Shiori was surprised at how...formally Akari was dressed when she came for her regular lesson in the tea ceremony and gossip session, even if her acquaintances were not in Shiori’s circles. It was still a western style outfit, and perfectly suited for daytime wear, but she’d obviously put far more effort into it than she normally did, and her hair was up in a traditional style of the nobility while her make-up drew attention to her eyes dramatically. And when she removed her boots Shiori had to comment.
“Don’t you have trouble walking in heels like that? I would.”
“This is the first time I’ve worn these shoes Shiori-sama. They aren’t exactly comfortable, but I can walk in them, as long as it isn’t too far. Kitsune all have very good balance, even in human form, and that helps. I’m surprised it was the shoes you commented on first.”
“It would be rude to ask why you went to so much effort today, that would imply that you don’t try to look good normally.” Akari blinked in surprise at that.
“Actually I was referring to the new jewellery. I felt miserable today for some reason, and I thought doing this might help.” Shiori wondered absently if Akari realised how typically feminine a thing that was considering...and she pushed the thought of Youko from her mind.
“The belt...” That was the most obvious thing, and looking over Akari, from head to toe Shiori noticed the difference in her hair ornaments. “and the hair pins and combs. When did you get those?” It was obviously the question Akari had been expecting or hoping for because she half closed her eyes in pleasure and smiled sensuously.
“Shuuichi-sama bought them for me yesterday. Do you want to hear about things that most ningen cannot do, or will you just accept that he wanted to reward us for something and what that reward was?” Shiori blinked at Akari’s question, she had a feeling the kitsune was offering her a lot of trust, but she couldn’t explain what made her feel that. Asking Akari to leave her in the dark would probably be seen as throwing that trust right back in her face.
“Tell me whatever you feel comfortable talking about. Did it work, putting the extra effort into your appearance in an effort to counter your mood I mean?”
“Yes. I suppose I’m beginning to think like a concubine again, I thought I’d put that behind me a long time ago.” She glanced down looking almost ashamed. “But...Shuuichi-sama is very strong, stronger than I am in terms of will. And I agreed to be his concubine in exchange for being allowed to share his body until I was strong enough to survive without that, even if I didn’t remember it for a long time.” Then she looked up and smiled ruefully. “You were told about how a spell separated us. Well, Koenma-sama informed us of who he suspects was responsible. They’ve been capturing beautiful high-level demons and turning them into concubines, and I’ve been ordered to act as bait. Never when it would be any risk to you Shiori-sama, Shuuichi-sama wouldn’t permit it, but at other times, times that Koenma-sama will be monitoring me. Not that a concubine can actually be stolen, but I think he put a spell on my collar and cuffs to hide that I’m claimed.” That was more than enough reason for melancholy, but she blushed as she referred to being claimed. “But that isn’t what you were asking, is it?”
“No, I don’t think so. But it was nice to hear about your work.” It bothered Shiori a bit that her son had to put his life at risk for this Koenma because he’d saved her life, but there was nothing she could do about that and at least Akari wasn’t keeping her in the dark about it.
“I’m glad your son is willing to allow me to join him in his work. By Makai law he has every right to forbid me to do anything but stay in the apartment he provided and serve his pleasure, but he doesn’t do that. He even bought Asuka as a teacher for us in how to use our powers, I know he told you about that, and he allows me to be included in those lessons. It was because of one of those lessons that he rewarded us yesterday.” Akari bit her lip, obviously deciding how best to phrase things. “One ability all kitsune share is weak telepathy. We’re limited to communicating with people who possess high spiritual energy, and other demons of course. I never actually had time to learn how to do that, but Shuuichi-sama visited the Makai when he was eight and bought a night with Asuka, and then he bought a weak demon to teach himself how to use telepathy, and he shared that ability with me. What neither of us knew was that it is possibly to communicate with more than one person telepathically, and allow them to hear each other without simply relaying their thoughts for them. Asuka mentioned that it was possible yesterday, and we spent the rest of the day mastering that little trick.” Akari smiled and gestured to her new jewellery as she spoke. “This was a reward for learning so fast on my part, and teaching so well on Asuka’s. The funny part is, one of our team-mates, Hiei, is a Jaganshi. That means he had a Jagan eye implanted which gives him great psychic abilities, including telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance and such. Well he didn’t know that trick was possible either so he joined in our lessons. Gave us kitsune all a headache because he isn’t very good at moderating the power put into his telepathy.” Akari frowned in concentration. “I think that might be because it isn’t natural to him, and the Jagan is intended to give a high level of power.” Shiori wasn’t sure what she meant, but it didn’t matter, she obviously did. Then Akari shook her head. “Enough about that. How was your weekend?”
