Mitsuo is a promising martial artist and dating the most popular girl in school. Life seems perfect until his sixteenth birthday when he comes into his mother's heritage and his father's curse.
Author's Note: This is for all of you who have been patiently awaiting the new chapter of Winter's Child. There's a few surprises in this one. Thanks as usual to my readers and of course the Big Closet team who work tirelessly to give us all a great place to post and read TG fiction. ~Amethyst.
Chapter 8: Mystery
~Miyuki… Jenny… it’s time wake up,~ Zoe’s telepathic voice called out. I stirred from my slumber, blinked my bleary eyes and rotated my head to try and relieve the cramps and stiffness in my neck. We had all fallen asleep on the couch listening to Zoe singing and trying to ease our collective conscience about what had happened the night before at Luc’s Diner. Kei had fallen off the couch and was curled up on the floor. Somehow he had changed to his fox form when he fell asleep and he looked so adorable there curled up in a ball in his clothes, with his tail occasionally swishing. Jenny on the other hand had shed her blanket during the night and was curled up naked beside me on the sofa with her head in my lap. I wouldn’t have minded that so much but her doe ears were twitching in her sleep and causing sensations that really made me want to release some pent up arousal.
That was going to have to wait though. I would be sure to have a nice long workout later since I was still very nervous about my mother’s suggestion of ‘taking matters into my own hands’. ~Come on you two, it’s time to get up. Miyuki’s mom is going to teach us to make a traditional Japanese breakfast, remember?~
I groaned at that thought but regardless I gently shook Jenny. “Come on Jenny deer, we’re being summoned to the kitchen.”
Her ear twitched again causing that nice sensation again and I bit my lip against it as her brown eyes fluttered sleepily and she smiled up at me. “Morning Miyuki,” she said sleepily before suddenly realizing just where her head was. “Oh! I’m sorry Miyuki!” She suddenly sat bolt upright.
“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her with a smile, “I didn’t mind. Mom and Zoe want us in the kitchen though so we should get up.”
We both shuffled into the kitchen where Mom and Zoe were waiting patiently for us. Mom didn’t waste any time putting us all to work now that we were all gathered. She showed us how to prepare each dish from the beginning, even the steamed rice and broiled fish which were relatively easy, the Tamagoyaki and Miso soup were more complex but she showed us step by step how to make them and what ingredients to use. Zoe figured out pretty quickly what the nori was but expressed a little disbelief that non-Paranormals would eat seaweed for breakfast.
I just shrugged, “It’s a cultural thing I guess, I couldn’t conceive of having what you made for breakfast yesterday a few days ago. It was really good though. Just dip a strip of it in soy sauce and roll some rice with it. If you give it a chance I’m sure you’ll like it. You said you’re used to eating seaweed anyway so this is just a new way of trying it.”
Once breakfast was made we joined the others out in the dining room where we all ate and talked about our plans for the day. The topic of the previous night’s encounter at Luc’s Diner was carefully avoided as Zoe and Jenny explained that they wanted to take me and Kei shopping for more clothes. Mom reluctantly agreed that it was a good idea but told us that she wanted us all back by dinner so we could begin training immediately after. She also wanted to make sure that both Kei and I had our weapons concealed and with us. I think what happened at the diner had her worried for us and she was in a rush to get us trained and I didn’t really blame her. We had done well enough, but Jenny and Zoe were both inexperienced in combat and we needed to learn to work as a team and cover one another’s weak spots.
She also reminded me in front of everybody to take my birth control pill, though I think that was a subtle reminder that I was female now and had to be careful with guys in general. I quickly took one of the pills, but I didn’t really need the reminder since I was all too aware of my new gender and quite frankly the thought of getting pregnant terrified me. My haha is always doing things like that, saying one thing but meaning more than just the obvious. I had gotten used to it growing up and it was usually pretty apparent when she was doing it to teach me subtle lessons.
