-contents: safe

Chapter 1
Darkness overlapped her senses. She had no idea where she was or what day it was or what was going on. All she knew was pain and sorrow. The sensation grew, getting more and more ominous and burdening with its displeasure, until finally it erupted in a visual cacophony of terror. The agony was unbearable, and yet there was nothing, no manifestation of person or creature that was inflicting these horrors on her. She was completely alone in the unending black, alone with her own despair. But then... there they were. The herald of her mental demise, they always showed up as the grand finale to her anguish. Those yellow expressive eyes glowing with malevolence, somehow unassuming yet evil at the same time. Each time, as if ritually, they would widen and the pupils would narrow to slits and they would gain a look of wild satisfaction.
Cris jerked awake with a sharp gasp, sitting up and clapping a hand to her head. Morning light streamed in through her windows, contrasting starkly from the bleak darkness of her dream. Her breathing came in huffs and she slowly became aware of the fact that she was sweating, a chill settling on her skin. Her head shot up at the low sound of a voice, Cody's.
"Cris?... You okay?"
He was standing at her door. She sighed. This wasn't the first time she'd had this nightmare, and everytime she did, the Ineith would be standing at her door asking if she was okay. It was starting to grind on her nerves, but she couldn't help but be grateful. It was kind of nice to have someone nearby who wanted to make sure she was alright, even if it was so constant it was a little annoying.
"Yeah," she muttered, flopping back down on her bed with an exasperated sigh. "Just had a nightmare again. It's alright. Thanks."
"Oh... okay. Well I uh, made some breakfast. If you want it, anyway." He smiled sheepishly, watching her.
She sighed for the umpteenth time. Though the aroma of bacon in the air did make her mouth water a little. "Breakfast? Again? Do you ever stop? You're always doing something - breakfast, lunch, dinner, cleaning, errands, whatever. Give it a rest."
"Well I'll just bring it in here on a tray if you want-"
"No!" She sat up and rubbed her face. "Don't do that... Alright, I'll come out... Just give me a few minutes."
The guardian smiled before walking out back to the kitchen, leaving her in her room. She couldn't believe this guy, it was like he had a complete personality change since their cruise a few months ago. He was always doing something, work or help or listening, tirelessly. And it seemed like something deep inside him had changed; he seemed somehow dreary or haunted by something, despite his attempts to hide it. She had tried to bring it up and ask him on a few occasions, but every time he would dodge the question or change the subject, insisting he didn't know what she was talking about and that he was fine. It was a little suspicious, especially considering her nightmares had started close to around the same time he started acting funny. She wasn't a genius, but she could put two and two together and knew something wasn't totally right about the situation, but she had more important things to worry about with her new book she was working on. Besides, Cody was the only other person she felt she could talk to about it and he absolutely refused to spill anything, and the conversations only made her tired.
Next to the constant activity, he seemed to be taking his guardian role a little too seriously. He insisted on being nearby her wherever she went, whenever, and for whatever reason. Even if they were out and she needed to use the restroom, he would wait outside for her until she came out. Not only was it annoying, but it was also a little weird, in an uncomfortable way. She almost never got any private time. In fact, she kind of felt like royalty or someone of high prestige who needed a constant bodyguard. Instead of feeling flattered or important, however, she just felt smothered.
After throwing on a pair of flannel pants under her oversized shirt, she went out to the kitchen to find what she had found on the table every morning for the past three months - plates of delicious breakfast foods from pancakes to fruit. Cody beamed at her as she sat down and proceeded with her usual morning ritual of forking foods onto a plate.
"Morning," he said cheerily, setting down a glass of orange juice by her plate.
"Morning," she muttered.
The Ineith sat down across from her and watched her, concerned. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Same as I always do," she replied wearily. "Had that damn nightmare again."
Cody frowned and looked down at his plate. "Yeah. Sorry..."
"I'm starting to get pretty sick of it, you know? It's always the same shit over and over again. Darkness, pain. And then those eyes." She paused and looked up from her pancakes, swallowing. "Those fucking eyes..." She stopped for a second and stared at Cody, who looked up in confusion. Her eyes seemed to penetrate his, staring at them with an expression as if making some kind of connection. "Actually... the eyes look like--"
Cody felt a flare of panic well up in him, but Cris was suddenly interrupted by the startling sound of the doorbell. The two of them jumped slightly, turning to look at the door. "Who is that," Cris muttered, but before she could do anything else, Cody was already out of his seat and going to the door. She couldn't help but notice a bit of tension in his body as he went.
He looked through the peephole and audibly groaned, making Cris furrow her brow and stand up. "What? Who is it?" She went to the door as he opened it, revealing an Ineith with brown hair that nearly covered his eyes and a black chain around his neck, clad in an orange jacket and jeans with a black messenger bag hanging at his side. She squinted in uncertainty at him before looking back at Cody, then back at the other.

-contents: safe

Chapter 2
"Hello," the newcomer smiled and held a hand up in greeting.
"What are you doing here?" Cody looked at him warily, but he seemed to relax.
"Well..." He considered for a moment, almost hesitantly. "Let's just say I'm here to lend a hand."
Cody narrowed his eyes. "Lend a hand? What do you mean?"
"Any chance you could invite me in? I think it would be a little more pleasant to talk inside." He smiled.
Cody moved to let him, but was halted as Cris stepped up and put her hands on her hips. "Wait a minute, this is my apartment. If anyone's gonna invite you in, it's gonna be me." She threw Cody a smoldering glare, who grimaced and bent his ears back. "First of all, who are you?" She looked the Ineith up and down, more as a gesture than to inspect him.
The male smiled wanly and held a hand out. "I'm sorry, I should have introduced myself first. My name is Ku, I'm with the Guardian Association with Cody here." He motioned to Cody, who rubbed the back of his head, unsure of what to do now except just stand there.
Cris frowned, but didn't neglect his hand, shaking it bluntly before dropping it. "The Guardian Association? Why are you here?"
"Well, like I said, I'd love to explain but... it would be easier to inside. It's a little awkward standing out here, you know?" He grinned meekly.
Cris stared at him for a moment before moving aside and motioning him inside. Ku entered and went into the living room, looking around with mild interest. He nodded to the couch, "May I?"
"Sure," Cris answered and sat on a chair on one side. Cody took a seat on the couch, though kept his distance from Ku, watching him.
"So," Ku started, trying to split his attention between the confused Cris and the suspicious Cody, glancing between them every so often. "The Guardian Association has been keeping tabs on you, and let's just say they're a little worried about the situation." His eyes rested on Cody and they shared a brief second of mutual understanding. "Cody, they think you've been working yourself too hard and they want to withdraw you from your assignment, at least temporarily."
Cody's eyes widened and seemed to flare dangerously. "Withdraw me?" His voice was low and ominous, causing Ku to wince slightly and look back to Cris, who was simply watching him in disbelief.
"You see," Ku continued, more to Cris now than Cody, who was staring at him as if he were about to rip him limb from limb. "The council of the Association has decided to give Cody a break to readjust himself and make him better able to function to the best of his ability in his job as a guardian. You understand?"
Cris stared at him before shaking her head a little, trying to absorb his words. "Well... I mean, I guess, if they say it's necessary..."
"May I see you outside please," Cody muttered through clenched teeth.
Ku looked over at him and was a little taken aback by the expression of dismay and fury set on the other Ineith's face. "Eh, okay..." He turned back to Cris, "We're just going to go outside and talk about some boring GA business. We'll be right back in a minute."
She all but rolled her eyes. "Yeah, okay."
The two Ineith stood and went outside, shutting the door behind them.
Immediately Cody grabbed the collar of Ku's shirt and flung him against the side of the building, glowering in his eyes. "What the fuck do you think you're doing, coming here and telling me to quit my job?"
Ku slowly reached up and placed his hands on Cody's, trying to calm him down. "Look, it wasn't my decision. The council has been keeping track of you through Maya, they don't like how you've been reacting to... well, you know," he frowned.
At this, Cody weakened some and dropped his hands, stepping back. He gained a look of defeat and slumped slightly. "I know what happened back there, but they can't just pull me off the assignment like this. I can't just leave Cris like that. You have to understand, Ku."
The brunette sighed and placed a hand on Cody's shoulder. "I do, but you have to understand too, Cody. You've been reacting very troubled from what happened. You're overworking and stressing yourself, you need some downtime, or something bad will happen. You'll have a meltdown or rampage or something. We can't afford to take the risk, for your sake as well as hers."
"...Yeah," he sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. I would hate myself if I did anything to hurt Cris... But," he looked up, concerned. "What about her? I have to watch over her, something might happen again."
Ku smiled and tightened his hold on Cody's shoulder just slightly, trying to comfort him. "Don't worry about that, I'll take your place til the council decides you're fit to work again. I'll take good care of her for you, you won't have to worry about a thing, I swear."
Cody looked about to protest for a moment, but considering how effectively and quickly he had managed to rescue both him and Cris from the vampire's manor, there wasn't much he could say in retaliation. He turned his eyes down in defeated silence.
"We just want you to focus on rehabilitation after everything you went through. The council has everything all set up for you already - someone to talk to, a place to go relax for awhile, funds for food and entertainment. It's a pretty good deal, if you ask me." He grinned.
"But - what about Cris? She went through way worse than I did, I don't deserve any of that, she does..."
"Don't worry about her, we suppressed her memories for a reason, remember? Besides, the Association doesn't have jurisdiction on spending funds on charges. We just can't do it, for financial as well as political reasons. And anyway, Cris has enough money to go on twelve cruises a year if she wanted to, you know that."
"So just go take care of yourself. We can't suppress the memories of guardians, it's too dangerous and you need to maintain all your memories in order to be efficient. But in order to do that, you need rehabilitation, which is where you're going right now. Okay?"
"...Alright." He looked at Ku fiercely, "But if I come back and find out about even one hurt feeling, you'll have more than one broken bone, you got it?"
Ku smiled jovially, "Don't worry, she won't even have a broken fingernail."

-contents: safe

Chapter 3
Cris looked up as the two walked back in, Ku sauntering and Cody sulking. The two returned to their seats on the couch and Ku smiled at Cris, who merely looked back in confusion. "Cody will be taking off for a bit of a vacation for a little while and I'll be taking his place until he returns."
She frowned and sat back in her chair, crossing her arms. "Why? I don't understand what the hell is going on here at all."
"You see," he replied, "something came up that he'd prefer to keep private and he needs-"
"Private?" She burst, leaning forward in shocked anger. "Private you say? For the last three months, he's been following me around like a goddamn ghost. I don't even know what privacy means anymore! What the fuck is going on huh?"
Ku paused. "..His mother died."
There was a moment of awkward silence and Ku nudged Cody with his elbow, causing him to stir and sit up, looking at the now surprised Cris. "Oh yeah... she died last week and I uh, need some time to recover and go to her... funeral?" The last word was punctuated with a quizzical glance at Ku, who moved a bit to block Cris' view of Cody's face.
"He needs to take a break to make the preparations and mourn the loss of his mother. We're terribly sorry it had to come to such an inconvenience for you, but we'll work around it as best we can."
"O-oh..." She frowned and leaned to look at Cody. "Cody, I'm sorry... I didn't know anything like that happened. I'm really sorry for your loss."
Cody dodged her gaze as Ku grabbed her attention again. "He'll be ready to return as soon as he's taken care of his business back on Dydani. But until then, I'll be here to help you with anything you need." He beamed.
She nodded. "Alright... Cody I hope everything goes okay for you. I'm really sorry, let me know if you need anything." She smiled slightly and Cody averted her gaze, unable to think of anything more to add to the lie and disliking the feeling of deceiving her, even if it was for a legitimate reason.
"Thanks," was all he could manage in a quiet mumble.
Ku turned to Cody and, after reaching into his bag to retrieve something, handed it to him. It was a large brown envelope. "Here's all your information and transportation supplies. It's all ready for you whenever you're ready to go back to Dydani. Just remember to report back to the Association before you go anywhere, so they know you're alright."
They sat in silence for a moment, before Ku flashed a glance at Cody, causing him to jump slightly and stand. "Oh-right. Uh... well," he murmured more at Ku than Cris. "I guess I should be going then..."
He started for the door with his envelope, but halted as Cris stood and went to him, surprising them both. She slid her arms around his neck and pulled him close, hugging him. Despite the compassion in the gesture, Cody couldn't help but be distracted by the soft feel of her breasts pressing against his chest, the warmth emanating from her body, and the sweet smell of her hair; he blushed fiercely, too struck to hug her back. She didn't seem to notice or mind, though.
"Cody, I really am sorry about your loss. I feel bad after everything you've done for me, and bitching at you like I've been." Letting him go, she leaned back and looked up at him, ignoring his blatantly red face. "Please let me know if I can do anything for you at all, okay?" She smiled softly.
All he could manage was a nod. Seemingly satisfied, she stepped back out of his way. "Okay then, be careful on your way back. We'll be fine while you're gone, so don't worry about anything."
Something about her words itched the back of his mind, but a glance at Ku, who gestured to the door with a mildly impatient nod, cured his discomfort. With a sigh, he went to the door. Pausing to throw his gaze back at the two, his hesitance couldn't be any clearer, but he opened the door and departed anyway. 

