Chapter 1: Prologue
A long time ago all types of creatures ran free on the earth causing terror and chaos. Vampires, werewolves, warlocks, witches, to name a few would fight over territory or one another as often as possible. Most viewed anything other than their species as an enemy.
Humans lived in fear with most refusing to ever leave their homes. They formed large groups that lived near each other so they could help each other during attacks. Many days passed with creatures coming to amuse themselves by killing off families in gruesome ways or turning more people into creatures.
Unrest and anger built up in humans. They had enough of being powerless victims. Eventually, two groups were formed to change this: the Multi-Blade Hunters and the Otherworld Seekers. The hunters were responsible for attacking and defense. The Otherworld seekers were in charge of research and in providing weapons to hunters. Slowly, the humans started to strike back and take risks to help change this undesirable way of life. Meetings were held in which plans and back up plans were created.
Battles were fought for dominance and control of the other side. Blood started to stain everywhere red. At some point it became impossible to tell whose blood was where. Bodies littered the ground and fires ran rampant. Everyone was tired of always having to wake up and find out what new disastrous situation awaited them. Both sides knew that this had to end.
Finally, humans used data and information of weaknesses and what was most effective against their for to develop weapons. For the first time the creatures found themselves forced to retreat. The humans who had been underestimated had gained the upper hand.
In the end, humans were victorious and reclaimed the land. The creatures had surrendered very reluctantly. Neither humans or creatures wanted to go through something like this again. There was too much pain and too many lives lost.
Cautiously, a contract was drawn up that stated that the creatures would stay out of sight and mind. Blood and other materials they needed would be delivered to designated areas at certain times. Also, there were various places that would be given to the creature to rein over and no humans would come to interfere in what they were doing as long as no human life was in danger.
Leaders of the humans and each group of creature signed the contract in blood. It was known to all that whoever broke the contract would be punished by the other side in any way chosen. Collecting their respective members, the creatures headed away to the areas they could. Growls and defiant muttering not could be heard as they left.
The next thousands of years consisted of humans rebuilding and spreading out again. A majority of people were insistent on putting the bloody war behind them and forgetting all about the horrible creatures that still roamed their world. Others wanted to be prepared for any future conflicts that would happen.
Over the course of these countless years the Otherworld seekers continued to do research, make better weapons, and gather information. Secretive schools were built to continue training people to become Multi-Blade Hunters. As one would expect both sides had on various occasions broken the contract. Sometimes punishment was dealt out and other times the violations went unnoticed.
Of course, most people have forgotten about the contract and bloody war now. However, that hasn't stopped the various activities that have been stirring in the shadows. The creatures have agendas and a hatred for the humans who humiliated them. One thought is on the creatures minds: Revenge on the humans. To accomplish this the creatures are willing to put aside differences and rivalry. Gear has been gathered and numbers are being built up as the creatures prepare to fight.
The humans are working on a goal as well: completely wiping out the creatures. There are many things still left to explore and discover by both sides to complete this task. Both sides are determined to win. However getting through secrets, lies, challenges, hardships, friendship, love, despair and betrayal that these goals entail won't be easy.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1: Meeting Under the Full Moon
Kirishima goes for his usual nightly stroll. He runs into enemies and gets badly injured. Upon arriving in a moonlite clearing, Kirishima fears the worse. He comes across two unknown males who help him out.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Footsteps trampled through the forest behind me as I limp past branches that cut my skin.
Blood drips from multiple wounds that aren't closing up as they should. 'Damn hunters and their stupid gadgets.' My own steps are becoming increasingly unsteady. Leaning against a tree, I take a minute to rest and assess my situation.
A full moon hangs overhead with no clouds to be seen. Bright moonlight shines down coating the forest in a beautiful silver sheen. All around me is forest with tree branches twisting every which way.
Stems and roots reach out to trip anyone foolish enough to take this path. The trails are uneven and covered in sharp rocks.
The winds howl in perfect imitation of some of the inhabitants that live there. Leaves rustle while branches creak in protest under the pressure of air or whatever chooses to sit on them. Humans tend to avoid this part of the forest due to how dangerous the paths are.
In addition, groups of vicious beasts and creatures roam around. Personally, I enjoy this route and travel along it at least once every night. It's just a perfect territory for clearing your head or being left alone. It would be just my luck that hunters would actually brave the forest.
Even worse, it was most elite group that gives even the strongest of us supernatural creatures trouble. 'I should have listened to the warning. Coming here was a bad idea.'
Lying in my bed, I roll over as my alarm goes off. Checking that it was 9:00 pm, I smile while sitting up. Turning my head, I notice the sky is the familiar dark blue color that announces the sun has recently set.
Moonlight shines in through the window providing me with the a generous amount of light not that I really need it. It makes for the perfect setting to the best time for venturing into the night.
Reaching to my night stand, I grab the black jogging pants and dark red tank top I had placed there earlier. Dressing in the clothes, I stretch my arms over my head to loosen up.
Jumping to my feet, I stroll over to the mini fridge I keep in my room. I remove a pack containing A negative blood. Staring at the pack I sigh as my tongue swipes over my fangs.
Blood from a bag is disgusting. Every vampire would prefer to get it directly from the source, but the consequences when caught are not worth it.
There are rare times that a human crossed into our territory which is fair game, but it is a very vicious fight to get the blood and a lot of the blood ends up wasted. I don't like to fight for my food. So I stick to consuming these awful blood bags
The best way tolerate this blood is to close my eyes and sink my fangs into the bag. Reluctantly, biting my fangs in to the pack, I down the contents trying not to gag.
Squishing the bag, I throw it into the trash on the other side of the room. 'I will never get use to that.' Slipping shoes on, I exit my room.
I stay on the fifth floor which it the topmost floor of the Mortale mansion. This is where the oldest, most powerful, or purebred vampires stay. We have control over the lesser vampires as others on this floor call them.
These vampires, especially purebreds, don't hesitate to use their influence as much as possible. I choose not to which has earned me quite a bit of respect from the occupants here.
Leaning over the banister, I look down to the floors below. Listening carefully, I can hear the squeaking of doors as other vampires wake up to head out for the night.
Unlike werewolves, we vampires don't form packs that need to know where everyone goes during every second of the day. We find it more convenient to carry out the activities we have planned alone.
Leisurely, I walk down the stairs nodding to a few of the vampires I am close with. In a short time, I reach the front door that has been left open.
A fresh breeze blows in my face bring fresh scents of evening-primroses. Owls hoot as they soar in the sky momentarily blocking the glittering of stars. A serene feeling falls over me as it feels as if the the nighttime is gently coaxing me out.
Nails dig into my shoulder with a minuscule amount of pressure shattering my trance. Annoyed by this interruption I soon to face who it was that wanted my attention.
Seeing concerned blue eyes surprised me, but the conflicted expression that formed on his face made me feel apprehensive .
