Minamitsu let Mu’s limping treasure slip out of her mouth.
Care, love and a fair amount of work had seen its length scrubbed of lewd evidence. Minamitsu pushed herself up to admire her handiwork. Her handiwork, worn out and drooping, did its best mockery of a landed fish. It flopped. Once. Then, comically, it slumped down across its underslung carriage.
Minamitsu sighed her happiness. There had ever been something deeply gratifying about making a man come. Some immanent and deep-seated response to helping them achieve that prime, natural directive. Seeing (and tasting, and feeling) its tangible results almost always set her thoughts abuzz with the warm, pleasant glow of having done something… real. Intended. Lifelike. Minamitsu may never again be human; she’d had ages to internalise the fact. No quantity of unguarded sex had ever gotten her pregnant; no extent of teasing, coaxing and cajoling could resuscitate her own natural functions. Minamitsu had tried. All which could be dredged out were the feelings and sensations tied to the process. Never the full, genuine thing.
That had been ceded wholesale to something else. Another, blacker appetite.
Minamitsu felt it wrenching at her soul when the seed she had diligently licked up and swallowed began to die in her stomach. Tiny pinprick hooks of vitality, seeking purchase they would never find, doomed to swim out their precious seconds of life inside the entirely wrong area of Minamitsu’s body. Straggling, lost, crumbling, thrashing about…
Something exploded outside.
Someone cried in alarm.
Minamitsu gave it no heed, the anyway layered walls of the boarding house rendering the shouts far and incoherent. She climbed off of her knees, and rose along Handai Mu’s front. She pressed their naked chests together, enjoying the beat of his living heart through his bare skin. Mu breathed in, sharply – then gulped when Minamitsu craned her neck up and planted a kiss at the base of his neck.
“… Say, Captain,” whispered her very own voice – except lower, seductive; “did you know? There’s this big, outdoor bath behind this house.”
“… Yeah?” Mu managed to reply.
“Yeah,” said Minamitsu. “Yeah… Very private, as you like. No one in at this hour. It’s a hot spring, also. The water’s nice and warm, even in Winter.”
“And, we could have it all to ourselves. You and I. No onlookers. We could get in, wash each other… Take a dip in the water. And then, once we’ve warmed up and relaxed, we could get our naughty bits acquainted. My kitty would love to meet your cock. I’d teach you all my good spots… and you could repay me for that blowjob. I wager you could get me to cum in no time. I’m a youkai, too. So, you could finish inside me, as well. As. Many. Times—” She smooched his neck to punctuate each word, up to his bulging Adam’s apple. “… As you can squeeze out, Captain. No obligations. Just sex. Until neither of us can breathe anymore. Shall we??”
There was a laden moment as Mu weighed her salacious offer against whatever rope-end of decency he was still clinging to below.
At length, he disappointed her. “… Why do I have the idea,” he asked, “that you are leading me on?”
Minamitsu chuckled. Her sailor’s honesty spoke over her shallower instincts, “I am. Admittedly. But, I give you my oath, I will have as much sex with you as you can take ahead I do anything bad.”
Mu made a quiet scoff. “All the same,” he said. “Thanks, but pass.”
Minamitsu deflated. Her murky, vengeful desires gave a final, angry beat…
… Then quieted – hushed under a will so strong, so disciplined, that sister Byakuren might have popped at her seams from pride. Minamitsu shouldered aside the implicit affront in Mu’s response, and, the bare tips of her breasts brushing his, she rose up onto her toes.
“For being candid, at least,” she said, smiling. Then, kissed his lips.
To her pleased surprise, Handai Mu humoured her compulsions, and kissed back. With enough verve, in truth, that their mouths parted ways with pronounced reluctance when they did, in the end, come apart. Mu had a question behind his eyes – and insight on his tongue.
“You do really like this,” he said. “Kissing.”
He’d attired a face which gave off the wrinkly suggestion of having been pulled out of a coat’s rarest used pocket. Moreover, he’d attuned a tone that had nimbly swapped the specific “You” inside the question (“Murasa Minamitsu”) for an all-encompassing homonym (“you, youkai”).
The substituted you (Minamitsu) gave him no benefit of a bite.
“What-ever has betrayed me, Captain?” she asked.
Mu was polite enough to acknowledge her flirting. “A mouthful of instances,” he hinted.
“Jolly,” she acknowledged his joke in return. “Though… Well, yes. It’s an old affectation, right athwart of stories. Older, belike.”
And Minamitsu did tell. “When I was thirteen, or about,” she told him, “a sailor on his shore leave coasted by our village. Stayed in the loft of a barn of one of our neighbours, frittered his scales away on the local ale, cheated the field-hands at dice – what sailors get to on dry land. Harmless, when you’ve heard the stories I have; and, his coin was a fresher mint than anyone in town had seen in their lives. Anyhow, I was out in the woods one gorgeous noon – thirteen Winters of age me, fetching firewood for the stove. My Pa had gone with the plague years ahead, see – and Ma had her hands and noggin full of cooking for the sowers. So fell to me, therefore, to go out each day and pick up more kindling for stewing the oats.
“Somewise, the sailor was out and about that same noon,” Minamitsu continued, with fond remembrance. “Same environs, to boot. Gave one another a foul start, we did, actually. He’d not noticed me nosing about in the brush, and I hadn’t heard him strutting by – what on account of that rolling, sailor’s gait. We laughed about it some. Then, we sat in the grass and talked a while about the town and the world. He told me girls inland were mighty beautiful compared to sea-born ladies, who were scratchy and porous – what with all the salt in the air. I told him no parts of me were any beautiful, and he rather disagreed. At length – and with rather much fire.
“And then,” she delivered the thrust of the tale, “while I sat there, a beet for my face and porridge for wits, he said this. That, if I should give him but a kiss, he would show me the best feeling under the Sun.”
“… Was it a good trade?” asked Mu.
Minamitsu gave a soft chuckle. She hadn’t to ask why he’d assumed she’d taken the offer. “It was the best, Captain. I wasn’t as good I am now at kissing then; though, he didn’t overmuch mind this. He sat me down on his lap, stuffed a hand under my dress, and did me with his fingers. There – in the open – under the trees. That was my very first orgasm. And, he kept kissing me all through. Couldn’t focus for the whole rest of the day, poor me. I gave him my maidenhead later that evening, in the loft. And, as you may wager… there were scads of kisses there, too.”
A soft, dreamy sigh whispered out of Minamitsu’s chest, which was still squished, rather agreeably, against Handai Mu’s broad, masculine front. “… Since then, Captain,” she quietly concluded, “I’ve had a thing for having my lips touched. You get? It’s a… memento. A reminder. Of fonder times.”
“A pleasant association,” translated Mu. “I get. But isn’t it... human? You are youkai now. No?”
“A ghost,” corrected Minamitsu. “Same difference, I know. But is there one, between those? Why should youkai be removed from sentimentality? We aren’t free from associations, Captain; on the contrary. We make them easy. Some of us live by our attachments. Some of us even died by the same.”
“May this be why,” Mu wanted to know, “that story felt unfinished?”
Minamitsu drafted up a grin. “Yes,” she obliged. “Alas, there is only so much that a girl will sell for a stick of sugarcane. And, Captain, a girl’s secrets… Those are her most expensive part.”
The chest, by which Minamitsu was braced, swelled even broader with a long, somewhat laboured breath. At its peak, as it almost overflowed, it escaped Mu’s lungs in the shape of a low, derisive scoff. And yet, when Minamitsu was nigh-on about to re-run her previous line in her head to check whether it had soured somewhere between her brain and her tongue, the inquisitive, bald man released the remainder of his breath into a disconsolate wheeze. It tickled all across the top of her head.
“… Wish I’d met you earlier,” sighed Mu. “Would’ve been another story all in.”
“What?” giggled Minamitsu. “Got a cute sailor girlfriend already?” The guilty silence which poured out of Handai Mu vouched that, even if she hadn’t struck gold, then she was shovelling in the approximate area. “Ah, chin aloof, Captain!” she consoled him, poking a finger at the relevant piece of his face. “As you say: I am a youkai; I do what I like. I’m not too concerned whether you’re banded or not.”
Mu hesitated. “… What,” he asked at last, “if my girlfriend is youkai as well?”
“Then, Captain,” replied Minamitsu, “brutally, unless she is a hashi-hime or the like, chances are she isn’t deeply bothered, either.”
There was no answer from the bald man – excepting, perhaps, that Minamitsu sensed she’d caused him someway a deep bother of his own through her frank assessment.
His troubled waves were married with hers when another noise shuddered the walls of the boarding house. Another explosion… only not. A duller, stifled THUD! this time – as that of a laded hull striking an underwater sand bank. Or, Minamitsu’s latter experiences were telling, that of a sandbag being dropped by a rattled earth spider from fifty fathoms above.
Handai Mu’s face was a-frown with alarm that would have made her laugh if her own wasn’t, at that time, playing accompaniment.
“… That,” the human opined, “was not a nice sound.”
“No,” agreed Minamitsu. “Not whatsoever.”
“Maybe you should get that.”
“Maybe I should.”
After two – or three, or five – more moments of enjoying Mu’s surface heat, Minamitsu began to peel their sweat-stuck bodies apart. A curious sensation all throughout, it tapered anyway to one last, disappointing tug when Minamitsu forced herself away. The whilom captain of the Palanquin Ship allowed the bald man a farewell eyeful of her humble bust, ahead she rolled her sailor’s top back down. Mu bent over to retrieve his shorts from around his ankles, while Minamitsu reached under her skirt to fix her panties.
With a slight foiling of her, all told, amiable mood, she discovered the underwear to feel damp and clammy on her groin. A major pain in the fundament, where Minamitsu was concerned, because Gensokyo had lately begun its cruise with the nightmare by the name of “bloomers,” which, by outward intention, were designed to accommodate women of all sizes – on the assumption that they were women whales. Minamitsu hoped – in the main, for the sake of whoever was churning the waters outside – that they would kindly drown themselves when asked, so that she may go about salvaging one of the remaining pairs of her sensible, Outside World underthings.
Hope, she knew of course, died last. But, as Minamitsu could affirm, death was as nothing before a dogged enough girl.
Sister Byakuren’s faithful – humans and human-likes, in their dozens – stood and scrambled about the temple yard in a confused uproar. Those who stood, gaped at the Myouren-ji’s main sanctuary as if it was on fire, which went to show how perceptive they were, since Myouren-ji’s main sanctuary was, indeed, on fire. A pillar of sooty, eye-watering smoke rose ponderously from the temple’s storage areas. Those Buddhists-in-waiting who were of a less receptive persuasion scampered to and fro with buckets of well-water for putting out the fire. They had their work cut out; and so did sister Byakuren, in her black Acharya robes – half whose towering authority was given to directing the fire-fighting efforts, and another half – to reining in a group of enraged youkai devotees.
In the middle of the yard – in a broken, bloodied heap – Ichirin lay inside a shallow crater, gasping and swearing.
And above all of it, a single, rumbustious voice broke the waves of the Winter air with bellowed threats.
