Your eyes open as the door does. The very second a figure steps through the threshold, you reach into the gap between the sofa cushions, pull out your pistol, and aim directly at the intruder’s large bosom. “Take one more step and you’re dead,” you call out to her. “Who are you, and what’s your business?”
A young woman with long, pale blue hair frowns at you. “Keine Kamishirasawa, entering her own home. That is, if you don’t mind.”
Your grip relaxes, and you lower your weapon. “Don’t scare me like that,” you admonish her. “I thought I told you to knock?”
Keine drops her giant schoolbag on the floor and begins to take off her shoes. “And I thought I told you: it would look ridiculous for me to knock. What would the neighbors think if they saw? Attracting any kind of attention is the last thing we need to do right now. Until I get a chance to fix things, you’re the top suspect in a serial murder case.” After both of her black shoes hit the floor, she wiggles her pale toes and breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness. Perhaps I could get a massage? It’s been a long day.”
You hide your gun again and go back to laying down on the couch. “No thanks.”
Even though you’ve turned away from her, she marches right up to the couch and peers over your back. “Your eyes are so dark. Have you been sleeping?”
If only you could. “Trying to,” you reply dimly.
Keine stares at you for a moment, and then kneels down. She reaches out and touches the top of your head, moving her long fingers gently through your hair. “You can’t go on like this. You need to sleep eventually.”
Her touch feels nice — so warm and gentle you could melt — but it’s not what you need right now. You shake her off and sit up. “What I need to do is make dinner. You’re probably hungry, aren’t you?”
Undeterred, Keine’s hand moves to your shoulder instead — which prevents you from fleeing to the kitchen. “I’m serious,” she says. “You look awful. It’s almost been a week since… you started staying here. If you really can’t sleep, then I can pick up some sleeping pills—”
“I’m not taking any pills,” you argue. “I have to be alert.” She continues to stare at you, in that stubborn way she does that forces you to keep going. “Every time I try to sleep, I keep thinking about her. I slip in and out, reliving it all. ”
Keine releases your shoulder and stands back up, over you. “My offer still stands,” she tells you firmly. “If you tell me everything that happened, I could devour that history. Then you wouldn’t be able to remember what she did. You could go back to your life and live in blissful ignorance as a simple widower. As it stands, the events you won’t tell me about are too closely-linked to… what you had to do. You’ll be the only one who remembers, and even that will significantly weaken the hold my power has over everyone else.”
You groan. “What a useless mind-erasing ability.”
For a moment you think you might eat a headbutt, but instead she just huffs. “I told you, it’s not mind-erasing! It’s concealing events. I’m basically throwing a blanket over history and hoping nobody pulls it off. It’s very delicate! And it doesn’t help if someone’s still under the blanket making a fuss about it!”
For an educator, her analogies leave something to be desired. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” you tell her. “I’m fine with this. I want to remember who she really was, and I want to remember my own part in it. If I forget that, then what did those girls die for?”
“But you don’t have to bear that wei—”
“And then there’s the tengu,” you continue. “I’ll never forgive them. They were the ones who started all of this.”
Keine heaves a great sigh. “Now see, you still haven’t told me what they’ve done. If I don’t know what happened, I can’t help you.”
Even in her personal affairs, she has a habit of acting like a teacher. You raise yourself off of the couch — with more than a little gloom and weariness slowing you down — and start toward the kitchen. “Good,” you tell her. “You’ve helped me far more than I deserve already. Just forget about it. Fried rice sound good?”
You’re stopped by a pair of arms wrapping around your chest and pulling you backward into something soft — two things, really. “It doesn’t sound good,” Keine murmurs sadly into your ear. “None of this is good.”
You let her cling to you for a few moments. It would take more energy than you have right now to get her off of you. “Just the same as when we dated in school,” you remark without turning around. “Always so touchy-feely. Your breasts are bigger now though, which is nice.”
