Youko shifted to his fox form as soon as he reached the forest, managing to avoid even breaking stride as he glanced back to check that Asuka was right behind him. she was, and she’d taken fox form when he had, or before, her two tails streaming behind her. He gave a barking laugh, and twitched his own five tails underneath her nose in an invitation for her to chase him, an invitation she took eagerly. Really he should be the one chasing her based on both their power levels and their positions in Shuuichi’s harem, but he was inviting her to stand in for the one he really wanted to do this with, for their Patron.
Still, he wasn’t going to let her actually catch him the way he would let Shuuichi catch him - well maybe he wouldn’t have to let Shuuichi catch him, but he’d certainly have to let Asuka catch him. And he wasn’t going to. Instead he increased his speed, pulling away from her, and starting to jump up into the trees, so she’d get used to that as part of the chase and not get suspicious when he disappeared into them. Then, when he’d gained enough space between them he ducked out of Asuka’s sight, and began circling back behind her, pouncing on her, wrestling and pinning her to the ground as she reached the point he’d disappeared at and paused to cast about for his scent.
She offered her throat to his teeth and lifted her tails to expose her sex in wordless yielding and invitation.
‘We’re demons Asuka. I want to hear you acknowledge my victory before I do anything else.’ He let her feel his amusement too, if he’d taken that as his victory she could have tried to turn it around on him, and possibly succeeded since he was still out of practice at using this form.
‘You won, you turned the chase around and caught me, now are you going to take me too?’ She arched sensuously, and it was tempting, the chase had gotten him worked up, and helped exorcise a few internal demons a bit too, but Shuuichi had never given him general permission to bed Asuka, only specific.
‘How do you think our Patron would react to that?’ He was teasing a bit, but it was a real concern for him.
‘He let you have me before.’
‘Once, and after I’d specifically asked permission for that time. In some harems it’s permitted, but not in others, it varies. One time a Patron of mine liked watching his concubines fuck, and encouraged it even when he wasn’t watching, but another Patron nearly killed two concubines for sleeping together, and he had the rest of us watch.’ She all too obviously hadn’t thought about any of that, and her body language changed as the idea sunk in, her tails dropping to cover her sex. Youko let her up, backing away a bit. ‘If you want this then you can ask him for general permission. It doesn’t matter that much to me, because I’m getting laid by our Patron on a regular basis.’ Slight taunting, nothing she could get too angry about, just a reminder that Shuuichi favoured him over her. He had to remind her - and himself - that he outranked her in this particular harem every so often, or the teaching thing would make him start to submit to her.
‘Or to me.’ If she ever needed to odds were she’d do the same thing he had, and transfer to a human body; if he’d known the procedure she had to. And any kitsune who didn’t have some sort of bad experience and issues related to sex would be going mad with the near celibacy she was living with, especially when there were another two kitsune getting all the sex they wanted in the same apartment. ‘You want to chase me now?’ She waved her own tails invitingly, and Youko pounced, catching one lightly between his teeth.
‘Yes, I’ll give you a count of one hundred as a head start. Feel free to use your element and other powers if it helps, I’ll be using my plants.’ He could feel her apprehension at that, but she ran off anyway when he released her tail. He gave her the time he’d promised, and then he began chasing her, following her scent, and the other signs, including some that he might not have noticed without his affinity with the plants of the forest. The two illusions Asuka tried to use to hide larger than usual damage were both easy to penetrate with his quest-class ability, something she mustn’t have realised, but the foxfire she left every so often was distracting, and once his presence triggered it to glow strongly enough to flash-blind him for a few seconds. All in all it was a fun chase, more than when he’d been the one chased, and when he found her he had fun pinning the vixen to the ground, and forcing her to expose her belly and throat. And this time she knew better than to invite him to fuck her.
‘Do you think Genkai-shihan would like it if we caught some rabbits for her?’
‘Yukina probably would, more to the point. She’ll be able to use them for meals, if not today then later.’ Youko got up and began scenting for rabbits. They hunted separately, and Youko had three rabbits and a partridge by the time Shuuichi summoned them beck to the main temple, while Asuka had two partridges, but no rabbits.