“—ye fiendish scum and Boddhist heretics! Come!” it raved on, “Come thou and one true might of Yamato face, and under the Sun Sword’s keening blade wither and die!”
Minamitsu hadn’t to peer up at the lurid sky to know who would be found there. She did, anyway.
And there she was. Mononobe Futo. The Scourge. A guardian dog under the command of Myouren-ji’s theological contender: Toyosatomimi Miko’s Sen-kai – whom the golden saint refused, or simply failed, to keep chained to a post. The rogue Taoist hovered overhead: a varicoloured cross of legs and floppy sleeves, shrouded by a tempest of stagnant, ghostly wind.
Minamitsu shook her head. Small wonder Ichirin had got herself keelhauled. It took like to like to defeat a wraith.
Minamitsu hopped from the raised veranda of the boarding house, down to the cold sand below. Out from a slip in mind-scape, a tri-pronged Yachtman’s anchor, engraved with a long-forgotten name, tore into reality and slammed into the ground beside her. Minamitsu, sighing, gripped it by the shank and swung it up onto one shoulder.
At her back, atop the veranda, Handai Mu made a pained sound. Minamitsu half-turned to see the bald man cannoning the wild Taoist with mute exasperation.
“Heard about our pest problem, then?” chuckled Minamitsu. “See, Captain, when they said ‘rats as big as men,’ they weren’t jesting.”
Mu tore his eyes from the raving woman in the sky, and looked to the anchor-hefting one aground.
“Should I…?” he began, doubtfully.
“Scarper?” guessed Minamitsu. “Belike you should. Or, go chip in against the fire, if you can. Not as if you’ve a lot of hair to lose, anyhow.”
Handai Mu swept a philosophical glance lengthwise the chaos of the yard. Then, weighing it counter to his less philosophical mortality, he made the appropriately material decision.
“… Sailor girl?”
“Aye, Captain?” replied Minamitsu.
Mu gave her an odd, almost sympathetic, look. “On the chance I don’t get to say this,” he told her. “… There is nothing bad with your legs. They’re terrific legs.”
Minamitsu, stunned, batted her eyes. In that heartbeat moment of inattention, Mu had already re-trained his own elsewhere. Confirming, at once, everything the people-watcher Minamitsu had figured about him, and galling the woman inside her. This was probably fine viewed from within Mu’s shaven skull; but, from an outside perspective, it could one day be a real bitch – or, at least, a youkai with enough faculties to act like a woman, but with less tolerance than Minamitsu.
Which was the main cause why, once Minamitsu roped down hers, she told the bald man to—
( ) “Come again.” ( ) Be better – for him – if he wouldn’t.
—To do, at his own peril, what she would have expected such a man to do, regardless.
Mu quit lovingly eyeing the temple’s Toori gate, and – less the love – rededicated his notice to Minamitsu. The once-commander of the Palanquin Ship unfurled her best, most winning smile.
“Come again, if you like,” she told the bold, bald man. Then, ahead the aft wind caught and bore his attention onward, she went on to add, “And, if you should like – bootleg us something nice to drink. Whisky, or plum wine, or even some porter. My hearty, Ichirin, there—” she nudged her chin at the bodily pile of limbs and oaths that was her best friend, “—she’d tie the knot with a bottle of yuzushu, if she could get it to last. So you know.”
“Yuzu—” began Mu, tying a knot of his own above his nose. “… That’s a mite tall order. Those’re rare.”
“Ichirin’s a tall girl. You get? I’m running a shot across the bow, here. Yuzushu or bust.”
Or no bust, as it were, she amused inside.
Mu gave a sour nod. “I get. I think. Yuzushu…”
You had best be thankful, Ichirin, thought Minamitsu. “Solid man,” she said to Mu. “Now. Scram, ahead you get beamed about. This one will be a pig to remove, I feel.”
“Nice to meet you, by the bye.”
With some, understandable, distraction, Handai Mu mimed a bow he must have envisaged would become a Buddhist temple. Minamitsu laughed – saluted back – and, hefting her anchor, swung about on a heel to march for where Ichirin lay in shameful defeat.
(What Minamitsu would’ve had a harder time laughing up was that, once he was but out of view, Handai Mu did a harsh yaw and dashed behind the bathhouse – whereat he would, easily and with no overt regard for courtesy, leap over the three fathoms of outer fence.)
Above, the rabid Taoist taunted on.
“Fie, Boddhist!” she jeered over the ghoulish wind. “Ruth, Boddhist! Infamy upon thee! I thy foetid temples destroy, and what dost thou? Feeble, wood Boddhist! Hast Shigisan all thy zest therewith stolen? Pardie, thy prideful claims doth so hollow as yon victory be! Canst nary of thou me a challenge provide? I, of the Mononobe daughter, whom thou vanquished clepest! Lief will I thee welcome! Come! FIGHT ME!”
Minamitsu gleefully ignored the outpour of antiquated expletives, and approached, instead, her downed friend.
Ichirin was bruised purple. Outwards and – earmarks were – inwards both. Her trademark, navy habit – which Ichirin fancied for reasons ever unknown – was in shreds, as were the edges of her sturdy kesa and the not-so-sturdy self-esteem. Hateful, hateful words were bubbling up between Ichirin’s bloodied lips, all despite sister Byakuren being still in nearby vicinity. Good, old Ichirin was slipping badly.
“Someone got blown down,” quipped Minamitsu, stooping over Ichirin’s contorted body. “Someone else’s feistier than usual, too. Sink me.”
Ichirin’s eyes heaved down in their sockets. “… ‘Mitsu,” she groaned. “May I ask as to where the bloody hell you were?”
Minamitsu smiled. Then, she put her free hand, balled in a fist, up to one cheek – and stuck her tongue into the opposite.
Ichirin, bless her spirits, decoded the gesture in a blink. In another, she blinked her incredulity. “… For real?”
“You were giving some guy a…?”
“While I was dancing with that white devil?”
Minamitsu sketched a one-shouldered shrug. “You’re the better dancer. I’m better at the other stuff.”
Her friend of long, faithless years stared on for a long, disbelieving moment. Then, tweaking her eyes shut, she wheezed, “… I hate you.”
Well, bring a spring upon my cable, mused Minamitsu. All the same, for her best friend’s contused ego, she volunteered, “Shouldn’t have lent Unzan out, smack dab in the middle of Mononobe season, eh, Chichirin? Not your brightest, you’ll agree.”
Ichirin growled. “Should have bloody said if you were keeping track of her rag days.”
“Ah, I’m running a rig on you,” confessed Minamitsu. “I only smelt it now, myself. Or is that yours?”
Ichirin sighed. “Good thing you didn’t choke.”
All but, and Minamitsu would have – on her replying chortle.
Ichirin cracked a pained smile. “… Tit?” she proposed.
Minamitsu wiped her face. “Tat,” she surrendered. “And, I reckon, on a less funny note… How are you holding together? Your knees seem… a couple degrees off?”
“Ask me, I’ll ask you,” groaned Ichirin. “Can’t feel bull-crap below my waist. Think my bloody spine’s snapped. In, like, three places.”
“So, she broke your back, literally.”
“Cheerful,” spat Ichirin. “No, that was the ground, thank you. It’s… It’s that bloody wind. You get that? Once she fanned that up, I couldn’t punch a hole. Unzan may have. My fists bounced right bloody off. My chakrams, too. The bleeding wind’s alive, my oath.”
Minamitsu sniffed the sepulchral currents whipping the air above Myouren-ji. “That thing?” she asked, in a quiet, disdainful voice. “That thing’s all except alive. And, it cannot touch me.”
“… The hell?”
“Ghost-stuff,” Minamitsu offered, helpfully. “I’m dead; so is it. You’d be amazed at what we deaders can’t do to each other. ‘Specially when you learn many of those things can be catching to you livin’ folks. Jolly fortune—” she stuck on a smile she thought was appropriately grim, “—that our bilge rat’s every inch bodied. Means I can body her off the air right well – no matter how hard she puffs.”
“… Great,” groaned Ichirin. “Then, I got trounced on your time. Hope you had fun, ‘Mitsu. Great, big, bloody captain, you.”
Minamitsu’s humours curdled from the hurt underneath her friend’s tone. “… Sorry,” she murmured. I’ll make my amends, she promised inside, over some yuzushu, too – if someone’s favour holds. “On my oath, I didn’t sense a thing. Until I heard it.”
Ichirin tried – and rather pitifully failed – to swat the apology away with one raw hand. “… Never mind,” she gave up. “No one here’s accountable for that madwoman. Least of all you or I. Wish you’d been here to swap with me, is everything.”
Ichirin muttered a handful of weary – and unwomanly – terms. “… Tell me later,” she sighed, “what debauchery you got up to while I was being knocked around. Over a cup of that oolong-hai I know you’ve stashed somewhere, would be ideal. Then, we’re square. Sister Byakuren’s your real boss, anyway. Not I.”
“… That’ll belike take more rowing, huh,” supposed Minamitsu.
“Want a tip? Start throwing out the rats,” suggested Ichirin. “Or whatever else you sea-folk do with those. I’ll lie this one out. Let my spine un-snap itself.”
“That,” said Minamitsu, a measure of good mood returning, “is the wisest thing I’ve heard from somebody with tits that bi—”
A blast of fierce, funereal wind clamped down on her retort.
“FACE ME!” screamed the mad Taoist. “SHALT THOU DARE!”
Minamitsu’s patience sailed over a waterfall. With a grand heave, she twirled on a rock-steady heel – and hurled her anchor at the crazed woman in the sky.
The half-tonne of unchained, rust-nipped steel tore apart the sheath of protective wind around the looming Taoist. A foul, nauseating CRUNCH of shattered bones assailed Minamitsu’s ears when the anchor smashed into the Taoist’s light, undersized body. The Scourge, Mononobe Futo, spraying blood, careened after the anchor, which had blithely continued its arc – even after slugging the diminutive woman aside.
What would have scuttled a medium whale merely inconvenienced the hound of Toyosatomimi Miko. Killing her momentum, wounds mending within the moment, the small Taoist sought out her desired challenger. She found her glaring back.
Murasa Minamitsu was not a combative soul.
As a body politic of youkai, gods and assorted preternatural fauna, Gensokyo, the Land of Illusions, by law resolved its internal conflicts through means most suited to the strengths of its inhabitants. Minamitsu had played truant from that school of thought. Not, she would defend herself if singled out, for violence only begot more violence at the end of the day; physical clashes were of ultimately no consequence to all but the weakest youkai. Minamitsu abstained from bodily solutions to her disagreements because life (and death) as a sea-borne woman had instilled in her that words – as a rule – left both sides of an argument gladder for having had them. Stab a disagreeable man through the kidneys, and all you got was a disagreeable man with a shiv in his kidneys. Talk him up, however, break past the waves… and you may end up with a friend and a jar of yuzushu furthermore.