Unfortunately, her hold on you only tightens, increasing the pressure on your back. “I don’t care if you want to push me away,” she says. “I’m going to help you, because you deserve happiness.”
Those words should be sweet, but all you can think about are mutiliated bodies — not from the crime scenes, but in that accursed cellar, writhing in agony for days, months — years, probably. That sick bitch. That twisted sick bitch.
“I don’t deserve a damned thing,” you decide. “The woman I loved was a hideous monster. The blood that was on her hands is on mine as well. I should have known. I could have stopped it.”
Keine speaks softly into your back. “You’re going to blame yourself, because that’s the kind of person you are. But, it’s not your fault. I think you know that. You’re hurt. You’re confused. You need time to heal.”
Whether or not she meant for you to reply, you stay quiet. She lets go. You turn to see if she’s crying — and it’s your mistake. Her eyes may be wet, but they’re also determined. “The full moon is tonight,” she reminds you. “Have you figured out what you’re going to do from now on?”
You haven’t quite made it to the point where you shift your gaze towards the future instead of back at your past. “I don’t.”
“Then stay here,” she offers. “I can make you a new identity. You could have all the time you need.” Then she smiles meekly. “And I could be here for you.”
Even if she doesn’t mean it that way now, you know what will become of it — and rekindling your relationship with Keine is the worst possible thing that could happen right now. She’s been a big help, and your only reliable ally, but the time has come for you to leave. It’s a cruel thing to do, but all you can reply with is, “I’ll think about it.”
She insisted on making dinner. It wasn’t very good. You both ate quietly.
You awake with a start, and the first thing you feel is the layer of sweat on your body. You’re still on Keine’s couch. She must have put a blanket on you, and you quickly throw it off with annoyance. The blanket is why you were sweating — not the gory and tormenting illusions that have relentlessly hounded your conscious and unconscious mind. Those had nothing to do with it at all. You’re fine now, or so you tell yourself.
After dinner, you remember that you laid back down on the couch while Keine graded papers like usual. She didn’t say much — mostly self-directed murmurs of discontent at a student’s progress. You were supposed to feign sleeping until she went into her bedroom to prepare for the full moon, and then slip out unnoticed. Instead, judging from the pale light flowing into an otherwise pitch-black room, it seems you actually did drift off for several hours. That puts you in a far more vulnerable position. Getting caught by normal Keine would be annoying, but a Keine influenced by the full moon would be a disaster.
You slowly lift yourself from the sofa and creep across the living room. Your light feet are an incredible boon in times like this. Step by careful step you make your way to the door and grab her spare slippers; you didn’t have any shoes when you came here, so you’ll have to steal a pair of hers. Fortunately, her feet are pretty large for a woman — and yours are slightly on the small side — so it isn’t much of a squeeze.
“I knew you would try leaving.”
Your body freezes like you might as well have been caught robbing her blind. Your first thought is to throw yourself through the door and hope she’s still ashamed enough of her condition to not follow you into the streets, but you know damn well she would stop you before it even reached that point.
There’s no choice but to turn and behold a tall, hardened woman with skin so pale it seems to glow when bathed in the light of the full moon. Her normally straight-and-proper blue hair has become a messy, light green mane, and her irises are saturated with a piercing crimson. Two wickedly-sharp horns extend from the top of her head and curve inward toward each other like a bull — or a demon.
It’s the worst possible outcome.
“So strange,” she continues, slowly taking steps toward you. “I relied on you so much back then, on nights like these. Yet, only when I try to help you in turn do you run away. You are a difficult man to comprehend, even when I can so clearly see you.”
Her tone is totally different. She isn’t sweetly considerate or lightly scolding you. Instead, Keine is ice cold. This isn’t another personality or identity of hers — as if it would be that simple. Instead, the powers she gains on the full moon grant her insight that changes her inside and out. When you both were younger, she would fly into a rage and lash out against those unfortunate enough to witness the spectacle, but now she channels her ability into a bitter, calculating persona. Of course, your own influence might be to blame for that.