Youko shivered at the knowledge that he was going to be letting everyone with the slightest bit of spiritual awareness know that a demon was walking the streets of Tokyo. He didn’t want to do this, five-tail or no, reputation aside, he was a thief, not a fighter. Shuuichi was a fighter, and he didn’t mind the way Koenma expected them to kill the enemies he directed them to when sometimes a simple theft could have resolved things far more easily. And Youko didn’t really believe this gang Koenma wanted to use him as bait for were stupid enough to think he’d be left ‘free’ after they’d put him in a concubine’s collar and cuffs.
He’d wear the black informal kimono he’d rejected for visiting Shiori-sama, and dress as a woman, putting a lot of effort into it. That had worked to make him feel better yesterday, perhaps it would calm his nerves today.
“Asuka, do my hair for me, something suitably elaborate.” Youko glanced over at the vixen, assessing her reaction to his appearance as she moved to obey. She seemed disconcerted, even though he’d done this before, visited Genkai-shihan dressed as a woman, because it helped to dress the same way as his pupil. Yukina was marginally more comfortable around females, or those who looked female, and it meant he could show her ways to hide weapons in her kimono using his own as demonstration.
“Do you like appearing female?” She sounded just a little bit puzzled by the idea, even though there were other demons who indulged that particular kink, and obviously this included kitsune considering that five-tails were said to be able to change their gender on the surface.
“Not really. But Shiori requires it when I visit her, and the rituals involved in looking good as a female are calming.” As he spoke Youko used his telekinesis to paint his face and nails without disturbing Asuka’s work. “Besides, I need to go shopping after we visit Genkai-shihan, and the shops Shuuichi-sama has set accounts up for me in know me as a female.” And they were expensive enough that the food wasn’t all sold out by noon.
“This is the first time you’ll be playing bait for that gang Koenma’s after? But why would that make you nervous?” Youko wished that she didn’t admire him so much, him or his reputation, surely by now she could see that he’d managed to seem a hell of a lot more dangerous than he really was? But she had a point.
“It shouldn’t, that’s why Shuuichi-sama claimed me, so that I wouldn’t be vulnerable to manipulation using the unatuned collar and cuffs the trash who split us put on me, but...I suppose I’ve fallen back into reacting as a concubine, not as a thief. Concubines aren’t supposed to do things like this, and even though Koenma made my joining the Tantei a condition of him not throwing me in a Reikai jail it seems odd to me. I was almost never in charge during the last sixteen years, ever since I was stupid enough to make a bargain with an unborn soul who’d stolen my memories.” Youko laughed bitterly, waiting to hear Asuka’s reaction. He’d been a concubine when he’d been young, long before he’d been strong enough to avoid slavery and protect himself by any other means and it had left signs that lasted.
“Shuuichi-sama is that strong then? How is it that you’re a five-tail and he’s a four-tail then?”
“I don’t know, all I know is that I was a four-tail before I died, and I was expecting to be a three-tail when I took over his body after ten years and remade it into my demon form. But I couldn’t take over his body then.” Youko frowned before continuing. “If you want to know about our tails you should ask Shuuichi-sama, he’s much better at that sort of thing than I am. He taught himself telepathy and telekinesis from your description of them when he was eight, then turned around and taught them to me. When I hadn’t learned them in over a thousand years since my clan were killed.” Asuka whistled in shock and admiration at that.