Some would venture Murasa Minamitsu was a peaceful soul – insofar, anyway, as a vengeful ghost can ever be truly at ease. Those wouldn’t be wrong on most days. Minamitsu was not averse to peace; a calm day had its rewards (which the previous half-hour had shown), just as well as the frantic excitement of sailing out in a storm. That much, Minamitsu was ready to let clip her youkai’s pride.
Yet, when someone cracked that peace… When they bloodied her best friend and churned the waters of Myouren-ji’s quiet bay…
Minamitsu thrust out an arm. Her anchor shimmered into renewed existence and dropped into her waiting hand. Its impossible, insubstantial weight flooded her cold, drowned heart with boiling, spiteful indignation.
… Then, as she was about to demonstrate, the proverbial mistakes had been made.
Gensokyo was a realm of limitless interest. At any given time, there was something exotic and extraordinary taking place. At the present, for example, a sailor-ghost by the name of Minamitsu was floating forty-odd yards over the bare forest roof, gripping Mu’s Tao tutor, Futo, by the front of Futo’s hunting cloak, and threatening, by way of fist, to acquaint Futo’s grinning face with the rear of Futo’s grinning skull. Inside the next moment, Futo corkscrewed out of the hold – kicked off the ghost’s own face – and began to choke the pale, Winter sky with tiny, facsimile Suns, all the while widening the three-dimensional no-man’s-land between them. Minamitsu back-handed the few that strayed close off-course with the ship’s anchor she held, as it happened, in the same hand. The one, slim, feminine hand. A whole anchor.
Limitless, limitless interest.
Handai Mu stood in the crown of a leafless tree a ways from the duel, weight Damped to a quarter and Wind feeding his strength for the eventuality of urgent escape. He peered up at the two flying, fantastic, and above all familiar figures.
And he couldn’t scrape up a care.
What would have – and had – spellbound him two years ago, nearer his involuntary relocation to Gensokyo, now at best had his mental defences slightly dented. Getting Used to It had ever been mankind’s strongest bulwark and curse, all in one set; and, somewhat in spite of his contemporary situation, Handai Mu was still very deep a man. With, it seemed, the assorted, manly quirks. While the religious war raging in the heavens was little short of mythic, Mu had seen its varying renditions before. There was altogether another conflict which he hadn’t; and that one was being waged in a place some men never even found out they had.
Handai Mu clenched his jaw. Then, doing as a man stuck in a narrow alley with very loud hip-hop blasted from a stolen car stereo coming up from behind should do, he gauged his car-hopping skills – and faced the music.
He’d cheated on Seki.
There were no two ways about it. Truthfully, there were three, four, or even more; only, they all drove off the same rock face upon the final turn. He’d cheated on Seki. He had met with, sweet-talked, sweet-bribed and eventually unloaded his pent-up libido onto and into a girl who had – verifiably – not been the adorable, peevish redhead whom he’d serenaded for the better half of a year and drunk with for thrice that. There were terms for men who did this sort of thing to their adorable, peevish redheads, and most of them banned from day-time TV. Some of them from after-midnight programmes as good.
And it got worse than that. Ogling Futo’s thighs and dreaming about naïve, little blond youkai were but a step on the staircase to bastardry. Coaxing oral sex from a girl he’d met bare minutes earlier – and getting it – was fifty all in one bastard leap. And yet, underneath the speeding logic train of the situation (girl → love → frustration → another girl → final stop: cheating), Mu could find not a daring-American-agent-on-espionage-mission of guilt. Nor a reckless-engineer-keenly-lacking-for-foresight. Not even a stray-dog-hitching-a-ride of it.
There was none. Nada. Nai. No guilt. No regret. He’d had his mast polished top to bottom by a girl who wasn’t Seki – in whom he was emotionally invested – then sailed on unconcerned. His head hadn’t cleared up afterwards of the act, as he’d half-anticipated it would. He’d even, preliminarily, arranged for a second date. With the same, non-Seki girl.
And that upset to the core the man Handai Mu had thought himself to be.
That man clamoured for sense. For explanations. The man Mu, after all, was – had none. Together, their attentions snapped to the feature of Handai Mu’s psychology which was routinely left tied and gagged and jammed in a sound-proofed closet whence it had been seldom released since their shared exodus into the land of the supernatural. The inner Mu-chanism which took a problem, crunched it, and spat out an objective evaluation uncoloured by emotion or ephemeral wonderment. Its two siblings gave it a kick each.
It whirred for a bit. Whined for two. Then, it proffered a string of cold, raw analyses, which the allied Mus read through with quiet trepidation.
Theorem #1: Minamitsu was not a human. Thus, it did not count as cheating.
Countermand #1: Neither was Seki, placing them within the same racial criteria for infidelity.
Theorem #2: Minamitsu had seduced, cursed, hypnotised, or otherwise cozened Mu into performing sexual advances. Therefore, he was not to fault.
Countermand #2: Handai Mu’s three dantians were in perfect balance (less his lowest one being momentarily diminished), which would not have been the case in the case of a ghost’s curse. Therefore, he hadn’t been conducted in any supernatural manner. Additionally, Handai Mu had himself, unprompted, steered the conversation onto sexual currents.
Theorem #3: He did not love Seki. Not since she’d lost her temper and demanded he stay away.
Countermand #3: Seki was the reason why he’d mounted the investigation to start. For her understanding and comfort. Her reassurance. He was doing what he was doing for her sake.
Theorem #4 (last): He had no romantic feelings for Minamitsu. Thus, it was not cheating. A temporary failure in restraint, at worst.
Countermand #4: …
Theorem #4.5 (last-last): For the same, it was why he’d been grudging in his partnership with Futo. Because he did have feelings for Futo. Because, notwithstanding of his words and efforts, he’d fallen in dumb and indiscreet love with his wonderful, frisky tutor. Because he knew, in the brain of his heart and the heart of his brain, that if he should ever feel Futo’s dainty hands anywhere nearby his mast, then there would be no room for doubt. There would be no daft introspection or stupid, blasted theorems. No idiotic queries. He would have cheated on his very first friend – his first love – in Gensokyo, in full measure and with all the gods-blasted weight of the implications. The bastard.
Oh, that’s swell, thought Mu. His objective mind seemed to have a more direct line to his conscience than his conscious did.
Wherever that intriguing sidelight on his own internal framework led, however, neither of the mental Mus vying for ownership of Mu’s mast may explore it at any scientific length.
Mainly, for reason of something – someone – exploding in the sky.
A long, smoking arc described the explodee’s journey from the battlefield toward the horizon. The touch of empiric evidence it supplied told Mu in no unsure terms who had come out on top in the unreal duel. The trouble part was, he could not see Futo anywhere. The excess of her winning blow was dissipating in the frigid air – heat-shimmer blurring the sky-scape – but the small master of the Tao was nowhere in an eye’s scanline. Not to the left. Not to the right. Not up, not down. Not in front. Not—
She’d been behind.
Mu’s breath was hammered from his chest when Futo body-slammed into his back. Her tiny arms wound, with crushing force, all around his ribcage as she knocked her stunned brother out of his tree. The tree to which Mu had, across the previous minutes, become fairly attached. It’d been a real nice tree to have a think in. And snap off tiny twigs of while at it.
He was not attached anymore. As a matter of rough fact, he was now plummeting, Futo and all, toward the hard forest floor. Mu Damped his weight down to null, but none of it slowed the ground’s rapid approach. Not with Futo’s chest firmly stuck to his back. Handai Mu swore in advance of the coming pain.
And, also, because he sensed, from the feral excitement in Futo’s grip, that his bones weren’t nearly everything that was about to get a nasty rattle.
Handai Mu struck the ground like ninety pounds of potatoes.
More meticulously, Handai Mu struck the ground like no pounds of potatoes with a ninety-pound counterpoise strapped to the back, which may or may not have been worse, contingent especially on whether you were the ground or the intervening Handai Mu. The priest (and counterweight) tumbled end over end among the frozen leaves, kicking up some, skidding on others and otherwise inconveniencing the rest. After three to four more horizontal somersaults, things came to a neat arrangement, wherein Mu lay spread-eagle on the bare forest floor, with his windswept, flush-faced tutor rough-riding atop.
Handai Mu released the Water inhibiting his weight, opened his mouth to complain of the bruises on his rear – and then frowned in a distressed way and thought of something else altogether. Chiefly, since Futo picked that same instant to pin both his wrists under her hands, and his defenceless mouth – under her own.
(A large, eerily white hare, which had burrowed around these parts long enough to learn people dropping from the sky was within acceptable weather conditions of Gensokyo, peeked its ruby-eyed head out of a nearby clump of juniper. To its hare-brained surprise, it saw not one – as was the usual – but two human-shapes, sprawled in a stack in a clearing of their own making, or – the hare dimly supposed – at least, that of their unfortunate fall. These humans were, even so, issuing a lot of strangled, even pained noises, which assured the hare everything was par for course, and that another human-shape would be along soon to, in the hare’s genetic lexicon, swoop down and “do the owl.”
At its age [and size], the great, white hare feared no owl. It concluded prudent, all the same, to put some caution distance between itself and the humans about to be owled.)
Futo slid her tongue out of her brother’s mouth and rounded the kiss off with a hard, wet, longing smooch on his lips. Handai Mu’s frown did not so much deepen while she sat up astride him, as a slight extra existential anguish was added.
Mononobe Futo was wonderful.
Handai Mu’s lovely, brazen tutor shook her long, silver hair straight and behind her shoulders. It spilled, loose and lustrous, down the arch of her back, the scrunchie – which commonly held it in a ponytail – having fallen causality to the fight. Her hat was gone, but Futo had no apparent care. Her plain, grey eyes were alive with energy the like Mu had seldom seen inside them unless Futo was flinging about orbs of super-heated air.
Mu crawled his breathless, distracted attention down his tutor’s front. The motley layers of her hunting cloak were ripped, sliced, and, in places, missing altogether; and, while the jagged edges of the fabric were dyed red, underneath, the bared patches of Futo’s skin were smooth, pink and unblemished. Quite the same were Futo’s legs, which Mu discovered to be hugging his flanks and displaying a fairer deal of thigh than normal – favour of the crescent smile, slashed all across the skirt of Futo’s uniform. And inside the gap, between those delicious, creamy thighs—
“Mu brother?” Futo cooed.
Handai Mu jerked his eyes upwards, to the area of Futo’s anatomy which should have been the safest to focus on – but wasn’t. A loose, naughty, sensual grin was busying Futo’s lips, which had proven softer, hotter and more skilful than Mu had ever featured them to be. And, willing to admit it or no, he’d featured them a lot. Late at night, in diverse detail, on and around variable parts of his body. With lipstick and without. Sometimes interspaced with Seki…
… And sometimes not.
Futo nestled astride her downed brother, blatantly enjoying his reluctant once-, twice- and thrice-overs. The small Master of the Tao laid her petite hands flat on his stomach – then, gently, drew her hips toward them.
Had Mu any hair on his head, it would have been standing on the ends. And not at all for the cold earth under his back.
“Knowest you, Mu brother,” said Futo, her voice sweet and syrupy, “whyfor I that to you did? For which worldly reason?”
