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Deceptive

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Life with Nick and Judy was different. Not even a single day passed and her freedoms were dwindling. Lily ended up with the name Yuri after a convoluted series of events, and also took on the form of an eight-year-old white rabbit with red eyes. It was unfortunate that Nick and Judy cared too much. They checked on her often enough to make her uncomfortable in vanishing with her powers. It would be easy to turn into a spider and leave, but what would they do if they found out she was missing – and how would she explain it all? If she ditched both Nick and Judy, she would have a problem finding replacement food sources. An unexplained appearance was how they met, letting her off the hook twice would be pushing it even though they didn't pry too much the first time when she was in front of Buttercream Hopps's corpse. A harmless eight-year-old kit was what they thought she was and that's who she had to be. They knew she was lying but didn't pry too deeply for the truth.

Her hastily patched together identity was that she was living alone with her father on a business trip. This was apparently unacceptable for society so Nick and Judy became her guardians, and now she lived with them. The other choices they offered were even less appealing.

At the end of one exhausting day with tons of forced family time, it was time for bed. She missed sleeping wrapped in blankets since the last few days she was a spider living discreetly in a room. The moment her eyes closed, everything changed.

She recalled this place clearly – the pit of eternal flame where fires burned her alive. The acrid scent of smoke and how difficult it was to breathe at times. A pinch was all it took for her to wake up – barely any time had passed since then. The fires singed parts of her fur. She needed a quick shower to hide all evidence of injury. If Nick and Judy pried into what happened, it wouldn't end well.

After a very brief shower, she realized that the towels were missing since Nick and Judy used the room. She proceeded with the next part of her plan – sneaking into Judy's bed and hoping that would allow her to sleep. In the past, she felt stronger from consuming emotions, so having Judy nearby could fix things. One soggy bunny went towards Judy's bed.

It wasn't that difficult to sneak into the rabbit's bed. Judy was a sound sleeper that remained undisturbed by her movements. She slept in Judy's embrace, hoping that the hellish landscape wouldn't return.

She seemed to have a good night's sleep since she couldn't recall what happened. There was no trauma in the morning nor was her fur affected in any way.

"Are you okay?" Judy asked with concern.

"I'm fine," Yuri lied once more. She was on top of Judy, using her body as a bed. It was slightly more comfortable compared to the position she was initially in. There was no way she could reveal what really happened. It was weak of her to make such a request and the chance of approval was low. Her status was between an adopted kit and a murder suspect. "Can I sleep with you? You keep the nightmares away."

"I don't mind."

This caught her by surprise since Judy approved. She wanted to know what their plans were for the day. "What are we doing for the rest of the day? This arrangement between us is new."

"Can you tell me anything about a rabbit named Lily that also lives here?"

Of course, it wouldn't be that easy since Judy dodged the question. She froze on the spot since she didn't expect this so soon. This was one of the reasons she took on a new name so others wouldn't make the connection. Lily was one of her forms, and just admitting that outright would be difficult. Her silence saved her.

"I'm sorry I asked. I didn't realize it would be difficult for you. You don't have to tell me anything."

"Was there anything new concerning Buttercream?" Yuri wanted to know if her name was clear or if she was still a suspect. It was strange talking to Judy like this when they were still in bed.

"Not yet."

The bunny was dead because of an unforeseen effect of her powers. There should be nothing that tied her to the death even though she was at the scene.

"Let's eat breakfast."

Yuri got off of Judy. She didn't need food to survive but eating was enjoyable nonetheless. When she rushed downstairs, Judy yelled, "Brush your teeth first."

This body of hers didn't need such maintenance. They didn't understand that she was a demon.

"Oh, fine."

It was mere upkeep, and annoying. Playing the role of a kit with parents was taxing her patience. Oh sure, Judy didn't officially adopt her, but she acted like a parental figure. An unwanted parental figure that served as food.

After finishing that one pointless task, she went downstairs again. A chocolate ice cream sundae on the shelf caught her eye, thus she brought it to the table where Nick and Judy were waiting. She still needed to fetch the bowl and the spoon.

"Let me see this." Judy took the container from her. "It's not safe for you to eat this. Nor is it healthy."

This felt like déjà vu. "Just find me something suitable then." Yuri remembered what happened when she invited Gabrielle over in the past. It took quite a few tries to find something not poisonous or maybe her demon physiology allowed her to consume poisonous food without side effects. The more annoyed she was, the better tasting the flow of emotions from Judy. There were patterns but she still lacked a concrete idea about how it all worked.