-contents: safe

Chapter 4
As the door closed behind him, Cris and Ku's eyes met. Cris sat back down awkwardly and, as if sensing the tension in the air, Ku smiled reassuringly and leaned back on the couch. "So... why don't you tell me about yourself?"
"Eh... well there's not much to tell about myself, really..."
"Nonsense. You're a highly successful published author and journalist, you have a lovely personality, and you're very beautiful to boot. I find you quite fascinating."
Cris blushed slightly, taken aback by the unexpected flood of flattery. She lifted a hand and rubbed the back of her head, chuckling. "Uh well, I wouldn't go so far as to say all that..."
"Well, I just did." He smiled smoothly.
She smirked a little and crossed her arms. "I don't know... I mean, I guess I am pretty successful. I just like bringing the truth to the people, is all. I don't believe in lying and manipulating the public to make them follow like sheep, I think they have a right to know what's going on out there and being able to have input in order to make the world a better place. You know?"
Ku nodded, listening intently. He gave her nudges and encouragement to talk about herself, knowing it would ease the situation for her. And it seemed to work, at least from what he could see. They sat and carried on an entertaining conversation for a few hours, Ku effective in preoccupying her mind. He wasn't enlisted into the Overhaul Subsidiary for nothing, after all.
"Come in."
Cody opened the door and stepped in, closing it directly behind him. Maya sat behind an impressive wooden desk, tapping a pen on the surface almost agitatedly. She certainly hadn't changed since the last time he'd seen her in person - large purple ears poked up out of lush long waves of red hair that flowed down the front and back of her dark blue, neat business vest, her violet eyes made less attractive by the expression of rushed aggravation, purple tail twitching constantly from a tailored hole in her knee-length skirt. Still as intimidating as ever. Cody swallowed as he moved to stand in front of her desk, her eyes piercing him.
"So," she said. "You're going on a short paid vacation. Do you have the envelope Ku delivered to you?"
He nodded and held up the large brown envelope he'd clutched in his hand the whole time he traveled back to the Guardian Association headquarters.
"Good. Do you know where you're going, how, what time, etcetera etcetera etcetera?"
Cody scratched his head. "I know I'm going to some place called Lathera..." He looked genuinely uncertain.
The female sighed. "Okay, pay attention Cody, because I really hate repeating myself..." She looked at him sternly to make sure he was listening before continuing. "From here, you'll go to an inn located in Urlan, which is a large city to the east of here." She raised an eyebrow, making him feel a little demeaned. "You'll spend the night there, then tomorrow at mid-morning, you'll take a roc to Lathera, which is a small island in the Charnal Sea," again with the raised eyebrow, "where you'll spend the next few weeks in reconstructive therapy. There's only one building on the island, that's where you'll be staying. It doesn't matter where you land, Murl will meet you wherever you end up and will further instruct you from there. Murl is a specialized therapist from the Overhaul Subsidiary who will be managing your recovery and stabilized return to your guardian duties. Everything has been paid for, from food to travel, all you have to do is show up. Do you understand?" She asked the follow-up question in a mildly condescending tone, staring at him coolly.
Cody had an urge to refuse the roc transportation, but the look on his superior's face told him to bite his tongue. He merely nodded, clutching his envelope at his side.
"Good," she stated without movement. "You'll also need to turn in all your official Guardian Association items. You can go afterward, and don't forget to eat something. You'll need the energy." Without waiting for an answer, she returned her attention to some papers on her desk, utterly ignoring him as he slowly pulled his cross-dimensional transmitter and other few items from his pockets and placed them on the desk, before turning and exiting.
He closed the door behind him and exhaled loudly. It was always the same experience with her whenever he had to talk to her. Very rarely, if at all, did he do any talking; it was always her simply giving instructions or making demands and expecting them to be followed, preferably without questions. It wasn't so much that she was rude moreso than she was just so busy that she couldn't afford anyone more time than what was only required. It still bit into him and irritated him though. Shaking off the cold interaction, he went on his way to his pre-planned 'reconstructive therapy.'
Cris and Ku walked through the door, back into the house, the former carrying on noisily much more than the latter. The conversation from earlier had cheered Cris up immensely, even warming her up to her replacement guardian to the point of inviting him out to dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant. They'd gone out and spent a good two hours, ordering appetizers, main courses, desserts, coffee - the whole nine yards until the wait staff started throwing weary glances their way, subtly hinting them to leave. Throughout their dinner, Cris had ordered a few drinks, enough to give her a rosey complexion and giddy temperament. Ku, being the gentleman he was, had offered to drive back when she ordered her first drink with their appetizers, and from there she maintained a good buzz from various drinks. There was no denying she wanted to go further into the diamond-encrusted beauty of complete drunkenness, but she held herself back for Ku's sake. Not only did she not want to make a bad first impression, but she just didn't want to put him through that trouble. She really could be a handful when she was drunk.
The two walked through the door back into the apartment, Cris giggling over something stupid and Ku giving a reserved smile. She slumped down onto her couch and, without thinking, kicked off her shoes and stretched out comfortably. "Haaaahh... that was great, thanks for taking me out Ku." She flashed him a vibrant smile.
Taking a seat on the chair, he returned the smile. "It's nothing. You deserved a nice night out anyway, after such a dramatic change in your life with Cody leaving."
"Well it's only temporary right? He'll be back, so it's not that big a deal," she reasoned as she idly played with a string hanging off her shirt.
Ku smiled softly and agreed through silence. She was good at hiding her stress but there was no denying the fact that it was there, most notably with her drinking. He could tell she wasn't the type of person to drink to get drunk without having some sort of reason for it, particularly due to her profession. But her personality rang as less that of a party girl and more that of a down-to-earth lady. Of course that had been corrupted by her recent run-in with Rae, but everything could be repaired with time.
He was pulled out of his thoughts as Cris rolled off the couch and went around behind the chair. "Hey you know, Ku... something about you has been bothering me..."
Ku frowned and turned his head to watch her, unsure how to take this sudden statement. His face suddenly went pale as she bent over the back and just barely touched her lips to the side of his neck opposite where he was looking, and she inhaled deeply. Mild arousal became apparent and he cleared his throat, consciously loosening his grip on the arms of the chair and leaning a little away from her face as he turned to look at her. "And... what do you mean by that?" He made an effort to sound casual.
She gazed into his eyes, unmoving from her position leaned over the back of the chair. "Your smell," she murmured. "I like it... Actually, I think I've smelled it before."
Time seemed to stop and Ku knew exactly what she was talking about. His shirt. Instantly he regretted giving it to her, but Cody hadn't been wearing one when they escaped, and there was no way he could have known she would have a reaction to his scent. Quickly he scoured his brain for a way to deal with this unexpected situation.
"Oh. Well you're probably just smelling my cologne. It's not very expensive or uncommon here in your world, so you've likely smelled it before."
She frowned and stared at him for a moment before lifting back away from him. "Oh, yeah, probably. It doesn't really smell like cologne to me, but if you say so." She went back to her seat on the couch and leaned back. Before he had a chance at a moment of relief, she idly followed up, "But still, for some reason it feels like I've met you before. I don't know why, but you just seem really familiar to me somehow."
The Ineith frowned as his charge gazed up at the ceiling thoughtfully. This was getting hard; how could she have such a strong grasp of herself that she was able to subconsciously dig out memories after a forced suppression, especially this soon. People who were able to do that were rare, and the methods of dealing with them were more often than not unpleasant. "I'm not sure why you feel that way, I know I've never met you. If I had, I definitely would have remembered your beautiful face," he managed.
She blushed and looked over at him, grinning. "Don't flatter me, I get enough of that already..."
He smirked slightly. "I don't flatter, I only speak the truth." This got a sheepish smile and a deeper blush from her as she looked away. It was obvious she was attracted to him, and he hated playing on her emotions, but it seemed to be the only way he could distract her from her resurfacing memories, at least for now anyway. "Well anyway," he stood and stretched. He needed to end this before she tried to make a move; she was certainly attractive and an incredibly strong, admirable girl, but he couldn't allow her to get close to him - for obvious reasons. Leaving her with her thoughts was a gamble, but he wagered that she would go to bed as well. "I'm pretty tired so I think I'm gonna go to bed. It was really nice getting to know you Cris. I'll see you tomorrow." He returned her disappointed gaze with a gentle smile before heading back to his room, leaving her alone in the living room.
With a sigh, Cris slumped against the back of the couch. 'Well that went smooth,' she thought to herself. Her thoughts slowly drifted back to her suspicions toward the familiarity of Ku, but were soon interrupted as her eyes fluttered. Apparently she was more tired than she thought, and decided to turn in as well. She passed a glance at Ku's closed door as she went into her room, briefly considering going in there and seducing him, but rejected it on remembering how quickly he left after their little flirtation. Maybe he was just shy. She shrugged it off and forgot it as she went to bed.

