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headpats are nice
One day, a group of bored writers with nothing better to do than to shitpost while dumping random Touhou pics came up to a realization:

Touhous need affection.

By which we meant that we all wanted to touch our favorite Touhou characters in an affectionate manner, be it kisses, headpats, hugs, and yes, even handholding. It predictably devolved into yet another tirade about "wich 2hu wud u fug caress". But some of us saw some potential in this topic, and started to discuss how to put it into practice. This is what we came up with:


This is a thread where anyone can post shorts about caressing their Touhou character of their choice. There are no hard rules for this topic, but nonetheless we agreed on a general guideline for any potential writer that wishes to participate.

-No R-18 explicit content. Yes, we all know how lewd handholding and headpatting is, but do try to keep it relatively clean. We are trying to aim for heartwarming here, not dickrousing.

-There is no minimum or maximum wordlimit, but I recommend keeping it between 250-1000 words. The idea here is that we can whip out a short in about a day, whenever we have free time and inspiration.

-One character per short (unless it's yuri). In keeping with the above, limiting the scope of the short to one character only should help more novice writers to not get too overwhelmed. The simpler, the better.

-If possible, the physical contact should go beyond just solely kissing. There are plenty of ways to express physical affection to a girl. Let's get creative!

As a personal challenge, I will keep score of which characters have starred in a short here. If we somehow manage to write a short for all the 180+ characters in the cast, I will give all of you a pat in the back over the Internet. Though don't feel forced to complete the entire list. It's just for my own personal amusement. Just write who and what you want, and have fun!
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good morning anon-kun
As a sort of example, I have whipped this thing in about 3-4 hours of intermittent writing. Hopefully this will give you a clearer idea of what the topic of this thread is.


“...ake up! We’re going to be la...”

He awoke to the sound of her silvery, ringing voice, rousing him to meet a new bright day. But sleep, still retaining a grasp on his yet addled mind, beckoned him back to the realm of dreams.

“...already slept enough. Please wake up!”

As lovely it was to hear her concerned voice calling for him, the allure of the warm futon was simply too strong to resist. He turned to his side and snuggled inside the warm sheets, starting to drift back into—

“Come on, you sleepyhead!” He felt her hand gripping his arm and shaking him gently. “We don’t want to make the boss angry with us.”

Sadly, physical contact of that calibre was impossible to ignore. He did the next best thing by curling further inside his bed and vocalizing a weary grunt, which in half-asleep vernacular was supposed to mean a mix of “go away” and “let me sleep”. She didn’t seem to understand the language, though, as her rocking became sterner.

“Ah, you’re awake now, aren’t you? Don’t try to pretend you’re not!” He felt a weight shifting the futon under him shift slightly towards the side. She must have crawled up on top of it, and he sensed, more than saw, her leaning closer to him. “You made me promise that I’d wake you up early, and I’m not going to leave until you do!”

Under such a relentless assault, he could do naught but give ground, and made a titanic effort to open his eyes. The bright morning light immediately invaded his retinas, and he winced in discomfort. But in that short moment, he also caught a blurred glimpse of her beautiful face at hand’s reach—and he mused, in his first coherent thought of the day, that as far as ways to wake up go, he wouldn’t mind seeing it every morning.

But while the mind was beginning to be willing, the body still refused to comply, and the part of him that wanted nothing more than to return to Dreamland raised a hand towards the general direction where her face was, and attempted to swat her away like a fly. Instead, his fingers found an incredibly soft fluffiness with his fingers, followed by the cutest yelp his ears had the pleasure of hearing. He was sure that he would have very pleasant dreams if he could cuddle this soft, adorable thing close to him...

“Five more minutes,” he tried to say, but his mouth produced only a grumble that sounded more like “grblmrblrrrhmph.”

“Oh no, you’re not sleeping in on my watch!” The yelper exclaimed, moving his hand away with her own slender, warm fingers. She let out an exasperated sigh. “You persistent, treacherous human... Must I resort to using my trump card?”

Still roped inside his blanket, he sensed her scooching over to him, until he could feel her breath softly on his ear. It was all he could do to stop a delighted shiver from running down his body. And then, he heard her inhaling, and with her lovely, sing-song voice, she gently cooed:


There was no defense against such a blow. In an admission of defeat, he squirmed in his bed and begrudgingly opened his eyes fully. His efforts were rewarded with the beautiful vision of an amber, feathery goddess, sitting inches away from his face, her ruby eyes staring at him with victorious mirth.