Futo’s smile threatened to set the world on fire. “None simpler,” she told him, “than you an attractive man art. None simpler,” she stressed – as though anything more complex was an affront to her female pride, “than I to you kiss want. Witest you now?”
A bolus of something knotty and tough travelled down Mu’s gullet. He brushed his tongue across his parching lips. “… Futo,” he croaked, “I can’t; I have a—”
Futo rode him over. “I know,” she confessed. “I’ve figured. And I nary a damn give.”
And then, with a fleer that implied consent was, at best, a contingency, Mu’s tutor and adoptive sister dropped down and swamped his objections under another wet, greedy, almost throat-deep kiss. And Mu, on instinct or otherwise, responded in kind.
There were things to be said of men who French-kissed their self-professed sisters. There were those to be said of men who contemplated their morality and then went on to trample on it within the same hour. There were others altogether to be said of a man who stuffed his tongue all the way into a girl’s mouth, only so he could feel her lips slide all along it when he pulled it back out. There were many things to say – and Handai Mu could say none, because he was doing every one of the aforementioned.
Futo could not be happier for it. Her small, teenage body squirmed and quivered in uncontained passion. Across the previous weeks, Handai Mu had thought himself bottled-up. He’d felt irritable and, issue of this, acted, at times, indelicate. Mononobe Futo was a special woman, who lived life on a different scale. She didn’t get as much bottled-up as she got chained in a barrel, laded with lead weights and dumped at the bottom of a lake with naught but a single match for light and company.
And now, she’d found that a kind soul had left her a stick of dynamite taped to the bottom of the lid.
The soul was Mu. And as for the dynamite…
The dynamite may have been his right hand being tugged by its longest finger up to a slit in the side of Futo’s cloak. His sister, who was small enough to get away with the hearts of people who did not know her, could also get away with wearing nothing under the innermost, blue layer of her ritual dress. Warm, supple, and utterly naked skin met with and immediately began to flirt with Mu’s cool fingertips. Futo’s brother slipped his hand farther in. He cupped, squeezed, and then pushed his palm under her left breast. Then, he flicked his index finger – just once – across its stiff, hard nipple.
Futo’s whole body jerked on top of his own.
Yes. That was the dynamite.
And yet, Mu could no more marvel at his sister’s explosive sensitivity than she broke the hungry, sucking kiss. A string of hot, sticky saliva stretched and popped between their separating mouths as Futo rose to her knees over his waist. Without a word – with her white teeth pinching her lower lip – Futo picked up his unoccupied hand and guided it under her ruined skirt. Her thighs shivered when Mu’s cold knuckles stroked their skin.
And it was then, as Handai Mu was staring up into his tutor’s dreamy, bedroom eyes, that rationality unpacked its machine gun and made its final stand. Whether courtesy of the sailor ghost, Minamitsu, who had taken off the worst of Mu’s edge earlier, or perhaps his own surviving scruples, the yellow-ranked priest of Toyosatomimi Miko’s Sen-kai, Mentor Mu, the (whilom?) lover of one peevish redhead, stuck with the fingers of his left hand halfway up his designated sister’s silky thigh.
And he thought, if only for a beat of his cheating heart, that—
( ) This was not fine. ( ) This was not fine, but…
I know you did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 'Strange but sexy' is one of the highest honors I can give a story. The thought-provoking novelty of "strange" combined with the energizing readability of "sexy" create an exquisite dichotomy.
—That, on a scale of not fine to hell yes, all of this was leaning heavy on the less fun side.
There was a palpable drop in the figurative temperature inside Mu’s chest. Futo was riveting. His tutor of thirteen long months was nimble, spirited, wise (in her own, idiosyncratic Way), and was the second… third… second most alluring woman he had met in Gensokyo. The Crown Prince, Toyosatomimi Miko, might have had her adjutant trumped in terms of sheer glamour; even she, however, hadn’t Futo’s pure, replete energy under her luminous skin. Handai Mu did love the golden goddess of the Sen-kai, and he did so from the bottom to the top of his cynical heart.
He just loved Futo with a few other parts of his body in addition.
And so, he wanted to touch her. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to peel her out of her skirt and drawers, and slide his hands all over her nude thighs and rear. He wanted to see various crevices stuffed full of his fingers – and different things. And if time travel was real, and as pliable as Hollywood had tended to paint it, then Mu wanted to go back to all those occasions he’d reined himself short of admitting he’d love to screw his criminally youthful tutor, and give the past-Mu a history-changing punt in the nuts. Maybe two, if causality felt accommodating.
Above all, he wanted to make it so he had never met with and fallen for Seki first, so none of this would have had to have never happened. Which, when Mu gave it a think-over, was precisely the time-mucking line of reasoning that ended universes.
The things two wonderful women could make a man to do.
And it was, therefore, with the good of the multiverse uppermost in his mind, that Handai Mu ripped his wanton hand away from Futo’s trembling thigh. Then again. Then once more – because the previous two attempts hadn’t quite made it down his arm.
A distressed sound – and not that of tearing flesh – reached his ears from up above.
“… Mu brother?”
Futo was looking down at him with eyes glassy from betrayed hopes. Her own, dainty fingers were vised, possessively, around his wrist.
Mu crushed his thigh-deprived and upset hand into a thigh-deprived and upset fist. Then, swallowed on an instinct. It was a slow, laboured swallow, which – to an impassive observer – might have suggested that Mu had learned the whole thing from a book, rather than millions of years of picky evolution.
“… Sorry,” he rasped. “I… I can’t.”
The small master of the Tao stared him down – her expression slowly icing over into that of someone for whom the words “Handai” and “Mu” were about to become synonymous with “kill” and “Boddhist.”
“It isn’t,” Mu rushed on to explain, “that I do not… want. I want to. I’ve wanted to. But I can’t. Sorry.”
Futo’s reply was cool, measured and, if honed, could slice bamboo to ribbons. “… For cause, peradventure, of your Human Village girl?”
Mu was above surprise by now. Not least from a woman who had seen and moved in ancient court. “… Yes. Her. That’s it.”
“Whilst you in weeks out to overnight haven’t crept?” Futo shot back. “Whilst you’ve me for the self-same weeks pitiless teased?”
“Yes. Yes… I did that. I recognise my failing. I can’t tell if I’ll amend it.”
“Then you yon village girl dost yet court?” Futo wanted to know.
Mu sawed out a rusty sigh. “We’ve had a… a something. A mistake – or scare, maybe. I am in the middle of solving it out, and we aren’t seeing each other in the meanwhile. But we’ve not… uh, divorced? Split. We haven’t split. Not on the formal.”
“And lovest you her so, Mu?”
“I… think. I reckon. Yes.”
“Over your liege lord, even? Over I?”
The priest swallowed down the answer he was not prepared to give. “… We’ve been in the same cups together for longer, Futo,” he argued instead. “Since before I was in Lord Taishi’s favour. Since before I knew you. Seki was… important. Having her carried me over rough terrain. Gave me something to count the days to. I’d not planned for us to get closer, but… That’s wisdom over spilt milk. We are where we are; I do what I feel I need to do. My Way.”
Their Ways must have run over and reconfigured into an intersection with much too many red lights, because Futo squirmed with impatience above Mu’s shift stick. A last-ditch, improvised overpass loomed behind her eyes.
“I can sex from love separate,” she told him. “Canst not you?”
“I don’t…” Mu began.
And then, a memory flash-seared the first pick of reply off his tongue. A memory of the same tongue having, of late, been engaged with another tongue, which had of less late been happily employed under his mini-Mu. He could make the separation. He had, once. All but, and he might have again. Only, now that he’d stamped the brakes and looked the question over, he realised the sex and the love would have been attached to the same person. And whether he could still disconnect the two once they were in that arrangement…
… Mu, simply, had not enough experience to know.
“… I don’t know,” he voiced the conclusion up at the petite, earnest woman keeping him pinned, both physically and metaphorically, under her wonderfulness.
Futo added her eyes to the pin: a racy, sharp, quicksilver stare, now edged further with a dash of hot resentment. Handai Mu did his hardest to ignore the ninety pounds of aroused, under-clothed, wonderful girl on his hands. Handai Mu failed, because one of said hands was still beneath said clothes and clasped around said girl’s left breast. The breast heaved up and down with every one of Futo’s hungry, rustling breaths.
And it was one of those breaths which stole away Mu’s focus – once Futo gave it her petulant voice.
“… Mayeth this be,” she asked her pinned brother, “of those sooths one, which you inly ponder anent must?”
Mu’s wet omelette of a brain scrambled more of its eggs in order to encompass Futo’s meaning. “I… Yes. Belikely,” he supposed.
“Wilst you, Mu brother?” Futo asked. “On this ponder?”
“I’ll try, Futo.”
“On my neck.”
His tutor looked about to doubt his choice of mortgage – but surrender won out that contest.
Mononobe Futo, muttering under her tiny, ancient nose, shinned up from her knees to her feet. Mu’s hand flaked away from her soft, petite chest, and rolled out of the slit in her vest. Absurdly, Mu sensed a clench of jealousy inside his arm. He’d liked that breast. It had been on his top four list of favourite breasts since Futo had bared it to him on their first bath together. He’d wanted to feel it up more. A couple hours longer, at least. He’d craved to see how big its tip could swell. How hard and how quick it could rise. How it would taste.
Handai Mu ejected the thought alongside a low groan, even as he followed Futo into unenthusiastic verticality.
The priest and his lovely tutor patted themselves (and only their own selves) clean of the debris from their crash with the forest floor. Woodchips, flecks of dirt and juniper needles rained for a while onto the disturbed, frozen ground. And when they were no longer in impromptu camouflage, Futo faced her tall, shaven-headed brother with a thin, impudent smile on her well-practiced lips.
“Mu brother?” she cooed at him.
Mu gave a sigh. “Yes, sister Futo?”
“I shall you fierce for this kick.”
That, Mu had meant to say, was what I was going to do. He never did – because, half a breath in, Futo’s leg snapped out to ram its foot ankle-deep into his gut. Mu did as men did when two thousand Newtons of clog-assisted heel-power were slugged into their lower halves. He yelped. He clutched his stomach. He crumpled down onto the rough, cold ground, and went on to desperately hold his innards faithful to their name.
All done dispensing due pain, Futo crouched before her spluttering brother. The ruined skirt of her cloak climbed her thighs in a manner that would have had his eyes at full focus on any occasion that hadn’t his intestines twisted into balloon dogs. This, sadly, was not one of those.
“Heed, Mu,” Futo called him up. “Heedest you?”
“I—hrk… I heed, Futo,” groaned Mu.
“Heyday,” Futo praised him. “Methinks I done with yon Boddhist refuse am. For, leastwise,” she added, “this day. We should avaunt, home fly – ere they marshal. Thinkest not you so, Mu brother?”
“I… erk. Yeah. That… would be sound.”
“And once we our retreat reach,” Futo continued, “we shall eft our company sever. I shall to my chambers away and myself… refresh. Afterwise, I shall to yours visit. And thereon, Handai Mu,” she delivered her ultimatum, “I you to satisfy expect. Submitest you?”
