by Setsumitsu Cae (雪密 鏡)
Five days before his seventeenth birthday, Kouji was woken by his radio in a completely normal fashion. He reached over and hit the clock, cutting off the perky, mass-produced idoru-pop mid-line. He was definitely much happier not knowing what the airhead was going to do to their significant other 4ever.
Kouji rolled out of bed, leaving his covers in a crumpled mess, then padded out of his room to brush his teeth.
It was not until he saw his reflection in the bathroom mirror that he realized he had gained a few extra appendages during the night.
When you consider the fact that getting dressed that day required cutting a tail hole in a perfectly good pair of pants, Kouji’s dour mood when he went down for breakfast was not surprising.
“G’morning,” said his father, not looking up from his paper. Mr. Ishida’s tail was wagging furiously. His company’s system had managed to hunt down a fairly notorious hacker the previous week. The stocks were up.
Kouji grunted in response, pushing an errant strand of brown hair out of his eyes.
“Someone’s being perky this morning,” said his older sister, Sae, as she brought the plates out of the kitchen. “If you don’t cheer up, your face will- Oh!”
Mr. Ishida looked up. He blinked at Kouji.
“A familiar, huh,” Sae continued, “I guess that Mom really was-”
“Sae!” Their father’s expression looked stern.
“Daddy! You know that our family line usually turns out canines.”
Kouji scowled at his sister. “You’re just smug because you manifested as mage. I’m not even sure what familiars do.”
“Well,” Sae said brightly. “It’s not like you’re walking in blind.” She sat down and began to drown her eggs in ketchup.
“Sae, Uncle Shoutarou was not the world’s best source of information.”
“I liked Uncle Shoutarou!”
“He was cool and all, but seriously, the man was downright loopy.”
“Don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll ever be as batty as he was.”
“Why thank you: once again your display of solidarity is overwhelming.”
“Now isn’t someone being a gwumpy kittikins?”
“Awww. Aren’t we precious?”
“Sae, stop baiting your brother.” Mr. Ishida folded his paper. “If you don’t leave now, you’ll be late. Kouji, I’d like to have a word with you before you leave for school.”
“Ack!” Sae stuffed the last of her toast into her mouth, chewed quickly, and swallowed. “I’ll go talk to Kouji’s teachers about his manifest tomorrow. I’m leaving now, bye!”
Mr. Ishida took another sip of his coffee. “Drive safely.”
Kouji and his father ate in silence for a few minutes, before Kouji decided that he might as well breach the conversation.
“So mom was having an affair with Uncle Shoutarou?” he asked.
“Not necessarily, it could be a recessive gene, like your sister’s. Or…” Mr. Ishida looked vaguely uncomfortable. “You see Kouji, when people are about to make very permanent commitments, sometimes they like to get very intoxicated beforehand.”
“Dad, I’m the youngest. By four years.”
“I’ll make an appointment for a blood test this weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll still consider you my son, but….”
“I know, Dad. It’s about the company, right?” He considered for a second. “Can I stay home from school today?”
His father considered the idea for a second, before nodding. “Yes, I think that probably would be for the best. I’ll be home to check up on you at lunch.”
“I’m not a kid, you know.”
“I’ll bring a pizza. Pineapple, olive, and anchovy.”
Kouji perked up. “See you at lunch, Dad!”
“Just don’t burn the house down, son.”
Kouji spent the morning wasting time on his computer. On his way back from a quick trip to the bathroom, his reflection in the mirror caught his eye. He stopped for a closer examination.
His new ears His eyes…
The iris’s were still blue, but the pupils had elongated into narrow slits. Kouji reached for the his cellphone to text his father. Maybe he could go pick up a pair of contacts after work.
As soon as Kouji had pressed his email button, the phone rang. Annoyed, Kouji hit “accept call” and moved the phone into a speaking position.
Although he could hear a muffled voice, Kouji couldn’t make out who the caller was or what they were saying. Kouji scowled. He had forgotten that manifestation changed things drastically.
Kouji moved the ear piece up to his new ear. It was a fucking awkward position.
“-The fuck are you doing? Sick?”
It was Inoue Shinya, his classmate since preschool.
Kouji moved the phone’s microphone closer to his mouth, snarled into the phone, then hit the end button.
He glared at the object. Damn it, he’d have to find the headset.
Shinya met Kouji in the genkan.
“Running late, aren’t we? Still feeling sick?” Shinya asked as he unwound his scarf and crammed it into his case.
Kouji rolled his eyes. “Something like that.” He reached out and flicked a lingering snowflake out of Shinya’s hair. “Are you ever going to remember to wear your cap? If you freeze to death, I want your laptop.”