Removing his hand, Katou took a breath to regain a calmer attitude. As Katou was a close associate that I trusted, I waited patiently to hear what was bothering him.
"Are you planning on going to the damned forest?" Katou asks after five minutes of silence.
"You know I am," I reply instantaneously.
"You shouldn't go tonight," he states firmly.
"Why is that?" I inquire with a harsh edge to my words as my eyes narrow.
Hesitation is clear in Katou's face, as his eyes shift from side to side. A few vampire were lingering about to Katou's displeasure. Motioning towards the door, we walked outside to the edge of the road. Finding an area where we could talk without eavesdropping, Katou's expression darkened.
"A rumor is going around that a brash group of hunters are planning to enter the forest at last," Katou spills to me. Upon seeing my amused grin and rolling of eyes, Katou's face hardened. "It's supposed to be them."
"The Mulit-Blade hunters? I thought most of them left for a big mission in Kyoto," I counter uncertainty.
"It ended yesterday. The Otherworld seekers wasted no time in bringing them back as soon as the mission was completed," Katou spoke up with bitterness.
This was bad. If this was true than I would be screwed if I crossed paths with them.
As I weighed my options, a gust of wind swished past blowing a mixture of petals in the direction of the forest. Watching, I felt an urge to follow after them.
Every path, every branch, everything about that forest was known to me. No place was as relaxing to me as being in that forest. No place helps me mentally like that forest.
"Thank you for warning me. I'm still going. I'm not letting some half-assed whispers stop me," I say unwaveringly.
Against his will a smile tugs at the corner of Katou's lips until he sighs. He knows that once I have made up my mind that was it. His sadness and worried was expressed through his defeated slump.
Straightening up, Katou gazed at me. "I am not supportive of this decision, but I can't stop you. So promise me that you will make it back alive."
My tongue stilled as I help back the joke that came to mind. In respect to Katou I put on a serious face as I answered, "This night is no different from any other. I'm going take my normal route and be back before sunrise."
"Okay," Katou said without a doubt already holding me to those words.
Turning away, I head to the dirt path that leads to the forest. I don't have to look back to know Katou is watching until I disappear from view. 'It's okay. Nothing is going to happen.'
Eagerly, I rush to the forest ready to forget everything. Slowing down near, I smile as the sounds and scents are processed.
Three steps into the forest, I get ambushed. Noiselessly, the hunters had waited in trees or bushes. Special devices that looked like ordinary rings and necklaces masked their scent and covered their breathing.
Shock makes me react to the situation to late.
The hunters surround me and dive in blades flashing. One after the other, in an admittedly impressive way, the hunters attacked and backed up allowing the next person to go. Cuts and stab marks littered my skin in their onslaught.
Unbelievable pain struck me as a sword blade cut my stomach, sending me to knees. Hissing in rage and pain, I blindly strike out. Laughter is heard as I missed the hunters. Blood spatters as another well aimed strike cuts deeply into my neck. 'It hurts.'
Raising my head, I jerk back in time causing a blade to slide past my face leaving a thin cut. Getting to my feet, I growl angrily. Quickly, I slashed out my nails cutting across the hunters face.
Falling backwards, I take advantage of the gap created. Moving faster than a human eye can usually see, I dash farther into the forest. I only go a short distance as my strength decreases and I start stumbling over the roots.
Stepping into a hole, I groan as my ankle twists adding to my suffering. Ignoring the ankle, I move on as I hear my foe coming after me sounding not to happy.
Close by, my attention is caught by the lights from fire flickering ominously. Flashlights are used as well and the beam of light cuts through the darkness of shadows caused by trees and various plants.
Each light represents a person who wants me dead or should I say they want me to remain dead. Compared to earlier, the hunters were now using no caution as they figured I was as good as theirs. 'So damn annoying.'
Scratching at the tree, I grit my teeth at the puddle of blood at the roots of the trees. Not only that, a trail of blood leads right to my location. Dull pain comes from my injured ankle.
Pushing away from the tree, I head deeper into the depths of the forest. A branched path appears in my sight. Blurry vision leads to choose a side at random. Rapidly blinking, some off the blurriness clears up. Muttering every cuss word known to man, I wonder what I did to deserve this.
In front of me was an open clearing with a single Japanese Maple tree in the middle. There was no coverage for me to use when going across to the other thicker part of the forest.
My body trembled as I became more aware of pain and exhaustion. I knew that I couldn't make it to the other side, I was to tired and lost to much blood. Going back the way I came was a death sentence. Going forward was a death sentence.
Despair crept up as I thought over all my options. Wariness made my thoughts slower and harder to process. Keeping my eyes open was becoming harder. Scanning my eyes over the forest, I focused on the tree. Moonlight struck the tree like a spotlight giving it an unearthly look.
Legs protesting, I made my way there. 'I can't complain to much if this is my final resting place. It's peaceful enough.' As I approached, to make out two figures. One was sitting against the tree with a book in hands. The other had its head on the first figure's lap with its tails swishing rhythmically.
Uneasiness flared within as I slowed my pace. 'Maybe these two creatures will help me. There is more of a chance they will end me.' Getting closer, I make out more details of my killers.
I can now see the figure sitting has taken the appearance of a small human boy with dark black hair. He looks to be no more than eight or nine years of age. Age is nonessential to most mythical creatures as we live for along time.
The figure with the tails is a young, pure snow white kumiho. Rubbing my eyes, I observe the kumiho interestedly. 'I wonder if I am imagining this.' Sharp pain from my ankle almost leaves me breathless as I put my full weight on it. 'Not a dream.'
Lifting its head, the kumiho growls threateningly at me. Standing in front of the boy, the kumiho snarls baring its sharp teeth. The white fox lifts up its nine tails in the air and its ears lay back. Fur spikes along the creatures back. It moves a paw forward to scrape at the ground. The white fox's beautiful emerald colored eyes fixed on me.
"Unless you want to be torn to shreds, I wouldn't come closer," the boy speaks in a soft serious voice not looking up from his book.
Raising my hands, I stop moving, but my eyes flick between the white fox and the boy whatever he is. 'He must be some kind of divine being. The fox some kind of familiar or guardian.' The boy finished reading the page he was before closing the book. Turning his head in my direction, I got to see his eyes for the first time.
Breath caught in my throat as my heart skipped a beat. My eyes were locked on the most gorgeous and unusual steely gray eyes I had ever seen. The boy looked away first and started examining my appearance.
Putting his book down on the ground, the black haired boy got to his feet. He lifted a foot to take a step when the white fox let out a growl and seemed to shake his head disapprovingly.
The two exchanged looks as if they were having a silent conversation. The fox let out whimpers and barks. The boy whispered back responses that were quiet even for my advanced hearing.
Loud crashes and the sound of branches snapping interrupted them. Looking in the direction the sound came from, the fox let out a fierce growl. The boy had annoyance shining in those beautiful gray eyes.
"Great the hunters are headed this way. I won't let them take away our hideout," the boy spoke with determination in his voice.
