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. 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 10: Lessons
Kasumi had left the house to go start packing the things in her apartment and Jenny and Zoe wanted to try to get their homework out of the way before dinner. Since Mom, Dad, and Aunt Gina had made it clear they didn’t feel it was a good idea for Kei and me to be alone together in one of our bedrooms until I mastered my control of feeding on heat, Kei decided to return to his own room to take a nap before dinner. I briefly considered going downstairs to work out and try to get rid of some of my pent up desire, but I decided instead to take a cat nap of my own since I hadn’t really slept well the night before. Snuggling with my friends on the couch had been nice after the night we had had at the café, but my sleep had been broken, my position awkward, and Mom and Zoe had woken Jenny and I earlier than I was used to. Once they had all left my room I curled up on my nice big bed and quickly fell asleep.
“Murderer,” a voice taunted me as I opened my dream eyes to find myself standing in Luc’s Diner with Yuki no Hana plunged through a man’s throat. It was the first of the Hounds of God I had killed, the first person I had killed, and that face would be forever burned into my memory. His eyes stared at me accusing as I tried to pull my sword free of the fountain of gushing blood that had been his neck. His lips parted and he accused me again, “Murderer. You killed me.”
“NO!” I shook my head as I wrenched my sword free.
“No, you’re not a murderer,” another voice agreed. I turned to see another of the dogs I had killed, his neck bent at an impossible angle. “Murder is a human sin, when one human kills another. You aren’t human, just look at yourself, you’re more animal than human.” I looked down at my arms and hands, covered with white fur and tipped with razor sharp claws. “Humans will fear you, and for good reason, you are a monster ruled by your baser instincts.”
“No! It’s not like that! I’m not…” I started to argue.
“Tell that to him,” the man with the broken neck retorted with a lopsided sneer as he pointed to the frozen corpse of his comrade.
I covered my eyes, trying to drive the image out of my mind. A raspy voice spoke, taunting me like the others “You killed us with ruthless efficiency, like the predator you are. Did I taste good? Did I satisfy your need to feed? It felt good, didn’t it? That rush of energy you got when you sucked me dry, it made you giddy didn’t it? It wasn’t enough though, was it? Monsters like you always have other instincts, other needs… other desires.”
“No…” I began to try to refute his claim.
“You say no, but you mean yes, how can you deny it when you’re doing that.”
What was he talking about? I wasn’t doing anything. I looked down to see that one of my hands was caressing my breast as the other stroked between my legs.
I woke up gasping for air and yanked my hands away from the sensitive bits they had been exploring. If I gave in I might as well say goodbye to what was left of Mitsuo and I was not ready for that. I sat up, arranged myself in the lotus position, and spent the rest of the time until dinner attempting to mentally beat my desire into submission.
Dinner was nice, and a bit unexpected. I had thought Mom was making dinner, but apparently Natsumi had decided to cook when we had left for the mall that morning and had been in the kitchen most of the time since then. I had never really pictured the Harionago as the culinary type, but dinner was delicious. She had made lasagna, some sort of garlic and herb dinner rolls, a Caesar salad, and veggie kabobs and had even made some cinnamon rolls with a sweet icing on top for desert.
Mom’s plan after dinner was to put Kei, Jenny, and Zoe through some warm up exercises before trying to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. After that she would decide what form of martial arts would work best for each of them. With that in mind, once we finished dessert Mom took them downstairs, but not before Kei and I exchanged a toe-curling kiss that quickened my breathing, made me feel warm and gooey between my legs, and re-stoked the desire, I had thought I had managed to reduce to embers, into a bonfire.
I decided to wait in the living room and meditate until Kasumi got back, focusing on controlling my breathing, clearing my mind of lustful thoughts, and once again pushing down the feelings of desire that had been getting more impossible to deny with each passing day. It was roughly half an hour later that she came home bearing a large backpack. I stood up from the sofa and was all prepared to help her take all her belongings up and get set up in her room, but I ended up just staring at the backpack. “You really pack light.”
She shrugged and took me by the hand to pull me along toward the staircase and up. “I just brought some changes of clothes. I don’t really have much and Hans offered to go pick up the rest for me tomorrow, since everything I do have is packed now. Besides I couldn’t really carry much on my bike anyway.”
“Hai, I guess that’s true,” I agreed as we reached the door to her room.