-contents: safe

Chapter 5
Cody leapt off the roc and landed neatly on his feet, turning away from the bird and rubbing his head, aggravated. He absolutely despised those creatures, especially flying over water. They had little to no regard for whoever was riding them, and he had almost fallen more than once during his flight. When he went to the stables in Urlan, he'd asked to switch mounts but was told the roc was already reserved for him so they couldn't make switches without additional payment. His luck. After a moment of regaining his composure and keeping himself from slaughtering the roc behind him, he relaxed and looked up.
Lathera, the Coral Island, home of Mount Luva, the 500-years dormant acid volcano. The unoccupied stables just off the beach where he landed had a rather impressive view of the island - a dirt trail leading off into the forested distance toward a massive stone building, the volcano remnant looming behind it like some kind of godly guardian. He looked out at it briefly before sighing and starting off down the trail. At least he was here for therapy and not some kind of punishment. He knew what kind of punishments Maya was capable of handing out, and he didn't like the idea of any of them.
As he entered the woods, he suddenly halted and dropped into a fighting stance, looking off in the direction of a heavy rustling sound. There was someone close by, and he thought they were headed toward him. Silence settled for a few moments before out jumped a little furry humanoid from the underbrush by the trail. Cody jumped back away from it, bracing himself, but the creature stopped on seeing him and blinked in confusion, speaking in a surprisingly mild and feminine voice despite a strange R-laden accent. "Huh? ..Cody?"
The Ineith relaxed and rubbed the back of his head. It wasn't a creature, it was a female gnoll*, and apparently she knew him. She stood no larger than four and a half feet high on her hind legs and looked far less intimidating than her more feral relatives that lived in other parts of the world. She was clad in some revealing leather garments and covered in gold and gemstone jewelry, and she stared up at him curiously through intelligent, vibrant green eyes. Cody frowned, "Yeah, I'm Cody. Are you Murl?"
A wide smile broke her jackal-like face and she bowed deeply. "Cody! Oh, it's a pleasure to meet you. Yes, my name is Murl, and I'll be taking care of you during your stay here at the GA Latheran Therapy Clinic." She rose and beamed at him. "Now if you'll follow me, I'll show you to your quarters and get you settled in."
Without waiting for an answer, she turned and started off down the trail with an odd gait, probably due to her awkward canine legs. Cody shrugged and went after her, though he kept his attention open after the scare Murl gave him. They soon approached the entry arch of the clinic, which rose high in the air, seemingly carved out of a single gigantic boulder. Passing under it, they entered a large neatly kept courtyard full of decorative trees, flowers, lush grass, and a beautiful rock garden in one corner of the area. Cody silently entertained the thought that Cris would really appreciate a place like this as he gazed around at the breathtaking beauty. Finally entering the building itself, the guardian was struck by the interior - a blue-carpeted grand staircase rising up to a second story walkway in two semi-circles on either side, polished marble columns holding up the walkway as it circled around over the entire entry area. More arches offered passage through the stone walls to different areas of the building on both the first and second floors, and the lack of doors allowed at least a little view of what was in the next room for each arch, giving glimpses of different colors. The ceiling appeared nonexistent, allowing full sunlight and sweet, fresh air to fill the room while maintaining the lovely view of the blue sky while indoors.
Murl smiled slightly at the mystified look on Cody's face as he stared around in awe. After letting him admire for a few minutes, she finally spoke up. "I'll show you to your quarters now, if you'd like. It will be this way." He snapped his focus on her and cleared his throat, trying to look unimpressed as he nodded. She smiled again and set off for an archway toward the back, behind the staircases, Cody following closely behind. He hadn't brought anything with him except his envelope, which was tucked in the back pocket of his jeans, so he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do once they got there.
After passing the archway, the two went a short ways down the ensuing hallway before coming to a stop before a closed wooden door set in yet another archway. "Here, this will be your room," Murl said before pushing the door open. A large, open yet luxurious suite was revealed, with a bedroom on an elevated floor, a balcony overlooking a small lake, an area that seemed to be the living room, and a closed door near the back which must have been the bathroom. It was exquisite, and it almost seemed as though it had been pre-arranged to fit Cody's tastes before his arrival. The color scheme was black and red, a huge painting featuring a pair of fighting dragons hung over the king-size platform bed, and all the furniture was put in place according to how he would have chosen had this been his apartment. He stood and stared, awe-struck, unable to react to this whole experience even though he'd just gotten there. Murl grinned secretively before turning back toward the door. "Well I'll just let you get settled in. I'll call for you whe-"
"Wait," Cody interrupted, causing her to turn back to him inquisitively. He looked at her uncertainly, frowning. "I wanna start my therapy now, I don't have anything to unpack and I have nothing to do here. Cris is still in Earth with some guy neither of us really know, and I wanna get this over with as soon as possible so I can go back."
"Cody, I assure you that your assignment is in perfectly capable hands. I know Ku personally and there has never been a more trustworthy man. Take my word for it."
He frowned hesitantly and the gnoll smiled, taking one of his hands. "Well then, if you really are worried, we can perform a session to take your mind off it. What do you say?"
"Okay," he returned her smile. "That sounds great."
"Alright then, right this way."
She led the way down the corridors of the clinic, which was beginning to feel more like a resort, before finally halting in the middle of an open sandy area dotted with what appeared to be training items such as dummies and weapon racks. Cody looked around in confusion. "...What's this? Why is there a training area in a therapy clinic..?"
Murl turned and looked up at him. "Cody, let's talk. Please have a seat." Without waiting for him, she sat down with a plop in the soft sand and watched him. The Ineith returned her gaze, now just a little suspicious, but played along at least for now. He sat down slowly, crossing his legs and looking at the gnoll. She smiled, "Now, I understand you were trapped in the manor of a vampire recently, is that right?"
He frowned. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he was going to have to talk about this, but now he didn't feel ready to. It was still a really sensitive topic for him. He averted his eyes and his voice lowered considerably. "...Yeah, that's right."
"I have an important question to ask you, Cody." She sounded serious now, a dramatic change from her pleasant attitude from earlier. She waited for him to look back at her before speaking again. "Did the vampire do anything to you?"
Dread filled him, but he couldn't seem to look away from her piercing stare now. It was like she was holding his gaze. After what seemed like forever of staring at each other, finally a sense of release came over him as he sighed and looked away from her. "Yeah... he uh... he experimented on me. With drugs or some shit... I don't really know what it was, but he..." His hands tightened on his legs as he fought to maintain control as the memories from that moment in Rae's laboratory resurfaced. "He... injected me with stuff. He almost killed me, more than once..." Another sigh escaped him and he closed his eyes in a mild grimace.
"I see," Murl answered. "Cody, when Ku figured out where you were, we sent in a spy to do some investigating and to gather proof to get the vampire convicted for his crimes. The drugs that he injected you with... they were highly potent improvement alterants concocted from various herbs and other ingredients taken from different planes. Many of them were from the dark planes." Her expression grew more serious, as if that were possible at this point. "The vampire was working to create drugs that would increase his own abilities, including physical strength, psychic abilities, and weapon skills. Now, I need you to try to remember. I know it was a terribly painful encounter and the memories hurt, but I need you to try, okay?... Did you have an allergic reaction to one of the injections the vampire gave you?"
Cody shook his head, eyes on the ground. "How could I possibly know that? All I remember is that... fucking bastard sticking needles in me, and a lot of pain. I don't know anything about an allergic reaction."
Murl nodded. "Very well then. There's another way to find out."
She stood and Cody looked up at her in confusion. "What do you mean? What're you talking about anyway? What does it matter if I had an allergic reaction?"
"Come with me for now, I need you to try something. Then I'll explain everything to you, alright?" She smiled kindly and Cody stood with a sigh, following her to a weapon rack. The gnoll drew a large broadsword from the rack and handed it to him. He took it, but was only more confused by her actions. She gave a reassuring smile and pointed toward the spot they had been sitting. "Go stand over there where we were sitting. I'm going to throw some knives at you. I want you to deflect all of them. Can you do that?"
Cody raised his eyebrows. "Uh, no. I can't use swords, I've never been trained with them. I only know martial arts."
"Just try, okay? I promise not to hit you with any of my knives."
The Ineith frowned, but turned and went to the spot his therapist had pointed to. Once there, he got into a defensive position he thought would be correct while wielding a broadsword, and waited. Murl paused for a moment before quickly drawing four throwing knives from some unseen sheath on her back and immediately throwing them in rapid succession, aiming in a line down Cody's body. Without even thinking, his hands flew with the sword, knocking all four knives out of the air with four loud clangs. It was over faster than he could realize what had happened, and he simply stood there, struck completely dumb.
Murl grinned and trotted over to him, picking up and sheathing her knives. "You see Cody, I knew you could do it. It was the mixture the vampire injected you with that you had an allergic reaction to. Ineith are able to become immune to anything they're allergic to by sampling it once and living through it, and that's what happened to you as well. The ingredient you were allergic to was flay mushroom extract, and flay mushrooms can only grow on the dark plane Yul, which is why you didn't know you were allergic to it. But in any case-"
"Hold on!" Cody dropped the sword on the ground and held his hands out, stopping her speech. "Just hold on, okay? You are going way too damn fast for me here... How the hell am I able to use a broadsword now? I've never been able to use any kind of sword before, ever! Just what the fuck is going on here??"
"Well, if you'd quiet down and let me explain," she muttered as she picked up the sword and placed it back in his hands. "The drug that you were given that contained flay mushroom extract worked! When your body gained the immunity to flay mushroom, it must have also grasped onto the alchemical and magical properties of the drug's purpose. You now possess the innate ability to effectively utilize swords - any kind!" She sounded excited now, as if having stumbled on some fascinating new discovery. "Come over here, I want you to try dual-wielding now!" She turned and dashed back to the weapon rack without waiting for a reply, leaving Cody utterly dumbfounded. Now he just wanted to go rest in his room for a bit. This was way too much information to deal with all of a sudden. But the sudden energy of the gnoll somewhat knocked him into submission and he sulked back over to the weapon rack to be experimented on again.

*gnoll - race of combat-oriented jackal-like people with brown and black fur of various patterns and short bushy tails; most are feral, vicious, and territorial, but some with more intelligence than others have left their lives of savagery to join society on different planes for personal development

-contents: female masturbation

Chapter 6
Steam swirled about in the air as Cris stepped into the shower and shivered, the hot water hitting her skin and sending chills of pleasure through her body. She had sent Ku out to do some grocery shopping so she could be alone for a few hours; he was definitely a lot more cooperative than Cody, she didn't even have to bribe or convince him to go, he was gone within minutes of her simply asking. Admittedly, it was nice to have a break from Cody's smothering nature, though she couldn't help but feel a little guilty thinking so while he was away at his mother's funeral. She shrugged it away, the warm water massaging her back pulling her into the blind bliss of its sensation.
It didn't take her long to wash; it never did. Soaping up her body, lathering shampoo through her hair, and rinsing off usually took her a mere ten minutes while all her shaving business normally took another five or ten, depending. The rest of her time spent behind the curtain was always just enjoying the heat and water and pondering various things in her life as she relaxed, and this one was no exception. Slowly her thoughts drifted to Ku and the night before, when he had flirted with her. She hadn't been able to decide if he'd been sincere with his words or not, but there was no denying she was greatly attracted to him, despite the fact she really didn't know why. Everytime she got physically close to him, she would get a whiff of his scent and this would only make her want to get closer and closer until she was practically on top of him. So she would always just keep her distance from him, trying to avoid up-close interaction as much as possible. Not only did his smell affect her, but he had some kind of strange aura about him, like he was born to be a guardian. There was some kind of princely feel about him underneath his casual front and all it did was drive her even more wild. She wanted him. She wanted to do things to him and make him moan, make him look at her with lust and longing, wanted to see sexual ecstasy on his face in place of idle intelligence.
She shook her head and sighed, placing a hand on her forehead. Where was all this frustration coming from? She felt like a horny teenager, it was embarassing even in the confidential confines of her own brain. But still, there was no escaping it, that pining was trapped inside her like a frantic animal driving her crazy with its scratching and desperation. Slowly her hand fell from her forehead and floated down to her freshly shaved pussy, her fingertips sliding along her smooth mound and finding the beginning of her slit. Biting her lower lip, she lifted one leg to rest on the side of the tub and her fingers continued their expedition, gradually sliding along her wet flesh and feeling her pink folds, now slick with not only water but also anticipation from her touches. A sigh escaped her and the tip of her middle finger finally reached her hole, and she was consciously aware of her hard clit protruding just above. Her breath quickened and she bowed her head, closing her eyes as the foot resting on the side lifted high on the toes, quivering mildly from the position. The tip of her finger caressed in circles around her clit and she reveled in the combined pleasure of the attention and the hot water still cascading down her back. Her mouth opened slightly in a barely audible moan, eyes still closed as she pinched gently... let go, and pinched again.
As she teased herself, she could feel her cunt tighten and loosen inside, begging to be filled, her natural lubricants leaking steadily and getting on her fingers. A tiny smile came over her lips and she gave a low 'mmm' sound as her fingers graduated from her clit to her clenched hole. The tip of the middle circled around the outside, softly nudging her clit with each pass, before finally slipping inside. Finished with the teasing, she pushed her middle finger up inside herself as far as she could and moaned, keeping her eyes closed as she imagined Ku's tongue playing along her smooth folds, only making her all the more excited. Giving her lower lip a nip, she slipped her finger out and added the index before slowly working the two in and out of her slick hole, her walls pulsing around the invading digits. Her head bent back some, her hair now receiving most of the shower water, and she exhaled deeply at the sensation on her head. Issuing another moan, she lifted her free hand up to fondle her breast, lifting and squeezing gently before tweaking the nipple and rolling it between her fingers. Her other hand now added the ring finger, bunching the three together and she arched her back, fucking herself rapidly.
The sensation was hardly satisfying, but it was still good, at least for now. She hadn't had a good opportunity to use any of her hidden toys, or do anything else for that matter, with Cody keeping such close tabs on her, and this was the first time in a long time she'd had any alone time to masturbate without feeling threatened by being caught. Suddenly her eyes opened as the front door slammed shut and she heard Ku call out over the rustling of plastic bags. "Cris, I'm back!" She could barely hear him over the shower water, but she knew it was him. With a sigh, she dropped her hands to her sides. It seemed her playtime would be cut short, at least for now. A wave of disappointment washed over her and she turned the water off, pushed the curtain aside and stepped out. Grabbing her towel and beginning to dry off, she frowned to herself. It had been a long time since the last time she had sex, and it hadn't even really bothered her until recently for some reason. It had to be that damn Ineith and his stupid smell.