“...Mornin’, Kutaka,” he managed to vocalize.

“Good morning!” The bird goddess replied cheerfully as she removed the warm blanket from him. “Rise and shine, my dear human! It’s a beautiful day outside, and there’s much to—waaah!?”

But just because he was defeated it did not mean he could not bring his adversary down with him. And so, in a dishonorable surprise attack, he grabbed Kutaka’s arm and pulled her light, lean body into an embrace.

“Hey, what are you doing? Let me go, you meanie! We have to go to work!”

The bird goddess struggled in his arms, her blonde wings fluttering wildly and shedding a couple of yellow feathers in the process, but his arms had gripped her too tightly against him, and she could not escape his grasp. Eventually, after a short, ineffectual tussle, she gave up, and let out another sigh.

“Ah, fine... But just for a little while, okay?” She said, with a hint of annoyance, “breakfast is going to get cold.”

Contrary to her words, her smile radiated warmth and affection that soothed his very soul. Feeling grateful for her, he nodded in acknowledgement, eager to enjoy her kind presence close to him to the fullest, for however short this fleeting moment would be. He felt her own lithe arms wrapping around his neck and pulling him closer to him, while her fluffy wings covered him in a soft, warm embrace that no blanket could ever compare to. Burying his nose into her ruffled hair, he breathed her peculiar aroma in—smelled like fresh hay—, humming in appreciation.

As far as ways to wake up go, he reaffirmed to himself, there really was no better way than having an adorable goddess of chicken snuggled against him.
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I wish to hug this creature
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“I love you,” she said.

“I’m rather fond of you, too.” His words held weak merit as he took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose wearily. “Though I’d love you more if you were to get off me. Now, please.”

She held the man hostage by pinning him under her legs. Just prior, he was at his desk, playing scribe to those gaudily clothed red-faced rats, but she came along and, somehow, shooed them all away. For that, he was grateful—but only partially because she took it upon herself to knock him to the floor, sit on top of him, and keep him away from his work.

“And if I don’t?”

“Then,” he said, “I’ll do this.”

He sat up and tilted her chin with his free hand, wrapping the other around her waist. Then they closed their eyes and allowed their faces to touch, each inching closer to one another until they were separated by only the fabric of their clothes.

“You’re such a fool.” Wrapping her arms around his neck, she smiled, adding, “I’d be on top of you every day if you were to reply with that in kind.”

“...That’s my plan,” he said. “But only after the sun dips low.”

“Oh, you bastard! Dumb cad, you!” Despite her sharp tongue, she rested her head over his shoulders. “Then I’ll see you tonight. Won’t waste another second here—I’ll leave before the mutts sniff me out again.”

With a final spread of her wings, she was off, leaving the man, who was still contemplating her tempting figure, confused and on the floor.
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The sound of a heavy wooden door slamming open told me my woman had arrived home in a bad mood. It wasn't a rare ocurrence. She didn't announce her arrival, which told me roughly where in the scale of annoyed she'd be. She wasn't shouting, nor did she immediately start complaining as soon as she was in the door, so it might have been much worse, but still, not good news. I heard the stomping of her feet getting louder, and quickly put away my ink pot and notebook. No sense tempting fate when Hatate was in a stomping mood. I moved to the bed and sat facing the doorway, knowing it was time to perform my most important task.

Sure enough, she marched through, ripping the ribbons from her hair in a huff. I felt a pang of... Well. Calling it love made me feel stupid, but there was no other word for it. Perhaps objectively she was rather plain, and more boney than might be healthy. I’d been trying my best to fatten her up, but although she consistently inhaled what I cooked her, it did next to no good. I could almost fully encircle one of her thighs with my hands, and I am not a large man. An ideal tengu beauty was not dissimilar to one of ours. Short, slim, graceful, dutiful and all that. ‘Slim’ she was, but aside from that, she couldn’t be farther from the perfect image. She was tall and ungainly, except when on the wing. She wasn’t graceful on the tengu geta, the mark of a true tengu lady (or so I’d been told), and didn’t seem inclined to practice. Her hair, far from a perfect waterfall of black as every girl wanted, was a plain light brown, messily cascading down her back. Not black, but not a colour that stood out, either.

And as far as her temperament went, it was... more polite not to say.