“No. Speaking of which, Math’s first period. We get to stare at the lovely toupee again. Joy.”
Kouji snerked. “No one would buy a wig that hideous. It has to be natural.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Shinya gestured towards his head.
“Your brain? I don’t recall ever seeing it.”
Shinya rolled his eyes. “You know Yanaka’s really uptight. The only way you’d be able to get away with is if-” His eyes widened. “You manifested, didn’t you?”
Kouji looked away. “Nnn… yeah. Thank you Captain Obvious.”
“Why are you hiding it? Something embarassing? Are you a Chihuahua?”
“Shinya-” Kouji narrowed his eyes.
“Okay, maybe an Akita. Wouldn’t that be a riot?”
“Do you think that sort of tail would fit under this coat, you moron?”
“Oh, I know…A Dalmatian!”
“Shut the fuck up, we’re going to be late.”
Kouji garnered a few odd looks that morning, but not too many. For his year, manifestation wasn’t that unusual. It was common for new adults to stay out of school for a couple of days, mostly because they kept walking into walls and knocking over furniture. A new center of gravity takes getting used to.
And manifestation takes energy. By the time lunch began, Kouji was ravenous.
As soon as the bell rang, Shinya stood up. “We better hurry if we want to beat the crowd.”
“Just give me a sec.” Kouji felt through his pockets. “Damn it!”
“Forgot my puripe card. Go on without me, I’ll go take a nap on the roof.”
Kouji opened his eyes to find a sandwich centimeters from his nose.
Shinya grinned at him. “I got you a sandwich, special service.”
Shinya flopped down next to Kouji. “No sweat. You missed a total riot yesterday. Miyamoto from 3-B suddenly came up during gym. Turns out he’s an aardvark. Should see his ears, they’re hilarious.”
“How the hell do they tell he’s an aardvark and not a kangaroo?”
“They just know. Miyamoto’s the gen-u-ine article.” Shinya paused. “Heh. Bet his uncle’s mad.”
Without thinking, Kouji took off his cap and whacked Shinya over the head with it. “Don’t make stupid-” He stopped short, stunned.
“Ow…What the hell did you do that f… fuck.” Shinya’s eyes widened. “THE HELL! You’re a CA-?!”
Kouji pounced, both hands outstretched to cover Shinya’s knocking his breath out and forcing him to the ground in the process. Kouji sat, straddling Shinya’s chest, glaring down at the other boy. Keeping one hand over Shinya’s mouth, he tugged his cap firmly back into place.
“Scream it to the world, why don’t ya.”
Shinya’s response was too muffled to understand.
Kouji sighed, exasperated. “If I let go, do you promise to behave yourself?”
When Shinya nodded, Kouji removed his hand and scooted off of him and to the side.
Shinya propped himself up on his elbows. “What the fuck, Kouji. Did your mom have an affair?”
“One of my cousins ended up manifesting outside of the family line. Huge fiasco; they had to do all sorts of blood tests to prove the bitch was cheating and it all ended in bloody divorce.” Although Kouji’s glare intensified, Shinya had yet to notice it. “Hey, do you want me to talk to my lawyer in case your dad decides to try and disown you?”
“Don’t you fucking dare say a word to anyone. Dad only turned in my registration paperwork yesterday; it hasn’t gone through yet. I can’t let it get out.”
Shinya tilted his head to look at Kouji. “Then what the fuck are you doing in school today?”
“Do you think I’m going to let people get suspicious? You fucking retard.”
“And wearing your hat and coat all day isn’t weird?” Shinya snorted. “Geeze, it’s not that big a deal. You get paired with a mage, you’re set for life. I heard it isn’t even much work.”
“That’s a load of bull. I had an uncle, Shinya, an uncle. Okay, he was just one of my parent’s friends, but still. Fucking got used up and thrown out. He’s dead.” Kouji paused for breath. “He used to buy us Christmas presents; do you want me to get partnered with a master like that, you bastard?”
“So that’s what happened to your uncle.” Shinya’s expression turned thoughtful.
“And I don’t fucking want it to happen to me. Keep your mouth shut.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Although he usually waited for Shinya at the gate, Kouji walked home alone that day.
While getting ready for school the next morning, Kouji accidentally knocked over a vase with his tail.
“Dad, where’s the vacuum cleaner?” he yelled downstairs.
“Where do you think it is?” came the reply.
Kouji opened the door to the broom closet, glanced inside, then slammed it shut.
“Dad, why is there someone tied up in the broom closet?”
“How the heck would I know. Ask your sister!”