-contents: blackmail, rape, gun play

Chapter 7
Just as she began to feel the heated sensation of anger toward Ku, she suddenly jumped as a hand clapped over her mouth, accompanied by a strong arm that wrapped around her body and arms in mid-toweling. Her eyes bugged in fear and immediately she began struggling, letting out muffled shouts. The arms around her tightened and a rough half-whisper sounded in her ear. "Hey! Hey stop it! Calm down and shut the fuck up unless you want the whole world to see you finger fucking yourself in the shower."
As suddenly as she'd begun her struggling, she ceased and turned her head sharply in the direction of the whisper. The voice gave a low snicker. "That's better... now I'm gonna let go and if you make any moves or sounds, your reputation will be ruined, got it? So just stay calm..."
Slowly the grip loosened and she stepped away from whoever was holding her, quickly wrapping the towel securely around herself and flipping around with a furious glare. Before her stood a... her eyes widened in mild surprise. A male Ineith about her height dressed in a tight medieval-type leather vest, black fingerless gloves, baggy black pants, and heavy black boots; his messy short hair, ears, and overly long tail were all a dark purple color and striking yellow eyes were set in a rounded face with a mischievous smirk. A small golden hoop protruded from the end of his left eyebrow, serving as a somewhat douchey adornment. Cris crossed her arms protectively over her chest and scowled at the intruder, who merely leered at her playfully. "Who the fuck are you and what do you want," she demanded, taking a step back to space herself from him.
The catboy looked her up and down before opening his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a loud knock on the door, making them both jump. "Hey-Cris," it was Ku with a concerned tone, "are you alright in there? Did you say something?"
Cris glared at the male in front of her and in response he reached into his pocket and took out a digital camera, simultaneously bringing a finger to his lips. She looked at the camera and frowned as it dawned on her - he must have recorded her with that while she was in the shower. Clenching her teeth in anger, she lunged at him, reaching out to yank the camera out of his hand, but was too awkward as she attempted to keep the towel in place with her other hand. Her adversary dodged smoothly and, with a snicker, grasped the towel and easily pulled it out of her grasp and off her body, leaving her entirely nude. She couldn't help but let out a short cry as she stumbled forward, losing her balance and falling over the tub wall. The purple-headed male abruptly disappeared in thin air just as the bathroom door flew open, Ku calling out worriedly, "Cris?!"
As Ku entered, he got an eyeful of Cris' ass in the air before she struggled back to her feet and quickly tried to cover herself with her hands. The guardian blushed heavily and snapped his head away, covering his eyes with one hand. "Oh-uh, sorry! Do you need a towel..? Are you okay?" Without waiting for an answer, he turned and left before returning with a towel and handed it to her, keeping his eyes covered the whole time. She took it and wrapped it around herself, trying to hide her trembling even though he was taking pains not to look at her.
"I-I'm fine. Thanks. I'm good." Her brain was going a million miles a minute now and she wanted desperately to shout at him that she'd just been attacked, but that digital camera kept her mouth shut. She couldn't afford to put her journalist reputation on the line like that, if anyone saw that footage of her... doing what she was doing, she would become a laughing stock in society. "I'm good," she repeated, blushing and looking away.
"Oh, okay. Well uh, just call if you need anything. I'll just be out here putting stuff away." With that, he turned and shut the door, leaving her alone.
Or so she thought, until the purple-headed male materialized back into existence in front of her, holding up the towel with a mocking expression. She tightened her grip on her new towel and bared her teeth at him, stepping back away from him. "Nice try," he murmured quietly. "But you'll have to do better than that if you want this recording." He snerked.
Cris glowered at him and answered in a low voice, trying to keep from being heard, "Who are you? How did you get in here, and what the hell do you want from me exactly?"
"Well Cris," he would have looked ponderous if not for that obnoxious seemingly-permanent smirk on his face. "...That is your name, right? Cris? My name's Nero, by the way. Anyway, we both have needs, am I right? I think you know where this is going," he chuckled.
She frowned at him. What a child. She wondered if this guy was serious, trying to blackmail her with footage of her masturbating. He must be pretty desperate to resort to such a lowly form of thievery. A sigh escaped her and she crossed her arms, tilting her head at him, her expression changing from fury to agitation at his attitude. "What the hell do you want, huh? Money? I'll give you $500,000 for that camera, how does that sound? Is that enough, you stupid kid?"
Nero looked genuinely hurt at this comment and he scratched his head. "Jeez... you're cold. I'll take your money I guess, but I'm not giving up this stuff just yet. I wasn't doing this for money, I was doing it for something else..." Now his smirk was back, this time more of a leer again.
Cris stared at him for a minute, then facepalmed. "You're joking, right?.. Listen kid," she glared with an intimidating air of superiority brought on by her exasperation at the situation. "You realize you're blackmailing a woman to have sex with you right now, right? Do you know how desperate that makes you seem? It's actually really sad, honestly. Why don't you just give me that camera, then run along and find yourself a nice girlfriend, huh?"
The male smiled at her blankly for a minute. They exchanged stares, then Nero drew a black SCCY 9mm from a side pocket in his pants and stepped up to her, holding it to her temple and grinning in her face. Her smug expression quickly melted into fear at the sight of the firearm and all superiority was lost. "First of all," he murmured, "I'm not a kid - I'm 24. And second of all, I'm gonna fuck you. Does that sound good to you?" The last statement was almost a purr in spite of the now vicious smirk that darkened his face. Cris paled and all she could do was nod slowly. It was as if this guy had made a complete 360 change in personality and now she trembled slightly under his stare; but the trembling wasn't only from fear, it was also from... arousal? This new power he was exhibiting was way hotter than the childish way he was acting before, and much to her dismay, she was actually enjoying it.
He grabbed the towel and slid it away from her body, dropping it and the other to the ground in a heap, before pushing her back into the shower and sliding the curtain closed behind them, all the while keeping the small gun firm. Cris' back pressed against the wall of the shower and Nero leaned to the side, turning the water back on and reaching up to direct the shower head on her chest. It flowed freely from the faucet, quickly drenching both of them in warm water. Nero didn't seem to care about the fact he was still fully clothed, but was careful to keep the gun and the camera side of his pants out of direct contact with the downpour. Outside the bathroom, Ku heard the water turn back on and narrowed his eyes in confusion, but shrugged it off as the show he was watching on TV came back on.
Nero's free hand touched her hip and she shivered, closing her eyes as his fingers slid up her wet body, following her curves. "You have a pretty nice body," he muttered, looking down at her form. She didn't answer, but her breathing did speed up into soft panting. She squeezed her legs together and pressed her hands against the smooth wall by her hips, stuck in a spot between humiliation and arousal. Her eyes opened slowly into a heated expression of exhilarated lust and Nero grinned. "Are you turned on by my 9mm? If I knew all I had to do to make you hot was pull a gun on you, I would've just done it before."
"Shut up," she murmured, turning her reddened face away and biting her bottom lip. He snickered in response and brought the barrel down to press it up against the bottom of her jaw, lifting her head up slightly and causing her eyes to go half-lidded as she let out a soft moan. Her nails dragged slowly against the shower wall as her cunt throbbed, feeling herself go faintly dizzy as the gun pressed into the soft flesh of her chin.
The Ineith moved closer to her, almost pressing his body against hers as his free hand continued to explore, now molding to her form as it slid over her wet skin. It came to her breast and squeezed, lifting and fondling. He brought his head down and dragged his tongue up the side of her neck opposite the gun, eliciting a shudder and another moan from her. His fingers pinched her nipple and tugged at it, playing with it as he nibbled the skin in the crook between her neck and shoulder, sucking gently. In the ecstasy of being taken advantage of at gunpoint, she barely registered his growing hardon against her thigh until he rubbed it against her in a lazy thrust. In response, she lifted one of her hands and placed it on his cock and gripped it through his pants. He breathed at the touch and snickered, "Now we're getting somewhere..." In a bold move, he pressed the gun harder into her flesh and gave her neck a bite, making her give a short cry. "Stay quiet and keep on doing that." His hand left her breast and traveled down to quickly unbuckle his belt and pants, bringing out his surprisingly large cock. He exhaled softly as Cris grasped onto it and started sliding her hand up and down the shaft slowly, holding it close to her warm inner thighs. Her chest heaved as she panted heavily, catching Nero's attention, and he leaned down to suckle on the top of one breast as he continued to fondle with his free hand. Cris' eyes closed and she moaned quietly, her hand speeding up on his cock as she pressed it against one of her thighs, hinting at wanting him inside her.
Smirking, he curled his tail up around one of her legs, his free hand going to her other thigh, and he lifted her up against the wall, causing her to gasp and grab onto his shoulders for stability. He licked some water droplets off her breast before balancing a boot on the edge of the tub underneath her and thrusting. "Uhn!..." She cried as he easily slid deep inside her soaking pussy. Absent-mindedly, he brought the gun down and pressed it into her abdomen as he quickly started thrusting inside her, resting her thigh on his lifted knee and pressing his hand against her mouth to stifle her cries, which were starting to come louder. He panted and nipped at one of her nipples, the grip of his tail on her leg tightening like a snake, and only pumping his hips faster at her muffled cries and rolled-up eyes. It was as if he only got more and more aroused by the second, thrusting harder to the point of bouncing her entire body and licking and sucking at her chest and neck, worked into a frenzy of fucking.
She grasped onto the arm covering her mouth and suddenly shuddered, her entire body tensing, and Nero knew exactly what was happening. He slowed considerably and thudded himself inside her deeply, purposely bouncing her against him and slapping his body against her outstretched thighs. He smirked and brought his lips close to her ear, pressing the gun tight against the flesh of her abdomen. "You like that?" His voice was a low murmur slightly broken by his panting, dark and mocking. "You like being fucked at gunpoint. You dirty whore..." He snickered and Cris' back arched against the wall as her cries became loud broken moans, eyes rolling back, and her cunt throbbed around his cock as her entire body shuddered in the throes of an orgasm. Nero panted in ecstasy as she released around his cock and he quickened his pace again, pounding deep inside her at a rapid rate before finally sinking his teeth into her shoulder and shivering as he let loose inside her, spurting deep inside her before his come fell to gravity and leaked out over his softening cock. They stayed in that position for a moment, panting heavily against each other, before Nero lowered Cris back down to the floor of the tub and stepped back, reaching over to shut the water off and grinning.
Cris sank to her knees, still panting and blushing, and looked up at him as he readjusted himself, replacing his gun and doing his pants back up. "You... you came inside me," she murmured.
Nero shrugged nonchalantly and took the camera out of his pocket, inspecting it for water damage. "It doesn't matter. I'm sterile." He smirked teasingly down at her before reaching behind him and opening the shower curtain, eyes still on the camera. Cris looked up and her eyes widened in shock, but Nero failed to notice as he back-stepped out of the tub. "I'm just gonna keep this for my enjoyment later, if you don't mind..." Suddenly he stopped as his back hit something alive. He froze, eyes widening, and for the first time it became apparent that he was capable of fear. Slowly he turned and came face to face with a very angry-looking Ineith with brown hair and dark blue eyes. 