To my surprise my aunt just dropped her backpack in her room and gestured to my room. Once we crossed the hall to my room and made ourselves comfortable on my bed she said, “I thought you might be more comfortable in your room since we won’t be doing any actual magic today.” She smiled as she looked around the room at the clothes hung in the closet, the few framed photos I had brought from Japan, and Yuki no Hana on her shrine. When her eyes fell on my sword she moved closer for a better look. “That’s a beautiful sword.”
“It was a birthday gift from Grandfather, he had it made especially for me,” I replied, sighing as I thought about him.
She nodded and asked hesitantly, “How… how is he?”
“His arthritis is getting bad, and I worry that he might be lonely since we left. He tries not to show any weakness, but he hasn’t really been the same since Grandmother died,” I told her morosely.
“He really loved Mom,” she agreed as she sat back on the bed with her hands clasped together in her lap. “You and Yuki should call home soon; to make sure he’s alright and let him know how things are going here. Maybe I should talk to him too… I don’t know…”
“Were you close to him?” I asked, wanting to know more about my aunt.
She let herself fall back into the embrace of my bed with a pensive smile. “Close enough that he let me call him father, and that I actually wanted to. I was almost a complete stranger and I may have looked sixteen, but I was nearly as old as he was. He didn’t have to treat me well; he could have resented me or refused Mom’s wishes, but he welcomed me into his home and treated me like his own daughter because I was his wife’s daughter and Yuki’s sister.”
Her reply begged the question, “What about your biological father?”
“Never knew him, never wanted to,” she responded with a shrug. “Mom was still in the one night stand phase of her life at that point. I was her fifteenth child, and the last had gone her own way a few years before I was born. Mom and I travelled a lot, never staying long in one place, and I got used to it. When I struck out on my own I continued travelling; I kept telling myself that I was free with nothing to tie me down. Once in a while though I would feel something was missing, so I kept in contact with Mom. When she asked me to come live with them and train Yuki I had no idea how a real family worked, but I had promised Mom.”
“That must have been strange for you to get used to,” I thought aloud as I tried to picture it in my mind.
“You have no idea. There were definitely a few interesting learning experiences for me,” Kasumi answered with a giggle. “ I suddenly I had a little sister looking up to me, a curfew, rules to follow, and I had to constantly wear clothes and play normal for the humans, but Mom, Yuki, and Dad were determined to make me feel like part of the family and it made me realize what was missing in my life. Of us all I think it was hardest on Yuki.”
I blinked at her in confusion as I tried to process that. “How could it be hardest on her? I would think she would have loved to have a big sister.”
“She loved the idea of having a sister at first, but the reality was a bit hard for her. She thought having a sister would mean that I would have all the same interests as she did and that we would spend all of our time together. She and Dad tried getting me involved in martial arts, but I had no aptitude for it and I just didn’t enjoy it as much as Yuki did. She assumed that me quitting after two months meant that I didn’t want to spend time with her. One day we were all eating dinner and she asked why I didn’t like her.”
“Mom always has been one to try to tackle problems head on,” I put in with a shake of my head. “Sometimes I wonder if she’s familiar with the concept of subtlety at all. I bet that didn’t go over too well.”
“There were some raised voices in the discussion that followed,” she admitted with a laugh. “Once he figured out why Yuki was upset Dad told her that we might be sisters, but we were each different people. We could like different things and still love one another and that me trying for that long when I wasn’t enjoying it showed that I did love her. When she argued, he asked what I enjoyed doing and told her that since I had loved her enough to try what she loves doing then she should do the same for me.”
That definitely sounded like something my Grandfather would say. My cat side couldn’t stand the curiosity so I asked, “So, what happened then?”
“Does Yuki still hate skiing?” she inquired with a grin. “Dad took us to a ski resort for the whole weekend. Yuki was horrible at it; she could barely stay upright and hated every minute of it. She spent over three hours, absolutely miserable, on the beginner slope while I was having the time of my life.”
I broke out in a fit of giggles and when I finally managed to catch my breath somewhat I replied, “I wanted to try skiing last year and she gave me the evil eye and said ‘why would you want to do that?’ How did she manage mountain rescue work if she hates skiing? I bet she learned her lesson though.”
“To be fair, our kind doesn’t need skis to move around quickly in snow,” my aunt pointed out. “If you really want to try skiing though there’s some great ski resorts in the area, maybe we can go over the holidays. As for what happened with Yuki, I twisted my ankle a bit on a run just before lunch. When I saw Yuki moping because she hated skiing and had no place to practice her martial arts I took pity on her and we spent the rest of the day playing board games together and having fun in our room at the lodge.”
“Couldn’t you have just healed your ankle by stealing the heat from a cup of hot cocoa or something?” I asked in confusion.