“Shuuichi-sama?” Asuka wasn’t entirely sure why she was bringing this up when just a few months ago she’d have thought she’d never want to have sex again, or why she was bringing it up now, in front of Genkai and her master’s friends, but if she didn’t speak now she had the feeling her courage would fail her entirely. And even though Shuuichi-sama and Youko were the only two people she’d lain with who hadn’t hurt her she was sure sex was meant to be about more than pain, and that if anyone could help her change her assumptions Youko could. Shuuichi-sama hadn’t hurt her when he’d taken her to complete the claim, he’d made sure she was ready for him to take her, and it hadn’t been unpleasant, but nothing spectacular, and he’d made it very clear he was doing it as a duty, nothing more. But Youko had been so gentle with her, and he’d made her climax for what was the first time in her life; he’d been aroused when he came to her, and he’d said their Patron had given him permission to be with her. She’d expected him to take his pleasure, perhaps even hurt her a little to remind her that he was her better in so many ways despite his ignorance, and instead he’d made sure she understood that she had the option to say no...a luxury she’d never had before, and made sure she came at least once before he did.
“What is it Asuka?” He didn’t sound annoyed that she was being so presumptuous, he sounded relaxed and ready to listen to her, and that was another reason she should make her request now, before he changed his mind.
“I...Youko said that some Patrons allow their concubines to share their bodies, but others do not.” She tried to keep it a little vague, in the hope that the humans wouldn’t understand. “As a general rule are we permitted to take comfort in one another? Youko said the previous occasion was with specific permission.”
“My needs and desires come first, but otherwise go ahead, unless I’ve specifically forbidden it for some reason. Did you really think I’d forbid you to be with Asuka, Youko?” He sounded half puzzled, and half amused at the idea.
“I...you made it very clear that it is her skills as a teacher that make her valuable to you, and you know how much harem politics can screw things up. You reminded me that I am dependent on her to teach me what you wish me to know before you gave me permission last time.” Was that the only reason he’d been so nice to her? Asuka didn’t want to believe it, but... ‘I would have cared about your pleasure too anyway, but his reminder gave me extra motivation.’
“We’ve spent too long pretending to be human.” Shuuichi-sama laughed, and the two humans looked at him in slight shock. “Or I scare you a lot more than I thought I did.” He stroked Youko’s cheek gently. “Am I that much of a monster?” His voice sounded wistful, but there was pure steel underlying it.
“N-no. You aren’t a monster, but you are very dominant, and...determined.”
“Oh. What brought this on anyway Asuka?” When Shuuichi-sama focused fully on her for the first time since he’d bought her Youko’s fear of him made sense in a way it hadn’t before.
“We were playing, and it came up.” Keep it vague to avoid scandalising the humans. “Youko refused what seemed to be the natural end to the game.”
“Care to tell me what game it was?” His voice was teasingly seductive, and Asuka shut her eyes for a moment to enjoy it, she knew that normally she wouldn’t merit so much attention from any four-tail, let alone one as talented as Shuuichi-sama.
“Wait a second. Are you three talking about sex? ‘Cause that’s what it sounds like. And what sort of game would naturally end in sex?” Yuusuke sounded shocked and almost appalled.
“A chasing game. We were in fox form, and Youko pinned me to win. We were trying to be discrete about it, to avoid offending your sensibilities.” Asuka blushed when she realised how assertive she’d sounded then, back in the brothels she’d have been beaten very badly for letting any client realise she thought he’d said something stupid. It had to be the way Youko and Shuuichi-sama wanted her to teach them that was affecting her, making her forget her place.
“You shouldn’t be talking about that sort of thing here.” Kuwabara looked vaguely offended by the discussion, even if he’d only just realised what they were talking about, and Asuka decided it would be best to look chastised, so as not to offend her Patron’s friends.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think to communicate telepathically, but I have very little experience in maintaining a telepathic link with more than one person.” That seemed to catch Shuuichi-sama and Youko’s full attention, while Hiei looked vaguely disdainful.