"Bark. Grrrrr," the white fox responded as if agreeing with the boy's words.
Reaching down, the boy placed a hand on the fox's head and gently stroked. "You don't have to do that. I can take care of it. You already do enough for me."
Tipping his head towards the forest, the white fox let out a few short barks. I watched as emerald eyes held gray eyes. Tension filled the air then the boy slumped slightly. The fox nudged his head in a comforting way. Hands reaching out, the boy placed them on both sides of the fox's face.
Resting his head against the fox's, the boy sweetly requested, "Please stay safe Ritsu. Come back soon. Don't leave me alone."
It felt like my heart might break when I saw the pleading look in the boy's face. He looked so fragile and vulnerable, I wanted to wrap my arms around him. Bending his neck forward, the fox licked the boy's cheek. Shaking off the small hands that had started gripping his cheek fur, the fox turned to me.
His paws stalled on the ground as the fox checked me over. Seeming to just remember my presence, the boy goes back to his earlier examination. Flickers of concern and worry flash in those gray eyes, but his face remained otherwise unreadable.
"I won't do any harm. I couldn't even if I wanted to. The hunters did a number on me," I choke out as blood dribbles from my lips.
"You can go. I'm going to be fine," the boy encourages the fox, yet I could have sworn I saw surprise in his eyes as I was speaking.
Giving me a warning look that promised the most painful death imaginable if something happened to the boy, Ritsu took off into the forest.
Loneliness crossed the boy's face for a minute. When Ritsu was out of sight, his attention was all mine. Dizziness hit me hard along with pain.
Dropping to my knees, I placed my hands out to steady myself. My arms gave out and I flopped to the ground. 'Shit. I am going to die. I need blood.' I hear the boy's footsteps as he hurried over. Legs enter my field of vision as the boy sits near me.
Receiving help from the boy, who is stronger than I thought or maybe it was just my weakened state playing tricks on me, I get into a sitting position as well. My mouth opens to thank him until my nose twitches as a wonderful smell hits it. I would recognize this smell anywhere.
Delicious and tantalizing human blood being pumped through multiple delicate veins. A poke could be felt from inside my mouth from my fangs. Rumbling came from my stomach seconds later. Both were reminders of how much I not only wanted, but needed human blood.
Pushing the boy away, I scooted back to avoid taking a bite from him. Confusion shone in his eyes at my actions. He went to move closer and I put my hands out to stop him.
"What is wrong?" The boy snapped growing impatient. "I can't help you if you don't stay still."
"Why would you help me? You are a human," I reply back feeling distrustful even in my current predicament.
Instead of answering the boy stubbornly goes to grab me. Using my remaining strength, I pinned the boy down. Flinching, the boy meets my eyes. Clenching his teeth, the boy lays still under my grasp. Tilting my head, I flash my fangs at him expecting to see horror or fright. A cool, collected look remains pasted on the boy's face.
"Hurt as I may be, I could still kill you right here," I tell him in a no nonsense tone.
"Go ahead. If you think you can scare me, you are wrong. Creatures have attacked me on many occasions.I have faced many bully's who have taunted and threatened my life. My own parents have done many things that have almost got me killed. No one likes me or cares what happens to me. I have come to the brink of death more times than I can count. For some reason, I'm still here though," the boy stated all of this in a voice devoid of any emotion.
Releasing the boy, my heart feels like needles have stabbed into them. Some part of me felt like I should protect this boy. I watch as he rubs his wrists and wipes grass off his shorts. A sorrowful smile crossed my lips as I remember that humans are easy to break. Tough or not humans have limits to what they can take and still be okay.
"I'm sorry. I was being a jerk. I wouldn't have taken your life," I apologize my head drooping.
"Interacting with any creature can be dangerous. You are not the first one I have dealt with. My life could easily be ended," the boy explained. "When I see someone in trouble though, I want to help. Being on the victim side has taught me even one hand being held out can make a huge difference."
"Is that so?" I question as my vision starts to darken. Making sense of language was a hopeless battle at this point.
"This is me holding out a hand to you in your dire situation," the boy said while holding his arm out under my lips.
"I can't," I weakly protest even though my fangs were showing from under my lips. "I could end up actually killing you."
"You won't," the boy replied firmly. A determined and fierce look showed on the boy's face. Using his finger nail, the boy cut his skin deep enough to draw blood. "Drink up."
Water filled my mouth as the scent of blood hit my nose. Lips parting, I tightened my hold on the boy's arm causing him to flinch. Bending my head, my desires took over and I sank my fangs into the boy's arm. Blood rushed into my mouth, filling it with an amazing flavor. My eyes closed as I savored every bit of this situation.
"Ah!" The boy let out a surprised gasp. "Mmmhmmm," the boy let out a muffled moan.
Energy filled my body as I had my fill of blood. Restrained sounds filtered into my ears. I opened my eyes to see the boy squirming. As I watched he squeezed his legs close together.
Flushed, the boy had his eyes half opened. Having had my fill of blood from the boy, I removed my fangs. My eyes not leaving the boy for an instant. 'He is going to be sexy when he grows up.'
As soon as my fangs were gone, the boy tried to remove his arm from my grasp. I didn't let go. Shyly, he turned to face me. I smirked evilly as he tilted his head to the side bewildered. 'This is too good to pass up.'
I bring my lips to his arm and kiss it. A shiver passes through his small body. I lick the wound to help it close up and to tease the boy. He bites his lips to keep from letting out any sounds. I chuckle at how cute he is. I release his arm and he pulls it back as fast as possible.
"Are you okay?" I ask innocently.
"Yeah, I-I'm fine," the boy stutters in response his face taking light pink tint.
"Do you feel faint or anything?" I inquire while reaching my hand towards his face.
"No, nothing," the boy lied, his face turning bright red. "That felt a little weird though. Not bad, I think."
"Did you say something?" I asked pretending not to hear that last comment.
"No," the boy replied while shaking his head.
Reaching out I ruffle the boy's hair. He swats at my hand and puffs out his cheeks. 'He really is just too adorable.' I chuckle which earns me a glare. Silence falls between us. The boy determined to not look at me has his eyes anywhere else. Smiling, I gaze at the stars. Eventually, I look over and see the boy has started watching the stars as well.
I can feel my wounds start to close. My ankle starts to move back to its original position. All too soon, my body is back into top shape. I rise to my feet drawing the boy's attention back to me. Lowering my hand to the boy, I grin as he hesitates to take it. Growling, the boy takes my hand and I pull him up.
At the edge of the forest I see glowing green eyes. 'That must the kumiho from earlier. If I recall correctly his name is Ritsu. Speaking of names.' I look at the boy with a curiosity.
"What is it?" The boy questions me with a guarded look.
"Hmmm...I was wondering if I could know my savior's name?" I inquired with a sincere look.
Frowning, the boy gazed at me thoughtfully. "You first."
Amused, my lips formed a smile. "Fair enough. My name is Kirishima Zen."