“Gawking?” she asks, as she stands above you. “It has been a long time since you’ve seen me like this.”
Indeed it has. From this angle, the dark green robe she has loose draped on her body offers her little — if any — modesty. Her sizable breasts are unbound, with nipples just barely covered. Despite the tantalizing sight, the real eye-catcher is the wild patch of thick, green pubic hair that seems to integrate seamlessly with the bushy tail peeking out from beneath her robe.
Finally you feel like you can move and speak, so you stand up. “You’re a beautiful woman, Ke—”
Never mind. Her red eyes peer into your own. This piercing gaze is what you recognize as her “searching” through history — your history, at the moment. Any record of you, or rather, any public perception of you and how it came about is now within her grasp.
Keine blinks. Then, she sighs. “I’m so beautiful, and yet you flee without anywhere to go. I won’t be having that.”
The faintest grin crosses her lips, but to you it might as well be a living nightmare. “Keine, I can’t stay here,” you tell her. “I don’t know how, but I’m going to fight this. You of all people should understand that there’s a dark side to this city’s history that even you can’t see. My life is over. There’s no use in dragging you down with me.”
Keine’s eyes drift downward. She’s smart enough to know what you’re saying is true. All she has to do is come to terms with it and let you go. And you know she has a strong enough heart to do that now. You smile in a rare display of consideration, and then turn to leave.
But then something crashes into the back of your head and knocks you to the ground.
“I understand perfectly well,” you hear Keine say. “But you don’t.”
You aren’t the type of person to close your eyes and hope that this is all a dream, but lately you’ve been doing that more and more.
However, eventually you have to open your eyes and face reality:
You just aren’t that good with women.
The sensations set in. Something hot and heavy is on top of you, straddling your bare crotch. The raw, hot feeling of being inside someone is strangling your dick, and you can feel her coarse hair rubbing against your own.
“Keine,” you croak, “why are you doing this?”
Her flushed face and moist, red eyes look down on your own. “Because,” she replies before a satisfied moan, “you wouldn’t.”
Your first instinct is to free yourself, but the feral grip of her large, clawed hands on your shoulders make that impossible. You have no idea where your gun is — as if that would matter. The trigger she has her finger on is far deadlier.
In a vain attempt to take your mind off your genitals, you glance around Keine’s bedroom. The dim repository of both old, dusty scrolls and new, hardcover books reminds you of her room in school — in fact, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a bedroom if it weren’t for the small bed tucked into the corner, beyond stacks of books and papers. It appears her fanatical reading habit hasn’t lessened despite her new job as a schoolteacher. On her wall, you notice her three treasures, replicas of a legendary sword, mirror, and orb.
Keine slams down on your waist particularly hard, sending a jolt of pleasure through your body that you try to shut out. You’re not going to let yourself enjoy this. It’s all too fucked up.
Whatever’s happened to Keine to cause this, you have to talk her out of this. “Is this what you’re going to do to our history?” you beseech her, staring her straight in the eyes. “Does our friendship mean nothing to you any more?”
Keine’s nails sink deeper into your shoulders, and you feel blood start to leak out. Her lips draw close to your ear as she murmurs through erratic grunts and moans, “I’m doing this for our friendship. I’ll create our new history myself — and it’ll start with our child!”
The weight of her body becomes even heavier, forcing you into the floor as she grinds her hips into yours with all instinct and no grace. Your member is imprisoned by the tight grip of her sex — never allowed to stray far from the entrance to her womb.
She’s dead serious. It’s hard to even recognize her as she desperately bounces up and down on you, trying to milk a kid — and a family — out of you. “You’ve completely succumbed to your beast side,” you tell her. “You’ve become the monster you fought against all your life.”
Her hands move to your throat — but not tightening yet. “Be quiet,” she warns you, before switching to a pleasure-drunk smile. “I love you.”
Hearing those words from you makes your stomach churn. “I never doubted Kotohime loved me in her own twisted way,” you reply bitterly. “Not even at the very end. This isn’t lo—”
Keine’s hands tighten, crushing your voice. “Shut up,” she demands, her red eyes lights up. “And love me.”