“Ignore Kuwabara, he’s just a prude. More than one person, do you mean you have little experience in linking to more than one person individually, or that you know how to form a link that includes three or more people, allowing all to communicate, as in speech, without the need for relays?”
“The latter, why?” It was more complex than linking to just one person, but knowing how to do that was part of being fully trained.
“Because I do not know how to perform the latter task, and nor does Shuuichi-sama.” Youko spoke quietly eyes focused on the meal in front of him, in a way that unnerved Asuka.
“Well, if you can do that then you’ll just have to teach us that little trick as well.” There was something vaguely satisfied in Shuuichi-sama’s voice, in the prospect of gaining more skills, of learning to use his power more effectively, and that was comforting in a way nothing else was.
“Yes, Shuuichi-sama.” Asuka would not say anything else, and eventually the conversation turned to something else.
Youko was relieved that after lunch Shuuichi had decided they’d be studying the second type of telepathic link while Yuusuke and Kuwabara were dragged into practising the more refined applications of their abilities, like setting up wards. Shuuichi had just mentioned that they’d been setting up their own wards on his apartment, and that had seemed to spark interest in Yuusuke. Kuwabara had been brought in to encourage Yuusuke, since he always did better if he had a rival. And somehow Shuuichi had managed to persuade Hiei to join in as well, even if he did have difficulties moderating the power he used in his telepathic contacts. Or perhaps because of that difficulty, it didn’t matter.
Hiei mastered the technique Asuka was showing them faster even than Shuuichi did, but Youko thought uncharitably that in part it had to be a result of the headaches the kitsune all got every time he initiated the link. Asuka was the only one willing to openly admit it, and try to advise Hiei on how to put less power into his telepathy, but Youko could see the shadow of pain behind Shuuichi’s eyes.
Shuuichi had mastered the technique by the time Botan arrived, obviously too wary of Shuuichi to visit his apartment again unannounced, and Youko had just thought he was getting it, when she spoke up from behind him, scattering his thoughts.
“Hello everyone!” And she sounded as perky as always. Youko jumped and spun on his knees to face her, pressing his back against Shuuichi’s chest, ignoring the fact that he was taller at the moment. He bowed his head to let his hair hide his blush when he heard Hiei laughing, but he was sure Botan had reason to resent him, and even if she wasn’t powerful enough to be dangerous in a fight there were other things she could do.
“Botan-san.” Shuuichi’s voice was cold and formal, his anger at her still apparent without the need for any expression of emotion such as the humans indulged in. “Do you have a new mission for us?” As if she couldn’t be here for friendship’s sake, or anything but business - couldn’t be here, or couldn’t be welcome, it amounted to the same thing.
“No, but you promised Koenma-sama information on your concubine’s movements yesterday.”
“Yes, I did. Youko, would you happen to have brought the information with you?” Shuuichi was stroking his hair gently, reassuring him without words. “It’s alright if you haven’t, we had no reason to expect Botan to ask for it here, and I did not instruct you to bring it with you after all.”
“No, I brought it. I didn’t think Botan would be willing to come to the apartment again, not after how badly it reflected on her with Koenma when she began to hassle me there on Thursday.” Youko’d put the piece of paper with the times he would be travelling that Shuuichi was allowing him to be used as bait for in his pocket, and he pulled it out, handing it over to the ferry girl. “Here is the information my master promised yours.” He bit the inside of his lip lightly, glancing back over his shoulder at Shuuichi before continuing. “Besides, we’ve improved the wards on the apartment enough that you might have difficulty getting in the way you did before.”
‘But it would be amusing to see her try.’ Accompanying his Patron’s words was a mental image of what their wards might do to the ferry girl, nothing lethal - although they could be and would be to a demon, but painful and inconveniencing definitely.
‘I wish I knew a way to add my light to your wards, Shuuichi-sama.’ Youko hadn’t realised that Shuuichi had created a three way link; perhaps even a four way link adding in Hiei, there was a strange, for lack of a better term, weight to the link that might imply the Jaganshi’s presence, or at least he thought it might; until he heard Asuka respond to their Patron’s message.
