposed was a Big Deal in human terms, and the fact that Kazuma was more openly affectionate (in point of fact she'd say his level of affection was exactly the same, the only difference being he didn't suffer the old amounts of guilt and shame, the both of which were quite misplaced in Bishamon's opinion), she would be hard pressed to delineate a difference. No, their relationship was the same, exactly the same, except that she could let her exemplar indulge in his more human urges, the bulk of which seemed to be sex and orgasm and holding hands.

"No," Bishamon said. The other gods whispered to themselves, carefully deliberating. The last time one of the members had a relationship - old man Jurojin, who had taken up with a human - it was understood that he would resign, and that they would hold auditions for a replacement. The couple did not work out, though, and Jurojin came back, lonely and sad but still a member of the Lucky Seven.

"Then what exactly would you say has changed?"

"We started to have sex on an occasional basis."

"I thought you two were already havin' sex?" Ookuninushi said.

Hotei giggled. Benzaiten frowned and elbowed him in the ribs.

 

******

 

"How did it go?" Kazuma said.

He had been waiting outside, pacing around the hallway during the deliberations. Bishamon smiled broadly.

"We were approved," Bishamon said. Kazuma's face lit up.

"Really?"

"Of course," Bishamon said. "As soon as I explained this was not a romance--" and Kazuma's face fell a bit, "--there was not a problem."

"Oh," Kazuma said. And then, "I see." And Bishamon waited as he seemed to collect his thoughts a bit.

"Were you honest with them?" he asked, finally.

"Of course," Bishamon said. "I have no reason to lie, and I was right. I told you there would be no problem."

"But did you...did you explain your feelings for me?"

"I told them I am your god and you are my guide, and that there was no fundamental change in our relationship."

Kazuma blinked, then nodded. "I see."

"You seem upset," Bishamon said. "You were so worried I'd be kicked out of the Lucky Seven. I don't understand why you're unhappy."

Bishamon waited. Before, Kazuma would no doubt reassure her that whatever he was feeling was something he could manage, that she was not responsible for her shinki's angst or insecurity. And indeed, this was a healthy way of handling things, even within the context of human relationships.

But now Kazuma seemed to struggle. He blinked quickly, fidgeting with his hands, before finally starting to speak.

"Veena," he said. "That really hurts my feelings."

Bishamon tilted her head. "Why?"

"Because I love you, and you told them you don't love me."

"I didn't tell them that, Kazuma. I told them my feelings for you were unchanged. Which is true." Really Bishamon didn't understand.

"...do you love me, Veena?" He seemed so unsure.

"Of course I do!" Bishamon said, bewildered. "Kazuma, what's wrong with you?"

He took a breath, then shook his head. "Sorry," he said. He smiled ruefully. "It's hard for me, sometimes. But it shouldn't fall to you to manage my feelings."

"I don't understand why you're so hurt. I just told them this isn't a romance."

"And what would you consider a romance?" Kazuma asked. Bishamon considered.

"Something like in those horrid shoujo comics the Yatogami makes."

Kazuma laughed. "What?"

"The women are always so insipid," Bishamon said. She took his hand as they started walking down the hallway. "Wide-eyed ingenues fainting in the hallway. I would be quite offended if you considered what we have a romance."

"Would a married couple be in a romance?" Kazuma asked. He seemed more relaxed.

"Why would they be?" Bishamon asked. "They are already married."

He laughed softly and pulled her close, pressing a kiss on her forehead. Bishamon smiled.

"What was that for?" Bishamon asked.

"Nothing," he said. He squeezed her hand. "I'm just really happy."

"I'm glad," Bishamon said.

And she made a mental note to ask the Yatogami later.

 

*****

 

As it turned out, Yato was well-equipped to give her advice: having been a stray god for many years, the Yatogami was well-acquainted with the peculiarities of human relationships. But not only that - he and Kazuma shared a rather intimate relationship, one that Bishamon gathered was probably just as close as hers was, or perhaps even moreso, since in the beginning theirs was a clandestine relationship.

(Kofuku-dono, on the other hand, was a little more opaque in her opinions. "What should I do when I hurt his feelings?" Bishamon had asked. She assumed Kofuku-dono would have good advice, since she and her shinki have been in this sort of relationship for centuries.

"You should use your mouth on him~~," Kofuku said.

"Do you mean I should endeavor to be more communicative?"

"YES," Daikoku said quickly, while Kofuku-dono laughed behind him.)

"I do not understand," Bishamon said. She and Yato were drinking again. "Why are human relationships so hard? Why can't I do right by him?"

"Well what did ya do?" Yato asked. Bishamon sagged.

"I merely explained how I told the Lucky Seven that what we had was not a romance."

"HAH?" Yato said. "You stupid skank! You're gonna make Kazuma cry if you keep talkin' like that!"

"Normally I would disagree, Yatogami, but in this instance I believe you're right." Bishamon stared at her glass forlornly.