“Speaking of learning abilities, he’s almost mastered shapeshifting, as much as he can anyway, and he’ll be getting started on learning how to use foxfire within two weeks at most. I don’t know how much longer he’ll find me useful.”
“At least until I manage to master the skills you have to teach. He has ningen schooling to do and I’ll learn better if you’re there to help me. And I think I’m almost ready to start on shapeshifting. Look.” Youko created an illusion of Sai in front of them both, complete except for his lack of ki, and then he added the facsimile of a human ki he’d worked on and the illusion wavered, settling down with tiny imperfections even as it started moving, apparently of its own volition. “And I can do the same in the dreamscape...well, my efforts in the dreamscape are just a little bit better.”
“He’ll be pleased to know that I’m sure. Do you need advice on the final stage, or just more practice do you think?” Asuka had finished with Youko’s hair by now, and he twisted around on his knees to look at her.
“More practice should do it. I haven’t been able to imbue ki into my illusions as I create them from the start, so I’ve settled for doing it in two phases, creating the illusion and then imbuing ki into it. Do you know if that’s how it’s normally done?”
“No, I couldn’t say. I’m sorry.”
“My way seems to work well enough.” Youko shrugged and stood, holding his hand out to help Asuka to her feet. “I...he didn’t say I had to keep quiet about this...and Shuuichi-sama already told you about his plans to give you a sword as a later reward.” Asuka looked interested by Youko’s slightly disjointed explanation. “He told me that he intends to reward you with some expensive jewellery when I master illusions.” She gasped and her pleasure showed on her face.
“Truly? Shuuichi-sama just made his breakthrough on shapeshifting yesterday. I don’t think he realised how close he was to mastering it when he promised me that sword.”
“That is what he said. You told him it would be easier to teach one person to shapeshift at a time. So perhaps I should learn how to partially suppress my aura from him while he’s finishing off shapeshifting.”
“Whichever you think would be more useful.” That gave Youko something to think about, but they had to leave for Genkai-shihan’s temple then.
Youko bit his lip uncertainly as Shuuichi emerged from Asuka’s bedroom. The other kitsune had just swept by him earlier when he arrived in the apartment, ignoring the way Youko was kneeling and waiting for his arrival. It had probably been his eagerness to work on the shapeshifting more, he’d said that he wanted to gain power in a way that Youko didn’t, but it had felt like a deliberate snub and it had scared Youko. Now he wasn’t certain he dared approach his Patron with his news, even though it was something he’d wanted that Youko had been less enthusiastic about. But he hadn’t been able to bring himself to leave his position, he was certain that his master would want to hear his report even if he hadn’t given that order. Shuuichi looked displeased at something he noted as he looked up at him from beneath lowered lashes.
“I don’t have time to play with you tonight, not here. But Asuka said you had something to tell me?”
“To show you actually Shuuichi-sama.” He’d planned how to do this and he quickly constructed his illusion of Sai in the kitchen, starting to add the ki signature a little bit before the illusion was complete, then instructed it to enter the main room.
“You’ve mastered your illusions? Well done. What sort of reward do you want?”
“I...it isn’t quite mastered yet, there’s a few imperfections, but nothing I can’t fix with a bit more practise.”
“Hmm.” The contemplative hum Shuuichi gave sounded approving, that was a good sign, wasn’t it? “You’re looking at it a bit more critically than I am then. Show me the problems.”
“I think it helps that I built the illusion and added ki where you couldn’t see it, but he doesn’t move quite right, a bit too smoothly and gracefully to be human, unless he’s a high-level martial artist.” Youko stood, as his illusion settled into seiza and bent to take hold of his chin, lifting the head up. “And you see the eyes aren’t quite right, the colour’s a bit too even, and so is the skin tone.” Then he lifted one of the illusion’s hands. “And the nails reflect the light a bit too much. I built the illusion out of your sight so you couldn’t see how he changed when I added the ki.”