“Yeah and Mom and Dad made sure to point that out when they found us there. I thought Dad was going to be mad because we had spent all that money on the ski trip for me and there we were in the room, but he just asked why I hadn’t healed myself so I could keep having fun. I told him it was because I couldn’t make Yuki keep doing something she obviously hated just because I enjoyed it, and I wanted to cheer her up. You could literally see the realization hitting Yuki and after that is when we really started bonding.” She sighed at the memory before adding, “I missed my family so much. There’s so much I missed. I should have been there for Yuki, and for you.”
I gave in to my hug impulse and wrapped my arms tightly around her. “You had good reasons for leaving and for staying away, besides you’re here now and that’s what’s important. We’ll just have to make up for lost time.”
We sat there just hugging one another for a while before Kasumi finally pulled away. “I guess we really should get started on your lesson. Yuki tells me that you haven’t quite mastered feeding on heat yet and I’d like to work on that before getting into magic. Today though, I thought that you might benefit from a lesson on the elements and the basics of elemental magic. Can you tell me how many elements there are?”
I thought back to the explanation mom gave me on the day I Manifested, going over it in my head before replying,” Ten. I think Mom said there’s Ice, Water, Fire, Metal, Lightning, Earth, Air, Wood, Divine and Death.”
“Very good,” she replied with a smile and a quick nod. “Now one of the most important concepts of elemental magic is the balance theory. The balance theory is the belief that each of these elements has its opposite and that they are all present on the Material Plane to maintain the balance of nature here. This balance isn’t always perfect, which is why you get earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. If one of these ten elements were to disappear the balance would be seriously disrupted and it would throw all of nature on its head.”
“The Material Plane?” I asked.
“Think of time and space as a massive layer cake,” she explained. “Each layer is a separate plane of existence. The layer we live in is called the Material Plane, but there are other layers too, and in some of those layers a single element is dominant. These are called the Elemental Planes; they are considered to be the origins of the various elements as they relate to magic. There is one for each element and they are the Infernal Plane, the Holy Plane, the Frozen Plane, the Fire Plane, the Garden Plane, the Forest Plane, the Ocean Plane, the Thunder Plane, the Iron Plane, and the Sky Plane. There is also thought to be something called the Soul Plane, but that is more related to spirits and the afterlife and I can’t be certain whether it really exists or not.”
I was having a little trouble accepting that I should just take it as law that these planes actually existed. “How can you be certain that any of them exist though?”
“Because I’ve been to two of them,” she answered seriously. “The year before I went after the Hunters who were enslaving Paranormals in Japan I was introduced to someone named Jack. I heard some people refer to him as Spring-heeled Jack, but he was introduced to me as the Traveller. He’s been alive for over two hundred years and was human until he was changed by the Philosopher’s Stone. At least I think that’s what he told me, it wasn’t easy following what he was saying.”
“Philosopher’s Stone my ass, it sounds like he was crazy,” I muttered.
Kasumi shook her head and I could have sworn she rolled her eyes too as she replied, “Worse, he’s Irish. The Fey seem to think he just spent too much time in the Holy Plane and it changed him. Anyway, the reason Jack is called the Traveller is because he travels all the various elemental planes. He wanted my help with something and the womanizing bastard dragged me all over the Frozen Plane and then the Forest Plane before he finished what he wanted to do. Jack is a bit of a special case since he’s now a non-aligned Paranormal with an ability to form extra-planar gates, but while we were in the Forest Plane I was told by the Fey that anyone with an extremely strong connection to the element they are aligned to can travel between the plane of that element and the Material Plane. Practically all the elemental beings do it, the Fey do it, and so do Demons, just to name a few.”
I wasn’t quite sure what she was getting at and it was just a little irritating since I was already having problems concentrating, so I pressed, “Not that this isn’t all fascinating and all, but what does it have to do with teaching me magic?”
“Elemental alignments,” she answered simply. “Rarely there are Paranormals without an elemental alignment, but most Paranormals are aligned to one or more element as we are to Ice. Elements that are opposed in the balance are less effective against one another.”
Kasumi went on to explain that while most Paranormals are aligned to one or more elements that it is extremely rare for a human to be, and those humans are usually Mages. Some humans, like witches and the Hunters in Japan have an aptitude for learning magic. Those with an aptitude for learning magic can essentially use magic of any element, since they’re not bound to any specific one, but it is not near as effective or powerful as it would be if they had an alignment to the element they happened to be using.