I knew all that — knew her on an intellectual level, but it changed absolutely nothing as I stared at her. She was mine. And she was lovely, even with a glare fixed to her face. Besides, she wasn’t without her own allure. In one way, she held the envy of many tengu— But no, that was for later. For now, I just watched her carefully.

Tossing her socks along the way, she went behind the folding screen to change into her nightclothes without glancing at me.

“Good evening,” I tried.

She briefly peeked out from behind the screen, scowling at me. “Today was terrible!”

Ah, and here it was. I smiled as she continued. “He barely even heard me out! And he had this smug smile on his face all the while I spoke. Ugh.” She slapped down her skirt over the folding screen to punctuate. “I was kept waiting for fourty five minutes. There’s no way he was doing anything important. He was just doing it because he could. Damn bureaucrats. Told me he’d ‘take a careful look over my proposals’.”

She stomped out wearing a simple long camisole, still mumbling complaints, came to a stop in front of me and glared down. Her stare both expected something and somehow blamed me for whatever she’d been complaining about. I simply looked up at her for a few seconds. It wouldn’t do to seem too eager. Hatate took initiative.

“I was leered at too, you know.”

I blurted out an unbelieving “Really?”, and she kicked me in the shin, hard.

“The receptionist. He kept staring, while he thought I wasn’t looking.”

“Sure you didn’t just have something stuck to your face?”
She kicked again, harder.

“It was at... chest-level.” She looked down. I followed her glance and stared at her breasts with a serious expression, as if I were considering a puzzle, and put a hand on my chin. They were barely visible, even under thin nightwear. She kicked a third time, and this time it actually hurt.

“Stupid,” she said, but I did get a brief smile. A success. But then she sighed, tiredness and worry bleeding through the annoyance. She was about to start complaining again, more seriously, but I forestalled her.

“I have something for you today.”

“Mm. It’d better be good.”

I retrieved a bottle of oil while she laid back on the bed, sighing. It hadn’t been cheap, and I don’t know if this was right, but it was worth the try. She eyed the bottle in my hands as I made my way back to her. “Massage again?”

“Yes, but this is a slightly different. Turn over, please, and bring out your wings.”

“My wings?” She eyed me suspiciously.

“This is feather oil. It’s scented and supposed to make them lustrous and healthy, or so I was told by the salesman”

She looked strangely at me over her shoulder, but acquiesced, lying back and undoing the straps over her shoulders without embarrassment. In a flash of magic too quick to see they came out, taking up nearly the entire span of the wide room. I nearly gasped, despite being more or less accustomed to the sight. I crawled over, kneeling reverently next to her.

There was an astounding amount of variety when it came to tengu wings. They varied in color, size, uniformity, shape of outline, and more. Hatate had won the lottery with hers. They were a shiny, flawless black, and wider by half than the average. Our home wasn’t small, but even so, if she fully extended them out, the tips would touch the walls. Even the exact shape of the wing tip in flight was apparently the subject of appreciation with tengu, if what she’d told were true. My own obsession with Hatate’s wings weren’t like that — I suspected I’d feel the same strange obsession over them even if they were considered unattractive. I lightly touched the backs of the upper feathers, away from the flight feathers. I’d expressed some admiration for her wings before, but I’d been holding back, more or less. Until I saw someone selling this oil. I couldn’t turn it down.

“You’re weird about this.”


“Even our guys aren’t this... excited... about wings, usually. Save a handful of deviants.”

“I only get like this over your wings.” It was a cheesy line, but true and delivered instantly with utmost confidence, so she squirmed slightly in place. I watched her long ears for the telltale redness, but it wasn’t there yet. I poured the oil liberally on my hands, feeling how strangely thick it was. The kappa salesman had told me it was similar to normal massage oil with a wink — a kept human paramour doesn’t stay secret long, around here — and told me how to use it. I let some pool on my hands and went to work, from the small feathers at the base near the shoulderblades upwards. Despite all the magic involved in flying and putting the wings away, the real thing felt strangely real and fleshy.

Slowly, slowly, I worked the oil around each feather. I enjoyed the feeling of her relaxing under my ministrations, but the reaction was a little milder than I was expecting. She’s responsive enough, I know that.

She guessed my thoughts. “I don’t know what you’ve heard, but the wings aren’t that sensitive.”

“Oh.” How disappointing. There was a pause as I slowed.