“… I submit,” gave up Mu.
“Heyday,” said Futo.
And then, she stroked his shaven scalp with one compassionate hand, until Mu was out of his delicate (and not unmerited) state – and suitable to be airlifted home forgoing an unplanned bombing run.
>>42035 I’m glad someone appreciated that. Actually, I’m unusually chuffed myself about how I’ve handled Minamitsu. That is in spite of her brief appearance, not having a personal stake in her character and her turning out so obscene. So obscene…
… How in vogue are late and abrupt route switches these days? Asking for a friend.
Greensleeve Aiko hiked up her sleeves, which were, by now, more earthy than green. Wringing with sweat, she wiped her hands dry on her apron.
Then, she launched a grimace skyward.
Lady Taishi’s replica Sun hung on above, defiant of Aiko’s glaring. It kept raining gentle, creeping murder down onto the gardener’s back.
The thirty tatami worth of ground – which Aiko had, at no small cost to her vocal chords, wrangled out of the field-tending redsleeves for her spice experiment – were, politically described, in a state of slight upset. Ginger root, cumin and turmeric had all taken kindly to the Sen-kai’s soil; her paprika, however, had altogether given up on colour. While the unending Summer of Lady Taishi’s sanctuary ought to have made for the ideal papri-conditions, nature hadn’t taken under account the simplest, human lapse. Lady Taishi’s, from a handful nights before, had seen the Sen-kai’s barriers wane and permit through a breath of the Winter outside.
Aiko’s paprika had seized on this cue to lose all juices – and embark on a seasonal nap.
Lady Taishi would, more likely than not, apologise in profusion once apprised of these results. The occurrence of some revering the Sen-kai’s creator as divine did not obscure the detail that Toyosatomimi Miko had never disunited herself from her human roots. Aiko’s (woefully swift) tutelage under the golden saint’s care had exposed to her the perfection of Lady Taishi’s humanity hadn’t comprised the removal of its innate deficiencies. No. Celestials and saints did, still, make mistakes. The separation was merely that the latter group owned up to theirs. Lady Taishi included, it was to be hoped. Aiko could use a rainy day salted away as a favour.
Someone breached the Sen-kai’s invisible border.
The fact registered in Aiko’s chest as a dull, squeezing sensation. Almost as that of trying to breathe out on flat lungs. Attunement to the Sen-kai’s boundary field was something Lady Taishi had promised would wither more the less time they spent together; so far, the feeling had changed – from a tingling, metallic sound at the edge of hearing, to this – but hadn’t disappeared. Strongly, and not without due conjecture, Aiko believed her everyday intimacy with the secret realm’s soil was somehow maintaining her bond. In her own – Aiko’s – Way. How, though? That part was what intrigued her. Another point of research on the ever-growing list.
Where would she ever find the time for them, if her plants were blasted dying?
A second breach snatched the thought away, together with Aiko’s real breath. Someone with a Wind’s blast in their humours stumbled into Lady Taishi’s demesne.
Annoyance snapped Aiko’s back upright. She screwed up her eyes and peered out – over her jury-rigged garden, through a window in the undulating grain-stalks – toward the nearby stretch of the temple’s sandō road. A few moments of her expensive, mortal time passed her by, before the two boarders wandered into Aiko’s purview.
Adviser Mononobe and mentor Mu were making their un-merry way up the temple’s approach. They were both less than tidy; although, the Mononobe had her so-called brother somewhat outpaced by having lost some articles of her uniform – and reduced the rest to shredded pieces. The ancient shikai-sen trod onward in uncharacteristic silence; even the shorn ball of Mu’s skull seemed a shine balder than usual.
Whatever it was they had gotten up to, it’d evidently been no good.
Aiko shook her sweat-drenched head. There was a pair of square pegs for you. Mononobe’s excesses were noised about wide in Aiko’s home town; before even entering her trials, she had had been warned of the “nuisance” that was Toyosatomimi Miko’s aide apparent. Aiko’s instruction had spared her all except brushes with adviser Mononobe’s company: a handful of lectures on elixir and Feng and Shui, a few group exercises in balancing the dantians. Those not so outstanding as to be discerned in Lady Taishi’s eyes were, however, foredoomed to a novitiate fraught with uncertainty, thees, thous and the occasional explosion.
It was up to speculation how most redsleeves lived to either quit or laugh the whole thing off.
Mentor Mu, meanwhile was… a nuisance also – if of a different breed all told. A foreigner – in Aiko’s town, in Gensokyo, and the island of Japan altogether – Mu wore his exoticism like a coat. When he spoke, it was seldom. Once he did, it was with exaggerated difficulty; and then, what often produced comprised of abstractions and wordplay no one but Mu understood or cared to unravel. Those peers of Aiko who did manage to establish two-way communication with the occidental man had a cautiously favourable view of his ability to teach and explain away things which even Lady Taishi laboured to break down into caveman terms. Aiko viewed these views with cautious scepticism.
Then again, that was how Aiko viewed roughly everything.
On their own, neither adviser Mononobe nor her foreign “brother” would have been any more eccentric than the mean for eccentricity around the Yatsugatake Mountain range.
Together, they had the rumour mill near flying off the axle.
And the gunpowder in the mix was their flagrant, ill-disguised love affair. More complaisant heads within Lady Taishi’s retinue claimed the two cuckoos were “courting.” Those with thinner fluff between their ears speculated outright they were screwing in the temple baths every other night. And then, a third side of the argument wondered in hushed voices whether the colours on mentor Mu’s sleeves were really a merit of his long studies… or his long fingers between his sister’s thighs.
It was, of course, nonsense and balderdash. Lady Taishi’s service involved but five ranks: red for blood – freshly consecrated to the temple grounds; green for blades of grass – freshly sprouted from the earth; yellow for the bud – with its golden wealth of experience, giving example; and blue for the petals – schooling and enticing future generations. Over all, available to but one soul, the royal purple of the Emperor-gardener.
And yet, there was but one bluesleeve in the whole Sen-kai. A mere triad of yellowsleeves chased her in rank: mentor Mu – the latest to the colour, speaker Tōhyō – who lived in Aiko’s town, where she sieved for new blood, and scrivener “Whip” Hada – who ministered to the temple’s functions as a household: keeping numbers, stocks and the like. A lion’s share of Lady Taishi’s acolytes, including Aiko, wore their greens with relish; only intermittently were they outcounted by the coming-and-going redsleeves.
It didn’t take blue at one’s wrists to see why. Greensleeves were free; they slept and ate under Lady Taishi’s roof, and had but a single obligation to their golden saint. The Inquest. A pursuit, of the acolyte’s own choosing, intended for paving their Way among the many interlacing Ways of the temple’s community. The ugly truth was, most greensleeves chose to remain at their lower rank. Why would they not? Toyosatomimi Miko was a strict, yet wise empress; no one lacked for anything within the Sen-kai, less they themselves were lacking. It was a scholar’s dream life. Why take on the added duties of rank when there was no imperative to do so?
Aiko was sure there was wisdom in only hanging authority on those who have been adequately slaved and wished to be slaved harder still, but she let it drop.
The trouble with mentor Mu’s yellow wasn’t whether he had won his sleeves with effort or from between adviser Mononobe’s legs. Or, even, if he had done a good job.
It was that they deigned to confirm neither of the theories.
Anyone who witnessed mentor Mu with the Mononobe could see, writ large, they were closer by half than what befitted a student and his tutor; anyone who asked, however, would receive a stern look and a no less stern denial. “Futo is my sister,” or “Mu my brother is.” And then, once the heads were but turned, they would skulk away, hand-in-hand, to make noise for hours in the temple baths.
There was not a soul in the Sen-kai who would have offended if the two “siblings” had admitted to an open, honest, and bald-faced affair. It would have settled bets and set a lot of cheeks aglow. Instead, the two elder Taoshi played both at being unutterable prudes, with whom you could no more raise the question of romance than you would inevitably censure them for incest. Neither did Mu, titled “mentor,” make more than a token appearance of his assigned station to support the opposite thesis.
And that coloured everyone’s wagers just a bit too vague. And cut Aiko’s patience short.
About this short.
Aiko reeled her attention away from the two dusty oddballs marching up the road, and back to her miserable garden.
The Outside World books she had acquired would have claimed the odds of one-night frost in the middle of the Japanese Summer beyond astronomical, deep into the realms of “global warming” (whatever sense that made). Gensokyo, however, was a land beloved by gods and youkai; and those were fickler and more powerful than any Outside World bugbear. Whenever Winter had visited out of season on her father’s herb garden, in town, Aiko and he had simply carried the bushes into warmer indoors. There had to be methods for larger, less mobile plants as well. A Gensokyo farmer would know.
And, as so happened, she had been of late contracted to a certain family of those.
Greensleeve Aiko undid her apron and gauged the position of Lady Taishi’s Sun against the clock-face of the sky. There were some hours left in the day.
“Guess I’ll have a walk, then,” she thought aloud – mostly to affirm her lungs hadn’t boiled away. “Ask around. Scope them out. Lady Taishi won’t mind.”
And maybe I’ll see, she added inside with less enthusiasm, what the blazes it was mentor Mu meant about them and washing the feet.
A scant hour since their inglorious return, Futo was gliding along the temple’s sombre hallways on a pair of slippery, woollen socks.
An hour, even so, had been enough to wring a handful of soberer conclusions out of her thoughts. Futo had made a slip. Not an error; for nothing within the day had unwound contrary to what she’d have deemed expected. And yet, in the course of her long, lukewarm shower, whereuntil she had laid the blame in full on the mulish Mu, a concern had merged – between her pride and moral sense – that perhaps she had been gauche in her advances. That, in her combat furore, with her desires Winded out of balance, under the unwitnessed cover of Gensokyo’s skies, perhaps Futo had succumbed too swift to her lust. That, had she but taken faster hold of her own reins, perchance her brother might have been willing not only at first – but at second, third and fourth also. Until the precipice. Until there was no pulling out.
Spilt milk, as he sayeth, Futo had chided herself, tepid water streaming down her face. A giddy, dissatisfied tingle had still been fiddling with the inside her chest, yet Futo had kept her hands well off of her body’s trouble spots. Withal she had spoken of “refreshing” herself, she had the fullest intention of facing Mu – and their combined wants – in a fully natural state. No forestalling what she may yet win. No Winding or Damping her emotions. No chicanery or artifice.
Only two adults with an unsettled claim of adultery.
Futo skipped to a halt before the door of her brother’s room. Then, as smoothly as allowed by her loose clothing, she slipped inside.
Afternoon had not overmuch changed Mu’s chambers from Futo’s morning call. Still they were a plain, unadorned home of four walls, a bed, a table and a couple of trunks belike unopened since Mu’s ascent to greens, two seasons prior. Still Mu himself lay on his back atop his bizarrely framed bed, whereon with dispatch he studied the insides of his eyelids. Still he vouchsafed no reaction – even as Futo padded near. All but, and it would have been a perfect re-tread… save that now Mu was nowise as deficient in the trousery area.