Once breakfast was concluded I went up to my room, placed Yuki no Hana in my purse of holding, and got dressed. I decided to go with the sexy yet practical look with a pair of tight pair of jeans, a light blue crop top, my combat boots and my leather jacket. It didn’t quite satisfy my compulsion to be super sexy but I had anticipated that and wore the sexiest panty and bra set I had underneath so I could be more comfortable. Naked would have been much better but humans have a problem with that sort of thing and at least I could feel comfortable when dressed. I felt bad for poor Jenny though since she would have to wear clothes again and she couldn’t cheat her compulsions like I could.
I shrugged it off and shouldered my purse to go downstairs where the others were waiting in the garage. Jenny and Zoe were dressed similarly to me while Kei wore the male equivalent, though they were mostly wearing sweaters and winter gear as well, while I had no need for such things. Kei was also wearing his backpack of holding in case we needed it. “I see you brought your Hunting gear,” I said with a nod of approval.
He nodded back. “Yeah and I have all the gear and ammo I managed to collect from those Hounds of God last night in there too. I’m not getting caught without a weapon again.”
Before we left for the mall the girls insisted on giving Kei some ideas on how to move and act more like a guy. His first attempts at a masculine walk were hilarious to watch as he kept overcompensating. He was just as unsure about his speech; it took him a while to stop moving his hands and gesturing as he spoke and even longer before he got used to casual swearing and some of the cruder language that Zoe and Jenny were suggesting. As Rei he had been brought up to be tough but also feminine and sweet so it was a bit of a leap for him.
Finally though we pronounced him somewhat prepared and climbed into Zoe’s Prius to head toward the Fairview. Zoe explained that most locals just called it that but it was short for the Fairview Pointe Claire Mall. Apparently it had well over two hundred stores and a huge food court we could go to for lunch. As an added benefit it was in the Pointe Claire area so it wasn’t all that far away. Jenny wanted to take me and Kei to one store in particular. It was shop for Paranormals geared toward teen fashion and the owner was a Divine magic user who would place enchantments on clothes for Paranormals with specific needs. It was how she got clothes that wouldn’t irritate her skin and eased her compulsion to be naked. She figured that they may have some sexy clothes that would work for me and that the owner might be able to enchant clothes to shift with me and Kei when we changed forms.
The store was called La Luna and once we stepped past the illusory boarded up facade I found that the store had a really large selection of clothes for both girls and guys. The owner Serena was like nothing I had ever seen before. Zoe explained that that she was from a nocturnal Paranormal species with a connection to the moon and I could believe it. She had long silvery-blue hair that seemed to glow with a light all its own, her skin was a milky white, and she had these huge blue eyes that dominated her face . The latter wasn’t too difficult since the eyes were the only feature on her face. She had absolutely no nose or mouth and I gathered that she breathed from the two slits down on the sides of her neck.
Her species was called the Silia, and like Mermaids they spoke strictly telepathically. Since they had no ears either, Zoe explained that they perceived the world through only sight, touch, and a sort of telekinetic radar that let them know what was around them, where, and whether anything was moving. The woman turned as soon as we entered the shop. ~Good morning Jenny and Zoe, I see that you have brought some friends today.~ There was a smile in those big expressive eyes and a warmth in her thoughts as she turned her attention to Kei and I. ~I am Selena, how can I help you all today?~
~This is Miyuki and Kei, they both just Manifested and moved here from Japan to live with us at Aunt Gina’s and they need new clothes. We thought we would bring them here since they will both need enchantments placed on their clothes,~ Zoe explained.
~Welcome to Canada both of you. Any of Gina’s little family is always welcome here.~ came the warm thought, ~Gina helped me to get this place started. Most of the clothes here are from her fashion lines and she gives me a great deal on them. What sort of enchantments do you need done?~
~Kei is a Kitsune, he’s actually Aunt Gina’s nephew and Miyuki is a Mixed like Jenny but they both need clothes that will change with them when they change form.~ Zoe explained.
~And I kind of have a compulsion about being either naked or damn sexy when I do wear clothes so I’ll need clothes that work for that,~ I put in.