Judy went to fetch her some food.

"Do you still want us to leave?" Nick asked. "We will if that's what you want."

If Nick made this offer yesterday when they first arrived, she would've jumped for joy, but now she wasn't sure. Judy was potentially a barrier against her nightmares, so she was somewhat vital. They were both food sources, so letting them go wasn't the best idea either.

"Not anymore, apparently," Yuri grumbled. Certainty coupled with annoyance was better than the risk of starvation and chance of death. Letting them stay here was a risk, but she had no replacements for them if they left.

Judy returned with a plate of grass mixed with seaweed.

"Really?' Yuri eyed the dish with disbelief. "Out of everything, you chose that?"

"It's healthy."

"I'll take my chances on being poisoned. Now, to get something for myself."

Since the cost wasn't a factor, back then Yuri ordered anything and everything she could get her paws on. Nick followed her when she stormed away from the table.

"Oh great, what do you want?" She walked down the aisle with frozen food on each side.

"Just to make sure that you don't get poisoned." Nick pulled a box from the shelf. "How about this? Ice cream cake topped with fruit."

"Sounds great." Yuri carried the container to the table with a smile on her face. It was convenient that Nick went to grab the utensils.

"You're eating all that?" Judy eyed the box. She was eating some grass.

"Nah, just part of it. Throwing the rest out."

"That's extremely wasteful."

"I like to keep everything fresh."

"Don't you realize how lucky you are?"

"Most certainly."

"Can I take the left-over cake to my family?"

"Why not?" Yuri didn't care really.

Nick returned with the utensils. He was kind enough to cut the cake for her as well. She grabbed two slices for herself. The cake was extremely sweet. Judy did look at the cake with what seemed to be envy.

"Why don't you have some too?" Yuri suggested.

"One slice wouldn't hurt," Judy told herself.

Nick grabbed the remaining cake for himself. He claimed it by taking a large bite out of the remaining portion.

"You, pig," Judy said.

'That's not very nice about pigs." Nick managed a few words with his mouth full. After swallowing, he continued, "I'm also a fox. It's not often that you get to eat something like this. I think this is the best assignment that we've ever had."

"What is your assignment anyway?" Yuri asked. She had a good idea, but not the precise details.

"Keeping watch over you, investigate a few disappearances in Bunnyburrow. And find out how Buttercream died," Nick blurted out the reason that they were here in her home.

"That's supposed to be confidential," Judy groaned.

"She's going to find out anyway at some point. An eight-year-old kit can't do much."

"I'll you know that I'm a cold-blooded murderer and the last thing you'll ever see!" Yuri tried to sound as scary as possible – but really, how scary can a white rabbit in a pink dress be? It seemed appropriate to joke despite how close to the truth it was.

They all laughed together.

She went upstairs – hoping that she'd have some time to herself which was a rarity since Nick and Judy started living here just yesterday. If they had any plans, she had to participate. A while passed since she last checked what was for sale so she placed orders on everything she didn't currently have. The things might interest her someday, and it was better to have them close by.

As predicted – Nick and Judy came to bother her again before much time passed.

"Good news, it's now official that you're not the murderer," Judy said.

It was a foregone conclusion that she didn't care too much about. Evidently, her own desires didn't matter since the emotions she consumed slightly improved.

"How did she die?"

"Respiratory arrest."

That happened to be the side-effect of using her powers on a live target. She knew that it was safe to dispose of mammals in such a fashion now. At the time of possession, it was consensual, she wondered what would happen if her target was unwilling. All she needed now was a live target to test her theory.

"So, I know that you didn't like the idea before, what do you think about going to school with other kits your age?"

Judy was giving her a choice which she didn't expect. "What if I say I don't want to?" Yuri asked.

"Then we'll respect your decision until we talk with your father. You're going to fall behind the others."

"I'm the smartest kit in the world. I know everything."

"Name foods that are poisonous to rabbits." Nick smirked.

That was trivial knowledge, not something that was important. Although, she didn't know if she had ingested poisonous food before. "Fine, maybe not everything," Yuri conceded. "But it's not like I'm going to learn about that at the age of eight."

"It's touched on in Bunnyburrow," Judy said.

She could protest more, but her instincts told her not to. It was an opportunity to look for new prey. Nick and Judy shouldn't be her only sources of food. This time, she wouldn't need to animate a corpse to act as her parent. "Fine, show me some schools, and maybe I'll like some of them." Judy spent the next half-hour booking sessions for them.