Fie, thought Futo.
Across the barren room, and she sidled up, on her knees, onto her brother’s unmade bed. Awhile, she entertained edging up on top of him… ahead her womanhood marked the idea down as forceful. Futo resorted to scuffing a measure closer – and merely placed a hand atop her brother’s slab-like chest.
A drawn-out, rattling, burring noise rumbled out of her brother’s ajar mouth, leaving his breast at near half its previous volume once over. Still, a pleasant half. Futo graced the antics how she did as a rule: with a forbearing smile and a pat on Mu’s flattened regions.
Mu drew in a wheezing refill of air. “…. Understanding of others,” he recited, swelling up to a ponderous sit, “bespeaks intelligence. Understanding of oneself bespeaks wisdom.”
“So Laozi Sage sayeth,” obliged Futo. “To what it now adverts, pray?”
Mu gave a flippant shake of his head. “Thought about everything of it.”
Futo regarded him with polite incomprehension. It seemed, at first sight, that her brother may turn his non-reply into one of those segues their conversations were wont to take. At second, his attention scaled off of her face… and tumbled down her front. Futo ill needed follow its lead to know where it was stuck. This, present, set of her uniform lacked perchance for the viewing windows the Myouren-ji devils had opened in her last – but it was all the same airy and mobile and scanter the farther below it stretched, until tapering to nothing at mid-thigh. Futo had it on good exposure that her brother had somedeal of an appreciation for women’s mobility parts. Hers, she had experienced, included in the notable group.
Futo thrust a warding hand between her bare thighs.
“Then you’ve on what I bade to you ponder pondered?” she asked.
Mu walked his eyes back upwise her body, rather by the scenic route than any highway of propriety. They caught: on her dangling pom-poms first, then on her neck, her lips, and on her own eyes lastly, where they came to a road-worn rest. Mu exhaled. He licked his own lips. Then rubbed his own neck. Then breathed back in.
At last, then, he gave up. “… If we were to have to stop pretending,” he confessed, “then yes. I want to sleep with you. I’ve wanted to since our first co-ed bath. You are a wonderful, lovely woman – and I am a wicked man with an imagination. There is a hundred hundreds filthy things I’d do to you if I could. Which was, I computed, why we were pretending to begin with.”
I never did pretend, Futo corrected inside. Outward, she tipped her head and questioned, “Then what, pray, such a conundrum is?”
“Thought I’d said already,” sighed Mu. “There is that girl, in town, that I’m… courting. That is conundrum one.”
“And I therewith said,” Futo reminded him, “that I might nay lesser care.” She rolled her eyes. “Soothly, Mu, I nay half so sentimental a creature as you am. Nigh on to twenty years of my former life I to the clans-head of the Soga wedded was. We all of five… all of four children together had. Hode, beloved Toziko, Kahakami, Kuramaro. I Umako husband’s crown jewel and fain treasured relic was. And I never did the man aught love.”
“And that,” Mu was wondering, “did not vex you, ever?”
“Vex, perchance,” admitted Futo. “Halt me? Nay once. Umako husband did to me honour do; I his trophy was, yet a symbol also. Whilst I, of the Mononobe daughter, content in our marriage remained, then so long was his rout under Shigisan in the court’s eyes vindicated. I have you the story told, have I not? I to Umako his victory faithful delivered, and he to me access to the throne through marital bond bestowed. He a worthy man was, Umako – for a Soga ape.”
Mu let the implications of her disdain fly away. “And yet,” he said, sceptical, “you loved him not.”
“And yet,” nodded Futo, “I nay did. I have but one man in my life’s millennium truly loved – and Umako was nay he.”
“… Who was?” Mu wanted to know.
Futo gave him an arch smile. “A dead man,” she dashed his hopes, “whom you nay know. And hereto your lesson pertains, Handai Mu. I can sex from love lief separate. It on you, all told, leans to the self-same do. Court you, Mu, whomever you desire. Our Taishi Lord, your of the Human Village girl, Toziko if you dare… I nary a fraction mind. I your affection want. Nay your devotion.”
Mu mulled over her reply. There was something within it which caused her brother rather visible bother, even if Futo could not – nor cared to – tell which. At length, it seemed, whichever piece it had been was shelved on a backwise shelf of his mind for later mincing.
“Conundrum two, then,” he moved on, raising the supportive number of fingers. “I do love you, Futo. You know, yes?”
There was an insidious clinch of pleasure inside Futo’s chest. Yes. She had, in fact, known fain well that Mu’s heart had a special spot inside carved out to her shape. No soul un-enamoured of at least parts of her would have gone the lengths Mu had done to enable – further, encourage – Futo’s idiosyncrasies; even the Crown Prince – in His sagacity – had expressed His gentle, yet firm disapproval. Not so Mu. Her colourful brother saw what Futo desired from her second youth – and let her to reach out for it. And that took either the most temperate of hearts… or one, indeed, full of love.
To be told, still, gave her own heart a treacherous jolt of happiness. Futo swept back a wisp of her silvery hair – which she had left untied after her shower for just such an occasion.
“… Yes,” she granted. “And I do you too love, Mu.”
Mu’s eyebrows poised on his forehead. “As a brother?” he guessed.
Futo made a nod. “As a brother.”
“And there lies the dog,” said Mu, alongside a surprisingly brutal gesture meant to indicate that, if the dog did not lie there, he would gladly brain it to make his point. “See, I do not love you like that. I’ve done the survey. The results are clear. It’s far and away, categorically, positively not as a sister.”
“How, therefore?” asked Futo. “Also, I have that one heard. It ‘rub’ is. Therein the rub lies. Nay ‘dog.’”
Mu squinted his opinion on idiomatic precision. “As a person,” he told her. “As a man to a woman. The normal, heavy, romance-sort of love. That is how I love you.”
And there was the thrill again. Futo fiddled with the inside of her sleeve until it had run its course. Fie, me, she thought, keeping her lips from curling up. Hath thy wits as well been smoothed in thy sleep as thy wrinkles?
“… And that,” she challenged – somewise, “whereinsoever differs, Mu?”
“That I do want to sleep with you, for a first,” pointed out Mu. “Men do not… Those normal of us do not feel this way about their sisters.”
Nay, thought Futo. I nay so suppose. “Have I you nay already told?” she asked him instead. “I nowise a monogamous creature am. If you so desire, love me. If you to another love yearn – do. To Toziko’s language borrow: I discriminate not.”
Mu made an ugly sound – and an even uglier face. “… And that,” he muttered, “is conundrum the third. Since meseems I do not discriminate, either.”
Futo cocked her head, not quite decided whether to praise her brother for this admission – or to bemoan it. Mu seized her confusion and gave a rueful smile in exchange.
“See, Futo,” he said, “I’ve already cheated on Seki. Once – so far. And all it took were three weeks of abstinence and a set of pretty legs.”
“That easy sounds,” dared Futo.
Mu nimbly ducked her sarcasm. Or, perhaps, failed to hear it altogether. “All too,” he agreed. “All too easy. And did you know the worst blasted part? Afterwards, all I felt was guilty that I did not feel guilty. Whereas I realised I should have. Then, you caught me with my faculties elsewhere earlier today, and…”
Her brother’s voice trimmed off – the mere memory apparently enough to dislodge said faculties all over again.
“And…?” Futo urged him on. “I heed you, Mu.”
Mu grunted something in his crackling, native tongue. “… And,” he went on then, “I hadn’t as much as thought, ‘Sorry, Seki,’ before my hands were all over you. To be honest, Futo, I have only the dimmest how I managed not to strip you nude right then and there. I was hard as rock the entire time.”
“Mhm,” agreed Futo. “I felt,” she lied – and watched her brother squirm on his seat. Futo’s senses had, truthfully, been Winded too high to focus on aught else except her own body… but Mu needed not to be told. “And I,” she added, “would nay have ‘no’ said.”
And this was markedly not a lie. Mononobe Futo now may not recall with any exactness the paths taken by her Winded, turned-on mind; she remembered, even so, where it was she would have made her brother stick his long, rugged fingers if he had not then spoiled her vulgar plans.
That place remembered too. Futo fidgeted on her knees. Irony of ironies, her own repartee had swung around to distract her.
Mu’s tone was pleading when again he posed the question: “Is that how a loyal man acts, Futo?”
Futo shook her silver-cloaked head left and right. “Is loyalty precious so, Mu?” she questioned him back. “Wish you, after all, to loyal be? Heed. Shouldest you to it change try,” she quoted, “you it ruin shall. Shouldest you to it hold try, you it lose shall.”
“Quoth Laozi,” Mu obliged in return. “I am loyal to Lord Taishi and the temple. To the precepts. To you. Staying loyal to one girl—” he scoffed, “—should have been a cake piece in comparison.”
Futo, frowning, chased after that horse-leg of their conversation in her head… and found it tragically, secretly lame.
At least, she cheered herself, it was not one of those lost horses their conversations on occasion became. There was yet a way to come first in this race. Mu did want to have sex with her; Futo sensed she could not have had him say it any straighter unless she was atop him and riding him halfway to an orgasm. Nor did she have aught else on her mind apart from fulfilling that desire. Mu was still her tall, well-proportioned, exotic brother; she had still a “hundred hundreds” depraved, unsisterly things she wished to do to him – and half again that for him to do to her. Sex would be a satisfying start. A slippery, hot, precept-compliant start.
All which Futo had yet to saddle was a clever horse that would overtake Mu’s confused sentiments. The truth balder than her brother was, she did not care for his childish romances; she did not care that another girl in the Human Village was using of his affection as well. Her courtly life had taught her naught but that relationships were flimsy, impermanent things. Sex and marriage and adultery were but labels for a simpler, more cardinal law: that of desire. All within the palace had followed theirs; all had styled it some else a privy name. All had traced their own, intimate Ways onto the murder fields of Yamato’s court.
All except Futo’s had failed.
And this was why she hadn’t mounted her oaf of a brother and ground atop his nether parts until he begged to be let inside her. Consent. Consent was a drug more puissant than all of wicked Seiga’s concoctions pitched together. Consent plied Ways and smothered afterthoughts. Futo would come moaning her brother’s name today, but she would do it either underneath him, with his willing assistance – or back in her rooms, with her own fingers.
Swell Handai Mu’s desire – and she would have the first. Swell, instead, his boyish guilt – and the latter was sooner like.
Futo knew of few things which roused her brother more than his own, overactive imagination. She only had to nudge it onto more fertile grounds.
( ) The wench he’d cheated with. Whatever she had done, Futo could do better. ( ) The girl in town. Whoever she was, Futo had the longer legs.
(X) The wench he’d cheated with. Whatever she had done, Futo could do better.
And little roused a man more than tales of his past conquests.
Futo sat a touch straighter atop her brother’s bed. Her long, silken hair, which had never been trained to be worn loose, had slithered free of its slot behind her ears. Futo brushed it back in place. Handai Mu stuck to her motions with a churlish, restrained stare – counting, only too evident, on her limitless charity to liberate him from his self-imposed conundrums. Futo brought to bear the bright, opaque smile she had long ago refined in the gathering halls of Yamato’s court.