She’s really going to do it. There’s no more reaching her with your words. Instead, you’ll have to reach her with your actions. Your hands are free, so you wrap your arms around her smooth back, causing her to respond with a hopeful “Ah?”
Then you pull her down into your crotch, thrusting into her with your hips as you do so, elliciting a honeyed moan from the beast. WIth gooey eyes she attacks your face, slipping her tongue into your mouth and thrashing it about wildly. You can feel — and then taste — the salty tears on her face.
It all makes you want to vomit.
You lurch forward, causing her to release her hands and let you reverse your positions. Now you’re on top, looking down into her gleeful eyes. “It worked,” she remarks between unstable laughter. “I can’t believe it. We can finally be together.”
You slam your hips into hers, trying to match the ferocity with which she attacked you. Every mental faculty is spent maintaining a hold on your ejaculate as she cries out again and again. Her juices leak from her body and drip down your manhood, then your thighs, as you rock back and forth trying to satisfy her as quickly as you can before you lose your grip on yourself.
Releasing now would mean releasing your very being. Past that point, there would be no helping Keine — or yourself. The history of being a family would be set, and you aren’t even sure whether or not that would be a bad thing. There would be no more Kotohime, no more conspiracies, and no need for atonement. You would be placed into whatever storybook fantasy Keine wanted, and probably be much better off than the alternative.
“I’m cumming!” you tell Keine, as you speed up the pace of your thrusts.
Her legs wrap around your backside, drawing you in even closer. Her claws rake against your back. “Me too!” she replies. “I love you so much!”
You charge into her as hard as you can, penetrating as deep as possible as she begins to climax. Her muscles twitch and converse, while her nails dig painfully into the back of your shoulders. She gasps for breath uncontrollably, face burning red, as her eyes well over with tears.
Then she releases, and you pull out.
The only fluids trailing off your member, however, are her own. You successfully restrained yourself.
So you rise, grab the round mirror from her wall, and bring it down as hard as you can on top her head. Then again, and again, and again — until all that’s left of the mirror are bloody shards.
You look down on her body, now unconscious and covered with a mixture of sweat, blood, and sex. There isn’t much time before she recovers, so you hurriedly find your clothes, and then your gun, and rush out of her bedroom.
As you go out the front door, you convince yourself that you don’t hear sobbing.
Hatate Himekaidou used all her restraint to keep from smashing the screen of her computer. She had been in the newsroom for nearly three days in a row, ignoring the need for her to sleep or eat — or shower. It was not the first time she had done so since becoming an intern at TNN, the highest-rated news station in Gensokyo. Her record for staying at work — 63 hours 50 minutes and 29 seconds, she timed it herself — was not far off, and of course, her request for overtime pay would be denied. They always were.
Only the scent of roasted coffee relaxed her. A steaming cup had been placed by her keyboard while she focused on the screen. Hatate sucked the black drink down in three big gulps. The burns were a small price to pay for relieving the headache that had been building up in her skull for the past hour. Her throat would heal fast, anyway.
“Rough couple of nights, huh?”
Only one person bothered to make coffee or conversation for Hatate. Despite this, Hatate felt no need to turn around and address her superior directly. “I’m busy working — on your story, Aya.”
“You’re working too hard,” Aya Shameimaru insisted.
“I’m working for you.”
Hatate bit her tongue as soon as the words left her mouth. She meant to say “because of you.”
Aya put her slender hands on Hatate’s thin shoulders. “Now this is a surprise. Is that loyalty I hear in that sweet voice of yours?” she cooed in one of Hatate’s long ears. “I always thought you were attached to work, but was it me you were attached to all this time?”
Hatate shook Aya’s hands off and stood up indignantly, more than willing to let her complaints ring out through the entire newsroom. “Wh, who would attach themselves to a dumbass like you?! I’ve pretty much rewritten this whole shit-fucking article from scratch! Did you even learn how to write before you became a journalist?”