They were going to check out three different schools so she could choose which one she liked. It was a good idea to scour the hunting grounds if she had to hunt there for food. That was the initial reason she enrolled herself in a school previously because it had something that she wanted to eat again.

It was time for lunch and they had to eat before setting off. Nick picked something for her once more so she wouldn't have the risk of poisoning herself.

The drive to the first school didn't take long. She started tasting the emotions flowing towards her, there was an unmistakable hint of bitterness that she hated. If she was alone, she would've left the school already since it was a lost cause. Nevertheless, she played the part they expected her to and went along with the guided tour. Nothing of redeeming value was there since she didn't care about the activities only the emotions she consumed.

"What do you think of this one?" Judy asked.

"Let's try another." Yuri couldn't reveal what she truly wanted.

Judy drove them to another school.

The second one was even worse. The unpleasant taste entered her mouth and all she could do was endure. They were walking through the hallway and she was trying to control her urge to vomit. What made it worse was that she couldn't act that she was feeling ill. Maintaining the disguise mattered more than her comfort. The vice principal was escorting them through the building, showing them what happened within classes.

There was a terrifying wail nearby. "What's happening to me?" the fox kit cried.

The wailing fox slowly changed into a rabbit right in front of everyone. He protested every second while all everyone could do was watch. Little by little, the fox slowly changed into a rabbit while in extreme pain.

Yuri took the opportunity to vomit on the floor while everyone else watched in horror as the transformation proceeded.

Blood splattered around him as his body shrunk. He became a black rabbit with red eyes. The former fox curled himself into a ball, shivering.

"That's a nice look for you, loser," a rabbit sneered, catching the consternation of everyone.

"I'll see you in detention," a rabbit teacher nearby said.

"Worth it."

"Two weeks."

The rabbit stuck out his tongue as a nearby teacher escorted him away.

"Don't send me to this one," Yuri said. Her body was shaking. "Please." It was horrifying to witness a fox turning into a rabbit in such a way. "We need to leave before this happens to us."

Unfortunately for her, Nick and Judy didn't run away. Her suffering didn't seem to matter. Teachers were willing to lead her away while Nick and Judy observed the scene, but Nick and Judy were sources for her strength so she remained.

"Are you okay?" the rabbit teacher approached the curled-up black rabbit. "Does it hurt anywhere?"

"How am I going to explain this? My life is over," the black rabbit mumbled.

"It's going to be okay, Frederick. We'll explain what happened to your parents."

"You can't. They hate rabbits. How am I going to turn back into a fox?"

"It won't be that bad."

"You don't understand."

"Can we leave yet?" Yuri found that watching this was becoming unbearable. "Please? I don't want to stay here."

It seemed her plea worked since Nick and Judy finally started walking away from the scene. Yuri eagerly followed.

"What do you think happened?" Judy said.

"Allergic reaction that turns a fox into a rabbit?" Nick said.

Someone was running towards them from behind. "Excuse me, I am Principal Hoovesworth. I humbly request your assistance with this matter and will provide anything you need," the sheep said.

"Give us a minute if you don't mind." Judy motioned for Nick and Yuri to follow her some distance away from the sheep. There wasn't much space for privacy in the middle of a school hallway. "Here's the plan: I'll stay here. Nick take her to the other schools to see which one she likes."

"I am not going to this one," Yuri stated again.

Nick led Yuri out of the school. "Are you okay, now?"

"No, that fox turned into a rabbit in front of everyone." Yuri used the opportunity to inquire what would happen if she misused her powers. "What if it happens to me? His family doesn't want him anymore."

"You're already a rabbit."

"You know what I mean, turn into a fox or something worse."

"I don't know how your father will react, but we'll always find a place for you. Try to save some of Judy for me when that happens, okay?"

"Really funny."

That was comforting considering her parent was simply something of her creation. It raised the possibility of acceptance once they learned of that secret. They still had one school left to visit.

"Third time's the charm, I hope?"

"We'll figure something out if you don't find one that you like," Nick reassured her.

The odds for a school she liked were dwindling. She was a demon looking for food, using education as a cover. Nick and Judy didn't know that, but they didn't need to. As long as she maintained her form, there wouldn't be an issue.

Nick drove them to yet another school.

She was already not liking how this was going. Once again, the unpleasantness hit her as she drew close since she had to consume all emotions nearby. Nevertheless, she proceeded with the guided tour.

They were in the hallway when they saw a rabbit chasing a few foxes. "Give that back!"