Then, she stuck her brother on its spearhead.
“Tell me, then, Mu,” she commanded, “swoopstake, of this legged minx who has you into disloyalty seduced.”
Her brother’s eyes bulged. His chest imploded and exploded both at once – something that would have been impossible as a rule, less one had three Windings straining against one another. Mu’s stare stumbled down. An actual, honest-to-heavens blush was working up her brother’s robust jaw.
Futo sensed the returned stirrings of excitement crawl up the length of her back. Her smile hitched, then stiffened on her lips. Still she kept it rich and regal – so long as Mu took to fish his wits out whence her question had momentarily dropped them. He did ahead long – his fantastic, foreign eyes returning to hers in defeat.
“… This,” he groaned, “I can say you will not like, Futo.”
“Shall I the judge of that be?” asked Futo, even if her wary side did whisper its agreement. “Will you, Mu? To me tell?”
A grave surrender steeled the fore of her brother’s gaze. Mu restored on his upset breath. Then, he did so again – with more calculation.
“… Yes,” he agreed. “I feel you shall, at that. And I may, as well.” He tucked one of his long, sturdy legs up against his chest, and propped his chin on the knee. “… All of it, see,” he began, all false melancholy, “had its sorry start somewhen inside the twenty-first century.”
Futo canted her head to the side. “Might that the current century be?”
Mu made a quiet scoff. “It doesn’t feel it, does it?” he wondered aloud. “Not in here, anyway. What good is even counting?”
Futo rolled her eyes. “Would I that e’er know, Mu?”
Her brother sketched a shrug – with his brows. Then, he gave a sigh. “The pith is, Futo,” he conceded, “it was recently. Very,” he stressed, “very recently.”
“So recently,” helped Futo, “as…?”
Now her wary side was at full tilt. Mu gave her a look that might have been contrite if it wasn’t wry with cynicism.
“Today, then,” she prompted. “… Whenas I where was?”
“Afield,” said Mu, “recon… reconnoitring? Was that it? Uh. Checking the forest for sinkholes, methinks you said. You recall? Well… about then.” Mu paused, swapping his leg out for the other inside the accorded space. Futo let him to swap uninterrupted. “… Hadn’t planned for it, all in all,” Mu went on; “I’d just about meant to get one of those Buddhists you wanted distracted to walk me around the temple. We wound up talking, someway. About names, at first. Then stories. Then food. And then, someway, we swerved onto sex.”
There was a dozen things Futo wanted to know. Asking the most poignant, she said, “… Wherethrough does one onto sex ‘swerve,’ Mu?”
“Through pastimes, out it turns,” replied Mu. “Those youkai who hang out there, see – I was told they aren’t leashed as close as Hijiri wants it believed. They get a bunch of off-time, and they do… well, whatever it is they feel up to do, during. That includes the oldest time-killers in the book. Alcohol, delicacies, sex – those classics. We had ourselves a brief old bit of philosophical debate on it, my guide and I, and… ends meeting, she offered to blow me.”
“To blow…?” Futo leafed through her mental dictionary, but nothing non-Feng-related shook out. “Mean you—”
“Oral sex, is what I mean,” volunteered Mu, with a tiny flinch of his wide shoulders. “A blowjob. Good old mouth-stuff. I gave her a treat – a sugarcane stick – and she traded in her mouth. How that weighed even, I do not know.” Grunting, Handai Mu released his leg, then folded it – along its paired twin – underneath his seat. All but, and Futo would have pictured him a hatless courtier, kneeling to speak before the Empress’s throne. “… We got indoors,” her brother resumed; “got our tongues to know each other; got my hands to make friends with her rear. My forebrain must have displaced by then, because I tried to strip her panties and sneak my fingers down there while she was occupied. Smartest call it wasn’t… but all I got was scolded. Then, she hauled me by my belt to an empty room, had me stood against a wall, my shirt rolled up, my pants skinned, and gave my mast a full-length spit-shine.”
A long, charged pause coalesced like Toziko in the wake of Mu’s confession, wherein Futo caught her teeth nipping anxiously on her bottom lip. A dozen of pressing questions crowded at the door of Futo’s mind; it was another dozen to receive no attention as Futo favoured the one which harder scratched her curiosity.
“… Was she leastwise good?” she asked.
Mu ventured a weak chuckle, which rounded out to a weak sigh. “… Well, if you must—” He strived to sound regretful. “… I came pretty blasted fast.”
And yet, Futo knew remorse; and not so much as a speck of it had grazed her brother’s penitent voice. Were his handsome, scrub-bottomed face not a veritable crag of mournful wrinkles, Futo may well have assumed he was lauding the skill of his purported youkai cheat.
And it was that, and nothing else, which fanned the flames of frustration under her heart.
Mononobe Futo was not the stripe of woman given to controlling others. Carved into her core, the lessons of her blood brother proscribed such interference; even whilst in conspiration with the Crown Prince, the most Futo had done had been to advise and influence. To criticise her new brother’s choice of company, thus, would have but stunted his progress; Futo may no more outrage at his tolerance of youkai than Mu may decry her very own distaste. Or, it bore adding, than she may condemn the same in Lord Taishi Himself.
Whose companionship was sought by her brother was, therefore, his own choice. As it would have been Futo’s to burn it to cinders. It was not the problem.
The insult beneath his pick – was.
Futo climbed up onto her knees. She walked on them forward – until they were locked firmly about Mu’s. Her brother, he who would sooner bed a youkai than the paragon of humanity that was Futo, threw up his arms in a hasty barricade to ward off anything rash about to destroy his perfect mourning. Futo snatched them at the wrists.
“Tell me,” she spat her demand, “if naught else, it nay that starch-back Ichirin was.”
Mu blinked. His entire acquaintance with Futo’s history with the stiff half-nyuudou scrolled behind his eyes. “Um—” he blurted at length. “No. No, no. It was… the other one.” He hesitated. “The one you fought second? The ship spectre?”
Futo sketched another roll with her eyes – if not for the answer, then to cover up her relief. “The funayurei,” she corrected. “The drowner. You alone a room with that shared? Fie, Mu. Treasure you not life?”
“Truthfully, that’s what I thought,” allowed Mu. “At least, until I was… made to think something else. Though, as far as ghosts go, she was no less polite than our dear Tojiko. Asked me if she could drown me before she did anything to that end, even. And, when I declined, she let it all pass. Very considerate.”
“And of thighs possessed which fain may rock crush between,” Futo helpfully filled in. “And of a mouth beyond discomfit capacious. Ah, I do this menfolk’s love of oral sex well wit, Mu,” she said, with a smug curl of her lips. “I nary surprised you lured in were am. Fie. I do myself the image adore.”
Mu’s brows made arches over his eyes – even if said eyes did glue to Futo’s inviting smile. “The… image?” he repeated.
Futo leaned in closer, until she could breathe her brother’s warm, masculine scent. “Consider you, Mu,” she told him, meeting his gaze dead on, “how shameless to do such a thing is. To a man’s... member into an orifice for aught else but sex meant take. To it therein coddle and cosset, and to release its seed cozen, wherein it mayen’t ever its goal achieve… There nary an excuse is, is there? It an act of indulgence and utter depravity is.”
“… And that,” theorised her brother, “is why you like it?”
“Nay.” Futo smiled wider, bringing one of his captured hands up to her face. “It the look upon the man’s mien is,” she told him, “whenas he recognises I but one minute with his member in my mouth need to him buck his hips from pleasure make.”
And then, ahead any defence might mount in Mu’s slippery mind, Futo stuck out her tongue, and dragged it – with slow deliberation – from the heel of his palm to the tip of his longest finger. A judder of shock travelled up, then down the span of Mu’s arm. Attached to its tail came an impulse which must have been bound elsewhere on Mu’s body and had only gotten swept along by mistake – for it left all five of his fingers standing up straight at attention.
Giggling softly, Futo singled out two – the ring and the middle – and pushed them up into her well-trained mouth. Their coarse, dry skin caught and hitched on her lips as she slid them in up to their third knuckles. For a delicious, selfish moment, Futo sucked on the thick roots of her brother’s fingers. Then, she pulled them out – now coated top to bottom with her warm saliva. When she pushed them in again, they slipped between her hugging lips with smooth, erotic ease.
As she kissed his knuckles and rubbed the back of her tongue on the sensitive tips of his fingers, Futo peered up to check on Handai Mu’s expression. It was one of fascinated, aroused horror – and precisely the kind Futo had described. For that, Futo added a low, indecent moan into her pretend fellatio. And then, having clamped her lips around their slickened girth, she began to pull the fingers out – sucking so hard that their skin was flushed and swelled and throbbing when at last they popped free of her vulgar hold.
Handai Mu, yellow-ranked of Toyosatomimi Miko’s Sen-kai, a man of letters and, occasionally, deeds, did his studious best not to think.
Conveniently, Handai Mu had a long enough track record with thinking to know the act of trying not to was not, by itself, a helpful one. To resign from conscious mental processing meant invariably to give in wholesale to immediate sensory input, and, right now, the matter of Mu’s sensory input wasn’t something he wanted to focus on too hard. It was a cognitive muscle that simply wasn’t ready to be flexed. Instead, Mu allowed his thoughts to filter idly through his head, leaving them out of any concrete, subjective review until the cows came home, hunkered down at a table, cracked a couple of cold ones, and resolved to face a reality of rampant fast-food restaurants and mass dairy production.
There was a general impression of Futo – his tutor and adoptive sister – lying across from him on his bed, and doing something rather improper with her petite fingers. There was a general feeling of exhaustion, a general sense of tipsy fulfilment, and a general apprehension against the time, some hours away, when he would eventually must joust with the fact of having done something unquestionably sexual with someone who was unquestionably not his partner for an unquestionable second time within the span of a day.
For now, however, Mu let that first one idle the cognitive engine in his head. Futo, all misty smiles, caught his attention by the nose; and, extracting her fingers whence they had definitely not been practicing crocheting, she wiggled them at him to come close. Without thinking, Mu set forth to do her bidding. On all-fours, his open shirt (and other loose extremities) dangling below him, the priest crawled over his tutor’s small, half-unclothed body. Futo hadn’t to give him the satisfied little smile, which she did anyway, to make her brother lean down and take her lips.
Mononobe Futo felt wonderful. From her satiny hair to her dainty toes, Handai Mu’s ageless sister was a thing of lithe, dynamic beauty. There was little anything about Futo that failed to draw the eye some way or another. The sensation of her warm, sweat-covered skin on its own was enough to make Mu’s palms itch with longing. Her lips were pink and soft and absolutely made to be kissed. The only thorny part of the ancient woman was her quaint, indiscriminate Way with life. That was, Mu theorised, what had lost Futo most of the male attention. Someone’s physiology being magically rearranged in the middle of an intercourse could put a cramp on the nerve; and, in the townspeople’s book – which was more akin to a short, religious leaflet – anyone who dabbled in the arcane was either a youkai, a shrine maiden, or an anomaly to ward against in the best of circumstances.