"I'm Yokozawa Takafumi," the boy tells me while holding out his hand.
I shake his hand. "It's nice to meet you."
We both laugh a little as it was awkward to just now be introducing each other after everything that happened. The sound of his laugh was pleasant to the ears.
"Thank you for saving me, Yokozawa. I owe you my life," I say in a meaningful tone with an earnest look.
"You don't have to thank me. I gave you no choice," Yokozawa replied his face turning red again and he was obviously flustered. "Stay out of trouble."
"You too," I counter, earning a half smile.
Acting before my mind could catch up, I wrap my arms around Yokozawa. I pull him close to my chest. The dark haired boy freezes as his eyes widen. Small arms wrap around me while fingers grab onto what is left of the fabric of my tank top.
"Let go of me," the boy shakily says not use to this type of affection.
Releasing Yokozawa so he can move far enough away from any further contact, I allow my arms to fall back to my side. His head dipped, but behind his ears is bright red revealing how embarrassed he is.
I take a few steps forward and his head whips up. Yokozawa blinks at me as I once again ruffle his hair. For a brief second he closes his eyes then he knocks my hand away. I have a mischievous smile on my face.
Shaking his head, Yokozawa gazes annoyed at me. "I hope all vampires aren't as irritating as you."
"Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I guess you will have to find out one day," I teasingly tell him.
"No way. I am done with vampires," Yokozawa declares in a nonnegotiable voice.
"Hopefully, not all vampires," I smirk and wink at him.
Yokozawa rolls his eyes. Footsteps are heard and we both look to the sound. Ritsu walks over to Yokozawa, goes around him, and then settled at his feet. Happily, Yokozawa smiles as he reaches to pet Ritsu. The fox leans his head into Yokozawa's touch. The two start talking and making sure the other was okay. Jealousy stirred within me.
"It's time for me to take my leave. Thank you again for your help Yokozawa. Same to you, Ritsu. Goodbye," I say, interrupting their moment.
"Goodbye Kirishima-san," Yokozawa replies. Ritsu twitched his ears and waves his tails.
I head back the way I came. Looking back I can see the two are watching me leave. I meet those mesmerizing gray eyes one last time. Turning my head away, I make my way to the edge of the clearing.
Tipping my head up, I scan the sky until my eyes land on the full moon. This full moon brought both a curse and a blessing. Silently, I make a vow to the moon. 'This will not be the end. I'm going to find Yokozawa when he is older. You better be prepared.'
This is their first meeting and the start of the events to come whether they are ready or not.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2: Sixteen Years Later
Yokozawa’s been frustratingly plagued by the same blurry dream for years that he is pretty sure is a memory connected to the mark he has on his arm. Also, a look into Yokozawa’s life since that encounter years ago.
Lying on my bed, I toss and turn on my bed trying to find a satisfactory position. I had just retired to my bedroom for the night after having a few drinks with Ritsu in celebration of his being hired. For a short period, I had the peaceful blackness after shutting my eyjes. Abruptly, a scene started to form in my mind. I can tell that it is going to be that dream. The same dream that has plagued me for five years.
A clock hanging on the wall from across my room displays 9:00 pm. Climbing out of bed, I grab the book Fate by Usami Akihiko. Tip toeing to the door, I open it slowly to avoid any squeaking sounds. Peering out the frame of the door, I listen for the sound of breathing to let me know that my family is asleep. Grinning to myself, I quickly get down the stairs wincing at every creak or groan from the staircase.
Stepping off the last stair, I look across to where the door is located. Excitement buzzes inside of me as I see my freedom only ten steps away. Being inside this house is often lonely and suffocating. Sneaking off on this nightly adventure has been one of my biggest motivation not to remove myself from this world.
I start to head for my way out of here when footsteps come from the right hallway. Taking in my surroundings, I stealthily slip behind the curtains of the front window next to the door. Holding my breath, I hear the person enter the hallway. I can't see who it is, but I know that they have stopped to search the room. A dangerous game has begun.
My whole body is tense as I wait to find out my fate. If I get caught here, I will end up getting beat practically half to death in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario...well I'm going to leave that alone. No more than five minutes must of passed before I hear the sound of footsteps retreating back the way they came. Waiting an extra five minutes to be certain no one was coming, I let out the breath I had been holding.
Leaving the curtain, I shift to left to stand in front of the last obstacle to my nightly adventure. Throwing open the door, I feel my muscles relax as my eyes close briefly. Crossing the threshold of the house, a breeze brings scents of flowers. At the bottom of the porch steps, I tip up my head up enjoying the sight of the full moon. A faint smile tugs at my lips as I anticipate the soothing night ahead of reading under the moon light.
Shifting my eyes around the area, I find a figure waiting for me in front of the path that leads to the forest. The silhouette of the figure with fox ears and nine tails gets up from its lying position. Joy rushes through me as my traveling companion is ready for me to lead us to our destination. Picking a medium pace, I jog over and as I get closer I can make out the all the details of the small pure white kumiho.
Here is the second, but most important reason for my still existing in this world. My protector, my support, and above all my loyal friend Ritsu. Life has been rough and many days I would have liked nothing more than to give up. Beatings, bruises, burns, and bleeding are a usual part of my daily life. Often I would hide away in any place I could fit my body to avoid the pain even if only for a second. Days where people ignored me were a gratefully welcomed blessing.
Following the sadly natural route of one stuck in horrible circumstances, the time arrived when I was going to let defeat and powerlessness lead me to my grave until I ran into Ritsu. We gained each other's trust slowly after our first eventful collision of paths. Now, Ritsu is always staying nearby me although the majority of times in a place I can't see him. It's a safety measure as neither of us can guess or want to imagine what would happen if we were seen together.
Getting to this stage with Ritsu wasn't without struggle. I don't let people or creatures get close to me on a personal level. All of what I have seen and experienced has ruined my desire to make connections with others or let anyone close. I nurtured the believe of not needing to depend on others for anything. The way I withdrew around others or shut down when people attempted to interact with me was my reaction caused by my engrained belief.
Luckily for me, Ritsu's entering my life saved me from destroying myself. Everyday that has past since we became friends I acknowledge that Ritsu had been what I needed when I needed it the most. Someone to lean on and to share the burden on the worst, soul draining days. Likewise, I extend myself in the same way to Ritsu to the best of my abilities.
Everyone has said that a helping hand goes along way. I have different thought on that: who needs a helping hand when you can have a helping paw? Slowly, I have recovered in almost unnoticeable ways. It's a start that hopefully expands further to completion in adulthood.
Mixed emotions burst forth leaving me unsure how to feel. Clenching my hand to the point that my nails cut my skin making it bleed, I force my thoughts back to the depths of my mind they had spilled from. 'Not now, I'm not dealing with it. It's time for my recuperation.'