Kouji knocked on Sae’s door. “Sister dearest, would you kindly explain to me why we have a naked man tied up in our broom closet?”
“Because, brother mine, it’s my boyfriend’s birthday next week.”
Kouji narrowed his eyes. Normal people didn’t have to deal with this kind of shit. “Let me rephrase that. What the hell is my math teacher doing tied up in the closet?” His kingdom for a normal family.
“You know him?” Sae said, as she opened the door. “Now isn’t that a coincidence?”
“You met him when you went in to speak with my teachers yesterday, didn’t you? Damn it, Sae, we were going to have a quiz today.”
“Well, now you aren’t.” She walked over to the closet, opened the door.
Kouji frowned at her. “Do you not think that this is somewhat illegal?”
Sae smirked as she reached out to comb her hand through Yanaka’s hair. “Don’t worry, I have everything under control. For the one thing, he was unregistered. I’m surprised he was able to keep hidden for so long.” She tugged on a cream-tipped, pointed ear.
Kouji stared at her in silence.
“Like I said, all under control.” Sae turned and began saunter towards the stairs. When she reached the top, she paused and looked back over her shoulder to grin at Kouji. “If you ever need anything, brother dear, remember I’m always there for you.”
Kouji called after her. “If you get arrested, I’m pretending I don’t know you!”
Kouji fumed to himself as a teacher ducked into the classroom to announce that math class would be a self study period that day.
When Shinya went up to the roof for lunch, Kouji was nowhere to be found.
On Saturday, Kouji’s father dropped him off at the clinic on the way to his office.
The check up started with being poked and prodded in tiresome ways and ended with Kouji being pronounced a perfectly healthy seal point Siamese. Kouji felt that the less said about it the better. He took the bus home and spent the afternoon sleeping, barely waking up in time for dinner.
Mr. Ishida looked grim as he sat down at the dinner table that day. “I had a visitor at work today.”
Sae helped herself to a serving of mashed potatoes. “That’s nice, Daddy.”
“It was Mochizuki. He wants Kouji.”
“The fuck? I thought that bastard had already repaired with a new familiar?” Kouji frowned. “Uncle died two years ago. He managed to wear out his new toy already?”
Kouji’s father’s smile was tinged with grief. “Thankfully, no.” He took a breath. “You know how his son manifested a couple of years ago? Apparently he hasn’t bonded yet. Seems like Mochizuki has been keeping a really close eye on the registration papers.”
Mr. Ishida took out a slip of paper and tossed it on the table. “He gave us a little something to think about.”
Kouji stared at the check. He closed his eyes slowly, then reopened them. The number didn’t change. Kouji frowned. “That’s a fucking lot of zeros.”
His father gave him a look. “Watch your goddamn language, Kouji. And yes. It is.”
Kouji’s eyes narrowed. “You’re selling me off, aren’t you?”
“It’s not exactly like that.”
Kouji stood up and slammed his hands on the table.
“You’re fucking selling me off!”
“Don’t be so upset,” said Sae. “Think of it as a dowry.”
“Sae! Shut the damn fuck up.” Mr. Ishida took a breath. “Kouji, he’s threatening to pull out of all of our contracts.”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. That’s a good forty percent of the business. Dad, we’ll go under.”
“Exactly. And that would mean a liquidation of the family’s personal assets.”
“So either way, I’m screwed, quite possibly literally?”
“As much as I hate to admit it, I’d go with the choice that gives you a higher salary and weekends off.”
“You better not let Sae touch anything in my room.”
On Sunday, Kouji sent Shinya a text message. It read “found a way to get out of doing my science project this year.”
He spent the rest of the day reading over pamphlets with titles like “So, You’ve Manifested as a Familiar!” and “How to Make the Most of your Bond!”, getting fed up, and searching the net for actual useful information.
On Monday, Kouji’s father took him to the Mochizuki’s manor. They were met by a rather distinguished-looking gentleman who turned out to be the family’s butler. Kouji read through the contract as he initialed the pages. It seemed fairly restrictive, but it was comparable to the other familiar contracts he had found.
While his father reviewed and signed his part of the contract, a maid brought Kouji a cup of tea. He sniffed at it experimentally, then cautiously took a sip. It tasted somewhat minty.
“What kind of tea is it?” he asked her.
The maid smiled at him. “The house blend. It’s good for your nerves.”
Kouji wasn’t exactly sure how he got into the room; he couldn’t move his arms but the bed was soft and he was feeling downright groovy. Someone was tracing interesting shapes on his stomach.
The tracing stopped and a shadow fell over him. Kouji felt something nip his ear. He opened his eyes slowly.
“Shinya, what are you doing here?”