The owner of the store nodded. ~Clothes for Kitsune shape shifting are easy enough; I’ve done them before so I know how the shift feels. Miyuki would you mind changing forms for me so I can get a feel for how your change works? Each type of change has a different magical flavor to my kind and I’ll need to match it on the clothes to make sure they shift when you do. I have change rooms you can use in the back if you’re shy.~
~Miyuki is a lot like Jenny, they both have similar compulsions and no sense of modesty, it’s like living at a nudist colony,~ Zoe Joked.
There was that mental warmth again and a giggling as the Silia replied. ~From the blush, I take it Kei isn’t quite used to that yet.~
Kei shook his head, ~Not yet, but I guess I shouldn’t complain since I bet most guys would love to be in my situation.~
~That’s a way of looking at it,~ Selena replied as I stripped and began to change to my snow leopard form. There was a sort of shock in the Silia’s mind as I finished my transformation. ~My, aren’t you a wonderfully complex creature? I wonder though, why you only use two of your forms.~
I think the last was sent to me privately because the others didn’t seem to hear it. Zoe and Jenny had never seen me in my kitty form before and both were gushing about how cute and cuddly I was. ~I only have the two forms.~ I insisted under the petting my friends were giving me. They were distracting me and to my embarrassment I started to purr. No, must stay focused. ~And what do you mean I’m complex?~
~Your two natures are not two as you believe; both of your heritages have merged into a new complete whole, a perfect unity. You are not the sum of your parts; you are more, something entirely new. Your change has revealed it to me; you are not Mixed, you are Fusion. I know enough to place the enchantments, you may change back now, but remember what I have said, if you are one of Gina’s chosen then you will need to achieve your true power.~
Zoe was rubbing my belly and Jenny was scratching behind my ears so I sent to the Mermaid, ~Could you two please stop, we can do this later if you like but we have shopping to do and I need to change back. In case that’s not enough incentive for you consider this, I’ll be naked when I turn back and think about where your hands will be.~
Zoe giggled at that, little bells tinkling in her mind as she gave me a mental wink. ~I thought you wanted me to stop. Okay, okay we’ll stop, but you’re an adorable snow leopard and how else are we ever going to be able to do this?~
~Later,~ I insisted. Finally the pair stopped and I was able to change back and get dressed. Kei is so cute when he blushes and turns his head away like he does.
We bought most of the clothes we needed at La Luna and afterwards we headed to another Paranormal store in the mall called Heaven Scent and was owned and run by an angel. I mean an actual Angel with the big white wings, a halo of light around him and everything. The store specialized in scented soaps, bath oils, skin lotions and the like, made from natural ingredients and targeted toward the unique problems certain Paranormals faced with their skin and hair. It all smelled really nice and there was some geared toward people who shifted into animal forms, so I made sure to get some to keep looking and smelling my best.
Speaking of smells though, after we had left Heaven Scent and made our way to the food court laden down with bags my sensitive nose picked up something familiar. The scent had been there when we got to the mall and when we left La Luna too, I was almost certain of it. When we sat down to eat the scent was still close by, somewhere behind me and probably sitting at a table. As we all casually discussed what school would be like on Monday and I gave them a rundown of what my mom would probably be putting us through when we got home, I tried to sniff around and see if I could get a more precise location.
~Is the mixture of smells here bothering your nose?~ Zoe asked.
I shook my head as I sent back, ~No, I’ve been smelling this scent since we got here and I think we’re being followed. I’m trying to sniff out whoever it is.~
The Mermaid took a cautious look around, ~I don’t see anyone being obvious about watching us, but I do see a girl I’ve seen at school before a few tables back. She looks Asian and she’s wearing a low cut black top and a white miniskirt. Should we maybe go talk to her?~
~I’ll go, and if there’s trouble I’ll call you. It could just be coincidence but she’s going everywhere we do and she always seems to be not far behind us.~ I turned around and saw the girl Zoe mentioned reading something on a tablet and appearing to pay us no mind, but she was definitely the source of the scent I was picking up. She looked about sixteen and was Japanese. I got up, approached her table, and pasted a smile on my face. “Hi, I’m Miyuki, you look kind of lonely over here all by yourself, would you like to join me and my friends?”