“Can you tie an illusion to something living without problems, including making the ki signature look like it matches the illusion?”
“Yes, that actually comes out looking better than this.”
“Then as far as I’m concerned you’ve mastered illusion work. If you want to spend a bit more time refining it, eliminating errors that aren’t really noticeable I won’t mind, or you could start on shapeshifting. Remember, as a rule people tend to fill in details that don’t exist, rewriting their memories to fit what they expect. So if your illusions are accurate for the most part people will overlook little imperfections like the ones you showed me.”
“Th-thank you.” Youko couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.
“Now, tell me what you want me to buy you as a reward. I can pick up some nice jewellery for Asuka easily enough.”
“I...a proper goban, not just one of those cheap folding things. It doesn’t have to be kaya-wood or anything, cassia wood will do just fine, I just...a folding one, a travelling goban, it’ll feel too temporary.” It shouldn’t have mattered so much, the type of goban he had, but Youko played Go as the only way he could remember Sai, and he didn’t want to honour Sai with anything less than a proper goban.
“I see. Sai again?” He obviously didn’t want an answer because he continued right on. “I might just give you both then, a ‘proper’ goban and a travelling one, or I might not. Either way you can tell Asuka that I’m very pleased and will reward you both sometime soon.”
“Yes Shuuichi-sama.” Youko dismissed the illusion and tilted his head, waiting for further instructions.
“You can also tell her to start teaching you how to shapeshift. I’d love to stay and play,” A rueful laugh accompanied that, but Youko understood that his Patron didn’t want Shiori-sama to worry. “but come to me tonight in the dreamscape.”
“As you desire Shuuichi-sama. Might I show what I have learned of working with the dreamscape by creating a scenario for us?” This was extremely impudent and presumptuous, but he hoped that his master would excuse his behaviour as an excuse to display his abilities. He seemed to be in luck, Shuuichi didn’t look too angry at him.
“What were you planning?”
“Umm...symbolic deflowering of one kami’s avatar by the avatar of another kami, in front of an audience.” Youko blushed as he explained, knowing how strange it was, but that would display everything he’d learned.
“I get to deflower you, do I? That sounds interesting. Go ahead.” Youko smiled in relief as his Patron gave permission for his plan and kissed him before leaving. He might as well go to bed immediately, since the scenario would take quite a bit of setting up. He just wished that for once his Patron would act like he cared about Youko. But he knew that was really too much to hope for, at least yet. He was a concubine, not a Consort. Concubines were there to relieve their Patron’s urges whenever it took their master’s fancy, Consorts were the ones who got caring to go with the protection. He resolutely pushed his long hidden desire aside, it was stupid in a way, Shuuichi had never given him reason to hope.
Youko decided it would be best to get as much time as possible to prepare his scenario, so he went to bed immediately. Temples first, Shuuichi would need somewhere to be briefed on his role; the forest would work for a backdrop, mostly, but he tweaked the season to early spring, just coming out of winter, to fit the theme. Shuuichi’s temple was small, just four rooms, a kitchen, a bedroom for ‘the god’ and where he was prepared for his worshippers’ eyes, a smaller bedroom, almost a cell, really for his priest and an audience chamber, and it was built from red sandstone. Youko’s temple was almost identical, but made of white limestone instead. And the ritual temple was more a large auditorium, based on the Roman model, all the temples were Romano-Grecian in style as a matter of fact, since Japanese style buildings wouldn’t have had the right effect, and this style looked elegant.
Next was the priest, of Shiveteraso Youko had decided; it was a totally fictitious god, of change, and in this case, the changing of the seasons, and ceremonial garments to dress Shuuichi in. A dark green silk kimono with a white abstract pattern that hinted at melting snow and a red silk obi with a pattern reminiscent of flames. He constructed the priest based on Yuusuke’s appearance, but with Kuwabara’s hair colour and programmed him to tell Shuuichi about a randomly selected ritual from five he’d worked out. Youko didn’t want to know exactly what was going to happen in the ritual, just to have a general idea, it would be more fun that way, and with that little edge of uncertainty it would be easier to play the ‘virgin’ sacrifice. He’d even worked out a semi-believable explanation for this based on his created mythology, in that, as the avatar of Kalikos, the god of stasis, and in this case the old season, his virginity was perpetually renewed, in his body, and, in large part, in his mind as well. The priest of Shiveteraso performed a divination ritual involving spilling his seed on a prepared surface to determine which of the rituals to deflower the avatar of Kalikos would be used each time, with a different set of rituals available for each purpose.
