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    Tsukihana
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Do vaporwave kitsune count technicolor sheep? - 26. Chapter 26

Standing up, I cross the room and lift up on my tiptoes to press a quick kiss to his mouth, the gesture quickly becoming as natural as breathing for me. Letting myself out of the office, it is not lost on me that this is my first foray out into the premises without him.

After having to try so hard to convince him not to carry me everywhere, it’s a little surprising. I decide not to look too closely at the matter, and for once just do as I am told. Skirt belling out around my legs as I walk, I make the trek back upstairs. The guards at the door nod passively at me, but otherwise there is no remark on my passage. For such a large house, I hardly see anyone else around.

Walking into our bedroom, I immediately head for the packages that remain on the bed. Passing the armoire without a second glance, my hopes rest on their contents. Hikaru is so much taller than me that I would look like a child playing dress up if I were to try and fit into his clothes.

Pushing aside the box that I have already opened, I let myself tear into the next in the pile with unabashed zeal. Nestled inside is a negligee crafted in artisanally hand-made black lace. Lifting it high, I just know that it will feel heavenly next to my skin and a slow warmth fills me at the thought of wearing it for him.

“I must admit I like how you think, but now is hardly the time.”

Settling it back in the package, I put it aside before opening the next one.

“Now this looks more promising.”

Wrapped in the tissue paper is a white blouse embroidered with sprays of flowers on the puffed sleeves. Below it is a pair of black capri pants which reach to mid-calf as I hold them against me. He really did manage my size almost perfectly…

Quickly changing my clothes, I am pleasantly surprised to find a pair of functional black flats in an accompanying shoe box.

Thought of everything.

When I emerge once more, Hikaru is awaiting me at the foot of the stairs. Catching sight of me, something in his expression lights up and I can feel a blush creeping over my skin all over again.

“I knew they would suit you.”

“Thank you, everything you bought for me is impeccable and a perfect fit.”

Nodding, he offers his arm to me as I reach the foot of the stairs. Through the front windows I can see a sedan and a flat-bed truck parked in the gravel drive.

“You are just in time. Doctor Honore and his assistant are waiting in the car, and I have chosen a detail of my men to follow in the truck. Thankfully, the good doc was able to make time to accompany us. I am counting on his records both in treating Frau and whatever awaits us today. He is a meticulous note taker, and I think his accounts will be beneficial in… pursuing the matter.”

One of the guards opens the door as we approach, bowing respectfully to Hikaru. Outside the engines roar to life and Genghis steps out of the sedan to open the door for his Master. Handing me into the car before sliding in himself, he nods in the mirror as the Manservant takes his place back behind the wheel.

“I know it is somewhat off the beaten path, Moon. Please guide us as best as you can and from the road we will continue as needed on foot. You may direct Genghis as needed.”

Beside me, Doctor Honore looks shocked to see me in my human guise but quickly hides it.

“Hello again, My Lady. A pleasure to meet you in a more official capacity.”

“Thank you for everything that you have done to aid us, Doctor. Please call me, Moon. No need for such grandeur. I owe you for saving my friend.”

“You owe me nothing. It is my duty to save lives, and you could say that I owed one to your man there.”

“Don’t start with that again, Honore.” Hikaru chimes in as the vehicles pull out of the drive, gravel crunching beneath the tires. “I know our association is not the most long standing… but I do wish you would call things as even by now. It’s embarrassing.”

“Nonsense. I will never be able to fully repay the debt I owe you.”

Curiosity piqued, my gaze flicks back and forth between the two.

“What…”

Hikaru’s hand covers mine, silencing me as I see his reddening gaze look out the window.

“Another time I will tell you about it, Mi Tiefal, I promise.”

I can hear Doctor Honore chuckling and my gaze shoots back to the surgeon.

“Apologies, Ma’am. This is the first time I have ever seen him so unsettled. It’s amusing.”

“Once we are out of the city I will let you know the best place to stop.”

Genghis’ head gives me an almost imperceptible nod, merging onto the main road. I think I’m growing on him. Maybe.

The somber task we are setting out upon pushes to the forefront of my mind, casting a pall over the beauty of the passing cityscape. In this area of Gatsby, we are surrounded by grand manor houses and sprawling yards. Through the windows of the sedan I can see the white sun climbing ever higher into the blushing pink sky. It is truly beautiful here, making it all the sadder as it sinks in that they will never see another morning while an interloper like myself is still able to enjoy them.

“Moon… you are crying.”

Hikaru’s words interrupt my somber thoughts, and reaching up I hurriedly wipe off the stray tears falling down my cheeks.

“Sorry. I was thinking of the city and how beautiful it is… and how the Lost Ones will never see another sunrise.”

“Keep them alive in your heart, My Lady. I have been a surgeon for some years now and I can tell you that the loss never lessens to hurt, and it never should. With time it will become a bearable burden that will only strike your heart when you least expect it. Your grief is continued proof that they existed and touched your life. Cherish that there are the two that still need you. If you find it hard to stay strong for yourself, then do it for them and the rest will follow suit.”

“Thank you, Doctor. I must admit that I have not felt like this in quite some time… not since I lost my mother, and my aunt and cousins.”

His hand reaches over to grasp mine in a sign of comfort and from my left I hear a deep rumbling growl.

“No need for all that, Dragon, so you can keep your scary growls. It is my calling in life to comfort and heal.”

“You are lucky to be one of my favorites.”