Mu did not care. He had wound his brain around less conventional things in Gensokyo; and even Futo’s turning out to be a lot more… libertine than he had dared to feature her – in the darkest watches, with his hands under the blankets – couldn’t hope to diminish the joy of having her tiny lips pressed against his own. It was also, a less secure piece of him ventured, why Futo had stooped to accept him to very start. Because he tolerated who she was. Because he didn’t stifle her with unsought judgements. Because he let Futo be Futo, and shared in her satisfaction of what that entailed.
Because, for this same reason, he had been previously accepted by Seki.
The unruly thought spoiled his idle appreciation of Futo’s warm lips. Mu drew himself out of the kiss, to find his tutor atypically complaint upon his leave. Futo’s expression was, in fact, mild and happy and thoroughly content with what had happened… and what might still happen before the day was fully out. Or, Mu estimated, before his life was.
“… Mu brother?” she cooed up at him.
Futo gave him a sunny smile. “That for you good felt – did not it?”
“… Yeah,” admitted Mu.
The reply made her sigh her agreement. “Same for I. Well done.”
He did his best to keep his usual cynicism out of his voice. “… I’m glad you liked.”
“Mm. Nay. I did it above than like. It the first time on my life was – knew you this? That I from penetration alone came…”
Mu purged his mind of everything but scholarly exactitude. “… Methinks it was more than that, Futo.”
“Methinks,” countered Futo, “I what me the greatest pleasure gave best know.”
“It was one of those positions, wasn’t it,” guessed Mu. “Where the… Where that spot gets poked?”
“Heyday. You have it figured.”
“The reaction was… um, telling.” He faked a deep concern. “Will I ever quit being treated as your student, Futo?”
His small tutor shaped a no bigger grin. “Whenas I to you no more may teach, Mu,” she declared, “then shall we you in your blues adorn. Afore, all beith well, the world from age grey turns.”
“I’ll apply myself.”
“Yes,” nodded Futo, “do. Fie, why nay now start? Have you aught I may myself wipe down with? I’ll ill walking to the baths with this under my clothes savour.”
Mu made it a point not to glance down to Futo’s bare, sullied navel. “… I’ll, uh, give you an old shirt. Can wash it under the showers later. Heavens know, I have.”
His tutor’s wonderful eyes narrowed with naked expectation. “Then you will me to the baths accompany?”
Handai Mu, always keen to prove there was damn well no mental exercise that he would shy from, availed himself of every effort so as not to remember what Futo had promised to give him if he should aid her in their post-fun cleaning. Something else remembered in his stead – growing slightly less floppy in the Mu-land down under.
“… Yeah,” rasped the priest, feigning very convincingly a sudden sore throat. “Yeah, damn it. I will. You win, Futo.”
Futo was a cat in a tubful of cream. “Heyday,” she praised her brother’s ability to give up when cued. “And later? Afterwise mine and my Taishi Lord’s rites? Will you me also attend?”
Mu squeezed out an exasperated frown. “… Must we decide now? The evening’s still a bit off. I’ve no way of knowing if I won’t end up in Reo’s soup for tomorrow before then.”
Futo paid his fears no heed. “Whenas,” she returned, “if nay now? A maid to the fore of a man’s visit must her chambers needs prepare. And whilst I fain’d have afterwise our bath asked, Mu—” her cunning lips blossomed into a smug smile, “I suspect, somewise, my mouth shall mighty worn-out be. Thus, I you now ask. Will you, Mu?”
Mu contrived to look torn.
( ) Yes. For Futo’s comfort – he would. ( ) No. His investigation was in its last stretch.
(X) No. His investigation was in its last stretch.
Although, in the end, he found himself too wholesome yet to tear for real.
“Well said,” he admitted, “but, pass on this side. Tonight, I’ve… business elsewhere.”
Futo took up what was, or what Mu thought must have been, the most adorable little frown to ever exercise his sister’s ample brows. This, commixed with the absence of a foot shoved someplace around his appendix, evidenced to Mu that afterglow was one female dog of a spell. An additional female dog was called to heel when he realised the frown was doing his heartrate absolutely no favours.
“Fleeing, Mu?” Futo accused from under the frown.
Mu’s cynic streak overrode his enchantment. It had to ride quite hard. “… Where?” he returned. “We sleep and eat under the same roof. Well, not roof,” he supposed. “Closer a sky… dome… bag-of-holding, pocket-realm-thing. And, well, it’s where I sleep. I’ve not seen you asleep. Or eating. It is where I eat, though. So, you know…”
Miracle above miracles, Futo entertained his fumbling with a giggle. “Fain funny, Mu,” she granted. “Albeit, yes. I do your precarity wit. Marry, I’ve it myself betimes bemoaned. Yes, you a clever case indeed draw. You me nary escape may.”
Futo needn’t to add, “And, turning out elsewise, I shall have you to Gensokyo’s horizons on wings of fiery vengeance chase,” because her brows were signing that for her all by themselves. Futo’s brows were, at times, almost their own creature. They were certainly thick enough to have their own gravity well. At least, they did for Mu.
Which might reason for his next course of action; for, rather than give his cute tutor a clonk sideways on the temple and run before she woke up, Handai Mu’s orbit skewed to drag him down once more toward her lips. Futo gave in with zest, craning up her chin to intercept the kiss. Her sole, mild protest was voiced when Mu made a momentary break for the most outspoken part of her face. Only once each of her brows had been aptly smothered with affection did the priest slide down again to give the same treatment to his sister’s tiny, graceful lips.
There were no more complaints from Futo after that. A coy purr did vibrate from her mouth when Mu sought to involve their tongues in the kiss – but not a displeased one. There was a small moan – muffled, on account of their lips then forming a tight seal – when Futo sensed one of her hands being picked up, and its fingers intertwined with his. And then, a full, arduous minute of quiet gasping and sucking, while Mu struggled to keep up with his sister’s wealth of experienced desire.
At some more length, Futo managed to quit fellating his tongue long enough to mumble his name.
Her brother answered into her open mouth. “… Yeah?”
“If I may nay that massage this night have,” she breathed voicelessly, “then may you it to me afterwise our shower give?”
Something below Mu’s waist-level went, “Top of the evenin’, squire!” at the thought of fingering his wonderful tutor to another orgasm. He car-jacked himself up on his free arm, to stare blearily at the small, yet shamelessly forward woman, who would corrupt him thusly.
And then, one last Sisyphean effort later, he panted, “… Gods, yes. Yes, you may, Futo.”
Futo’s answering smile all but blinded him to the mental sight of his morals trundling down his mental hill. “Mm. Heyday,” she approved, squeezing her hand around his. Somewhere behind them, the hill became even steeper. “Then, Mu, let us there. Me ahead, methinks – to undue attention avoid. Avaunt, you me there may join. Albeit, now… might I be that ‘old shirt’ bestowed? Methinks I your vigour trickling down my side can feel.”
Ablush and apace, Handai Mu slithered off of his sister’s slight, half-naked body – to root under his bed for the stack of shirts and trousers demoted to rag duty upon his investment in the coloured Taoshi robes. Futo nodded her thanks, having received the much-needed tissue stand-in; and Mu stood up himself, from the overburdened bed, feeling sheepish and wolfish, somehow both at once.
It was within the brief respite of time – wherein Mu was pulling his underwear up over his distinctly uncooperative anatomy – that a pair of thoughts managed to take presidency in the court of Inner Mu. Out of the direct sight of Futo’s nudity, the yellow-ranked priest acknowledged to himself – with no Damping or old-fashioned delusions – that saying “no” to his sister’s appeals from here on out would be as difficult as, say, borrowing Myouren-ji’s main sanctum for a hen night. Futo was fantastic. Cuter than a button, more confident than a charging tank, with legs that went on for hours and a head which understood ever and always what it was she wished from life. And, when what she wished was for a young, shaven-headed man to get naked and prod her vulnerable spots from behind, then there was precious little said young man could do stave off said hour-long legs for longer than just that.
The less attractive, second thought said this. That, in the light of the above, Handai Mu should expedite his research into youkai and their undisclosed sociability. That, once tonight was a thing of the past – and he had procured one, final confirmation – he should distil the hypothesis into a full theory, then carry it on to her whom its postulates had most unnerved. That, no later than tomorrow, Mu should fly – or, anyway, hop – back to the walled, human town… and confront his first and only friend (and love) in Gensokyo.
And then, universe willing, he would set that angsty, oversensitive redhead straight.
For the next block: ( ) Tojiko ( ) Ringo ( ) Raiko
What is? A few things. First off, Summer kicked in over where I live and, some-bloody-how, it’s even hotter than last year’s rendition. Meaning: 1) afternoons are hell, 2) nights are the only feasible time to get anything done, 3) but I’m not getting anything done, 4) since I try to keep up on my sleep, 5) because I got a major promotion at work, 6) and hence, kind of, sort of need myself on steady feet in the morning. That’s six things already, and we’re still in the first paragraph. Wowza.
Seventhly, I think I may be slightly burned out on Parade. To make a long story slightly less long, the whole thing began as a loose opportunity for me to write from multiple characters’ perspectives, exploring their private thoughts on coexisting with humans/youkai, and a thin excuse to write a lot of porn. Somewhere along the way, though, I began to feel obliged to have at least some semblance of a plot going, and… that’s where things got a little shakey. I don’t think I’ve tackled it from the right angle, nor that I did good by giving into the call of plot in the first place. Inadvertently, I’ve turned the premise of “egg-man romps around Gensokyo, diddling youkai ladies” into more of an “egg-man tiptoes around Gensokyo, desperately trying not to diddle youkai ladies, because he has a mistaken attachment to one particular youkai lady, whom he grossly misunderstood, and also his moral compass is something out of the Discworld.” Good job, me.
Anyway, I’m not saying this is dropped or scrapped (you know I don’t really do that sort of thing), but I do need to figure out a few things in the little non-murderous free time I get. If you’ve any thoughts to offer, do go ahead. The simplest thing may nudge me in the right direction.
I’ve also been hankering something fierce after a Kutaka story. It’s ridiculous how attractive that bird is. What the hell.
If I was you facing the same writing impasse, I would have had Banki break up with Eggman, and then taken the story into a multi-perspective dating-sim/waifu war. Keeping Banki on the backburnrs in yandere stalker mode just to add some conflict and spice.
This Parade is now officially dispersed. If I had to pinpoint a culprit, it’d predictably be my person. I began writing this story without a real story to tell. The nebulous premise of “A man attempts to find out why his youkai drinking buddy suddenly refused to meet with him anymore” and the perspective switcheroo gimmick I’d counted on to carry it weren’t strong enough, losing even my own interest over time, and in my overconfidence, I failed to anticipate that. I fell, as it were, for the classic blunder.
Apologies to anyone who was still holding out hope. At the very least you and I got a Minamitsu scene out of the ordeal, which counts as a definite achievement in my book.