However, the other computers were all empty. Hatate glanced down at the clock display on her screen. The time was approaching three-thirty in the morning, and the two crow tengu were the only ones in the office — probably the whole building. She hadn’t even realized.
Aya, who stood half a head higher than Hatate, rustled her assistant’s greasy hair with one hand and didn’t show any interest in scolding her — or pointing out that an intern’s job was to rewrite their supervisor’s shitty stories. “I like your sharp tongue,” she said, “even if everyone else hates you for it.”
Aya’s touch balanced out Hatate’s mood, so she returned to her state of persistent, weary sourness. “Fuck you and fuck them,” she remarked as she dropped back into her seat. “I just want to get the news out to the humans and out of my hair.”
Not that it was much news in the first place. Hatate was editing a fluff piece about a new human school being built and its young teacher — a filler, “feel-good” story that would pop up at the very end of a broadcast.
“Bullshit,” Aya replied with a smirk. “I know what you’ve been up to.”
Although she was strictly told “no sleuthing” by her long-nosed superiors, Hatate couldn’t help herself. This teacher had big breasts and a nice face, Hatate thought, but something about her was off — and that turned into fifty hours picking apart her records looking for something, anything that might give this story some spice and satisfy her hunch. However, the teacher and her entire family were completely spotless — bizarre, Hatate thought, but there was nothing she could do. In the end, she was reduced to trying to make this dreck both readable and interesting before the deadline later that morning.
“If you really cared, you would’ve brought me some food from the convenience store,” Hatate grumbled.
Aya laughed. “There’s a limit even to my generosity. After all, you didn’t find anything. That’s why sometimes you gotta stop investigating and start slinging shit around until something sticks.”
Her words stung, but Hatate knew it was what she deserved. After all, as a self-proclaimed “psychic detective,” she had failed — again. Nevertheless, Hatate retorted, “Isn’t that method why your newspaper was canceled in the first place?”
But Aya took no offense. Instead, she placed one foot on Hatate’s desk to stand proudly and declare to the empty office, “They can take away my Bunbunmaru, but they can’t take away the truth!!”
It was a display of Aya’s distinct lack of shame — since she was wearing a short, black skirt and nothing else in terms of legwear. Hatate mentally noted that her panties were white before she replied, “Spoken like a true tabloid writer.”
But, it was because of that tabloid writer that she even had a job there in the first place.
Aya stepped off the desk and stretched. “Well, I better leave you to it. I just thought I’d check up on you.”
Hatate smirked despite herself. “That’s very cute, Aya. I know you’re just interested in the deadline.”
Aya shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. I like to keep you guessing.” She moved to leave. “Later, Hatate.”
“Good riddance,” Hatate called after her, before returning to her screen.
But the focus wouldn’t come. Aya’s little visit had distracted her weary, floaty brain and she needed something to ground herself with.
So, she listened closely. Then, she looked around. With Aya gone, Hatate was now the only person in the building. There was a box of tissues nearby. It wasn’t the first time she had been in this situation — when her body was so tense and her mind so gone, that only one thing could get her back to form.
Hatate pulled her panties and skirt down — releasing a wave of her own unwashed odor that she couldn’t help but delight in. Fortunately, there were cubicles between her and the entrance. Although that meant anyone walking in wouldn’t see her immediately, it also meant that she wouldn’t see them. She had enough time to pull her skirt back up if someone did come in, but only if she heard them.
After taking one final look around the office, Hatate sat down on her chair and leaned forward while arching her back. She moved her slender fingers — slowly — down her own backside and into the crack of her ass. She prodded her asshole with her middle finger, but it was stubborn.
Hatate had only recently began teasing her asshole after tiring of her usual routine. It was a discovery so recent that she still felt a powerful sense of shame from the act itself — which of course, was a huge turn-on. That was why masturbating with her asshole in the office would be a quick release, she hoped.