Ears perk up at my arrival and nine tails start wagging rapidly. Moving to meet me, the kumiho runs in circles around me. Eventually, he stops right in front of me bending his head to nudge at my legs. Lips forming a smile, I put my hand on his head and gently stroke in response to his greeting. Stepping away, the kumiho gives me a stern look from hard green eyes. Pawing gently at my now lightly bleeding hand, Ritsu barks harshly.
Guilty, I hold out my hand for Ritsu to see. "Im sorry Ritsu. It's really hard not to rely on hurting myself. It has been a coping method for so long."
Holding my eyes, Ritsu's eyes and manner softens. I can tell that he isn't pleased, but understands that it takes time to quit a habit. Lowering his head, Ritsu licks my hand in gentle, soft strokes. Each time he licks my hand I flinch and have to focus on not moving my hand away. My fingers twitch although I keep fighting to have them remain still.
Many times Ritsu has licked my wounds since a dog's tongue is naturally designed to be rough. This removes harmful bacteria in the injury which protects against infection. Dog saliva causes blood clotting for wounds as well. Being a supernatural creature, these healing properties are enhanced. Impatiently, I bare the uncomfortable, but beneficial situation.
Lifting his head, Ritsu shoots me a reprimanding stare. No words have to be spoken to get his point across. I made a mistake that is not to happen again no matter what. In recent months, I have been getting better at not resorting to self harm as the immediate way to deal with my problems. Small as it may be, a relapse like this could push me off the edge of the huge mountain of progress I made. Neither of us wish for me to return to those days.
"Thank you," I sincerely say to Ritsu while wrapping my arms around him for only a short time.
In response, Ritsu nods his head with ears twitching. Then, he turns his head towards the well worn down path that leads to the forest. Head leaning back over his shoulder, Ritsu gives me a questioning gaze that is partially challenging. Bending my knees, I prepare for our routine. Ritsu crouches with his legs strained ready to take off.
"First one to the tree in the clearing wins," I declare in a loud voice. "Ready, set, go!"
Springing into action, the two of us race through the forest. Nimbly, we avoid tree breaches that reach out to trip or scratch us. Roots are jumped over and bushes are crushed as we push through. Flowers get trampled somehow amplifying the already strong scent. Side by side, step for step, Ritsu and I make our way to the clearing.
Arriving at the last stretch, we break through in the clearing. Racing across flat land covered in grass, we push ourselves as hard as we can. My hand slams into the tree trunk at the same time as Ritsu's paw. Breathing hard, I collapse under the tree on my back. Hearing a thump, I shift my eyes in the direction of the sound to see Ritsu lying next to me. Chuckling softly, we both catch our breath.
Gazing up at the tree, I notice how the full moon hits the tree causing an entrancing silver glow. 'Hmmm. A perfect spot for reading.' Getting into a sitting position, I back up until I can rest against the tree. Ritsu moves to my side using my lap to rest his head. Stroking his head, steady breathing reaches my ears. Smiling down at my sleeping friend, I open the book that had been firmly grasped in my hand.
Scanning each page to not miss any details, I get lost in my book. The story draws me in preventing me from realizing anyone has approached. Only the sounds of Ritsu's threatening growls and short barks breaks me from my trance. Seeing how Ritsu hadn't attacked yet, it means that whoever or whatever had appeared wasn't a threat.
"Unless you want to be torn to shreds, I wouldn't come closer," I warn in a soft tone as I finish the pages I was reading.
As I look up I am met with a blurry unidentifiable figure. Seeking out his eyes, I could only guess that the things eyes were brown. The next thing I know I am pinned to the ground. The details of the creature are slightly clearer, but not enough to make out.
When the creature speaks, it is to quiet for me to make out the words. Although, I can make out that is a male's voice. Teeth...no sharp fangs from its mouth flashes at me. No fear come from me only acceptance. My lips move answering whatever he said without my knowing what I said.
Backing up the still fuzzy, unclear vampire, slumps. Once again we exchange words that fall on deaf ears. Giving my arm over the thing grabs it and sinks his fangs into my arm. No pain befalls me due from his actions. Instead an tingling thrums through my body. It turns pleasurable and my body reacts accordingly. My head falls back while my eyes half shut. The vampire becomes completely clear and detailed, but I can't make much out through half closed eyes.
As my eyes open all the way, a loud annoying sound breaks enters my mind. The dream fades to black. I never get a good look at the vampire that has plagued me in my dreams.
Jolting into a sitting position, I glare over at my alarm clock that is going off. Slamming my hand down on the night stand, I turn the device off. 'Damn It! Shit! I was this close to finally figuring this out! If I could have seen his face, I'm sure everything would have clicked into place.' Running my hand through my hair, I grimace at how damp it is. Along with being covered in sweat, my heart is racing. My skin feels uncomfortably hot. Lifting the covers, I let out a groan as I see that my cock is hard just as I expected it would be.
A dull throb comes from my arm drawing my attention. On my right arm, where I was bit in the dream, is a wound from the encounter with that vampire. It should have vanished when it closed up. I have had it for sixteen years since I was nine years old. It had been a pain covering it up. Not that the scar hadn't been discovered anyway.
Sighing, I ran my fingers across mark. Face hardening, I cover the fang mark, gripping my arm with a bruising force. 'I am sure that dream is actually part of a memory. My life became a hundred times worse after that event which left this mark. If I ever meet the vampire who left it, I am going to stake him.'
Uncovering the mark, I breath in and out a few times. Going to work on this kind of piss poor mood isn't good for anyone. Shifting my legs to the edge of the bed, I am reminded of the hard on I have. 'Instead of getting distracted by problems of the past, I should do something about my current state.'
Going to my dresser, I grab boxers, a pair of black jeans and gray tee-shirt. Crossing the room I enter the bathroom and threw my clothes on the shelf. Stripping, I removed my shirt. I slip out of my pajama bottoms. Stepping over the ledge of the bath tub, I get into the shower. Twisting the knob, I blast cold water to calm myself down.
When my erection is gone, I turned on the warm water. My body went through the routine of cleaning myself without my paying it any heed. Tipping my head back, I zoned in on enjoying the feel of the spray of hot water enveloping my skin in pleasant warmth.
I hate having to always start off my days with cold water. Unfortunately, this is the only option available to me. There is no way I am going to masturbate instead as the shame would last all day. 'This is a pain in the ass. How long am I going to have to endure this?'
Shutting off the water, I dry off using a towel. Catching my reflection in the mirror, I stop to examine myself. Various scars of all sizes cover my body from head to toe. Most of them are a faded white in color, so people easily miss them. A long scar on my back that is darker in color comes from the base of my neck down to my left hip. Another scar that stands out is the x-shaped one over my heart. I skim my finger over it. Sadness wells within me at this one.
Spinning myself to face away from the mirror takes a large amount of effort. I glance down at my wrists which contain the evidence of how I handled the worse of what life threw at me. Closing my eyes, I roll my shoulders around while tilting my head side to side. 'Everything is fine now. Life is good. All that is behind me.'