‘Perhaps later.’ And then Shuuichi dissolved the link, leaving Youko to notice the faint blush on Botan’s cheeks. “Or perhaps she went there earlier, when she expected us to be here, so she could complain about our not being available for her to collect these.” There was an edge of cruelty in Shuuichi’s voice, something that had Hiei looking at him with approval, obvious to anyone who knew him well...in other words Youko and Shuuichi. “And perhaps you intended to complain about our wards, about my belated recognition of how important they are in allowing me to fulfil my duty to protect my concubines.”
Whatever Botan had been about to say, she obviously couldn’t say it now, and she knew it, knew how easily and how well Shuuichi had manipulated her. Instead she glared at Youko, the easier target.
“Koenma expects you to start actually playing bait instead of hiding yourself away like a coward at the earliest opportunity.” She looked down at the schedule he’d given her, a look of contempt on her face. “That would be Tuesday, on your way here.”
“And I expect you’re also here to tell the rest of the Tantei about why Youko’s playing bait, and who you’re expecting to come after him. Unless you intended for me to deal with those who Koenma thinks are trying to take my concubine by myself?” Shuuichi’s voice was cold and cuttingly contemptuous.
“I...it isn’t my decision. And Koenma didn’t give me any instructions to...”
“Then I suggest you go and get his approval. Of course he might well have expected you to have the intelligence to think - no, of course not. It must have just slipped his mind since he informed me of it personally. Well, what are you waiting for, go!” Youko felt a guilty pleasure in watching the flustered ferry girl leave. He didn’t resent her for the fact that his Patron had punished him on Friday, but it was funny, and she couldn’t blame him for it.
Yuusuke cursed as he messed up his ward again. To make it worse Kuwabara was doing better than he was, and Kuwabara hadn’t even wanted to learn it. His friend had managed to form wards, even if they weren’t very strong, or well constructed, but Yuusuke couldn’t even do that and the old hag was calling him Dimwit as usual. This was something he really wanted to be able to do, make wards. That way he’d be able to protect Keiko and his mom even when he wasn’t there, at least while they were at home. But Shizuru could more than take care of herself, much better than Keiko could anyway, Keiko wasn’t helpless, but she was just a normal human, she didn’t have the spiritual senses and power Kuwabara and his sister did. And Yukina was a demon herself, she’d be able to defend herself as long as she wasn’t warded, besides which she lived with Genkai.
Genkai didn’t look too happy about his failure either.
“Give me your wrists.” When he obeyed she put some more of those ki-binders on him, just like in the Dark Tournament. “Part of it is you’re putting too much power into the damn things at first. Try now.” She wasn’t happy about doing it this way, even if Yuusuke couldn’t see why, but when he tried again he got much further than he had before, they still failed because he was putting too much power in, but it was an improvement. The old hag sighed.
“You can learn how to make wards like this first. Then I’ll gradually increase the portion of your ki you have access to, until you can make them without this crutch. Kuwabara, practise by yourself.”
“Sure Genkai.” Yuusuke wasn’t sure how much of his ki was cut off, but he felt noticeably weaker, and he got further with his wards this time, remembering to reduce the power he used to set them up. When he managed to set up three sets of wards, even the badly constructed ones that were all he could manage, in a row Genkai let him access a bit more of his power, and had him start all over again.
“We won’t try for real wards, the sort I use just yet. You have enough power to set up a number of wards in layers, and that gives you some leeway, as long as they don’t just collapse because you put too much power in too quickly or because you screwed them up some other way. Show me again.”
He was just starting to work with his full power again when Botan appeared.
“Hello Yuusuke, Kuwabara, Genkai-shihan.” Yuusuke was the only one surprised, and he poured far too much power into the ward he was working on, enough that it exploded like a Rei-gun blast. It didn’t hurt him, the old hag jumped out of range and Kuwabara already was, but it scared him...what if Kuwabara hadn’t been out of range? Or the old hag had been just a bit less alert?
“Don’t do that!” If Kuwabara wasn’t there he’d probably have grabbed and shaken her, but the other teen was too honourable to let him intimidate a woman that way. “You nearly got them killed!” And that earned him a clip around the ear from Genkai.