"Brian, Justin, and Zachary stop this instant." Principal Longears tried to catch the foxes, but they slipped past the rabbit. The principal decided not to chase further.

Nick took hold of the rabbit running past them. "What happened?"

The foxes ran out of sight around a corner.

She was catching her breath. "They stole my calculator. Teachers do nothing."

"How would you like to handle this?" Nick asked.

Yuri wanted to retrieve the calculator. She would have if she didn't have to maintain this disguise. Instead, she just observed the scene while everyone talked.

"I don't suppose you could? You are a fox, and they'll probably be more receptive towards you. We'll get your calculator back, Paula Grasstail," Principal Longears placed a reassuring paw on the doe.

They started slowly walking towards the three foxes. The scent led towards the washroom. Nick went inside while everyone else waited. Yuri couldn't see who was talking, but she could hear.

"Look we can explain."

"Try me," Nick said.

"She normally doesn't complain, and we need money."

"My father has trouble paying the bills."

"They expect foxes to steal anyway. I'm sure you understand."

"You'll have to give this back and apologize. Principal Longears might issue detention, but we'll figure something out about your money issues," Nick said.

"What can you do to help us?"

"I've made at least two-hundred bucks a day since I was twelve. Pretty sure we can think of something that can solve your problems." Nick gave them his address, and they walked out together.

Yuri didn't know how she felt that those three might potentially visit her mansion. He gave the address away without her approval. The taste of emotions became much more palatable at least.

"We're sorry," the three foxes said together. Zachary gave Paula her calculator back.

"Two weeks detention," Principal Longears said.

"Yes, sir." The foxes headed off to class.

"You're going to come to this school, won't you?" Paula tugged on her arm. "Your father he's so cool."

Yuri smiled awkwardly. "You have the wrong idea."

"But you know him, right?"

"I guess."

Principal Longears tapped his foot on the ground.

"Oh, I need to get back to class. See you later."

"Something like this doesn't happen every day, I assure you. Shall we proceed?" The principal resumed the tour.

The tour resumed. Nothing caught her attention specifically. Her mind replayed the encounter she just experienced over and over – trying to find a pattern for the emotions she consumed. This school was going to be her choice due to that one encounter. Plus, it gave her the opportunity to dispose of those three foxes if it came to it.

Principal Longears led them back towards the entrance. "I hope you choose to come here, Yuri Rabbitsbane. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to call."

The sudden use of her last name caught her off-guard. The last time she enrolled herself in a school, she came up with a new last name as well instead of using the one that her father had. Well, father was a stretch, it was just a corpse that she took extreme efforts to control. The lion was a wealthy recluse that no one would miss.

"I do want to go here." Yuri was eager to begin hunting. She figured that admitting it now, would save her some time. The principal led them to the office where they filled in the paperwork. It was finally time to go home.

A few giant boxes were waiting for them outside the mansion gate when they arrived.

"What's all this?" Nick inspected the unmarked boxes.

"Stuff I ordered online; I think." Yuri inspected one unmarked box – it contained Spaceaxe and My Little Sheep books. "Oh, it is." She realized that the boxes were rather heavy for an eight-year-old rabbit. "So, don't suppose you can help me bring them inside? They are kind of heavy."

"Fine."

Box by box, Nick placed the contents as Yuri directed. "Wait, you ordered a Foxmourne from Foxcraft?" Nick swung the blade around in the empty air.

"Why not? Was for sale, I might be interested in it in the future."

"Are you sure that your father will approve?"

"It's fine. Don't worry about it. What's he going to do? Return all this stuff? There are still two more boxes."

Yuri watched as Nick did the heavy lifting of moving boxes into the mansion. There was a problem with the unpackaging of the last box. It contained a heart.

"Did you order this?" Nick touched the bloody organ.

"I think so. You can place it on the first floor in the fourth wing. Can figure it out later."

"Someone might have died for this."

"Reporting it just invites trouble. Pretty sure it just looks real."

"I won't turn a blind eye to this. Going to inform the Bunnyburrow Police Department."

Judy arrived just then. "What's going on?"

Nick briefed her on what just happened as well as Yuri's decision to attend Songflower Elementary.

"A heart?" Judy sniffed the organ. "Smells real."

"Who cares," Yuri said. "I don't see what the big problem is."

"How can you not care that someone is dead?"

"Even if that mammal was alive, I don't think I'll ever interact with them. It's irrelevant. Do what you want. I'll be upstairs."