Although the issue with the Lucky Seven had been settled, Kazuma was still worried. "Maybe we should rethink our relationship," Kazuma said.

He was spiraling again. It was the one annoying trait of his - his ability to see everything meant he also could see a thousand different pathways where Things Could Go Wrong, and while this particular quirk was well-suited toward strategizing or reacting and adjusting during battle, it made for terrible relationship conversation.

"If it comes down to choosing between us and being a part of the Lucky Seven," he began, "then there really is no choice. The only thing to do would be to end things."

Bishamon frowned at him. "Are you asking me to release you again?" Bishamon asked.

"N-no, but--"

"Because I already told you, Kazuma, you are mine. And I'll always need you by my side."

"I would never leave you," Kazuma said. "Veena. I just want what's best for you. I've been giving this a lot of thought, and if it means having to leave the Lucky Seven, then this," and he gestured between them, "isn't worth it. I would be remiss in my guidance if we continued to do this."

He paced. Bishamon knew he had been awake for at least a couple days, and when he was tired he had a tendency to overreact.

"Veena I love you," he said. "I only want what's best for you. And the moment the Lucky Seven finds out about us, it will only hurt you. I can't keep doing this when it's a risk to your name."

"They already know this isn't a romantic relationship," Bishamon said.

"But it is," Kazuma said. "And it's my fault that you don't fully understand."

"Nothing has changed between us, Kazuma, except that we sleep in the same bed," Bishamon said. Kazuma sighed, heavily.

"I only want what's best for you."

"What's best for me," she said, and she put her hands on his shoulders, "is for you to stay by my side, and stop worrying. Do you think you can do that, Kazuma?"

There were probably a million different arguments running in his head, so Bishamon waited patiently.

"I'll try," Kazuma said.

 

*****

 

It was the middle of the night when he brought it up again.

"Are you sure they won't find out?" Kazuma asked.

Bishamon groaned. It was 2 AM and instead of sleeping, Kazuma was wide awake and worrying.

Bishamon reacted the way a proper war god should: bluntly and without the least bit of tact.

"Why must you keep talking?" Bishamon said.

"I'm sorry, Veena, but this is important. What if they find out the nature of our relationship?"

"I already told them what we do, and they said they were fine with it."

"But you gave them the impression - and I'm sorry, Veena, I know you're tired, but I can't help but worry - you gave them the impression that what we have is a casual relationship."

She shoved a pillow over her head and rolled away from him.

"Veena?"

"Kazuma! This is stupid and I am tired. Go bother the Yatogami since I am sure he's still awake."

Behind her, she could feel him hesitating.

"Sorry," he said, softly, and she felt him roll away from her.

Ugh. She did it again. Bishamon huffed, rolling on her side and pressing against his back.

"This is annoying," Bishamon said. She hooked her leg around his hip and hugged his chest, burrowing her face into his back and spooning him aggressively. "What can I say to reassure you?"

"I'm sorry I keep going on about this," Kazuma said. "I just don't know what I'd do if I were to lose you."

"You won't," Bishamon said. "If it came to it, I would choose you."

"Really?" he asked. He shifted to look at her.

"Yes," Bishamon said. She brushed the bangs from his eyes. "Which is why I don't understand why you're worrying."

"It could have repercussions for your name," Kazuma said.

"Well you are very fortunate, Kazuma, since I happen to have a very famous name."

They kissed. As it turned out, worrying over nothing was an excellent type of foreplay.

 

*****

 

"Veena. Can I ask you something?"

"Yes, Kazuma. What is it?"

Kazuma hesitated. "Have you ever considered," and he paused, trying to find his words, "have you ever considered, maybe you're with me because I groomed you to be?"

"What?" Bishamon said.

"I'm your guide," Kazuma said. "I'm supposed to teach you about the human world. What if my guidance was what groomed you to become my lover?"

Bishamon frowned. "Are you saying I am so simpleminded as to be unable to come to this out of my own volition?"

"I'm worried I may have abused your trust and used my position to influence you."

Bishamon stared at him. "You are aware, Kazuma, that I am older than you?"

Kazuma started, "That may be true, however--"

"And that, in terms of power dynamics, I am quite literally your master, so if anyone were to talk of abuse of power, they would not be referring to you?"

"I know, but--"

"I mean, for heaven's sakes, Kazuma! If you are to be worried about anything, worry that what we have is quite literally incestuous, as I am a caretaker to you - a mother to her child!"

"Do you still think of me as your child?" Evidently he hadn't even considered that angle.

"Would it bother you if I said yes?" Bishamon asked. Kazuma's eyes widened, horrified.

Bishamon started laughing. "Kazuma!" she said, and Kazuma blushed, glaring.

 

*****

 

They were making love again when Bishamon whispered in his ear.

"Kazuma," Bishamon said. She breathed into his ear.

"When you come, I want you to call me 'mommy.'"

"VEENA!"

She giggled apologetically, reaching up to kiss him and fluff his hair.