“That spot isn’t, anyway.” She delivered that line looking me in the eyes, wearing a strange look I couldn’t interpret, but the words were clear enough. I moved on to the flight feathers, pressing down on one of the smaller ones (though it was still near the size of my forearm), near her back. I pressed down on it, spreading the oil, and she twitched, flexing the wing in response. It looked like a reflexive action. I paused.

She said nothing, but tensed slightly. I assumed it was a good kind of tensing, and continued. To my disappointment she did not get vocal, to my, but there was much flexing, twitching, and grabbing of sheets as I worked my way out from her back, and I thought I saw her move as if she were breathing more wildly. Her reactions were most intense on the outermost flight feathers, and when I wasn’t grooming those, she simply laid there relaxing, breathing lightly — I felt silly for expecting her to... what, suddenly jump my bones from how good her wings felt? When I let go of that, though, I found I enjoyed tending to her in this way, although it took a surprising amount of time to do, going lovingly over each feather as I did. They felt smooth and pleasant to run my fingers along, and I found no broken barbs or dirt, despite having never seen Hatate maintain them. Or any Tengu, for that matter. There was no conversation as I went about it, but she seemed pleased enough, so I left it alone and concentrated on my work.

I felt regretful as I neared completion of my task. I could’ve kept going, and I didn’t get as fun a reaction from Hatate as I’d wanted. I reached the base of the wing again, and looked at my handiwork. They were certainly shiny now, and the air had a pleasant, minty scent to it. She looked over her shoulder, and I was happy to note she was quite red.

“Well?” I asked.

“They feel heavy. Heavier.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

She hesitated. “I did. But you missed a spot.”

“What?” I was sure I’d been thorough.

She turned suddenly, deftly avoiding knocking me over backwards, although the woosh of air as the wing swung above me nearly did it. And she looked at me.

Disheveled, flushed and lovely. The sun was low outside, and the light that shone in through the window brought the slow rise and fall of her chest into relief. One hand clutched the hem of her shirt, pulling it lower, while the other held my hand. The wavy curls spread out behind her, jet black wings framing her. She squeezed my hand once.

Belatedly, I realized she’d only been grabbing at the sheets with one hand. The other one had been nowhere to be seen.
I briefly considered the possible meaning of that.

She looked at me accusingly.

“The front, stupid.”

“Huh?” I replied stupidly, unable to tear my eyes from hers.

“A feather has two sides. You only did the back.” She spread her wings, and I stared. Of course. How’d I forget about that?

She flexed a wing, and I got cuffed on the back. I fell forward onto her — her nails dug into my back.

The parts I missed were left for another day, after that.


i got sick of writing it so i stopped
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forgot my picture
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non titillating remiback is hard to find
This is a shameful admission as a servant, but Milady’s perturbed look as she opened the back of her dress made my heart flutter. Decency would demand I look away, barely worthy to behold my lady to start; if I had averted my gaze, the weight of what I’d asked might have crushed me.

“When I said you could ask ‘anything’, something quite different had crossed my mind.”

I adjusted my collar, unable to bear merely standing rigid anymore. “My apologies, Milady. Those were the terms of your wager, and I did win the last hand.”

“Quite lucky you did. Your fresh blood would have been my prize,” Milady muttered, holding the loosened fabric around her chest. The usual pallor of her face was tinted pink, the colour of glassfuls of wine over cards. Her wings twitched, perhaps in anticipation. “Well, here, now. A gentlewoman shan’t recant a deal. Claim your prize.”

My breath caught watching her turn over on the bed. There was my aim, what I wouldn’t hesitate to call my heart’s desire, uncovered to my profane eyes: the milky pale skin of Milady’s bare back glistening in the moonlight. Were I a more profound man, I would have fallen to my knees, weeping having finally found beauty. I was, alas, so simple a man I could only marvel, struck dumb in my longing. Months of fleeting glimpses had not been nearly enough.

Gingerly, I sat myself next to her. The notion of daring to be so close to Milady in this way felt no less than a sin. If so, then I no longer wished to be virtuous. “No words can convey my thanks.”

“Save your words and free me from this embarrassing foolishness.” Her wings twitched again, unfurling like leathery flags.

“Apologies again.”

Much as I wanted to savour the moment, Milady’s patience seldom spanned further than her own wings; I had to be content with taking my reward and being done with it. I brought my face nearer her back. What would have been a faintly chilly aura had turned warm.