“You, of course.” Shinya traced his fingers down Kouji’s chest and lower. “You fucking owe me one, you know.” He twirled Kouji’s tail around his hand and used it like a brush to draw designs down Kouji’s thighs, up Kouji’s side, write his name in looping letters across Kouji’s chest.
Kouji began to make small mewling noises in the back of his throat. Shinya laughed as he started to struggle against his bonds.
“Oh, did you want me to get that for you?”
Shinya untied the ribbon that was tied to the headboard. Leaving the other end attached to Kouji’s wrists, he drew them down from above his head, allowing Kouji to rest his hands. He looped the loose end a few times around Kouji’s cock.
“So, I did something nice for you, are you going to do something nice for me?” Shinya grinned.
“Or are you too stoned to tell what’s going on?” Kouji squirmed over a little and began to nuzzle Shinya’s thigh.
“Stoned it is.” Shinya closed his eyes. “I guess that’s it for now then, isn’t it?”
Kouji looked up at Shinya, eyes glassy. “More.”
Kouji grinned. “Yes.”
The ribbon around Kouji’s wrists unravelled as he used Shinya’s arm to pull himself up into a sitting position. He leaned over and began to gnaw on Shinya’s shoulder.
Shinya winced. “Oi! No teeth, damn it. Fucking hurts.” He pushed Kouji back down to the covers. “You aren’t going to make this easy, are you?”
“Moooooore,” Kouji whined.
“If you say so.” Shinya flipped Kouji over, then began to work a finger past his sphincter. Kouji purred as Shinya worked up to two, then three.
Abruptly, he stopped, withdrawing his fingers and sitting back. “Are you sure you want me to go one?”
“Yesssssss,” Kouji hissed.
“If you say so.” Shinya positioned his dick, then suddenly thrust forward. Kouji gasped and pushed back against him.
They continued on like this for some minutes, pushing near, but not quite reaching completion, until Shinya suddenly hit release.
Kouji, still hard, grasped at the covers as Shinya came inside him. Shinya leaned forward to whisper into his ear.
“Nnnnngh.” Kouji strained against the binding the ribbon had on him, then slumped over.
Shinya frowned as he unwrapped the ribbon. “You’re really out of it, aren’t you.”
When he manage return to a state that was reasonably near coherent, Kouji made another exciting discovery.
“Oh fuck. Shinya-”
“You’re glowing.” Kouji moved an arm to cover his eyes. The room was too damn bright and he was too damn tired.
“Well, Kouji, that’s a common occurrence after having excellent-”
“No really, you’re glowing. Look in the fucking mirror.”
“Oh.” Shinya held up a hand for examination. “I wasn’t expecting cornflower blue. Well damn. I guess that means that we’re bonded.”
“Bonded? Your family breeds mages?! FUCK.” Kouji sat up and turned to glare at Shinya. “You’ve certainly picked a fine time to manifest.”
Shinya’s expression could only be described as smug. Kouji narrowed his eyes.
“Don’t you fucking dare look at me like that. Mochizuki already paid my family off and his son’s not bonded yet. As if he would willingly dissolve the contract! Paying the damages is going to bankrupt us!” Kouji paused for breath. “And what the hell are you doing in here?!”
Shinya’s grin widened. “Bribed my way in.”
“Who the fuck did you bribe? The maids wouldn’t risk their jobs and like anyone at Dad’s company would give you the codes to break in. Fuck up our rep for good.”
“My cousin. Seiichi Mochizuki.”
Kouji stared. “You’re shitting me, right? Is he fucking insane?”
“Apparently his girlfriend picked up a compatible stray for his birthday and couldn’t wait to give it to him. She snuck over last night and now they’ve bonded into some sort of freaky two mage, one familiar menage a trois.” Shinya was the very image of the cat who ate the canary and knew that he’d get away with it, regardless of any inconvenient condemning evidence. “Why are you so pale.”
“I think I’ve just figured out why Sae had Mr. Yanaka tied up in the hall closet.”
The boys shared a moment of horrified silence.
“Change the subject before I have to scrub my brain out with bleach.”
Kouji considered for a moment. “What on earth did you pay your cousin. He’s fucking loaded… waitaminute, how did you find out I was here anyway?”
“Oh. Well, Seiichi bonded last night, so he called me this morning and said that since my apts said I’d probably manifest as mage, he’d trade me a familiar for my LE copy of Psyonic Gorefest 3026. Said he’d throw in the nepeta-blend tea as a bonus.”
“He traded me for a fucking video game?“
Kouji hit Shinya with a pillow. “Fuck you.”
Shinya smirked at him. “Are you offering?”