-contents: safe

Chapter 8
Quickly, Nero stepped back and held his hands up defensively. "Oh uh... it's... it's not what it looks like?..."
"And just who the fuck are you supposed to be," Ku uttered dangerously, staring at him with a strangely cold glare that seemed unnatural on his otherwise patient face.
The purple-haired male sank under the other's gaze, cowed. "I uh... I'm Cris' boyfriend!" He looked back at Cris, who was still sitting on her knees in the tub, unsure what to do besides just sit there. She looked at him in uncertain silence before he lifted his camera up, and she looked away.
"Uh yeah... he's my..boyfriend..."
"Oh yeah?" Ku narrowed his eyes at Nero icily, who gritted his teeth in fear and barely managed a nod. Before Nero could react, Ku's hand flew through the air and grabbed the other Ineith by the throat tightly, choking him. Nero's free hand grasped onto Ku's arm and he gagged, eyes widening. "Give me the camera," Ku said flatly and held out his other hand. Immediately, Nero put the camera into Ku's open hand and grasped onto the arm holding him with both hands, choking. Ku frowned and let go of his throat, only to grasp onto the collar of his vest and he dragged him coughing out of the bathroom, leaving Cris in awkward silence.
Ku flung him into his bedroom and slammed the door shut behind him, standing back against it. Once he was released, Nero staggered back away from him, one hand clasping his neck. "Fuck dude... I'm sorry, okay? Shit... just calm down..."
The brunette folded his arms across his chest and stared at him. "Answer all of my questions truthfully and I may let you leave here in one piece. Otherwise, I can't guarantee your safety after fucking with my charge."
Nero sighed and took a seat on a nearby desk chair, frowning miserably. "Alright, I will... just don't kill me, okay?.."
"Who are you?"
"My name's Nero, I'm just some guy. I didn't mean any harm, okay? I just wanted so-"
"What's on this camera?"
Nero clicked his tongue and looked away. "Nothing, just some stuff..."
Ku repeated the question through clenched teeth, holding the camera up. "What is on this camera?..."
Nero stared at him, "It's just stuff, you know, girls masturbating and stuff like that... you know?..."
"Why are you here with this?"
"I just... come on man... I was just having some fun with that girl in there, that's all..."
"Are you working for anyone?"
Nero stifled a laugh, but couldn't hold back a smirk. "Working for someone? What do you think I am, some kinda spy or something? You got the wrong idea here."
Ku took a step forward and Nero's eyes widened and he held up his hands. "No! No, seriously, I'm not working for anyone, I swear! I have no idea what you're talking about!"
The guardian gave him a long, appraising stare, which was returned with a gaze of confused fear, before finally crossing his arms. "Alright. I guess you're just some stupid blackmailing kid." This comment got a resentful glower from Nero. "Listen to me. You got yourself in over your head here. This isn't just some girl you fucked, this is something way out of your league, and I suggest you leave now and just forget everything that happened here. I'm not just saying this for Cris' sake, I'm also saying it for your own safety as well. I'm confiscating this camera because blackmail is illegal, but you can go and I never want to see your face again, understand?"
Nero frowned. His own safety? Just what the fuck was this guy talking about? He paused for a few moments, just looking at Ku and trying to figure out what the hell was going on, before finally standing up. "Fine... I won't come back. Sorry for disturbing you..."
Satisfied, Ku stepped aside and opened the door. Nero walked out and was escorted out the front door as Ku walked along behind him. When he stepped outside, Nero turned to say something, but was cut off as the door slammed shut in his face.
Cris came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel as Ku turned away from the closed door. The Ineith blushed and looked away when he saw her. "Cris," he said. "Maybe you should put some clothes on... it's kinda cold out here."
She gazed at him from the bathroom doorway, frowning. She spoke when he turned his head to look at her, concerned by her silence. "Ku, what happened?" Her voice was soft and had a faint trace of trembling.
The guardian frowned and walked over to her. "It's alright, Cris, I kicked him out. He was just some delinquent kid. Did he hurt you?" He put a hand on her shoulder and she seemed to collapse under it, falling to her knees and crying softly. Ku's eyes widened and he knelt before her, putting his hands on her shoulders. "Cris- Cris it's okay, he's gone now..."
"K-Ku... he... he raped me..." she sobbed, bringing a hand to her face. "He raped me and... I... I liked it..." She lifted her head to look up at him pitifully, tears flowing down her face in pain.
Ku leaned toward her and took her in his arms, holding her close. "It's alright, I'm sorry Cris..."
"S-Something... something's not right here," she muttered into his shoulder. She would have been gibbering nonsense if he didn't know exactly what she was talking about. "I don't feel right Ku... something's not right... why do I feel like this... it-it hurts..."
He silently cursed to himself. Thanks to that fucking rogue, Cris was having subconscious flashbacks now. Despite his training and experience in the Guardian Association and Overhaul Subsidiary, he really didn't know how to handle this situation. Things like this didn't normally happen. He sighed and simply held her as she sniffled and mumbled quietly until she eventually calmed down. After a moment of silence, she spoke softly, lifting up off his shoulder and wiping at her face. "...Sorry Ku... I probably sounded really dumb... but... please don't tell anyone about this, okay? And... thanks for taking the camera away from him..." She sniffed and gave him a weak smile.
"No no, Cris, you didn't sound dumb at all," he smiled at her reassuringly. "It's okay, don't worry about it, he won't be back. And I'm destroying this camera. Now come on, let's get you dressed, okay? It'll be a lot more comfortable than that towel, right?" He stood up and held his hand out to Cris, smiling gently.
She looked up at him and took his hand, using him to lift herself up, still sniffling softly. "Okay..."

-contents: violence

Chapter 9
Morning light and birdsong floated through the open windows of Cody's room, slowly bringing him back into the waking world. As his eyes opened, he was secondly aware of his aching body and hunger pains. His so-called 'therapist' had been working him raw the past few days, exploring his skills and testing his limits. It was almost as if his remedial training had become non-existent, if not non-priority. They hadn't actually sat down to talk about the experience at the manor since the first day, when she revealed his newly received talent for swordsmanship and the reason behind it. As much as he shied away from emotional situations, he still wanted to get the therapy over with so he could go home, back to his job. Back to Cris.
He rose out of bed and went to a wardrobe, taking out a loose pair of black pants and a red shirt provided by the clinic. After dressing, he proceeded out to the dining area for breakfast. As usual, all sorts of foods were spread out for him, along with a place set at his usual seat. The only difference this morning was Murl was nowhere to be seen, and there was a large object sitting on his chair. Curious, he went over to find a kukri sheathed in a wooden encasement on a lightweight leather belt with a folded paper on top of it. He picked up the paper with a frown and opened it.
Here's your first training weapon for today. When you're finished eating, come out to the stream clearing for a session. Afterward, we can sit down and talk for a bit. Take your time with your breakfast!
                                                                                           - Murl <3 '
Suddenly his appetite was gone. It looked like the gnoll was finally going to stop playing with him and get started on what he actually came for. He tossed the note onto his plate and picked up the kukri sheath, sliding the belt into the loops of his pants and buckling it over his hips. Something didn't seem completely right; she had only provided him with one short blade, which they'd discovered he was weak with. He was best with a two-handed sword, good at dual-wielding one-handed swords, but only okay with just one one-handed and daggers. Wielding one single-handed sword threw off his balance and was just generally awkward for him, while it seemed he hadn't picked up on daggers as well as swords, if he even had at all. Murl had him experiment with a kukri once, but he was only sub-par with it, and had taken a small slash to his upper arm from one of her knives. He wasn't sure what she was trying to play at with this surprise training session with a weapon he'd tried already, but he brushed it off in favor of the fact that they were finally going to get to business with the therapy. More than ready, he set off for the clearing, which he had trained at before more than once.
As he entered the field, all he could hear was the nearby creek and the many birds occupying the surrounding forest. The heat of the sun was diminished by a calm breeze, and the whole area had a peaceful feel to it. Murl was still nowhere to be seen and Cody stopped in the middle of the clearing, looking around at the waving grass and ferns, trying to pick out her form among the tree trunks along the edge.
Suddenly his ears twitched and he jumped swiftly to the side as a pair of knives collided with the ground, kicking up dust as they lodged themselves into the soil. Cody looked up in the direction they came from, narrowing his eyes. An ambush? This wasn't usual for Murl.
One more flew from the trees, driving into the ground at his feet. He picked up on the hint - she wanted him to come after her. With a sigh, he figured he could play her game for a bit. Immediately, he took off in a dash toward the treeline. Within fifteen feet, he was forced to a stop as the gnoll suddenly leaped over his head in a flip, catching him off guard and managing a slight nick on his shoulder with a dagger. He winced and turned as she landed with a thump before facing him in an aggressive stance, smirking. Instinctively, he fell to a defensive posture, staring at her.
"What the hell Murl?" He watched her, more confused than anything. "What're you doing? This doesn't look like training or therapy to me..."
"What's wrong with having a friendly spar," she inquired, showing off her sharp teeth in a grin. Now he noticed something else off about her - she wasn't wearing her usual leather armor, but instead was in some kind of pink cloth garment that blew in the breeze... and almost seemed to threaten to blow off entirely.
Cody couldn't help a faint blush. "And... what's up with your clothes? Why aren't you wearing any armor?"
"Neither are you," she retorted. "You want a fair fight, don't you?"
Her case did ring true; normally she was wearing leather armor pieces, but the entire time he'd been here, he was never offered armor. It was always normal clothes for him. He was mildly surprised to figure this out after so many training sessions.
He was shaken out of his thoughts, though, as Murl made a move. A few throwing knives shot out at him, causing him to jump back, and as he was distracted she jumped and came at him from the side with two light daggers. Without thinking, Cody drew his kukri and whipped around, holding off her slashes while trying to maintain his balance with his free hand and tail. With unrelenting speed, she jumped back and fell into a couple back flips before skidding in the dirt to a halt in a defensive stance, both daggers crossed in front of her face and partially obscuring her smirk.
“Good defense Cody. But you know we’ve been working on your offense. Come at me.” Her tone was almost a taunt.
He had no idea what to make of this. Her behavior was completely unexpected and if he wasn’t already somewhat familiar with the attitudes of gnolls, he would have likely been suspicious and angry. Instead, he was just confused. “Why are you doing this,” he called to her, holding his weapon at his side. “This is dumb. Can’t we just do some therapy? That’s all I wanted to do from the beginning anyway.”
She cocked her head and relaxed her posture. “You mean you haven’t been feeling better over the last few days?”
He opened his mouth to retaliate, but stopped when the thought hit him. The last few days all he had been doing was training and honing his new skills, and he had just assumed the whole thing was pointless in the face of his situation. But in actuality… he was feeling better. The training was occupying his mind, giving him an escape from the drama of his life before he came to the island. And there was no denying he enjoyed the sessions and spars. He always had liked improving his martial arts skills, and the fact that he now possessed immense talent with blades was lost on his concern for Cris and going back to her. The truth was, he was happy – surprised and happy at his new skills, despite how he had gained them, and he was having fun getting used to his ability. A lot of fun.
Murl grinned as she watched the realization dawn on Cody’s face and she slowly raised her daggers back up. “Alright then… where were we?”
Cody looked up and held up his kukri, a smile climbing onto his face. He had been in therapy the whole time, and he never realized it. This gnoll was definitely smarter than he thought. Without another moment of hesitation, he unhooked the kukri sheath from the belt and, wielding it in his left hand, ran at full speed toward Murl. Her amusement was hardly containable, clear on her face as she braced herself and took Cody’s blow with her crossed daggers. He brought the hard sheath up immediately, aiming for her stomach, but she dodged swiftly with a sideways twirl. As she spun, her daggers came with her, shearing a bit of hair as they just barely missed Cody’s face. He pulled back as they swished by, then took advantage as she slowed by sticking his foot out and catching her legs. She was unable to catch herself as she stumbled with a low cry, but managed a wild swipe to make him dodge, buying herself enough time to leap away.
As she escaped, she quickly stowed her blades and threw three of her knives at his face before taking to the ground on all fours and dashing away for the trees with incredible speed. Cody captured her knives with the kukri sheath, bearing it in front of his face as the trio of weapons gave a rapid thuck-thuck-thuck, embedding themselves into the wooden exterior. He dismissed the object as useless now and tossed it to the ground, now left with the blade itself. Silently cursing at being left at a disadvantage again, he pursued the gnoll quickly.
Losing sight of her as she disappeared into the trees, he approached with caution. She had led him to the creek, probably to cover any noises she might make. It didn’t matter, he never relied heavily on hearing anyway; he had learned awhile ago that most senses could only take you so far – it was the sense of feeling that mattered the most. If someone came within a few feet to a few inches, he could sense it and those extra seconds always made a difference. Slowing down considerably, he stepped into the forest and kept himself ready, gazing in every direction. His opponent’s biggest advantage was her speed, and second to that seemed to be her throwing knives. He needed to figure out a way to exploit and use these skills to his own advantage.
Suddenly it dawned on him that he hadn’t even attempted to use throwing knives yet. He had no idea if his throwing strength and aim were affected at all along with his blade skills. A stray thought wandered by, making him wonder if maybe Murl hadn’t had him try it because she either thought it was pointless, or because she didn’t want competition. His wondering allowed him to be caught off guard and a couple throwing knives shot through the air, leaving two neat cuts on his cheek and flying into a tree behind him. He grimaced and turned quickly in the direction they’d come from, but saw nothing aside from the natural shadows of the trees. The mild surprise that she was actually hurting him now was suppressed in favor of winning the duel. Ignoring the fresh sting in his flesh, he lifted the kukri and went motionless, waiting. Murl was bound to come out eventually; her throwing knives were sure to run out soon.
After a few moments of silence, his ears twitched and he swung the blade to the side, knocking another knife out of the air and into the ground. Unfortunately, the distraction allowed the gnoll to attack his exposed side, bringing the rounded end of one dagger hilt into the back of his neck and the other into his chest in a heavy double-hit. The air was knocked out of him at the same time as his vision blanked out momentarily, leaving him panting heavily and seeing stars. He stumbled and she easily knocked the kukri from his grasp and pushed him into the dirt with a careless kick to the lower back.

