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Before we come together, Kantarou often looks at me and puts his small hand on the back of my neck as though to hold me steady. I often snort at him and brush his fingers aside impatiently, not missing the feathery brush they leave against my windpipe, as they trail against my throat. It is his token form of protest, one that quickly becomes lost to our movement and I cannot help but feel smug inside, to later feel the flimsy pain of his nails as they bite into my shoulder and fail to leave a mark.

This is the one failing of our love-making. Kantarou, trying to tame me, trying to slow me, with human gestures, even the involuntary ones. I can forgive him that, for he enchants me in a different fashion, with the rhythm, the tempo of his breathing, and the way it tames his blood and forces it up, under his heart and into his face.

I like to hear the drumming in his chest when that happens, feel the heat beneath my fingers and see the red born to us both when I dive in close. It is all, in a sense, electricity, and it sparks off inside him in a current I cannot touch. But it is one I can always manipulate. It feels different when you work with it through the barrier of human skin, when you touch muscles that quiver, not in fear, but with a surge of adrenalin. And they respond to something I will never unlock, not with my staff, nor any other facet of my power, however diminished it might be.

I suppose it must seem strange, from the outside. I have seen the turn of mountains, seen skies that are lost to history, transcribed into a child’s frightened memory of a storm, even as I danced in the lightening left behind. What possible flash of fire could a human alight in me, what heat could he force through my veins, that could make me move with him so?

Fuji had to command me. Kantarou, I suppose, understood that he must wait. Wait for me to unwrap myself from the twisted history she left behind, for the way she asked me to lie with her and thrust, always in the same, repetitive motions, to lie with her and thrust, like a snake, my hands braced either side of her gasping head. I did not hate it. But it was tiresome, to repeat in exactly the same way, that dance that she thought absolute. How strange, that in the end, she possessed such a lack of imagination.

Kantarou at least, is swift to adapt. I trail a hand up his side, let my claws dig in, enough to rake out red and he will complain, will whine out my name. But he will oblige, will let me wreck a small amount of pain before he attempts to repay the favour. He will bite out my name against my lips, draw his teeth across my neck, over my shoulder, will voice out his groan with the added mark of his jaws. Always such a vocal creature, he will not let that stop him from pressing out sounds with the added oomph of pressure behind them, with the scrape of molars and the squeaking grind of canines, followed by the odd suckling of split salvia as he gorges himself on my chest. I do not mind. It is welcome to lie with another who understands, who accepts that a little pain is the way of life, and that in this matter, we can trade favours, like equals.

Besides my skin does not scar easily, does not bruise against his teething marks. He is like a pup in that way, able only to play and not fight. If he were a tengu, or indeed anything not human, then, I could be more rough, could unload myself to my satisfaction.

But like so many of his kind, he breaks easily, the evidence being all the whip-like lash of paler skin against his chest and all the other little nitpicks, cuts that graze into a darker hue, some of which he has amassed since my time with him. It is not ugly; it is proof he survives what could fell others. And his eyes, his hair, they catch the light, draw me closer with the promise of treasure. His voice, already, has promised me another.

I do not need it. I once would have told him; take it and keep it to yourself. Or give it to someone who can share your years with you, properly and without shame, who will not be left too broken when you are gone.

But I am a wild thing. I know better. I know, have lived, have seen how time makes different creatures of us all. Kantarou etched himself inside me, while I was busy trying to understand him, pressed himself in close and by the time I thought to see how to untangle us, he caught on my heart and pulled.

Yes, even wild things hurt, when you yank on their hearts. It is something youkai do to each other, though we frequently leave pieces behind and think nothing of it. But Kantarou, I am sure, will shatter, if I leave. And when he leaves...well, he will not have to see. I can spare him that.

But for now, he is long and narrow, thin in the way young trees are, ones I have ripped up by the roots on my wilder days. And I wish to lose myself in this, his thin shape, one that cannot dance and change in the wind, the way other youkai I have lain with can. He is like Fuji in this way, the bones of him rigid, even as he strikes and claws at me, even when he is passive; they live in my hands as small weights, his smile deceptively hollow as he looks at me and asks me to use him.

Sometimes I prop him up, on my knees so he can imagine he is free of me and my tongue, so that he can see the ceiling, imagine for himself an escape he cannot attain. Other times, most times, I like to press him down, wrap his hand up in my own, pretend his bones are heavy enough to bring me down to the ground. For in this way I am like Fuji, a creative of convenient comforts, longing to press my power against another, to make them creep into my possession in the same way I have fallen into their own.

Still, I am careful when I push into him, which I tear out noises from his mouth and feel him shudder, caught by something he is too afraid to stop. I wait for him then, because he is human and slow, both to heal and to melt round me, to relax and let me catch him when his voice begins to fail. I only move, viciously, and without the tempo Fuji drummed into my head, when he looks, properly looks at me and asks me to. Sometimes pleas. But never demands.

This sounds like a small thing. But it is not. For those who know Kantarou as family, this is a large thing, something to be savoured. To know he is pushing down his selfishness for me, is something I do not take for granted so I am sometimes slower than I should be and I sometimes push my teeth into my lips so that they will touch only my own blood and not Kantarou’s own. I would bathe in his bloodstreams, would cajole his flesh with my claws if I fully let go.

For in truth I am a wild thing, something that Kantarou can never fully tame. But he can slow me, he can love me, and I can let him, this strange gentleness perhaps, letting me deliver my heart in turn.