Throwing on my clothes, I exit the bathroom drying my hair with a small blue towel. Going back through my room, I grab my phone and wallet. The clock in my room chimes alerting me to it being seven o'clock in the morning. 'I have time to make breakfast before heading out for the day.' Stepping out into the hallway, I follow the hallway to the staircase. I travel down the winding staircase, take a left and head to the kitchen.
Cold from the tiled floor in the kitchen seeps into my feet. Ignoring it, I go over to the fridge. I pull out two packs of bacon and the carton of eggs. Grabbing two pans from the lower cabinets, I set them on the stove. Turning on the heat, I put the bacon in one pan and crack eggs in the other. I go about scrambling the eggs while frying the bacon to the perfect crispness. Pulling doing two plates, I scoop eggs into one with a spatula. I pick up the pan with bacon, drain the grease and put them on the other plate.
"Ritsu! Breakfast is ready!" I call out expecting him to immediately enter the kitchen.
Being a kumiho, Ritsu has an acute sense of smell. Anytime I am in the kitchen, it doesn't take long for him to appear. I always find it amusing as his tail sways excitedly and his ears perk. He routinely gets out plates for us, sets the table and sometimes does a few tasks to help me out with cooking. The smile that had formed on my lips faded as I didn't hear him. Frowning, I poke my head out from the kitchen.
Nothing. He is nowhere to be seen. Straining my ears, I listen for sounds only to hear silence. Walking into the living room, I scan the room. The room is empty with everything neatly in place. Frowning, I walk around this main floor checking the bathroom, our entertainment room, I walk out the back porch, and then I return to the living room. Staring at the stairs, I frown as I have a hunch.
Traveling up the stairs, I go to the bedroom two doors down from mine. Quietly opening the door, I slip into the room. The windows are closed still closed leaving the room uninvitingly dark. Exploring further into the room, I hiss in pain as I bump my toe against a chair. Moving over to the bed, my earlier hunch is confirmed as I see a lump under the blanket. The blankets rise and fall bringing with it the sound of gentle snores. Nine tails that are uncovered lay off the edge of the bed touching the floor.
Fondness spreads through me at this sight. Tempted to leave him be, I quickly make up my mind to wake him up as I have no time to waste. Going to the right side of the bed, I reach over putting my hand on the the lump formed by multiple layers of blankets. Firmly, I shake Ritsu to wake him up. Receiving no response, as I knew would happen, I tug the blankets away. I waited for an angry response, but nothing came.
Shifting my eyes towards Ritsu, I took in his human form. He had many choices. Yet, he always went with a smaller, thinner framed young man with short, brown hair. White ears laid to the side of his head as his nine tails encircled his body due to the sudden lack of heat. Ritsu pulled his arms and legs closer to his body. Stubbornly, his eyes remained closed.
"If you don't get up, this window is going to be opened," I warn Ritsu with a serious tone.
Emerald eyes flutter open to glare at me. "I'm up."
"Good. Breakfast is already waiting at the table," I respond while head towards the door. "I made eggs and bacon."
Closing the door as I exit, I chuckle when the sound of bedsprings creaking reaches my ears. Returning to the kitchen, I separate the food on two plate. I set one down at Ritsu's spot and one down on the end where I sit. Grabbing the remote, I turn on the news for the weather. Grabbing my fork I take a bite of eggs right as Ritsu joins me at the table. Picking up the fork, Ritsu begins to eat.
The last few bits of food were on our plates when Ritsu looked at my arm. Tipping his head he looked thoughtful. Our eyes meet and I expect him to say something when the television airs breaking news. Both of our heads turn at the same time.
On the screen the Nalia, the news reporter, was standing at the scene of the crime where ten people were murdered. No witnesses had noticed what had happened. No fingerprints were there. No suspects could be identified. The victim's throats were torn out, long claw marks went down their bodies, and most of their bodies were drained of blood. All the news cast were making theories and stories to explain how these murders keep happening. The most popular explanation is wild animals.
"Their attacks are getting bolder," Ritsu said unhappy with this development.
"That is typically what happens when groups use violence to make a point. It starts with a simple attack and gets increasingly bolder," I causally remark going to take another bite.
"I just want to be able to coexist in peace. The tolerance for supernatural creatures who dwell in human areas is already low," Ritsu sighed as his ears lowered.
"The problem is neither the government or the majority of supernatural creatures want to coexist. Both sides want complete dominance and control. Both sides are taking steps to achieve those goals," I contribute which causes Ritsu to grimace.
"We should leave now before you are late," Ritsu responds getting up and taking our dishes to the sink.
Pressing the off button on the television, I move to the door. Patiently, I wait for Ritsu knowing he is fully frustrated. Not that I can blame him, our life has been and is hard enough with out these antagonistic incidents. Once Ritsu is by my side, I raise my hand to his head to ruffle his hair. Closing his eyes, Ritsu silently relaxes under my gentle strokes. Eyes opening, Ritsu hides his ears and tail as a signal he is ready to leave. Calmer than we had been, we both head off for my work place.
Going to work involved taking the train and then walking for another twenty minutes to a building close to the outskirts of town. Arriving at a winding path, I gaze at the cheery sign that reads: Imagination Daycare. Pride rises in my chest as I sweep my eyes over the building. It took a lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of questionable or shady dealings, and a lot of money, but the end result was worth it. This was my building and business to do with as I pleased.
I know this is the last thing people would have expected from me. My appearance doesn't exactly scream I'm a safe person, so please trust me with your children. As one might assume, my business was slow in the beginning. However, I have managed to meet and earn some trust from the people in town through the variety of jobs I have taken on. After that more and more people started testing out my daycare. Most of which were satisfied with my services.
I have to wonder how pleased they would be if they knew that I watched over both supernatural and human children. Of course, a natural reaction I would get is laughter or ridicule as supernatural creatures are still seen as myths or used as bedtime stories to get children to behave. Only the rare few people along with the government remember these rather terrifying and mystical beings still exist.
Picking up the pace, we soon reach the front door where two male figures are seen. Upon my arrival one nods and the other waves a hand in greeting. Taking the keys from my pocket, I unlock the door for all four of us to enter. Flicking the light switch, I glance around the room.
This main room is a beige color. Most of the room is wide open space with play mats of blues, greens, reds, yellows, and oranges covering the floor. There are three tables with chairs situated around them. An old relic looking clock hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the room. Shelves with cubbies some empty and some with extra supplies line the walls. There are white boards at the front and back of the room. There are chalkboards randomly placed on the wall around the room. Every window has the black out curtains drawn up allowing the rising sun to shine through.
There are areas in the building designated for different activities such as snacks, sleeping, reading, and playing. There are doors labeled with what type of area it leads to. A few lead to bathrooms and two lead to kitchens. Through a window on the left side of the room a playground can be seen.
"You could have let yourselves in," I say while setting my work bag down.