Yes, he had spent a lot of time thinking about this, on the basis that if he could pull this off it would do two things, impress his Patron and hopefully give him a set of scenarios within the dreamscape that he was almost certain to enjoy. He’d even prepared notes on everything in the waking world and he’d confirmed with his master, by discrete questions that he could leave the constructs of people in place and they’d still be around next time he entered the dreamscape unless he dismissed them. Speaking of which he needed to start building a population. No need for separate personalities at the moment, not fully developed ones anyway, there’d be time to add that later and he could allow for them to change and grow with time as well, just not yet. Instead Youko prepared half a dozen different forms and began copying them, deliberately imperfect, letting the colouring vary deliberately and other variations slipping in as he copied the populace. They were all human of course, demons didn’t go in for the sort of thing this scenario required and they didn’t require much in the way of personality, so Youko set them to just wander about and talk among themselves, until they were summoned to the ritual of the rebirth of the land. And then they would gather at the ritual temple and watch in silence showing their respect for this sacred occasion.
And of course if any of them saw the avatar of Shiveteraso they would direct him to his temple, without even thinking about it, since of course he must have been communing with the god, and thus less aware of the mortal aspects of life. He had to build an explanation for the necessities of letting Shuuichi know the part he was supposed to play into the mythology of these people, or if he didn’t have to, he wanted to, he wanted to be able to show his master what sort of craftsmanship he could muster, and so he’d been planning for this from before he possessed the skills to bring it to fruition. Youko bit his lip in thought when he’d created nearly seventy people for their audience, would it be a good idea to start on their homes, or better to create his own priest and say that all the worshippers travelled here for the ceremony?
Five homes, no, make that eleven, as a community to provide for the priests and avatars, there was already a small living area attached to the ritual temple where the apprentice priests lived, the ones in training to replace the priests of either god, although they were not certain to do so...and he’d forgotten to create the apprentices. He could leave that for later, but there would have to be a small community to support the priests. He’d forgotten children too, and he didn’t even have any plans for them either. And...Youko thought he could sense Shuuichi entering the dreamscape. No time for anything more then. He created his own priest, looking more like a white-haired version of Kuwabara than anything else, and his own ceremonial garments, a white kimono and obi before retreating to his temple.
Youko’d never had anyone do this for him, he’d never dared be so vulnerable as to lie on his stomach and let someone massage scented oil into his skin. But the cinnamon oil smelled wonderful as his priest rubbed it into his skin, and used it to prepare him after cleaning him inside - a sensation Youko was familiar with from one of his previous Patrons’ fetish - and it felt good too, even if he didn’t know how accurate the feeling was. It was incredibly relaxing, the massage, and he almost fell asleep as he was being prepared, oh so slowly. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when his priest began brushing out his hair and dressed him in his kimono and obi, but it didn’t matter, and he followed when Shuuichi’s priest came to tell him the avatar of Shiveteraso was ready.
Shuuichi looked magnificent, and Youko shivered as his priest led him into the ritual temple, handing him over to the other kitsune. Being watched wasn’t actually a kink of his, even though he knew it was one of Shuuichi’s more minor kinks, and that made it a bit easier for him to portray a virgin’s uncertainty and apprehension.
He dropped to his knees, his wrists still in Shuuichi’s grip, waiting for instructions, head bowed and eyes focused on the ground at Shuuichi’s feet. Youko’s only part in this ritual was to obey, and all of the options started with him on his knees. Shuuichi released his wrists, allowing his arms to fall to his sides and stroked his hair gently before gripping it to pull his head up and back to look at him. This only eliminated one of the five rituals, the one Youko thought he’d enjoy least and Shuuichi would possibly enjoy most, but Youko tried to push what he knew about the rituals out of his mind.