-contents: intercourse, mild blood play

Chapter 10
Chuckling, the gnoll went around him and pushed him over onto his back with one foot and gazed down at him. "Tsk. Cody, I'm disappointed. You could have done so much better than that. You know, you let yourself get distracted too easily, I think that's what your problem is."
Cody grunted and sat up, glaring up at her. "You didn't have to be so rough, you know..." He brought a hand up and wiped at the cuts on his face, smearing a little blood across his cheek.
His companion gained an expression that was difficult to decipher and she stepped around behind him, sliding her claws through his hair gingerly. "I'm sorry... I just got a little worked up, that's all. I guess you could say.. you bring out the best in me."
The Ineith frowned and turned his head to look up as she passed around to his other side, looking at her in confusion. "What do you mean...?"
She snickered. "You're so dense. But I find that endearing in males. Especially when they know how to fight..." A smirk came over her and she half-knelt next to him, wrapping an arm loosely around his neck and sliding her fingers through his hair again as she leaned close.
Cody jerked back as her face came near his and he narrowed his eyes. "What... what're you doing...?"
A sigh escaped her and she looked into his eyes. "Isn't it obvious yet? I've grown fond of you, Cody. Why don't we take this up a level? It'll be so much easier to talk about what's bothering you, don't you think?"
"I... I don't..." He stammered fruitlessly, unable to think of what to say, or what he should say. He hadn't noticed before, but Murl actually was quite attractive. His eyes wandered down, taking in that lingerie-like pink strapless garment that was covering her lithe, toned body; her small yet firm, perky breasts; her rounded hips and short, bushy tail. Guilt flooded his mind as he blushed and looked away. He couldn't ignore his feelings for Cris, but he also couldn't admit to them. Guardians were forbidden from any deep emotional attachment to their assignments, and if it was suspected, execution of the bond was a serious threat. He gritted his teeth and stared at the ground to the side, trying to ease away his slowly growing bulge under the gnoll-turned-temptress.
A grin had graced her mouth when he started eyeing her, and now she wasn't about to be denied. Carefully, she moved to straddle the Ineith, who responded by twitching back into focus and looking up into her face. "It's okay, Cody. I already know you know how to use your cock. Stop trying to act so innocent." Biting her lip, she gently rubbed down against the bulge in his pants, causing him to bear his teeth slightly, his blush gaining color and his breath gaining speed. She smirked and grabbed his hand, bringing it up and placing it on one of her breasts as she ground against him slowly.
He exhaled deeply, as if letting go, and gripped the femme's breast, lifting and squeezing it. His eyes went half-lidded and he lazily left her breast to tug down the middle of her dress, revealing her lovely, velvety chest with silver studs piercing her dark pink nipples. Absent-mindedly, he leaned in and ran his tongue across one of her nipples, feeling the combination of the cool silver and the soft skin. Murl gave a quiet moan of gratitude, sliding one hand through the hair on the back of his head and held him closer to her chest, her free hand wandering below to touch her pantiless slit, fingers caressing her already soaking folds.
"Ohhh," she murmured. "You know, I've heard a lot about you Cody... you have a lot of potential..."
Cody barely registered what she said, taken in by her body and his usually dismissed libido. "Potential?" It was more of a wispy automatic response than a legitimate question.
"Mmmhmm... a lot of untapped power... it's all there and you only have to-ahhh..." She gave a long moan as he took her stud in his teeth and pulled gently, then suckled on her nipple, playing the stud with his tongue. Her panting grew more labored and her hand moved on to his pants, working out his hardened cock above the loose waistline of his pants and leather belt.
Not wasting anymore time, she let him go and pushed him down onto his back before rising into a crouching position on her feet and, balancing herself like a pro, pushed down onto his exposed cock. Her hot cunt enveloped him and she reached back, untying her garment and dropping it to the side, leaving her completely nude save a few leather straps holding her sheaths and daggers and a couple pieces of gold and turquoise jewelry. Letting out a long groan, she leaned back and started gyrating her hips up and down, panting heavily as she rode him slowly, taking every inch of his length with each pass.
Cody breathed audibly, staring as her body arched and bent, laying back on the grass as the gnoll actively and enthusiastically pleasured the both of them. He reached up and rested his hands on her hips, savoring the view of her naked, athletic body working him over, her sex and nipples a matching magenta against her black-striped brown fur, her soaking pussy leaving his large cock glistening in the sunlight. Feeling himself relax into a state of ecstasy, he licked his lips and slowly rose his eyes to take in her face, the jackal-like features with her sharp green eyes now lost in pleasure.
After what felt like ages of the female riding his cock, she finally leaned forward and slowly slid one of her daggers from its sheath and fell close to the guardian. Her lips came within inches of his ear. "Cody," she half-whispered, her hips still gradually working his cock. "You're not afraid of a little pain, are you?"
She lifted back up and smirked down at him as he simply responded with a look of confusion. Before he could say anything, she brought the blade back and swept it through the air, giving him a long slash from the base of his neck down his chest. His grasp on her hips tightened and he winced, bearing his teeth as the sting quickly followed with the blood seeping forth from his sliced flesh. He opened his mouth to protest, but quieted as she came down and ran her long, flat tongue along the path of the cut, licking up his blood. He wasn't sure why, but something about her strange behavior was erotic; the pain seemed to enhance his pleasure and he felt more heated from watching her drag her tongue, taking all the blood that had escaped only for more to quickly blossom behind her trail. Breath coming more ragged, he suddenly felt himself approach climax, and he steeled himself as he grabbed hold of one of her wrists. Using his other hand, he pushed her body up off himself and grasped onto his length as he released in three short bursts, shooting his load all over his companion's abdomen.
As he collapsed back onto the ground, panting heavily, he was barely aware of Murl snickering. Sitting up, he gave an embarrassed frown while she climbed off him. "Shit... sorry," he muttered, now noticing the white liquid dripping down her fur.
She smirked and attempted to brush it off, only managing to get it all over her hand and smearing it across her body, doing nothing aside from making herself look really sexy. "Don't worry. I knew you had some tension built up inside you, I just wanted to help you release it. Do you feel good now?" She gave him a knowing look, before her eyes fell on the fresh cut on his chest and she let out what sounded like an irritated grunt. "I'm sorry about the cut... Sometimes I let myself go a little too far. Let me clean up and we can go back to the clinic and I'll dress your wounds." With a final grin, she walked off in the direction of the creek, leaving Cody sprawled on the ground with her garment and dagger and his kukri.
Cody exhaled deeply as he fell onto his back, allowing himself to relax for the first time in a long time. The vaguest feeling of guilt crept into his head as he thought about Cris, but he dismissed it as he forced himself to admit that she wasn't even attracted to him. His feelings for her couldn't be denied, but he simply couldn't be unfaithful to someone who didn't claim him. Besides, the release Murl had given him certainly helped and he thought he might be able to overcome his trauma with significantly more ease. Combat training and sex were definitely effective methods of therapy.