"We figured that there was no harm in waiting for the boss to let us in," Isao causally remarks with relaxed grin.
"What about all the prepping for incoming children that could have got done?" I counter with a stern look in his direction.
"Today is one of the slower days. Both our shift and the night shift," Banri explained with his calming tone.
Holding out a list with expected children, I notice that only ten kids are expected during both shifts. Frowning, I can't help wondering why the daycare has been so empty as of late. If would be nice if I could believe that parents had more time for there kids. It's not in my nature to fall for such a simple and comforting thought.
"I'm sorry, I guess you really didn't need to come with me today," I speak turning an apologetic glance to Ritsu who was leaning against the wall.
Straightening himself, Ritsu comes forward with the silent gracefulness that I have become accustomed to. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Isao flinch and a flash of surprise cross Banri's face. Neither of them had seen Ritsu walk up with me or slip pass as I opened the door. Ritsu had an amused smile on his face for a split second before returning his attention to me.
I roll my eyes at Ritsu's mischievous actions. It's not the first time I have brought Ritsu with me. In the very start I introduced Ritsu as my friend and business partner. I specifically picked employees that were aware and didn't mind working with supernatural creatures. Only my good friend Henmi is oblivious to the reality that supernatural creatures exist despite the evidence that occurs everyday in the daycare.
During the employees meeting with Ritsu, I had him reveal that he was a kumiho to test that the people I hired could handle interacting with supernatural creatures. In my day care I was going to allow the children to escape from their human disguises. Admittedly, their shocked reactions were entertaining as they saw him transform. However, my employees all interacted fine with Ritsu which eased any doubts I had about them working for the daycare.
For a while, Ritsu came with me to the daycare everyday. Lately, though Ritsu had been coming with me less and less as he went through the job interview process. My employees, especially the female employees were disappointed, but were completely supportive of Ritsu's job search. It has been about a year since Ritsu last came to work with me. So when Ritsu sneaked passed Isao and Banri today, it wasn't surprising that they were caught off guard as he made his presence known.
"It's fine. I did tell you I wanted to come with you today," Ritsu responded not bothered by this outcome. "Seeing as you probably won't need me, I am going to take a more comfortable form."
It's both fascinating and cringe worthy watching as Ritsu's body contorts, bones reposition themselves, and white fur seemingly breaks through skin as he transforms taking his kumiho form. Gazing at me Ritsu speaks, "Call for me." He knows that is all he needs to say to communicate his full message to me.
White tails sway as he walks toward the wall farthest from us and down. Quickly, emerald eyes close and gentle snores come from my friend. Alert ears twitch listening for the tiniest hint of danger or trouble. Smiling gratefully, I hear a knock on the door to signal the start of my day.
"Ready for another day of who knows what?" I ask my two employees as I throw open the door.
Today's group of daycare kids, five supernatural and five human, mixed well meaning that the day turned out to be uneventful. Soon enough six chimes reverberate around the room marking the end of the day shift at six o'clock. The children gather in the middle of the room and sit on the colorful mats. Each have excited looks on their faces as they gaze expectantly at the door. Only one of the kids sit gracefully with a slight sad expression briefly crossing their face before turning to talk with the others. Frowning, I have a feeling I know why the child is upset, but I can't help hoping I am wrong.
Parents enter the room to collect their children. Most of them thank us for our service before ushering their kid out. One by one the kids are promptly picked up. The customers of the daycare respect that we need them to pick up their kids so we can prepare for the second shift from seven in the evening to six in the morning at the latest. Soon most of the kids have been picked up except one.
Banri, Isao, and I look over at the little girl who standing by the window. Her elbows were leaning on the window sill as she gazed at the fading sunlight. Her long, silky and gorgeous light brown hair stopped right before it hit the floor. Her light brown eyes were entrancing. All three of of exchanged concerned glances. Once again it seemed that the this adorable fairy child was being left here all day until very late into the night.
"What should we do? Should we contact her parents? This is happening way to often," Isao asked, with irritation in his voice.
"As far as I am aware, we have yet to meet her actual parents. The parents have never come in with her when she is dropped off. When it comes time for her to leave, she says bye and slips off before I can even register what is happening," Banri explains.
"We had to have met her parents when they first became a customer of this daycare," Isao countered.
A silence was the answer to Isao's words. I had to stop and think about that. 'How did the very beginning of her joining the daycare go?' My mind came up blank. 'Huh? I don't remember. I must have meet her parents. Right...? Im sure I met all the parents to make sure that kids were dropped off and picked up safely. And yet nothing is coming to me. Well there are a lot of kids and parents that come through.' Shaking my head, I turn toward Isao and Banri.
From the puzzled gazes that Banri and Isao were displaying, I could tell that they weren't haven't any luck with remembering our first encounter with her parents. Suspicions crept up on how weird it was that no one seemed to know who had guardianship over the girl. Pushing though snagging feelings away, I went over to the contact sheets we had.
"What are you doing?" Isao asked, coming to stand beside me.
"I'm going to call one of her parents and set up a meeting. She has been spending more time at the daycare than is usual for any child. I just want to make sure everything is alright," I say while finding the sheet I had been searching for.
I scanned the sheet, both front and back, for a good five minutes. Grimacing, I tossed the paper back down. I couldn't believe it. I never got the contact information. No phone numbers or emails. Only one parent name was listed along with other information about taking care of the young girl. 'What if an emergency had occurred? How could I have been so unobservant as to let that slide by? She has been coming here ever since I first opened the daycare.' A new plan formulated in my head as I determinedly kept my panic and anger at my mistake in check.
"Is everything okay?" Banri questioned, clearly curious about what is bothering me.
"Yes," I answered giving a fake smile. "You two are free to go. I will fill in Megumi, Sakaya, and Henmi in on anything they need to know before their shift. Thank you for your hard work today."
"If you say so," Banri replies, clearly unconvinced. "Bye Yokozawa. See you tomorrow."
"Are you sure you don't need any thing? I don't mind staying to help you," Isao inquired, reluctant to leave.
"I appreciate the offer, but I have Ritsu with me. You go and enjoy the rest of you evening," I dismiss his offer with a wave.
A frustrated expression briefly touches Isao's facial features before returning to his natural easy going expression. "Bye, Yokozawa. See you tomorrow. Don't push yourself too hard."
The door clicks close indicating that both Isao and Banri has left. Letting out a partially relieved sigh, I face towards the remaining child. Startled, I see that she is watching me while shyly tugging on her cute pink dress..When I glance at her, she looks away with a cute blush decorated her cheeks. It appears as though she had been waiting for my attention for a while now. Approaching her, I kneel down causing her to direct her face back in my direction.
Almost inaudible paw steps alert me to Ritsu coming to join me. He lays down on the ground next to me with his tails curling around my feet having choosen to still remain in his natural white kumiho appearance. As per usual both Ritsu and I feel more secure when slight touching each other.