With a bark of laughter, Honore jerks his hand back and gives an exaggerated shake of affected fear.

“I will have to save my ‘flirting’ for when he is not around, or my husband I suppose.”

“Convenient of you to remember that I am here.”

The assistant speaks up from the front seat for the first time and I can’t help the giggle that escapes me.

“Thank you for your kindness, Sir. For the sake of both our relationships, perhaps we should show some discretion.”

Companionable silence takes hold and I savor the opportunity to enjoy the leisurely ride through the city. Outwardly, my facade of calm is firmly in place while in the dark recesses of my mind I am fighting to quell the chaos.

In reality, I know the situation that awaits me at the end of this ride. My light-hearted laughter in itself feels like a betrayal. Why should I deserve happiness? Rational thought knows that they would not begrudge me finding the will to smile. The kobolds showed me every kindness and acceptance. Their faces… memories of my time with them flash across my mind.

I cannot betray them.

They deserve justice for the crimes committed against them. Kemuri’s visage usurps theirs, and a burning rage sets afire in my gut. From the moment of my first awakening… how could he do this? Even with the only evidence being word of mouth from Ein, the certainty sits like a lead weight in my belly.

Familial love holds no place in casting doubts, not anymore. The kobolds were innocent… isolated away in their den and living their lives before we barged into their existence.

Then there was the whole fool story he gave me to lure me away. So neatly squared away his mischief was. I knew right off that he was leading me into something for his own gain. More the fool I...

Please forgive me, Mother. I must do what is right, and his sins are his own. Enough that I will bear my own part in it for the rest of my long life, but I will not let their deaths go unpunished.

Never again.

You are dead to me, Kemuri.

“Moon?”

Hikaru is looking down at me inquiringly from the corner of his lavender eyes.

“Hmm? Sorry if I missed something…”

“No. It was your aura… usually you are without fail in control of your power, but just now… I felt this overwhelming murderous intent.”

My lips set into a grim line.

“Apologies. I was coming to term with my inner demons. They were not easy decisions to make.”

“Did you want to talk about it? I trust the ears in this vehicle implicitly.”

“Thank you, but I think I will decline for now. These wounds are still too raw and cut to the quick. It’s not anything personal.”

“Understandable.” This time it is Doctor Honore speaking up from my right. “Pardon my butting in, I just want to say that as someone who has seen their share of horrors in their chosen line of work, it is never easy… and if it is then you have truly become a monster. I do what I can, but it’s not always enough. Your personal decisions may be hard now and whatever they are I respect whatever your reasons. Just because it is right, seldom is it also easy. Stand by your choices, even when the road is hard before you.”

Unbidden I feel the warmth of tears once more falling down my cheeks and a small sob escapes me.

“I swear I have never cried quite so much in my life.”

Hikaru’s arm wraps around my shoulders, pulling me close to his chest.

“Never be ashamed of grief. It is part of love, Mi Tiefal.”

Outside the windows of the sedan, the cityscape passing me by outside is blurry. While I wish I could blame it on rain, my eyes are weeping instead of the sky. Manor houses give way to towering apartment buildings and odd shops and businesses. Burying my face into the soft fabric of his jacket, I bite my lip in an effort to cease the hiccuping sobs that are fighting their way out of me.

“I’m sorry... “ Hiccup. “Shameful display…”

“Stop that, Moon. No one here will think less of you for it. You are in shock from the entire situation. It’s expected of anyone confronted with something like this.”

With my eyes squeezed shut, I can feel the soft press of a kiss against my hair.

“I am hurt… and I am pissed. When I set foot outside of this car, I’m well aware of what I have to do. The hurt that is waiting is nothing compared to this, but all of it is nothing compared to what they endured. No one deserves to have their life snuffed out. They only ever showed me love, and placed their trust in some mad vision of me they saw in a dream. Did I ever truly give them that same level of acceptance? Or did I just indulge in my own self centered flight of fancy? I am loath to admit it, but I think perhaps that is the one truth to pass Kemuri’s lips. This time I am not going to make it about ‘me’.”

The words escape me in a rush, uttered on a low growl that is pulled from someone deep inside me. In my heart I recognize them for the vow that they are, and the solemn vehemence with which they are imbued.

Hikaru’s arms are both wrapped tightly around me now, and I have no doubt that he can sense the violent see-saw of emotions rocking me in turmoil. Finally, the sobs cease and the streak of bloodlust that uncharacteristically reared its head are tamped down.

I have to get it together.

Lifting my head, I see that we are passing through the industrial sector. People in common clothes are hurriedly moving along the sidewalks, streaming into the factory gates. It won’t be long now till we have made it out of the city. Behind us the flat bed truck is still close on our tail as we roll to a stop in order to let a throng of workers cross the street.

“Are you alright now, Mi Tiefal?”

Taking a deep fortifying breath, I nod.

“I am ready for what is needed of me. No more hysterics… I think I have things in hand now.”

Hikaru sets me back from him, giving me a good long look in the eye before sighing.

“You do look more composed.”

Swiftly his lips swoop in to claim mine before loosening his arms from around me. Turning my eyes forward, they meet Genghis’ gaze in the mirror.

“Once we are out of the city, it is not much further. I recall an acceptable spot where we will be able to pull off of the road and park, then I will lead you all the rest of the way.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

It is the first time I think that he has directly spoken to me and my vulpine ears perk upright atop my head.

Copyright © 2021 Tsukihana; All Rights Reserved.

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