She fidgeted, wings snapping open all the way. “Get on with it. Your breath tickles,” she complained.

“Understood, Milady.”

I was beyond waiting myself. I breathed deeply and plunged straight into Milady’s back face-first, planting a long-imagined kiss right in the valley betwixt her shoulderblades. Her skin, though warmed by wine, still cooled my lips. A muffled yelp tickled my ears. Milady kicked her legs, her wings starting to flap, threatening to knock me away. Reluctantly, I ended the kiss.

"Happy?” asked her voice, muffled in the bed.

“Supremely,” I confessed.

She sat up abruptly, gathering her dress so she could turn to look at me. Even with the moonlight washing over her features, it was easy to see that the glow of her face could match her eyes now. They were intended to be fierce, but there was no hiding the ruby twinkle.

Her fangs glinted through her smile. “Then, hear your lady’s newest order!”

Despite what I'm doing with Beast Returns to Gensokyo, neither that nor this reflect any sort of particular fondness for the SDM. I just happen to think Remi has one of the best (read: kissable) backs out of many other 2hus.
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The tea shop Sekibanki worked at was plain and unadorned, with only a few paper lanterns and a sign bearing the proprietress's family name out front. It didn't offer exotic sweets and lavish entertainment, only simple, honest tea. Despite that, it managed a fair pace of business, especially on market days like today.

It was those kinds of days that made Sekibanki wonder why she kept working at her job. A part of her had expected that her secret would've been exposed long ago: that she was a youkai, rather than a human girl with no family and a mysterious bandaged wound around her neck that refused to heal. Maybe they already knew, and didn't want to say anything about it. She tried to keep wearing the pleasant, meaningless smile of a waitress as she glanced at the day's last customers, waiting for them to finish so she could finally rest. Even with a youkai's endurance, double shifts had made her feet sore.

Once the day was finally done, she left the tea shop in a tired fog. She was so spent that she almost didn't notice the boy a block away, the only human who had seen her neck underneath the bandages, and the only human she would cautiously call a friend. She shook her head and jolted out of her thoughts.

"Hi," she said after a pause, half-looking at him.

"You look tired," he said with a sympathetic smile.

Sekibanki nodded and hummed in agreement. He'd never asked about where she lived, or if she even had a place of her own. They would just walk together for a bit, make small talk, and go their separate ways. Tonight, she was starting to wonder if she could even manage that. Without a word, the boy next to her gestured to a half-wall between two buildings, the perfect height for sitting on.

Sekibanki bit her lip, a little embarrassed that her state was so obvious to him. That was the thing about humans, they could read all the little quirks and facial expressions that most youkai never bothered to hide. Her pride told her to march on home, but her legs said otherwise. She nodded again and took a seat on the half-wall. She almost sighed with relief as the weight went off of her feet.

The boy sat down next to her, almost shoulder-to-shoulder. Sekibanki glanced down the street, making sure nobody else was watching. She tilted her head, resting it on his shoulder, taking a little more weight off of her tired body.

"Is this what it's like to be a human?" she murmured.

"Hm?" the boy murmured back.

"Work, go home, sleep, work," she said. She closed her eyes, already feeling half-asleep.

The boy thought for a long moment, then put a hand on her shoulder. It wasn't a romantic gesture, even if it was a fairly intimate one for her. He could've asked her what the youkai life was like. He could've asked her why she continued to choose the human life of work and tedium. Instead, he said nothing, and let her rest her head on his shoulder.
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The bell rang. Rather late for a customer, but they were so seldom that the human at the counter didn’t question this bit of serendipity.

He looked up and felt a flutter through his whole being. This wasn’t just any customer; a regular had come calling. Even if it was on the late side, he couldn’t help that little bit of joy he got from seeing a returning face. This one, a crow tengu named Hatate, had been in far more than a handful of times, a pitifully rare occurrence at this tiny shop.

“It’s been almost a week. I was beginning to get worried,” he chided.

Hatate greeted the human with a languid flap of her wings, bent with the weight of a long day as she steadied herself at the counter, swaying from side to side. “I’m touched. Can you do the usual, though? My feet are killing me.”

He wasted no time setting up the chair and the hot towels. When she was finally able to sit down, Hatate gave a blissful sigh, propping her stockinged feet up in the right spot without any prompting.

“Tough day of fact-finding?” the human asked, pulling the striped socks off carefully and draping them over the only other chair.