Realizing that I got distracted, I shift my eyes back to the girl and see a sparkle in her light brown eyes. Ritsu is popular with both employees and the children. Her hand twitches as she reaches out to touch Ritsu. Tipping her head in a silent question, I nod in response. Enthusiastically, the girl runs her hand through Ritsu's soft fur. A huff is heard from Ristu, yet he doesn't move and allows the girl to stroke his fur. I chuckle at the interaction knowing that Ritsu enjoyed that getting pet even if he pretended not to.
If not for the fact I had something I needed to talk to her about, I would have been satisfied to watch the girl cheerfully pet Ritsu for the hour before the next shift started. Sensing my change in mood, the girl halted her actions. Neither of us spoke as I figured out how I should proceed. Thoughts in order, I met her nervous gaze.
"Am I in trouble? Do you not want me here anymore? I'm sorry," the girl rambled out while dipping her head.
An ache could be felt from my heart at actions. I didn't mean to make her feel that way. "No you are not in trouble. Yes, I want you to come here. I would be sad if you I couldn't see you anymore."
Radiantly, she smiled and said, "I'm so glad. I love visiting you here, Yokozawa-Oniichan."
"Why did you think I didn't want you here?" I asked, having smiled due to her contagious smile and cute way of addressing me.
Twirling strands of light brown hair, the girl hesitantly spoke, "I saw you reading over my file and making a unhappy face."
"Ah, that. There is a different reason I did that," I said, pausing as I realized this was a good opportunity. "Could you do me a favor?"
"Yep! What do you need?" The girl happily asked.
"It is important for me to be able to contact your parents. In cases of emergencies or if you needed to be picked up early," I told her having carefully picked out my words in the hopes of not making her think I was worried about her family life. "Could you tell your parents I need to talk to them tomorrow? Please?"
Flinching, the girl drew back. I could see a her having a internal battle over not wanting to say no, but not wanting to carry out my request. Putting my hand on her shoulder, I opened my mouth to tell her that she didn't have to if she didn't want to. I felt bad about making her show such conflicted expressions. She ended up deciding her answer before I could speak.
"My father is really busy right now. I will ask if he can spare some time to come see you. Although it will have to be at night," the girl replied, with a determined face.
"I'm fine with that. Thank you, Hiyo," I gratefully say happy at the chance to find out who her parents are and why they are always late.
"You are welcome," Hiyori returns turning towards the door way.
Standing up, I greet Megumi, Henmi, and Sakaya, who have arrived for their shift. Returning my greeting, the three then greeted Ritsu as well. Getting to his paws, Ritsu shook out his fur. Casually, Ritsu nodded to the three in acknowledgment of their greetings. Tilting his head towards the door, Ritsu stared at me. Having conveyed his message to me, Ritsu walked out the door.
"Aww. He is leaving already?" Sakaya asked, pouting.
"He has work tomorrow," I announce, waiting for their reactions.
"Congratulations!" All three of them shouted, most likely for Ritsu to hear.
"Speaking of work," I start to say only to get cut off.
"Where he is working? What type of job will be be doing?" Sakaya interrupted, excited for Ritsu and being nosey.
"Not now. I'm sure Yokozawa has something important to tell us," Megumi said, with an apologetic smile towards me.
"I agree with Megumi," Henmi added, glancing towards her.
"Of course you would. You are always going to take her side," Sakaya growled as she crossed her arms.
"I don't always take her side," Henmi stuttered, a hint of a blush appearing on his face.
"Focus," I snapped, sending each of them serious look.
Sakaya, Henmi, and Megumi all shut up at the sound of my voice. Sighing, I gazed towards Hiyori. I could see sympathetic looks on their faces as they realized that Hiyori was once again staying all day and night. Then, they shifted their attention back to me.
"As you can see, Hiyo is still here and will be under your care tonight. I am tentatively going to speak with one of her parents tomorrow," I say, hopeful. "If you can get any information about her home life and parents, it would be appreciated."
"Okay, you can count on us," Sakaya and Henmi reply.
"We will do our best," Megumi tells me.
"Thank you. I have to go now. Good luck. See you later," I say, as I walk towards the door.
"Bye," the three call out as I exit the building.
Once outside I breath in the fresh evening air. Searching the area, I see Ritsu in his human form. As expected, Ritsu patiently waited for me. Walking in his direction, I see him straighten up from his previous leaning position. I can tell that Ritsu is completely alert. I can count on him to be prepared for any potential run in with dangerous supernatural creatures or dangerous humans.
"Ready to go?" Ritsu asks, having already half turned to face the way home.
"Yeah. You could have gone home," I honestly say to him.
"You know I wouldn't do that," Ritsu returned, with a committed look on his face.
"I would have been hurt if you did," I tease Ritsu.
Rolling his eyes, Ritsu takes off at a jogging pace. "Come on. I have to get to bed soon."
Side by side we walk to the train station. A pleasant night breeze occasionally rustles through our hair. A waxing gibbous moon shone in the sky. An anxiousness rose within me as I thought about meetings Hiyori's parents tomorrow. My heart increased its pace. A tiny ache came from where the fang mark in my right arm. Frowning, I placed my hand over it as the ache vanished.
"What's wrong?" Ritsu inquired, stopping to look at me.
"It's...nothing," I weakly respond.
Ritsu stared at me with a 'that won't pass with me' face. I looked away from him. A reluctance to further elaborate stilled my tongue. Shifting my gaze back, I released a sigh. We weren't going anywhere until I shared what was bothering me.
"I am going to meet with a parent of one of the kids I'm in charge of tomorrow night.." I begin to explain only to be cut if by Ritsu.
"I would suggest you pick another time," Ritsu calmly stated, yet his body tensed slightly.
"Why? What's wrong with tomorrow night?" I inquire, my anxiety rising at Ritsu's reaction.
"Tomorrow night is a full moon," Ritsu whispers, as if it is a secret. "All of the supernatural creatures will be more active and more powerful during the full moon."
A vivid image of my dream pops into my head. A full moon shining down....and a vampire biting my arm. A shiver runs down my back. Shaking my head, I push the image away. 'No! I am not going to let some dream or past event psych me out.'
"I will be okay," I say reassuringly, although at this point I'm not sure who I am trying to reassure.
"I don't like this," Ritsu immediately responds, gazing at me with disapproval. "Especially, if I can't be around to protect you."
"Have some faith in me. I have survived this long. I'm going to be careful. I promise to call you at any hint of danger or uneasy feeling," I press on stubbornly.
Defeated, Ritsu gives in as he realizes I have set my mind to this task and I won't back down. "Please, don't take risks. Come home as soon as possible."
"I will," I reply, with more confident than I actually felt.
We hold each other's gaze for a minute. In that time span, our worries and support for each other gets communicated. Ominous howling and screeching noises are the background noise as we trek home. Bushes rustle more than just wind is capable of. Shadows slide back and forth behind us. Shivering, I move closer to Ritsu as I can't shake the unnerving feeling I have about tomorrow night.