After that she began teaching me about primary, secondary and tertiary elements. The primary elements are Divine and Death and she explained that this was because they were the most influential and their opposition to one another formed the scales of the ultimate balance. Creation and destruction, life and death, growth and decay, pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, hope and despair, light and dark; everything there is, including the other eight elements contain some part of both these elements. It’s like how fire can destroy, but it also gives off light and warmth. Kitsune foxfire though, being Divine in nature, only contains the divine aspects of the fire element, providing light and warmth but not consuming what it touches.
The secondary elements are Earth, Air, Fire, and Ice. Of these elements, Earth and Air were opposed as were Fire and Ice. I had thought she meant water since usually it’s the one that’s grouped with those other three but she quickly refuted that. She told me to think about the very beginning. When I looked at her in utter confusion she explained that if you thought about how the earth was formed in the cold dark vacuum of space there was no water. No, the planet was formed from rock, ice, and gasses and bathed in the light and heat of the Sun. Water on the other hand was created by the interaction of the Fire and Ice elements.
That was where the tertiary elements came in. Water, Lightning, Metal, and Wood are all created and thrive within an interaction of two or more secondary elements. Of these elements Water is opposed to Wood and Lightning to Metal. In many places on the Material Plane tertiary elements are easy to find or create in nature, sometimes easier than secondary elements. Tertiary elements have one problem though; being composed of a balance of two or more secondary elements, that balance can in many cases be disrupted, making them easier to combat. On the other hand though, tertiary element users can also use that ‘weakness’ creatively or as an advantage when working with magic users of a different element.
There was so much to know and remember and as I tried organizing it in my mind I groaned. She had already had to repeat some things for me so I could get to the point where I could attempt to organize it. It was interesting enough; I was just having problems concentrating on the lesson. “Why can’t magic just be point and shoot?”
“Because the world doesn’t work that way,” my aunt replied with a laugh. “Becoming a competent magic user requires determination, practice, concentration, and a lot of self-control. I know you’ve displayed all of those things in your martial arts training, Yuki is very proud of you, you know. I’m… a bit worried about your self-control though.”
I could feel a blush rising to my cheeks. “Look, if this is about me going all ‘catty’ earlier today…”
She placed a finger on my lips and shook her head. “That is only part of it Miyuki. It’s only natural that you’re on edge; your entire life has turned upside down this week. You’ve changed genders, you’ve suddenly had all this Paranormal and magic stuff thrust on you, you had to leave Japan, everything here is probably really hard to adjust to, there was the attack on the diner, and then today you find about me and Yuki let her own control slip. It’s understandable that you would show some emotion. I’m worried that you are focusing your self-control on the wrong thing.”
“Huh?” I know my reply was hardly articulate, but she was really confusing me.
That was when she dumped the ton of bricks on me. “Miyuki, how long has it been since you’ve had sex?” I just stared at her blankly in disbelief, uncertain what to say.
“I’ve been working out a lot so I don’t need to, I just haven’t had the chance to do that today,” I complained. It sounded like whining though, even to me.
“Exercise and intense focus on something else like your martial arts only distracts you from the urges and makes you too tired to do anything about them after, it doesn’t take them away or lessen them, They will just keep getting stronger if you don’t use the natural release valve for them. So when was the last time?” When I just shook my head her eyes widened and she smacked her forehead. “You haven’t!? Not even a little experimentation?” I gave another shake of my head as I fidgeted nervously. “Dammit, no wonder you’re so damn tense. I thought it was just everything else going on, but this explains a lot. Holding off on sex right now is probably a good thing, you can’t control your feeding yet, but you should be doing something about it when you’re alone at least.”
Why in hell were she and my mom both so adamant about me riding the five finger express? This was starting to get infuriating. “Therrre is nothing wrrrong with rrrestraint!” I mentally cursed as I clenched my fists hard enough to dig my claws into the palms of my hands and realized I had changed forms again.
“Not usually,” she countered, “but it’s been almost a week since you Manifested and you haven’t done anything. You are showing monkish levels of restraint. You’re using all your self-control to keep yourself from satisfying your needs, and look what happens when you do that, the pent up frustration keeps boiling over and you lose control whenever you get upset. It’s also distracting you and keeping you from focusing. You can’t learn magic in this state and you know damn well what happens to people who get distracted or lose focus in a fight.”