“I don’t know how those old-timers do it,” she groaned.

Testing the waters, he dug his thumbs in firmly next to the ball of her big toe. Hatate immediately winced and grimaced. She wasn’t kidding, then. This called for a slightly more careful approach. He reached for the bottle of oil, poured out a generous amount, and rubbed it all over her foot. The scent of lavender filled the tiny booth. Hatate leaned back in the seat, taking in the scent and letting her shoulders sag against the back of the chair.

“I think that stuff’s grown on me. Just smelling it’s relaxing enough.”

The human slid his fingers across the arch of her foot, digging in gently this time. “Are you saying I should get into aromatherapy instead?”

Hatate shrugged her shoulders and laughed softly. Her wings wiggled ever so slightly. “Either way, I’d still be a customer.”

He didn’t respond right away. Even though he wanted to whoop and run like a boy, possessed by the joy of those words, Hatate’s pale little feet were his most immediate concern. He smiled as he squeezed them, glad that she probably couldn’t see his face. Running his thumbs in circles quietly, he worked at the tense muscles in the sole. As her foot relaxed, so did Hatate.

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said at last.

For the past few minutes, she had been shifting a little. The human could see when he glanced up that she’d already dozed off. Smiling again, he shook his head. He’d have to wake her sooner or later, but it was fine for now. He still had the other foot to do, anyway.
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mfw this short
Mid-day was often the busiest time of day for most. Not so at the little shop. The noonday sun shone brightly into the shop front, casting few shadows. When had the last customer been? The human behind the counter could hardly recall. It felt like ages, in any case.

The broom was just in his hands when a shadow did fall across the shop’s threshold. There was a familiarity about it. From the roof-like cap to the protrusion of wings, there were few known to the human that the caller could be. The way this one carried themselves narrowed it down. There was only one who swung her hips that way when she walked.

“Miss Shameimaru!” he called before turning to confirm his hunch.

Shameimaru Aya, truest of crows who had alighted here, stood at the shoe rack, wings still half-unfurled from flight. By way of greeting, she proffered a newspaper to the human, and he graciously accepted.

“At your service.” She paused, then smiled at the human, eyes half-lidded in jest. “Or I guess I have that backwards, don’t I? You’re at my service.”

“As long as your coin’s good.”

As Aya sidled up to the counter, the human set the ‘menu’ down in front of her. She hardly needed to glance at it, but it was the offer that mattered; she’d jokingly complain if he didn’t. From her pocket, she pulled a coin purse, unsnapped it, and dumped a few coins out. He already knew from the amount what she wanted.

She smirked. “This coin still good?”

“Hasn’t lost its lustre, it looks like.” He swept the coins off the counter without examining them, as he might have done before in a returning jest. The mere joy of having a customer — and one he had to admit he was fond of — had dulled any need for that. “Pardon me, I’ll get the chair.”

Chair, footrest, and hot towels. The basic setup was trivial, but the human found himself getting to it with a vigour he found hard to muster elsewise. When he guided Aya to the booth, his hand fixed itself to her shoulder. She stopped with a questioning glance at his hand and then at him. Suddenly, it occurred to him what the matter was, and he quickly withdrew his touch, scarlet-faced at his lapse in self-control. He slid past with a murmur of apology, prompting a laugh from her.

“Maybe you need this more than I do,” she needled as she took her seat, propping her feet up on the mark without any direction.

He cleared his throat, trying to revert back to his usual customer service manner. Grabbing a large towel, he wound it around her shoulders. Next, he picked up a smaller towel. “Excuse me while I cover your eyes.”

“Sure.” Her reply was always like a musical note held for a moment and a half, high and bright; hearing it was one of the small pleasures of the job.

The towel settled over Aya’s eyes somewhat awkwardly. For those without the crow tengu’s protruding, pointed ears, it would lie flat around the front of the face. In her case, it was clear that the weight on her ears was uncomfortable. Nonetheless, she made no complaint, heaving a deep sigh and sinking deeper into the chair.

He quickly set to work on her shoulders. The daily stresses had made them tense, but there was little that a firm squeeze and some work with his thumbs couldn’t loosen. Careful not to place too much pressure, he constantly peeked at her face for any sign of pain. This time around, it seemed there was little to stop him putting a bit of energy into it. He dug his thumbs in with a touch more force.