She looked up from her tablet and I could see that she was very conflicted about something, and more than a little surprised. “Oh, hi I’m Kasumi… your accent is pretty strong, did you just move here from Japan?” She seemed to think about it for a bit, trying to place my accent, “Tokyo right?”
“Hai, I just moved here this week. Come have your lunch with us,” I began, giving a slight pause before adding, “And then maybe you can tell us why you’re following us.”
“Shit,” she cursed. “How did you catch on? I was trying to keep my distance for the most part.”
“I have a very sensitive nose,” I retorted. “So come sit with us and tell us why we’re so interesting that you just had to follow us around the mall all morning.” She sighed, nodded, put her tablet in her purse and followed me to our table. I smiled at my friends as we sat down and explained, “Everyone, this is Kasumi, she’s going to tell us why she’s following us around.”
Everyone looked at the other Japanese girl expectantly and she sighed again. “I wasn’t told that one of you had such a good sense of smell. I’m kind of being paid to be your bodyguard. I’ve been watching Zoe and Jenny at school for months and I was supposed to start keeping an eye on you two starting on Monday,” she said indicating me and Kei. “But I got a call this morning to make sure no harm came to you while you were shopping today. Apparently something happened last night that got my employer concerned.”
“Who hires a girl your age to be a bodyguard?” Jenny asked. “You don’t look like you’d be much protection.”
“Your aunt hired me to keep you all safe until this combat specialist she hired can teach you to properly protect yourselves,” she explained. “And I am a lot older and more powerful than I look. That’s part of why I was chosen for this job. Also I look young enough to fit in at your school and anywhere else a teenager would go.”
~I was wondering if Aunt Gina had someone keeping an eye on us,~ Zoe admitted. ~She has been very concerned that we survive long enough to do whatever it is she thinks we’ll do. But wouldn’t it be easier for you if you just hung out with us?~
“Probably, but what was I going to do? Walk up, say ‘hi I’m here to protect you so I’m going to force you to act like my friends’?” She shook her head. “If you approached me it would be a different story but I was trying to intrude on your lives as little as possible.”
“Well now you have an excuse to stick closer to us. I don’t know about this body guard thing though, I can fight just fine,” I replied.
“Not every enemy you face is going to try to punch, stab, or shoot you, and I have decades more experience than any of you at using the magic of my element,” she countered. “I’m also very hard to hurt.”
“So what are we to you? Just a paycheck?” Kei asked.
Kasumi shook her head. “I’m getting paid very well, but I owe Gina my life and she told me that you four need to live and that one of you shares a special bond with me. If Gina says it then I’m willing to do what it takes to keep you all safe.”
“If you’re so hard to hurt, how come you owe Aunt Gina your life?” Jenny asked.
“Perpetual youth gets old after a while and I’m what you might call the impulsive type,” She admitted sadly. “Ten years ago I was in Hokkaido, moving from place to place when I heard about a group of Monster Hunters who weren’t exactly following the old traditions. Rather than Sealing or killing the Paranormals they went after, they used a forbidden magic to bind them. Once bound the Paranormal would be bound to the will of whoever wore the ring they were bound to. They could not disobey or cause harm to that person or anyone else that person specified. They were made slaves.”
“That’s… that’s sickening,” I said as I felt the bottom of my stomach drop. “To think that someone could do that to another person.”
“They don’t exactly see us as people. I thought that I could take them down and ended up bound. She… made me do horrible things.” There was such pain in her eyes as Kasumi displayed her hand and showed a simple gold band on her index finger. “I am forever bound to this ring and whoever wears it. Five years ago Gina killed my mistress and gave the ring to me, returning my free will. She told me that a vision brought her to me and she even helped me free some others from the same fate. I owe her a debt that can never be repaid.”