-contents: safe

Chapter 11
“HEY – another venom shot!” The crimson incubus’* demand was punctuated with a loud bang on the bar as he brought his fist down on the polished onyx.
“I’m not paying for anymore drinks for you, Taluun,” Nero snickered and rolled his eyes.
“I didn’t ask you to,” the demon retorted, snapping his thin reptilian tail in the air and staring at the ass of the femme Kupua* tending the bar as she turned her back. “Mmm… how quick do you think I could seduce that bitch,” he muttered.
The Ineith snerked and adjusted his arms on the bar, getting more comfortable as he eyed the girl up and down. “I don’t know. You always ask me that, but you’re the incubus. Shouldn’t you already know the answer?”
“Good point. I bet I could get her bent over this bar in ten seconds flat. Wanna make a bet?” He smirked at Nero.
“I think you’re too drunk to even get off that stool, let alone seduce someone.”
Taluun sneered. “I’m not even drunk you moron. I barely even have a buzz.” As the tender placed the shot glass in front of him, he quickly grasped her wrist and pulled her forward, eliciting a gasp and he leaned toward her with a smirk. “Hey babe… you’re pretty cute. I can do things to you that will make you lose your mind. Interested?” The female bared her teeth and yanked back away from him, flipping him off before storming back to other side of the bar. Taluun snickered and elbowed Nero. “I wasn't even trying.”
Nero didn’t answer, instead taking a sip from his drink. The incubus stared at him for a moment before elbowing him again, this time hard enough to make Nero glare at him. “Hey… what’s your deal anyway? Lately you’ve been all quiet and shit. You’re not in any trouble are you?”
His eyes fell on the counter and he shrugged. “Nah… I’m fine, just some stupid shit is all.”
“Is someone after you? You know I’ll help you out. I got friends, we can take care of it.”
“No, it’s not anything like that,” Nero sighed. “It’s just something that happened a couple weeks ago. I found this girl and-“
“A girl?” Taluun laughed. “Oh shit, Nero, don’t tell me you have a thing for some bitch!”
The Ineith shrugged one shoulder and adjusted his arms again, grinning slightly. “I don’t know man… I fucked her, but she had a guardian, you know, like from the Guardian Association. He caught me and kicked me out and I haven’t been back since, but…”
The demon scoffed at him, leaning closer with each sentence until he was almost falling off his stool. “But what? Did you go all soft and shit? Why didn’t you just kill the stupid guardian? Guardians ain’t shit man, they act all tough but they’re just stupid Ineith garbage. –No offense.”
Nero rolled his eyes for the umpteenth time. “None taken. But… I dunno, I just can’t stop thinking about something the guy said before he threw me out of the house. He said something about how it was a situation I couldn’t handle, and I should leave for my own safety. I don’t know if he was just trying to psyche me out or if there really is something weird going on with them. And… I can’t stop thinking about the chick. She kinda…” He gave the incubus a hesitant side-glance before sighing heavily and drooping his head. “…She made me feel kinda warm inside, you know?...”
There was a moment of silence, then Taluun burst out laughing, almost leaning on Nero himself. “Bahahahahaaa! You got a little crush, you fucking dildo! That’s hilarious. Executioner Nero has become Little Nero, the Starry-Eyed Bard of Love! Ahahahaha!”
Nero sighed. He knew this was coming by even mentioning it, but he did it anyway. He needed someone’s opinion on why he couldn’t shake the incident from his head, and despite the brash deliverance, his best friend had unwittingly given him what he was looking for. He chuckled and play-punched Taluun on the arm, pushing him away and stood up. “Whatever, man. I got some business to take care of, so have fun getting drunk,” he said with a half-smirk as he threw some money on the bar – enough to pay for all their drinks plus a few more.
“Hey thanks man! Catch you later,” the incubus called as Nero walked out into the cool night air of Dydani. Eyes wandering up to the dark sky, he walked down the cobblestone street with his hands in his jacket pockets, letting his mind drift.
He felt a little better after his confession to Taluun, but instead of ridding him of the plague on his mind, it only seemed to make it worse. Now not only could he not stop thinking about her, but he also wanted to see her again. His agitation grew with his pining and he kicked a rock out of his path angrily. That stupid girl. What was up with her anyway? He'd never had this feeling for anyone before, so why now? Why her? Why so quickly? He shook his head, trying to expel the thoughts from his mind. They were only replaced with thoughts of her soft, wet skin... her sweet smell... her stifled moans... And then he had a boner. Quietly growling to himself, he curled his tail in frustration and came to a decision. Fuck the guardian, he had to see the girl again - he needed to. And he was going to.
“Thanks for everything you’ve done for me.” Cris brought her knees to her chest on her front step outside the apartment, giving a genuine smile. Ku couldn’t help but admire her from his spot next to her. “The last couple weeks have been really nice. I think my nightmares are even starting to go away.”
Ku raised his eyebrows in pleasant surprise. “Oh? That’s great. I know you were having trouble sleeping. I was worried after that whole bathroom incident.”
Cris’ eyes seemed to lose light at his last comment and she looked down quietly. Ku frowned slightly before quickly trying to mend his mistake. “So, I was thinking. You’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, have you?”
Almost immediately, Cris looked back up in bewilderment. “Ku… you’re not possibly thinking…”
He simply smiled in response. “They offer horseback rides down into the valley, and I thought you might enjoy that. We can also take a helicopter ride over the canyon if you want.”
All she could do was stare at him. Over the last two weeks, Ku had been more than accommodating to her, especially after the visit from Nero. He had paid for all their meals out, movie theater tickets, amusement park entries, hiking and horseback riding fees, and many other activities; and on top of that, he had been understanding and mature, willing to do whatever she wanted to do with a smile and always putting her before himself in the most polite way. He reminded her of a prince charming more fit for a beautiful princess in some extravagant, peaceful kingdom somewhere. In all honesty, she was starting to feel unworthy around him, so much so that she hadn’t even tried to hit on him ever since Nero took her. She just felt pathetic and weak from all the emotional turmoil she was feeling, and wasn’t able to figure out where it came from. The combination of Nero and her steadily dropping self-esteem was actually having a bigger effect on her than she let on, making her more withdrawn and quiet. She didn’t think Ku would notice since they didn’t know each other very well, and was privately glad for it. After everything he’d done for her, she didn’t want to disappoint him and make herself out to be ungrateful or spoiled. Now, whenever he asked how she was doing, she mainly lied with her words of reassurance. Despite all this, though, she remained convinced that there was something in the back of her head, almost as if locked away like a caged monster in the dark abyss of some crevice at the bottom of the ocean. It gave her a feeling of ominous tension, but she tirelessly worked in the secrecy of her own mind to uncover the source of her bitter confusion, the piece of information that barely caressed the edges of her memory, evading every attempt to finally grasp and understand it.
“Cris?” Ku’s gentle, concerned voice broke her thoughts and she sat up, stifling a deer-in-the-headlights expression.
“Are you alright?”
She shook her head and forced a smile. “Yeah… yeah I’m fine. Sorry. The Grand Canyon sounds awesome, I’m excited.”
She smiled at him and he nodded, managing a smile of his own, keeping his doubts to himself. He could tell she was still suffering, and he was sure she was trying to work out her suppressed memories. He just didn’t know how close she was to discovering the truth. The possibility that the GA would need to take stronger measures was becoming more and more real, and he knew the implications for that – it was never pretty. After all the other people he had been assigned to along with their own problems and tragedies, he couldn’t help but feel something more for Cris. After everything she had been through at Rae’s manor, all the torture and torment, even though he hadn’t personally witnessed any of it and was mostly unaware of exactly what happened, he still hated to see her struggle. Even with complete lack of knowledge of a specific event, he still knew all too much about the nature and history of vampires and all he had to do was guess at what the girl had been through to get a pang of pity through his heart.
“I’m glad,” he answered. “What do you say to going next weekend? I know you’ve been trying to work on a new book, so I don’t want to interrupt your progress, but I think it might be nice to go there soon. Right?”
She beamed, “Yeah. I’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, I just never found the time to I guess. It’ll be really fun I think, especially with you there.”
The guardian had to pause for a moment. There was that feeling again, the same feeling that had been tugging on him for the last few weeks – ever since he showed up at Cris’ apartment and replaced Cody. After it became apparent a few too many times, he eventually noticed it and pinned it down for analysis. It was an emotion similar to falling in love, yet was different somehow, more of a pulling than a falling sensation. He felt drawn to her, like a moon caught in the gravitational pull of a planet. Suddenly, it dawned on him. This girl wasn’t just a normal human, there was more to her that wasn’t easily discernable, but he thought he might have it figured out… it would just take more time and analysis.
Ku leaned back, masking his internal thoughts with a grin. “Well I’m glad you think so highly of me,” he gave her a teasing wink. “I don’t think I would be doing a very good job if you hated having me around you, after all.”
Cris gave a small smile and looked down, continuing the silent prong-assault on her half-eaten cheesecake.
“How about we go in now? You look tired.”
He grinned and stood, holding his hand out to help her up. She took it with a weak smile and followed him inside. From the shadows around the corner, Nero’s ears twitched as the front door closed and he smirked to himself. They wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon - not while he was around.

* Incubus - a demon race that requires the emotions of greed and lust to survive, though most go after much more than what's necessary; they're extremely attractive with skin tones ranging from black to red, curved horns on their heads, and long tails of varying shapes; they have exceptional combat and sexual skills, but can't possess unique powers like their female counterparts (succubi) other than the innate ability to control dreams
* Kupua - a race of people able to shapeshift between a humanoid form of their gender and whatever form they're naturally linked to (one alternate form per individual); forms include: plants, birds, fish, dogs, small cats; noble birth only - wind, clouds; their humanoid forms usually have subtle features that resemble their alternate forms

