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    Tsukihana
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Do vaporwave kitsune count technicolor sheep? - 23. Chapter 23

With me gathered against his ostentatiously bare chest, he exits the room. Taking a left down the hall from Frau’s bedroom, we come out into a spacious entryway. I can see that the blood-red night has fallen outside through the curtained and cushioned bay windows. The white marbled floor covers the expanse beneath our feet, and my gaze is drawn to a wide scrolling staircase in the center of the room formed of the same dark ebony wood that is featured through the rest of the manor.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To our bedroom. You have had a long day, and it is late. I’ve brought in extra security and left Genghis’ intimidating self in charge of things. Trust me, at the moment we are essentially on lockdown.”

“I have yet to get used to the day and night cycle of this place. The concept of things like morning, noon, and night seem silly now.”

“It does take time to get used to. You’ll get there.”

Lifting up my dark nose to peer over his shoulder, I see the front door is flanked by two armed guards dressed from head to toe in black bodysuits, hands held behind their backs. Even beyond that, I can just make out the silhouettes of more outside patrolling the grounds.

His steps are slow and careful so as not to jostle me as he makes his way up to the second floor landing. Pausing in front of the tall panes of clear glass, I am afforded a view of the grounds beyond bathed in the red light of the waning twin moons. Gravel paths line a garden below up, dotted with glowing fruit-bearing trees along the path and burbling stone fountains.

“It’s beautiful.”

“After you have rested, I will take great pleasure in giving you a tour of your new home.”

There is something attractive in the assertive tone he uses to tell me in no uncertain terms that this is my home now, a concrete principle that I better get around to accepting. By now, I’m all too readily falling in line with his plans, but I certainly won’t tell him that.

Hikaru takes a right from the apex of the stairs, crossing beneath a plain looking wooden arch that leads into a wing of the house that is his domain alone. The spark of awareness that prickles over my skin as we enter feels like a buzz of static electricity.

His own personal scent is everywhere here, where the other parts he brought me through still carry the smell of unused freshly finished construction. This is his lair and most private sanctum.

“Feel free to explore, Mi Tiefal, I am going to prepare a bath for you.”

Setting me down, he disappears into a connecting room and out of my sight. Shedding the form of the fox, I don my human guise. In the background, I can hear the turning of faucets and the rush of water filling a tub. A familiar scent that is almost but not quite mine drifts to fill my nose.

How curious.

On silent carpet cushioned steps, I wander from room to room. A dressing room lined in mirrors lies across from a spacious bedroom dominated by an enormous curtain draped poster bed.

“The bath is ready, Moon.”

“Coming.”

My senses follow the trail of the sweet flowery jasmine-like scent to the bathroom, where I freeze in awe. A study in shades of white, it is the massive clouded quartz tub with shining silver fittings that first captures my attention. In lieu of the gaslit lamps prevalent through the rest of the house, here white gold sconces with paraffin wax candles line the white and steel grey pinstriped papering upon the wall.

“I thought you said this scent does not exist in this world.”

At the sound of my voice, his head rises from where his fingers are stirring a fragrant oil into the gently frothing water.

“It does not, but the phantom smell of it has haunted me since the moment of my appearing here, and this is so far the closest approximation of it I have been able to have crafted.”

With a flick of the wrists, he turns the taps off, leaving only the drip-drop of cascading water to ripple across the still fragrant surface.

“Come, I will help you in.”

I cross the room to take his hand, watching the soft play of flickering candlelight cast shadows across his features. He steadies me as I climb into the steaming bath, sinking down into its delicious depths until the water laps at my shoulders.

“Lean your head back and I will fetch serums to wash your hair, and soap to scrub your skin. I’ll be right back.”

My eyes drift shut and I can hear the soft shuffle of bare feet on the white marbled floor. Somewhere behind me, the faint creak of a cabinet opening reaches my ears. The water feels divine as I dip my head all the way in, drenching my dark hyacinth hair and black-tipped and violet vulpine ears.

Returning, Hikaru sets an armful of bottles upon the raised stone dais that holds the massive tub and unwraps a fruity smelling soap bar from a neatly waxed paper.

“Just let me do this please, Moon. Lean forward just a bit.”

I do as asked and fold my arms on top of my knees so that I can hold my chin above the warm waters. His agile fingers massage a gel matching the scent of the unwrapped soap into the strands of my hair and the fur of my ears. Soft satisfied mewls escape me and my eyes remain closed and utterly relaxed by his tender ministrations.

From my scalp to the ends of my long strands, he thoroughly washes before filling a small glass pitcher to rinse clean. Dipping the bar of soap into the water, he then sets to lightly scrub first my arms, then back, and every other part of me in turn. Never does he make any attempt at something sexual, instead he is perfectly content to simply care for me. Draining the water from the large quartz tub, he wraps me in a gigantic fluffy towel and pats me dry from head to toe before lifting me out to stand beside him.

“I will have to have a wardrobe made up for you. Would you like something of mine? Or do you perhaps sleep bare… “

“As tempting as it is to steal away more of your clothes, and wrap myself in your scent… I think sleeping beside the real article and forcing you to keep me warm will suffice.”

Hikaru flashes me a broad grin and loops his arm beneath my knees to lift me up into his arms. I am beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that whenever he is around, I will not be allowed to walk wherever I am going.

“I love your reasoning, it’s very sound.”

Carrying me to the bed, he reluctantly sets me on my feet. Unwrapping the towel from around my body, he gives my long hair a final patting before laying me down upon the silk sheets and tucking me in.

“I will join you just as soon as I have bathed myself, I won’t be long. Just rest for now, Mi Tiefal.”

Stroking one finger across my cheek, he lowers his lips to capture my mouth in a tender kiss. For long moments he lingers and if he stays much longer then he won’t ever get around to taking care of his own needs. With a gentle push, I separate him.

“This is not taking a bath.”

“This is so much better.”

“You are going to make me feel guilty for keeping you and then I will be sad.”

“Those are underhanded tactics.”

“Effective, though.”

“Fine then… “ Once more he lowers his lips to mine. “I cede this round.”

I watch his back disappearing around the corner… and a moment later I hear the sound of the tub filling up again. The blanket is warm and the bedding smells of his scent, and before I know it my eyelids are growing heavier and sleep overtakes me.

 

I stand amid a city that is set afire, the buildings stand as stone sentinels rising above me until their precipice pierce the bleached out sky above. Phantom flames lick hungrily at everything, while a banshee’s scream whistles on an ash-laden wind. The sound is piercing against my ears, and I try to no avail to block out the howling with my paws over my ears.

After an eternity of the nails-on-chalkboard noise, silence falls heavy in its stead. Behind me, I sense a predatory gaze watching me with a deadly fascination. My sense of self-preservation screams at me to run, if I want to live I must run. Hunted, instead of the Hunter.

I flee like a fox taking to the ground in search of safety, darting headlong into the licking flames consuming the bones of the world around me. Bodies lie strewn, crumpled like dolls in twisted piles upon the streets. The hunter gives chase, anticipatory bloodlust heavy in the air around me. Panic pinned ears lay flat against my skull as I flee for my survival’s sake.

Copyright © 2021 Tsukihana; All Rights Reserved.

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