“Hunters in Japan were doing that? Do you know which clan?” Kei asked nervously. Coming from a Hunter family, this type of thing must be hard for him to hear.
I dark look passed over the girl’s face as she spat out, “The Fujiwara clan, and as far as I know some in that clan still are doing it, and recruiting others.”
I could feel my eyes widening in shock even as all the color drained from Kei’s face. The Fujiwara clan was one of the most important in the history of Japan. The founder, Nakatomi no Kamatari helped to place Emperor Tenji on the throne and was rewarded with that name. For members of such a prominent clan to do something so dark was unthinkable. Even more disturbing, especially where Kei was concerned was that the Fujimoto family, and his parents, come from that clan. It even fit in with Department Nine thinking that the family was into something dark.
I reached out and took his hand, “You didn’t know. You’re not like them.”
“I take it that Kei had something to do with that clan?” she asked. “Don’t worry I don’t blame the whole clan for the actions of a few misguided Hunters. I’m sorry if I came off that way it was just… I have a lot of bad memories about that time.”
“It’s nothing you did,” Kei assured her. “Before Aunt Gina’s brother ‘adopted’ me, my parents were Hunters in that clan. We heard that Department Nine suspected that they were part of something dark and we had to leave Japan because they pretty much set the whole clan against us when Miyuki went through her change and then I uh… ‘Man-ifested’ as well.”
I had to laugh at the way he stressed the first syllable of the word. Zoe and Jenny got a good giggle out of it too. At least he had a good sense of humour about the situation. The mood was still dark though as it looked like both he and Kasumi were starting to brood, so I decided that a subject change was in order. I turned to Kasumi and asked, “You said that you didn’t know what happened last night to make Aunt Gina so concerned that she wanted you to watch us out of school right?”
She nodded as she looked across the table at me. “All Gina told me was that something happened last night and that you all handled it well enough, but she would feel better right now if you had someone watching you when someone else from the house couldn’t be, like when you were shopping today.”
“We were in a café that the Hounds of God decided to attack last night,” I explained. “The PDA and other help would have taken too long to get there so we sort of handled it ourselves.”
“Damn, and I thought I was dangerously impulsive, are you all okay? Those assholes don’t mess around.” She thought about it a moment, “Wait, was that the attack on Luc’s Café? I heard about that from a friend in a PDA clean-up crew. She wouldn’t give me any details but she said it was an absolute bloodbath, like a small war had broken out.”
I groaned at the thought that word about that was spreading already. ”We left one of them alive, and we would have rather not killed them at all but we were told not to show them any mercy and they killed those five people at the front of the café. We were all a little shook up afterwards but none of us was hurt.”
~Say’s the one who was shot,~ Zoe quickly pointed out.
“I was just fine after I… uh ate.” I said in counterpoint. “Anyway the point is that Aunt Gina is concerned. She probably thinks we’re some sort of trouble magnets and is taking extra precautions.”
“Speak for yourself,” jenny said giving me a poke in the ribs, “Things were quiet until you showed up.” From her smile I knew that she didn’t mean anything by it though.
Kei decided to get in on the teasing as well. “Well I was living a relatively normal life until your birthday came along and you Manifested. Since then I’ve been turned into a male Kitsune, people think we’re rogue Paranormals, we had to leave Japan because my parents have put out a hit on us from practically every Hunter family in their clan, and the attack from the Dogs last night. You do realize it hasn’t even been a week yet and all that has happened. I hate to say it my love, but you are a trouble magnet.”
“You were involved in all that stuff too, and didn’t you try to kill me at first too?” I said, crossing my arms.
“That was a misunderstanding, but it supports our claim, more bad things have happened to you in the past week than most people go through in years. You’re the magnetic north of trouble. It’s like trouble has a compass that points right to you,” he said, giving me a smug grin.
I just rolled my eyes, “Thanks a lot, all of you. It’s nice to know who my friends are.”