After pushing away the final dissenting voice in her head, Hatate took a deep breath and wrenched her middle finger into her body. A mix of pain and pleasure filled Hatate’s insides and went straight to her brain, releasing something between a gasp and a moan from her throat. Warm blood divided itself between her face and her nethers, and her other fingers dug into her skin.
Hatate didn’t start moving immediately, but instead took a moment to ride the initial feeling. She could already feel herself getting wet; her body had been craving this for a while. Then, she began stroking her insides with a careful rhythm. By this point, it was all pleasure — as long as she didn’t go any deeper or pull out. For a few minutes, she kept this going while keeping her moans in check.
“Looks like you’re taking a break.”
Hatate froze, and looked behind her. Aya stood there, arms crossed, with a huge grin. Panic set in, and she tried to pull her finger out of her asshole, but it clenched and held on. Hatate groaned, and before she could do anything else, Aya rushed over and held her.
“Easy, easy,” Aya whispered soothingly in Hatate’s ear. “You don’t want to hurt yourself. Take a deep breath. Relax.”
Hatate did so, and she managed to remove her finger without too much painful resistance. Tears pooled in her eyes as she collapsed to the floor. She never checked to see if Aya had actually left, and now her supervisor — someone she might have dared to call her only friend — had caught her in this embarrassing state. Her mind was simply too exhausted to process it, so all she wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry.
Aya, however, was completely sympathetic, and kept holding Hatate. “It’s alright,” she told her. “Please, don’t be upset. After all, do you think I haven’t done the same thing?”
Hatate stared at her. She wasn’t quite sure if she was hallucinating or not.
“Let me see your hand,” Aya continued. When Hatate tried to offer her clean hand, Aya swatted it away. “Not that one.” Then she grabbed the hand Hatate had been pleasuring herself with only seconds before, looked at it, and then stuck Hatate’s middle finger into her mouth. Hatate watched with wide eyes as Aya took the finger in her mouth to the base, played with it a little using her tongue, and then pulled it out of her mouth. “A raw smell, but a clean taste,” Aya remarked, licking her lips. “I guess you would be clean if you don’t eat a lot, huh? You always were so petite.” Then she looked right into Hatate’s eyes. “So lovely.”
Hatate could barely keep track of what was going on, but she felt like she had to leave. She tried to stand up, but tripped on her panties and skirt that were still around her ankles. She caught herself on the table.
But before Hatate could stand up, Aya pushed her down on the table and bent her over one of the wide tables the interns shared. “That’s a good position,” Aya remarked, spreading Hatate’s ass apart. “Keep it that way, will you?”
Hatate didn’t realize what Aya meant until she felt something distinctly foreign slip into her asshole. She turned back to look, but Aya held her down with one arm — a testament to just how much she overpowered Hatate. “A, Aya, what are you doing?” Hatate finally croaked. “Someone might—ah!”
Aya took the opportunity to slip a second finger inside. “Don’t worry,” she assured her assistant with a wide smile. “I locked the doors. We have this time all to ourselves. So enjoy it.”
Two fingers were more than enough to keep Hatate from forming words. All she could do was moan and groan as Aya pumped her fingers inside her asshole. It was such a stronger sensation than when Hatate did it herself — and she had absolutely no control over it. Every few seconds, Aya would dig in and part her fingers, which would make Hatate yelp. Her ass started to burn from Aya’s fingerwork, and tears kept streaming down Hatate’s red-hot face.
Then Aya’s fingers stopped, and Hatate thought it might be over. Aya laughed. “Well now, Hatate, you really are making a mess. You’re dripping on the floor.” Aya bent down to inspect Hatate’s oozing sex, all without removing her fingers from her asshole. “I have to say, this is impressive. I always knew you would be petite, but you’re practically bald.” Hatate gasped as Aya stuck her nose in and took a big whiff. “Ah, it smells better than I ever could have dreamed. Your asshole is really tight, but it looks like I could have a lot of fun down here. It really is a perfect pussy, Hatate.”