“I’m not that easily killed Dimwit.”
“But you could still have been hurt.” Yuusuke knew his power was growing at a freakish rate, ever since Genkai had transferred her power to him at the Dark Tournament.
“Hurt yes. Not killed. What was so important Botan?”
“Koenma has a mission for you, sort of.”
“Sort of? How can he ‘sort of’ have a mission for us?” Yuusuke was pissed off and it showed, he’d just been getting somewhere with his wards, somewhere he could actually use them to protect his mother and Keiko when Botan interrupted.
“I should explain it to everyone at once. Can you come with me, both of you?” They nodded, and followed, the old hag came too, finding Hiei standing over and glaring at the two male kitsune.
“Did Botan interrupt your training too Yuusuke?” Kurama, the one he sometimes forgot was a demon - and who hadn’t been a demon until Youko possessed his body in the womb, smiled at them with a casual cruelty that was directed at Botan, Yuusuke wondered what that was about. “She disturbed Youko just as he was mastering what we were studying. But you’ll be pleased to know that he did master it shortly after you left.” He stood, with a fluidity of motion Yuusuke could only envy and just barely emulate, pulling his two concubines up as he did. “Asuka, why don’t you go practise something Genkai-shihan’s taught you? That is if you’ve gotten far enough?”
“Yes Shuuichi-sama.” The vixen glanced at Genkai, and left when she nodded.
“Well? What’s the mission?” Yuusuke was getting impatient, and it showed.
“There’s a Makai gang that’s been enslaving high power demons, as concubines. They use the same techniques used to get those things on Youko as far as we know. We want Youko to act as bait for them, and everyone else ready to deal with them when we’ve located them.” Yuusuke was surprised she’d been so blunt, she normally talked around things a bit, but the glare Kurama was directing at her as he cradled Youko to his chest might have had something to do with it.
“They say they can track him if he’s taken, and I can too. I’m not so sure he’s still a target, but there isn’t another way immediately available. He’s going to stop suppressing his energy when he’s travelling between the apartment and here, and to his Ikebana lessons.” Flower arranging? With his plant affinity Youko had to be top of the class...Yuusuke was surprised he needed the lessons at all. Not that he was going to say that.
“Why did you need to tell us now then? You already said something about this when they separated.” Yuusuke blinked at Kuwabara’s complaint; he didn’t remember Botan saying that.
“Kurama suggested it might be a good idea. So you wouldn’t think anything was wrong if you sensed his energy. Koenma agreed.” Botan didn’t sound happy, Yuusuke wasn’t sure why not, but Kurama looked vaguely satisfied.
“Besides, this way you learn about it all together, rather than we demons knowing about it before you humans.”
“Yes, that too.” Botan looked faintly flustered, as if she’d expected Kurama to say something else and left.
Youko wondered absently if making himself look absolutely stunning would make him feel better. He didn’t know why he felt so melancholy, he didn’t have reason to after all. Shuuichi had spent as much of last night on his pleasure as on his own, and had repeatedly reassured Youko that the younger kitsune was not going to let anyone take him away easily. If he couldn’t have his Patron’s love, the love he hungered for so desperately, then at least he’d have his desire and his possessiveness. He shook his head in frustration, he’d been sitting about feeling sorry for himself half the morning and that wasn’t getting anything done. He was supposed to go and visit Shiori-sama immediately after lunch, and truthfully his hair was filthy, more grey-brown than silver.
He didn’t have time for a bath, so a shower would have to do, shaving his legs and beneath his arms as well. He preferred baths, even with the traditional requirement that he be clean before getting in the furo that Shuuichi insisted on, since he could relax in them, but in the ningenkai it took far too much advance planning to have a bath any time he wanted one. He was spoiled, he admitted it, before merging with Shuuichi temporarily he’d happily bathed in ice cold streams, to keep clean. They both used the most expensive toiletries around as well, the stuff that was hand-made, that they could sense tiny traces of plants in with their ki if they could find any. Most of the artificial stuff smelled too strong, and just plain wrong to them, and it inhibited their sense of smell too.