The more forceful touch on her shoulders made Aya roll her head a little, and a soft hum escaped her lips. Her ears flicked upward and then drooped under the weight on them. It was at this point that she frowned. He stopped.

“Too hard?” he asked.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just… you mind?” She pinched the face towel between two fingers and lifted it ever so slightly.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I guess it must have been a bit too hot. I can get anoth—”

Aya shook her head. “Actually, I’d like to make a bit of request, if I may.”

She pointed to her ears, which were now standing up, albeit with what looked liked some difficulty. The human looked at them, then at her.

“I… suppose. What do you want me to do, specifically?”

“Massage them from tip-to-tip,” she replied with only a trace of hesitation.

He looked at her ears again, then nodded. If that was what she wanted, who was he to deny her that? She was, after all, a customer — a very good customer and arguably one he was more eager to serve than any other. It didn’t matter at all that he’d given many curious looks at those ears before, contemplating how they’d feel. This was professional work that would be done with a professional touch.

Gingerly, he gripped the bare skin of Aya’s ears, the lukewarm sensation a drastic change from towels and other fabrics. His breath hitched. He was truly operating in strange territory, unsure of how much strength to put into his fingers.

His slow kneading drew no complaint. If anything, Aya clearly enjoyed it very much, leaning her head back into him as he worked. Back and forth, he ran from tip-to-tip as directed, first on top, then from the tip back to the lobe. If he concentrated on the tips and the lobes, she practically melted into the chair. This wasn’t the first time he’d managed to make her relax this much, but it certainly seemed like the most effortless.

“Thank you,” she said dreamily when he was done.

He tried to mutter something in response, but he didn’t get the chance. She’d leapt up and pushed him into the chair with the same unbelievable tengu speed he’d witnessed whenever she left.

“One last request: Can I return the favour just this once?”

Yeah, I probably went over the soft limit, nor did I finish this in one sitting, but whatever.
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Three turns cold, one and three-quarters turns hot. That was how she expected it, and I would hear no end of complaints if I didn't get it right. Something about her skin being 'sensitive'. I just thought she was a bit wimpy when it came to heat; it would certainly explain why her 'aircon' was always running.

Whatever the reason, it was my job to make sure the bath filled at just the right degree of lukewarm. She could just as well do it herself, but I was the one to do it, and that was that. So, I'd done as fine a job as my current motivation allowed. Just passable, in other words.

I popped my head out of the bathroom. "Hatate."

No answer. So she was in that sort of mood today.

"Miss Hatate," I tried.

Still nothing. I grumbled. If she was going to keep being this tart about a mild rebuke, gods forbid I ever see what a major disagreement would bring about.

Stalking around the corner, I found her still prone on her perennially laid-out futon, rapid clicking the only sound audible over the cloying noise of a 'radio' set adjacent. Her outside clothes were left in a loose pile next to the futon, leaving her in an oversized shirt and little else. Perhaps some other man would be excited by such a sight. To me, it was merely an annoyance.

'Working,' she called it. All it ever seemed to me was her messing about on that 'phone' of hers. She'd sit there half the day punching buttons if no one interrupted her.

I dodged several newly tied-up stacks of old magazines to make my way closer. Whatever counted for music coming out of that damned black box made it nearly impossible to hear my own thoughts. Steeling myself, I bent down and adjusted the racket down to a reasonable level. Hatate's pointed ears wiggled in reaction to the sudden absence of chaos in the air.

Still, she went on click-clacking. How her fingers never cramped, I couldn't guess. "I was listening to that."

"I need you to listen to me for a second, if that's alright."

"Hurry up, then. I've gotta finish this article."

"If I heeded that, you'd never get in the bath. Then, who'd take the blame for you smelling tomorrow, hmm? No need to guess. We both know the answer to that one."

"Hold on just a damn minute!" She propped up on one elbow, side-eyeing me over her shoulder. "I don't even have to worry about being smelly. Not like some human. So, what's it matter if I do it now or later?"

I knelt down to eye level with her. Try as she might to beam fury into me with her look, I was unshakable. "Matter or no matter, I've run the bath, as instructed, at the time given to me. Your mother's word is my law."

Hatate's nose wrinkled at the mention of my employer. The 'phone' thudded on the tatami as she pushed herself up into a kneeling position, looking down at me with cold fire in her eyes.

"Alright, since we're talking about her, was the thing with the magazines her order? My snacks? My laundry pile? I don't seem to remember anything being said about that!"