I knew she was right with her last point, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit it to her so I just stayed quiet. She didn’t though. “It’s just a natural part of our lives Miyuki and repressing your instincts and needs is not controlling them. Sex is part of who we are and the urges will keep getting worse as long as you ignore them. You will lose control and end up doing something about it if you keep this up, only you may not be able to choose the how or when of it. What if you’re at school? Or with some guy other than Kei? What if you’re not thinking clearly enough to remember to use protection or to stop yourself from stealing enough heat to kill him?”
I glared at her as my nightmare from earlier came to mind, “I wouldn’t let that happen.”
She gave me a look and let out a sigh like she was dealing with some obstinate child, and that probably wasn’t too far off from the truth. “That’s my whole point, if you keep this up it will happen whether you want it to or not. Why is this such a big deal for you? You’re obviously comfortable with your body so it can’t be that.”
“It’s…” I paused to take a deep breath and to try to find the words to explain it. “It’s like if I do that I’ll lose the last little bit of Mitsuo that’s left. I… don’t want to lose who I am.”
“That’s bullshit Miyuki,” she snapped. “Sure you’re body, your life and even your name are different now, but inside you’re still the same person. You still love martial arts, you hold the same values, and you care for the same people. Your parents and Kei both see that, the only one who doesn’t is you.”
I turned away from her and as soon as I caught sight of my furry reflection in the mirror I buried my face in my hands. “What if I rrreally am a monsterrr?”
I started to cry then. It began as a few trickles of tears that I tried to control, but quickly gave way to great heaving sobs. Kasumi quickly wrapped her arms around me and just held me, stroking my hair and trying to comfort me as I let out nearly a weeks’ worth of confusion, uncertainty, fear, guilt, and shame that I hadn’t even realized I had been carrying until then. When I finally stopped crying I told her about the nightmare I had had earlier.
“You are not a monster Miyuki,” she told me sternly, pulling away and holding me by my shoulders to look me right in the eyes. “We may not be human, but we are people. You killed those assholes to protect yourself and others and there was no other way. It was you or them and you know that. I’m pretty sure that you didn’t enjoy it and any idiot could see that you feel terrible about having to be put in that position. You even gave them a chance to surrender first. They went into that diner with one purpose, to intentionally kill other people, just because they’re different. I think that makes them the monsters.”
I couldn’t bear to look at her so I cast my eyes downward to look at my knees. “But… I think I might have enjoyed it. When I fed on that guy’s heat... afterrrwards I felt giddy, I was even giggling.”
“Have you ever eaten too many sweets?” my aunt asked. I looked up at her in complete confusion and she pulled me closer to her again as she explained, “Heat is kind of like sugar for us. We don’t need it to live, but it tastes really good, it’s a constant temptation, and it gives us a lot of energy. You drank in all that man’s heat in a matter of seconds if you ended up freezing him solid like you said. It’s like a kid at Halloween who eats all their candy in one sitting; you end up with one hell of a sugar rush. That’s all it was, you suddenly had a lot of energy, it tasted really good, and you’re still new at feeding so the rush of it took you by surprise, so of course you were a bit hyper.”
“Maybe you’rrre rrright,” I admitted. “What if I rrreally am rrruled by my instincts though?”
“All creatures have instincts: animals, humans Paranormals, it doesn’t matter what you are. But we’re thinking beings; we can choose whether or not to give into those instincts, and when and where to do so. You’ve proven that by holding off for so long. What you’re doing though is going to cause those instincts to become too strong to be controlled. If you want to truly control this then you need to give into those instincts in moderation in a time and place of your choosing before the urges become a major distraction.”
“What if I like it too much? What if I can’t get enough?” I argued.
“Then Kei should consider himself lucky,” she joked. Seeing that I didn’t even crack a smile though, she sniffed indignantly. “You are way too uptight about this. It’s just sex; you’re supposed to enjoy it. Just do so in moderation, once, maybe twice a day will take the edge off and you’ve already proven that you are quite capable of resisting the urge when you need to.”
“I guess… maybe,” I replied uncertainly.
“Once you’re thinking clearly, you’ll see that I’m right. You just need to suck it up, take the plunge, and get over the hump. Once you do that you’ll see that you were blowing this way out of proportion and the problem will get laid… to rest.” She grinned and waggled her eyebrows playfully, but I could see in her eyes she was worried about me still.
I just shook my head and gave her a weak smile. She was probably right, and she had way more experience than I did. “You’rrre worrrse than Mom, you know that rrright?”
“What can I say, she learned from the best,” she retorted as she stood up and gave me one last hug. Then as she made her way to the door she looked over her shoulder and said. “Please consider my suggestion. I should go set up my room though, so I’ll clam up and leave you to play around with the idea.”
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