~Of course we’re your friends, why else would we stick with you through crap like last night?~ Zoe said with a smile. ~Besides you’ve been all quiet and introspective since we left La Luna and I for one was getting worried. Was it Kasumi that had you feeling that way or have you been thinking about last night?~
I shook my head. “Neither, I’ve been thinking about something Selena told me while I was in my kitty form.”
“Don’t leave us hanging, tell us what she said,” Jenny said.
I sighed, not sure if I wanted to bring this up. Finally I said, “She asked why I only use two of my forms.”
~I thought you only had the two forms, girl Miyuki and the snow leopard,~ Zoe said with a frown. ~You’re actually pretty lucky to have your two heritages separated like that.~
“That’s the whole point, Selena said they’re not. She told me that I wasn’t a Mixed but something she called a Fusion, and that I was more than the sum of my parts. Until now I thought I only had the two forms as well so this is really worrying me, what the hell is a Fusion anyway?”
“Selena must have been teasing you,” Kasumi said with a shrug. “Fusions are a Paranormal myth. Basically it’s thought that when a Mixed has two heritages that complement each other perfectly, that they become something entirely new with new abilities and such. I’ve never heard of it actually happening before and neither has any other Paranormal I’ve met.”
“It didn’t sound like she was teasing; she sounded pretty certain about it, and that idea that I have more than two forms.” I sighed and took a sip of my soda.
~Why didn’t you mention it at the time?~ Zoe queried.
“You were rubbing my belly and Jenny was scratching behind my ears, and it was distracting,” I muttered. “I was having enough trouble holding a conversation with her. And then we were having fun picking out clothes, so I didn’t want to bother you all with it. And then I noticed that Kasumi’s scent was everywhere we were going and it distracted me a bit.”
“I’m sorry to follow you around, but I’m just doing my job. I owe Gina a lot so I promised to make sure to keep you all safe,” Kasumi apologized.
“Well now you can just hang out with us instead of following us,” Jenny assured her, “It works out better all around.”
~We should probably get going home so we can get started on our training session,~ Zoe pointed out with a mental sigh. ~I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think martial arts are my thing, I’m not very well coordinated out of the water.~
“You did okay when I gave you your first lesson,” I assured her. “We just need to choose a style for you that suits your strengths. You have great upper body strength so you’ll do well with punches and blocks. I have an idea for weapons for you too that I’ll want to talk with Landon about; they’re not exactly standard so I want the best quality we can get. I think we’ll probably start Jenny on Aikido, with her powerful legs and lower body strength she’ll be good at throws and kicks, though we’ll need to work on her upper body as well. Besides, Mom will be teaching us more than just martial arts. I have no idea how to use a gun and you’re both way ahead of me on your elemental magic. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.”
“If you all are heading to Gina’s I’ll follow you on my bike,” Kasumi said. “I should let Gina know that we met, that I’ll be sticking closer to you, and see if she wants me to do anything else for all of you.”
We all left the food court and made our way through the mall to the parking lot where we once again piled into Zoe’s Prius. Kasumi’s bike turned out to be the same model of Kawasaki Ninja that Aunt Gina had for me and Kei in the garage, but hers was black where mine was white and Kei’s was red. Once the vehicles were in the garage we all headed into the house and Zoe sent out a telepathic call, ~We’re home from the mall.~
Aunt Gina, Natsumi and Mom all emerged from the kitchen continuing whatever conversation they had all been having in Japanese and laughing. Suddenly my mom stopped short and stared at us, well not all of us but rather the new addition to our group. “Kasumi?!”
“Yuki!” the girl exclaimed. “The last I heard from Mom you had settled down and had started a family. What are you doing in Montreal?”
“We had to leave Japan and I’m training those four kids you came in with,” Mom muttered. “Which you’d know if you hadn’t up and vanished. What the hell are you doing here?”
“Funny how things work, I’m their bodyguard until you get them trained,” Kasumi replied.
“Do you two know each other?” I asked, a bit confused.
Mom only nodded at first and then she added coldly, “She’s my sister.”
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