He caught his hair up in a towel as he moved to his bedroom, rather than let it drip all over the floor, and began the slow process of drying it, using four towels to blot the water out of it, one by one. From there he could leave it to finish drying naturally. The next issue was what he would wear. He was almost tempted to wear one of the formal kimono Shuuichi had bought him, the pink and violet outfit, or just the black informal kimono, but he knew that Shiori-sama preferred seeing him in Western clothes. It was funny, really. He’d have expected it to be the opposite way, for the older woman to prefer more traditional clothing and the younger man to prefer modern clothing, but then Shuuichi had always been oddly formal, and Youko knew he didn’t get it from him.
He wanted luxury today, and he searched out black pure silk knitted stockings, gossamer fine, and a black silk basque along with a black dancer’s belt. That covered his underwear, but what else? Shuuichi had taken both of his concubines shopping after they’d finished at Genkai’s yesterday, as a reward for the new way of using their telepathy. he’d given them both the same amount of money to spend in one of about five stores, two jewellers, one shoe shop, and two clothes stores. Asuka had been overjoyed at the favour he was showing, even if Youko found it a bit of an insult to be told where to shop. Still he’d found a silver belt made up of disks set with a black pearl at the centre of each disk - it had cost only a little less than Shuuichi had given him, but it had been worth it, he could show that off today.
So, to build his outfit around that single piece...Shuuichi had laughed when he saw what Youko had chosen to buy, and added some silver hair pins and combs set with black pearls as well. He’d use those to put his hair up, telekinetically, he’d learned how to do that himself, and he wasn’t going to bother about keeping it from being too elaborate. But that could wait until last, the clothes came first, jewellery after that, then make-up, a bit more dramatic than he normally bothered with and including nail polish and hair last of all, giving it time to dry out some more.
He had an appropriate dark grey tunic of heavy watered silk, and his silver cross would work as well, but what about the skirt? Pants wouldn’t feel right if he wanted to put the extra effort into his appearance. Besides his pants weren’t meant for formal occasions anyway. But he did have a dark green full heavy velvet silk skirt, and it had swung wonderfully against his legs when he tried it on.
Youko dressed slowly, enjoying the feel of the silk against his skin, the luxury it represented, even as he despised the need to wear the dancer’s belt to hide his gender. But he paused before putting on his tunic and skirt, not sure what had stopped him until he realised that he wanted to wear a shift beneath them, he swiftly found one made of fine silk and edged with lace, it was a grey just one shade lighter than his tunic. The skirt and tunic followed the shift, then he fastened the belt around his hips and took a look at himself in the mirror. He saw an elegant lady with subtle curves and a narrow waist that the belt drew attention to. But the face and hair didn’t match the clothes. He’d leave his necklace until after he’d done his hair after all, it would get tangled in his hair otherwise, but he put his ruby and diamond ring on as well as his Claddagh.
He didn’t normally use foundation, but this time he did, to heighten his pale skin. Then he painted his eyes with dark greys, dramatically drawing attention to them, especially when he added the eyeliner and mascara. His lips he painted a very pale amber colour, and he decide it would be best to do his nails last of all. He put his hair up into a style it would have been impossible for any human to create alone, using his telekinesis to hold it in place as he added the pins and combs to keep it secure once he relaxed his hold. He fastened the necklace around his neck, momentarily wishing Shuuichi was there to do this for him, and then painted his nails silver grey as he had the first time he met Shiori-sama in this guise.
This had improved his mood, primping and preening like this, he realised as he paused in the entrance room, and Youko was sure he didn’t like what that said about him. He opened the closet to look for a pair of shoes and decided he might as well go all the way, pulling out a pair of boots he’d never expected to wear. They were black patent leather, knee high with three inch spike heels, when before this the highest heels he’d worn were the one and a half inches of his court shoes. Still, with how expensive they were they shouldn’t be too uncomfortable, and Shuuichi had put some gel cushions in for him as well.
And I can't believe I devoted 6 kB to Youko getting dressed!