“Undress me.” Trembling faintly once Shuuichi let go of him Youko obeyed, untying the obi while still on his knees, folding it carefully in an obvious displacement activity to Shuuichi’s amusement. Finally he set the obi aside and started to stand to remove Shuuichi’s kimono, only to stumble slightly, and need the other’s help. Youko could feel the heat of his blush in his cheeks as he regained his balance and slid Shuuichi’s kimono from his shoulders.
“Don’t bother folding it. Just let it fall.” Youko jumped at that, losing his grip on the kimono, and, as instructed, letting it fall to the ground. Shuuichi lifted him in his arms as that, carrying him bridal style the few steps to the altar in the center of the temple. Youko could see that he appreciated that touch, even if it was very different to the altar Shuuichi had taken him on so often in the dreamscape. Unlike that altar there was no way to tie him over it, and the stone was covered with layers of white altar cloths, white to show the blood as he was taken, and enough layers to make it relatively comfortable to lie on. Youko appreciated that as Shuuichi laid him down on the altar on his back.
Shuuichi stripped Youko quickly, untying the obi, and pushing the kimono from his shoulders, leaving Youko to lie on it and stepped back. Youko shivered in the slightly cold air, fully aware that Shuuichi had been naked for longer than he had and waiting for him make another move.
“Bend your legs and place your feet just over your shoulder width apart my silver rose.” Youko knew he was flushing as he obeyed, he prayed that his Patron would be willing to use this endearment for him again and often, having a pet name like that...
Shuuichi sat beside him on the altar, leaning down to kiss Youko as he slid one finger inside him, and the shock threw all other thoughts from his mind. He hadn’t put kisses into any of the rituals he’d planned, and for his master to offer him this spontaneously affectionate gesture as well as a pet name...
His Patron kept on kissing him too, kissing him and nibbling at his neck and shoulders while preparing him as his free hand wandered over Youko’s torso, touching him lightly where Youko was sensitive, and more firmly where he needed that, occasionally tweaking a nipple. By the time Shuuichi was finished preparing him Youko was wriggling on the altar and aching to be filled, lifting his hips in invitation. He’d never thought that his master had paid that much attention to how he reacted and responded to touch, none of his other Patrons had.
“What do you want my silver rose?” Shuuichi’s voice was a husky whisper that sent shivers through his spine.
“Please, take me.” He couldn’t think coherently enough to say everything he should have said, about how none of this was in the script...well, the foreplay had been, Youko craved that and the illusion of affection from his master, if not love. But Youko wasn’t supposed to say anything, he was supposed to be a passive vessel for Shuuichi’s pleasure, not required to respond to him.
Shuuichi knelt between his legs, lifting them to hook Youko’s knees over his shoulders, and entering Youko with a single thrust powerful enough to slide him nearly half a foot back along the altar. Youko yelped in surprise, but not in pain, not yet, and Shuuichi stopped, asking if he was okay.
“Just fuck me unconscious!” Youko’s answer was hissed from between his clenched teeth, he knew that Shuuichi’s priest had ‘reminded’ the avatar of Shiveteraso that he had to make the avatar of Kalikos pass out as he deflowered him. But he seemed to have forgotten that as he paused to pull Youko’s kimono from beneath him and toss it to the floor before taking him with redoubled energy. Youko knew that his Patron was more than capable of that, and fucking him senseless was probably the most effective demonstration of pure dominance Shuuichi could use without actually hurting Youko.
Shuuichi cheated after Youko came the first time, putting one hand on his hip and the other on his shoulder, one thumb resting on his throat, and pressing in just enough to restrict his breathing. Youko couldn’t really blame him, it had to be getting difficult for him to stay hard. Even so, it wasn’t what Youko’d expected, but he came hard enough to pass out much more quickly than he’d expected.