- contents: blowjob, intercourse, gun play

Chapter 12
Cris stood in front of Ku's door, trying to work up the nerve to knock. It had been about a week since her encounter with the rogue Ineith in her bathroom, and she had definitely been effected by what happened. Not only negatively - despite her telling Ku her dreams were going away, they had in fact been getting worse, more detailed - but also in a frustrating way. The sex seemed to jump-start her libido and she was horny every night now, forced to make do with her fingers. Her attraction to Ku was getting more and more heated and she thought of him every time she touched herself, wishing she could make him want her as much as she wanted him, fantasizing about him coming in and just taking her on her bed. Unable to take it anymore, she put on revealing red silk nightgown after they turned in for the night with the intent of going into Ku's room and just going for it. But now that she stood at his door, she couldn't bring herself to even knock. Her fear of rejection and making things awkward with Ku forced her into silence.
Her head jerked up and her eyes widened as Ku's door suddenly opened, revealing him in his usual sleep attire - a black t-shirt and blue sweatpants and that ever-present black chain around his neck. He stopped in surprise as his eyes fell on her. "Cris-is something wrong?" He pretended not to take notice of her nightgown, but a faint blush became evident despite his effort.
"Oh uh..." Her eyes fell to the side and she brought one hand across her torso to hold the arm at her side, embarrassed. "I just... wanted to say good night," she muttered lamely.
"Oh well, good night. I was just going to get a glass of water." Side-stepping around her, he smiled. "Would you like something?"
"No, thanks. I'm good..."
"Okay. Well just let me know if you want anything."
"Actually-" She looked up quickly, making him stop and return his gaze to her curiously. "Actually, uh... I just..." She could feel her face grow hot and she looked away again, nervous.
Ku tilted his head. "Are you okay Cris?"
They stood in silence for a moment before Cris finally turned her head back up. Finally managing to swallow her fear, she stepped closer to him and leaned up, pushing her mouth to his in a slightly awkward kiss. Taking his top lip between hers, she placed her hands on his chest and inhaled slowly, taking in his scent as she savored his taste. Ku stood motionless, and as the moment was tainted with his lack of participation, she withdrew and brought a hand to her mouth with a slight frown.
Her gaze was met with a soft smile and a deep blush. Ku placed a hand on the side of her head gently. "Cris... I really like you, a lot. But we can't be together, in any way. It's a Guardian Association rule - guardians and charges are forbidden from any form of relationship other than simply guardian and charge. I'm really sorry, I wish I could do something, but I can't break the rules."
Cris' expression gained a notable bit of darkness and she seemed to slump, arms dropping to her sides. "Oh... right... sorry, I just..." She looked away. "...Yeah, I understand. I'll just, uh... go to bed then... sorry..." With that, she turned and went in her room, quietly closing the door behind her. Ku watched her til the door was shut, then sighed and drooped his shoulders. He hadn't been certain whether or not she would actually make a move, but he hoped she wouldn't to avoid the inevitable. Unfortunately, it had come and now he felt terrible. It almost seemed like the girl couldn't catch a break. He shook his head and retreated back into his own room. Hopefully she would forget everything on their upcoming Grand Canyon trip.
Cris sat on the edge of her bed almost mechanically and stared at the floor. It happened. Something told her it was to be expected, the rejection was sure to happen, but the sting of her dashed hopes was still painful regardless. Her whole body wilted and she felt a familiar lump in her throat and pressure behind her eyes. Everything was so confusing - Cody's behavior and sudden departure, her intense attraction to Ku and his rejection, the incident with the rogue, her increasingly terrifying nightmares... that unbearable itch in the back of her head of something hidden and just out of reach. Thinking about everything finally bogged her down and she put her face in her hands as the tears forced themselves free, running down her cheeks. Her shoulders shook with her quiet sobs, doing nothing but making her feel more pathetic.
"You don't need him."
She gasped and looked up at the distinct male voice, throwing her gaze around her empty room in shock. With a chuckle, Nero faded into view, leaning against the wall by the door casually, dressed in what appeared to be rave pants and a red hoodie. He grinned as she sat up in fear, brain clearly processing her human fight or flight instinct. "Don't worry," he said, lifting away from the wall and holding his hands up in a sign of harmlessness. "I'm not gonna do anything, and I don't have any dirt on you."
Wiping her tears away, she narrowed her eyes at him in suspicion and annoyance. "What do you want? Why are you back here..? I thought you were gone..."
He snickered and went over to sit next to her, causing her to bend away from him. "Your buddy in there should've taken better steps to get rid of me if he wanted me to stay gone. I'm not your average pest," he smirked at her.
Cris returned his grin with a mild scowl. "What do you want? I could scream right now and Ku would come running."
"That joke? Don't make me laugh. He's not even worth the time of day. I could take him down in a matter of seconds if I really wanted to."
"I don't believe you. He had no trouble kicking you out before."
"That's only because I didn't want any trouble. If I'd known you had a guardian, I wouldn't have even bothered."
She huffed. "What the hell do you want? Last time I'm gonna ask, you're starting to piss me off. And I'm already in a bad mood."
"I'm sorry," he smiled, leaning a little closer and making her scoot away in anger. "You're way too good for that prick anyway, if you ask me. Guardians are self-righteous narcissists, you know that? I wouldn't take it personal, he's just too stupid to realize what he could've had." His eyes drifted down her body and he smirked as she crossed her arms, sneering. "Me, on the other hand. I'm totally free. And I've already shown what I can do - don't deny it, either. You loved it." Moving over a bit, he leaned close again, forcing her back against the headboard.
"You fucking raped me. I can't believe you have the gall to talk about that like it was just normal sex."
"Admit it, you enjoyed it. And look," he grinned as he reached behind him and drew his 9mm from an unseen holster. "I even brought our little friend along."
Cris' eyes widened as they fell on the gun. A slight blush came across her face and she suddenly felt a wave of arousal. He was right - she couldn't deny the fact that he was really fucking good at sex, and that gun only made it better. Shame was quickly overtaken as she heated up, staring at the firearm.
"So, I know you're probably sex starved, and I could use some action myself. How about it? Or do you want me to just take it again?" He muttered the last sentence darkly, cocking his head as if mocking her.
She shivered and forcibly swallowed, eyes drifting back to the male's smirking face. It didn't look like there was any other way out of the situation aside from yelling for Ku, but her bitterness toward him for rejecting her dissuaded her from relying on him. Besides, she admittedly liked what she saw, and secretly wanted to be taken by him again. In a shift of rebellion partly against Ku, she got up and dropped to her knees in front of him, working at his pants to free his cock.
Nero's eyebrows raised in surprise and he sat back, resting on his hands and smirking. "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about..."
Her hands worked quickly, undoing his pants and reaching in to pull out his cock. Wrapping a hand around it and pumping it rapidly to harden it out, she glared up at him. "You're an asshole."
"Only the best kind," he snickered, clearly enjoying himself.
Abandoning the handjob, she knelt in and took him in her mouth, playing her tongue in circles on the underside of the head. He audibly exhaled at the hot, wet feel of her mouth enclosing his sensitive member, leaning back placidly on his arms as he relaxed. Her tongue halted and she wrapped her lips around the head, sucking heavily and increasing the pressure against his flesh each second. Once she couldn't get anymore pressure on him without causing pain, she pulled away with a wet popping sound, making him gasp quietly. Smirking at his reaction, she continued her actions, leaning in and taking all of him before bobbing her head up and down rapidly, making soft wet noises and gripping at the base with one hand. Being sure not to neglect, her free hand busied itself by slithering up his shirt and caressing his chest and abs, sliding up then back down slowly. As she took his entire length, she was consciously surprised she was somehow able to receive down her throat without being overly affected by her gag reflex. The feeling even seemed mildly familiar to her somehow. Nero bent his head back, closing his eyes in pleasure as he breathed heavily. It wasn't the best bj he'd ever received, but he was still thoroughly enjoying himself, especially as that familiar feeling came over him of warmth drawing him in - she definitely seemed to have some sort of effect on him, but he wasn't complaining.
Finally, he looked down at her and smiled. "You gonna do everything, or do you want some action too?" Her response was a mixed expression of aggravation and resent... and he didn't know why, but it only served to arouse him further.
Without thinking, he pulled off his hoodie and shirt and dropped them to the side before grabbing her arms and pulling her up. She squeaked as he turned and pushed her on the bed, then climbed between her legs and tugged the straps of her nightgown down her arms and the front away from her breasts. Without waiting for a protest, he knelt and grabbed one, squeezing it firmly and circling his tongue around her nipple, making her arch her back and give a low moan. His free hand found her thigh and lifted it just enough to rub the underside of his cock against her wet folds. In response she spread her legs wider and ground back against him, panting heavily and grasping his hair as he began sucking and nibbling her nipple, his hand slowly alternating between squeezing and loosening the mound of soft flesh.
"Huuh," she shivered, blushing. "Nero... fuck..."
He looked up with a smirk. "You want it?" For emphasis, he gave a particularly hard grind against her pussy.
She gave a shaky moan. "Y-Yes... please..."
His smirk darkened as he released her breast in favor of her other leg, lifting both her ankles over his shoulder with ease and bending her legs down as he braced himself and pushed into her. One hand found her mouth just as she gave a cry, muffling it as well as the rest as he set to work, pumping his hips at a steady pace. Her eyes half-lidded as she gave cry after cry into his hand, body shaking with each of his thrusts. A stray glance happened to pick up the 9mm the rogue had left sitting close by and she reached out for it, stretching her arm yet just unable to reach it. Nero took notice and snickered, reaching over and grabbing it with ease.
"You going for this?" He smiled mockingly as he cocked it and put the muzzle against her cheek, pressing a little harder against her mouth with his free hand.
Cris' eyes rolled up at the feel of the cold steel against her skin, arousal growing at the fact she was now faced with a cocked gun. Her hands gripped the bed sheets and her legs stretched, cunt throbbing around the Ineith's invading cock and sweating excess fluids. Nero's thrusts were now producing audible schlicking noises and he took notice of her ecstasy, grinning and speeding up his movements.
"You really got some weird fetishes," he muttered, leaning closer and nipping her earlobe.
A shiver rippled through her body as she felt herself approach climax and one hand came up to grasp the wrist at her mouth, holding onto it as her body tensed. Her cries slowed to loud moans between her panting as her mind lost itself to ecstasy and, sensing her ascent, Nero gritted his teeth and shoved himself against her at a considerably slower pace, but much harder. Bending his ears back, he let a low growl slip, and this proved to be the break as Cris tensed and shuddered, giving a cry that was loud even through his hand, cunt flexing around his cock and flowing with juices. He trembled with a shiver of his own and, panting at the pleasing sensation of the girl's climaxing pussy, pumped a few more times before uttering a low groan as he released, unleashing a good load inside her. Exhaling deeply in satisfaction, he pulled out and bent forward, spreading her folds and snerking as his come leaked from her hole, dribbling down her ass to make a small pool on the sheets.
"I love doing that," he smirked, but backed away as she glared at him.
Readjusting her nightgown, she sat up and scooted away from the wet spot on her bed, frowning. "Look what you did to my bed. How am I supposed to sleep with that there?"
"Uhh," he stared at her before glancing to the side and finding a stray sock. Quickly picking it up, he went over and wiped at the liquid, barely managing to clean it up.
She sighed. "Nevermind..."
With a shrug, he tossed the article back to the floor, then looked back at the girl awkwardly. This was where he was supposed to say ciao and take off, but something was stopping him. For some strange reason, he didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay with that warm feeling, that glow that seemed to envelope this human despite the sour look on her face. But it made him feel stupid - he didn't know what to do in a situation like this. "...So, uhh," he said lamely.
"You got your sex, so you can leave. Or do you want something else from me now?"
He rubbed his face and looked away, tail twitching. "No... I just thought maybe... I dunno, we could talk or something?..."
Cris stared at him blankly, then her eyes slowly fell to his now soft cock and she frowned. Clearing his throat, he stood up from the bed and hastily put himself away, zipping his pants back up and re-holstering his gun. "Well uh..." He reached over and grabbed his clothing. "If you don't want to, I guess I'll just go..."
She sighed and looked away, but didn't answer. Taking this as a hint, he frowned and threw his shirt back on. Opening his mouth to follow up, he stopped and thought better of it. He wanted to tell her not to leave with Ku, but now he had no idea how to say it. Giving up, he instead just turned and faded from view. The door opened and shut, marking the rogue's departure. Cris crossed her arms and gave another sigh, staring at the bed in silence.

- contents: blowjob, intercourse

Chapter 13
Cody winced as Murl poured some herbal cleanser over his wounds. He sat nude in a tub full of hot water, the gnoll hovering as she cared for him, only wearing a loose skirt aside from her jewelry. A small smile formed on her lips at his wince. "Sorry," she murmured and gave his uninjured arm a reassuring squeeze before wrapping clean gauze over his wounds.
He shook his head. "It's nothing... by the way, thank you. For everything you're doing for me." He gave her a grateful glance and she grinned in response.
"What do you mean? I'm only doing my duty. Fellow guardians must receive the best services and training, otherwise some worlds would go completely to shit, am I right?"
Cody gave a half shrug. "I wouldn't know anything about all that. I'm just here to do my job and make it count. I need to get back to Cris before something bad happens."
A pause followed and Murl smiled, leaning closer to press her bare chest against his back, bringing her mouth to his ear. She gave a low, teasing growl, "You can stay here a bit longer... after all, you don't want to go back without proper training..."
The Ineith felt a slight shiver travel down his spine and he turned his head to look at the female, but before he could, she walked around and discarded her skirt. Giving him a sultry stare, she slipped into the pool and glided smoothly toward him. Cody sighed as she straddled him on the raised platform he was seated on and leaned against him comfortably, smiling at him.
"You know," she uttered, "I don't really know much about you, except that your father was a guardian before you. Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself, hm?"
His eyes fell to the side. "My father... He was a guardian, yeah. That's why I joined the Association. Well, part of the reason. The other part... was because I lost a bet." He gave an awkward smile.
"A bet?"
"Yeah. You could say I didn't exactly fall in with the right kind of crowd before I joined. We were kind of a bunch of delinquents. Associated with free demons and people who didn't have respect for laws. Before the Association... let's just say I helped people."
"What do you mean?"
"Well," he rubbed the back of his head and slid down a bit, embarrassed by his history. "If someone was in trouble, or on the run or something, I would help them. You know, hide them, lie to officials, provide transportation, sometimes even get them new identities. Stuff like that... it paid well." His eyes fell in shame.
Murl smirked and ran a hand down the side of his face, turning his eyes back up to her own. "It's okay, Cody. I don't judge. Sometimes people just get lost, but it's good that you left that kind of lifestyle behind. You're much too talented to let yourself be mixed in a bad crowd like that."
He smiled at her. "Thanks... I really don't know how it all started. I guess I resented my father... he was always pretty hard on me, it was more his choice than mine to learn martial arts. But growing up with it, it grew on me. Now I couldn't stop practicing even if I wanted to... The bet was between me and an incubus I worked with for a couple years. He was kind of my partner, but he was unpleasant to work with. Stubborn and just an asshole in general. But, what can you expect from an incubus?" He chuckled and Murl nodded. "One day, we were on an important job for this politician from Tanradon. He was on the run from officials because he... well, he did something unpleasant. He hired me to get him out, and my partner was supposed to transport him to another location. I managed to hide him and get him some new papers, but the dumbass incubus was nowhere to be found when it came time for the guy to escape. Turns out he was out fucking some woman, and the politician wound up arrested. I would've gone down with him, but I managed to get out of dodge at the last second. I didn't see the asshole for the next couple days, but when I did, I nearly beat the shit out of him. I refused to give him his half of the pre-payment, so he proposed a bet. I should've just told him to fuck off, but sometimes I can be stupid curious...
"He challenged me to a drinking contest with the stakes being him going under an enslavement charm tuned to me against me giving him all the pre-payment and joining the Guardian Association. It was hardly a fair bet for him, but he was already a bit drunk, and who could resist a deal like that? Well, I didn't know incubus' had a natural tolerance to alcohol. Needless to say, I lost miserably - not only the contest, but the bastard took a lot more from me than just the pre-payment. When I woke up later, all the money I had on me was gone, along with all my gear and everything else. I was lucky I still had my clothes on. So... after that, I decided to join the Association not so much because I lost the bet, but more because I was just tired of living that life. I was tired of