"'Keep everything tidy' were the exact words."

"I had everything where I wanted it, so what the hell was the problem?"

I took a deep breath and stood up to my full height, giving myself a full head's difference over her. "I'm not here to argue over how to do my job. You're to have your bath now. Those are my instructions, and I will follow them as set. If you take issue with that, take it up with your mother."

At that, she was struck dumb, her face pink in anger. Her ears drooped like some small animal giving a warning before it bit.

Fuming, Hatate got to her feet and stomped past me, casting off her remaining clothes in a line behind her. Before she disappeared into the bathroom, she looked back at me with some expectation, her black wings flaring and refolding in a gesture of tengu petulence. At least she didn't slam the door shut this time. The apologies I had to issue to neighbours were awkward, to say the least.

"Well? Come on!" she called hotly from inside. Sighing, I consigned her clothes to the 'later' pile in my mind and joined her in the bathroom.

She'd already taken her position on the stool, thankfully saving me the trouble of further herding. I wasted no time making all of the proper adjustments on the 'shower' to get it the right degree of warm. The idea of spraying her with cold water to vent my own frustrations passed through my mind. I didn't want to give her any more fodder for when she inevitably complained to her mother, so I stilled that impulse.

Truthfully, I just wanted to make sure she had a halfway enjoyable bath.

The water heated, I handed things to Hatate so she could scrub everything I wasn't to handle. Despite her earlier fit of temper, she obediently did so. The only sign of her previous mood was how she washed herself with enough force to leave her skin glowing a deep pink.

Seeing her wings folded gave me some apprehension about how to proceed once she was done. Touching them was an act requiring intimacy that she would sooner die than offer me, a fact she had made painfully clear the first time I accidently brushed them, making her back effectively off-limits unless she expressly permitted me.

"Shall I wash your hair, then?" I asked.

Her ears gave a halfhearted wiggle. "Yeah," she groused without looking at me.

"Unless you want to move your wings."

"No, just do my hair."

"As you wish." I took the 'showerhead' from her. "Pardon me, then."

I took the stretchy ties out of her hair, letting it spill down her shoulders like a brown curtain. Aside from these times, she rarely ever wore it like that. A shame, really, since it gave her a sense of grace her chose style didn't.

Wetting her hair, I then set to work with the lather. This, too, came with a necessary degree of caution. Should any of the foam get too close to her eyes, Hatate would raise a fuss and possibly eject me. That meant I had to carefully work in layers, going through the hair over and over until it was sufficiently cleaned. I started with the thinnest layer around her fringe.

I was thankful that Hatate's sauciness didn't extend to moving about when it was most inconvenient. The most awkward part was out of the way in a few seconds, leaving me with more breathing room to work. When I began to massage her scalp, she too seemed to relax, her shoulders losing much of their tension. The odd hum escaped her lips as my fingers did their work.

As I proceeded, she gradually stopped responding to my fingers running through her hair. I could tell she wanted to say something.

"Yes?" I prompted.

"I didn't say anything," Hatate muttered.

"If you say so." I went back to washing her hair, slower and gentler to give her time to think.

"Hey," she spoke up not long after, "you're going to stay after this, aren't you?"

"I still have work to do, don't I?"

She grumbled. Teasing her really was too easy sometimes. "That's not what I mean. I mean... you know, tonight?"

I kept washing her hair as if she'd said nothing of any particular importance. The tips of her ears rapidly turned pink, probably matching her face at the moment. It was all I could do to not smile.

"You're doing that on purpose!" She reached back to smack me on the thigh hard enough to sting.

"Nothing of the sort, Miss Hatate. I'm just surprised you would be so bold."

She grabbed the 'showerhead' from me. "Whatever. You know what, don't even bother. I shouldn't have asked."

She rinsed her hair without my help, leading to the predictable trouble of getting soap in her eyes. I offered my assistance, which she accepted with only some fuss before she snatched the 'showerhead' back to rinse the rest of her once more.

I leaned down near her ear, far enough that I didn't startle her. "Hey, Hatate."

"What?" she asked after a pause.

"I'm sorry. I can't help myself sometimes. You're so adorable when you get angry, you know?"

Then, I kissed the nape of her neck, drawing a quiet shudder from her and making her wings spread open. Her ears grew a deeper pink until they were practically red.

"Dummy," she said quietly.
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