Hatate didn’t know how to respond. She still couldn’t believe it was happening. For all she knew, she had passed out at her computer and was having a nightmare. That was far more pleasant than confronting whatever this was.
Then she felt something enter her, that she had never felt before. It was wide, thick, and slimy. When Hatate heard Aya’s muffled moans, she realized what was happening: Aya was eating her out. And this, she did with the same vigor as her fingers that continued to dig inside her asshole. The two different sensations, the confusion, and the shame all wore on Hatate’s mind, as something began to build up deep inside her. “Please, Aya!” she called out. “I can’t, I don’t, I—”
But Hatate’s words fell apart as Aya’s tongue and fingers only moved fiercer and fiercer. Aya even used her other hand to rub Hatate’s clit, adding another layer to the chaos. Each movement contributed to a knot that tightened and tightened within Hatate, until it finally exploded, releasing seething waves that overwhelmed her. Even as her nethers throbbed, Aya did not relent, and Hatate felt her mind erode away under an immense weight she had never felt before.
When Hatate came to, she noticed that a small puddle of drool had formed on the table. She didn’t feel Aya inside her anymore, but her nethers ached. She turned around just in time to be blinded by a short flash, and a loud click — that sound of a shutter closing.
“Ah, beautiful,” Aya remarked, as her camera printed out the undeveloped picture. “It’s even better that your face is in it. You’re quite a sight, Hatate. I think I’m going to start calling you my beautiful assistant—no, I think ‘partner’ has a better ring to it.”
Hatate’s greasy hair was ruffled, she felt red and hot all over, and her own fluids stuck to the inside of her thighs. She pulled herself off the table, but her legs were too shaky to support even her own meager weight. Even in her dazed state, however, she recognized what that picture meant. “Aya, that picture, you can’t—”
“I know,” Aya cut her off. “This picture is for my own pleasure, I assure you. I would never think of showing it to anyone else. After all, I’d like to think this commemorates our new relationship. We aren’t just co-workers, or even friends, Hatate. We’re partners now. And I think it will stay that way for a long time. Don’t you agree?”
Not like this.
Aya looked at the undeveloped photo fondly. “Well, thanks for the memory, Hatate. Hopefully we can make more soon. I’ll let you get back to work, for real.”
Later that morning, TNN bustled with the other tengu Aya Shameimaru was disgusted to call co-workers. She sat at her computer, mindlessly checking her emails while the others chatted about whatever dry, shallow garbage they felt like regurgitating at each other.
But Aya stopped when she noticed someone hesitating behind her. She knew who it was, but she wanted to make her get her attention.
“A, Aya.” Hatate spoke up after half a minute. Her voice broke and she hated herself for it.
Aya turned around and crossed her legs. “Ah, if it isn’t my beautiful partner. Do you have something for me?”
Hatate thrust the story at Aya’s chest. “It’s done.”
Aya took the papers, then glanced at the clock on her computer. “Just in time. I was starting to worry that you might have been too distracted to get anything done.”
Hatate took a deep breath. Her cheeks were warm. “I managed.”
Aya skimmed through the papers, and then looked up at Hatate. Her face was even paler than usual, and her eyes were a bit swollen and red. Aya could tell she was trying to focus anywhere else but on her. She would even fidget with herself every few seconds. When Hatate dared to peek at Aya’s face, she found herself meeting her dark eyes and twitched.
It all made Aya feel very good. She flashed Hatate her biggest grin. “It looks like shit, but I’ll accept it. Well then, great work, etcetera etcetera.”
Hatate nodded. “Okay.” Then she kept looking at Aya.
Aya let the silence drag on for a few seconds before she finally spoke up. “Was there something else, Hatate?”
There were many things, but Hatate no longer had the voice for them. “I don’t need to go home and sleep,” she muttered. “Just give me the next story.”
Aya watched her for a moment, and then nodded. “Of course. The truth doesn’t wait for us, after all! Onward to the next droll happening in the village, partner.”