A Story by K. L. Nussbaum

Maeya smiled as the village children pulled her along the grass. Ever since she arrived, nearly four months ago, they had taken a quick liking to her. Since Yukai's sister refused to allow her to do any work around the village she spent most of her time entertaining the children. Just as she would teach them things she knew they would teach her how to relax more and to have some fun. They were teaching her something that she'd forgotten many years ago: what it meant to be free.

She danced and played tag with the older ones and tended to the smaller ones with gentle care. While everyone else in the village did chores and ran their businesses, the children pulled her further and further from her shell. She still didn't talk much, but she smiled more and even laughed and giggled alongside the children throughout the day. She was beginning to truly love life in this village.

Often she'd notice Yukai laying about lazily in one of the trees, the very tree the children would sit around and beg her to tell stories or sing. That tree seemed to be their destination on this particular day. Sure enough, Maeya could see Yukai's boot hanging from his usual branch.

"What are we doing today, little ones?" They all giggled and motioned to the ripe apples in the trees around them.

"We're going to get Yu-yu to play with us!" One of the smaller girls cheered. Maeya couldn't help the giggle that escaped at the nickname.

"Well, show me how its done then." She grinned as the children gathered their ammunition and began to launch apples into the air at the male kitsune. Faster than they could blink, he knocked the ones that came too close to him away while merely shifting to avoid others. She watched their attempts for a few moments before picking an apple herself. It wouldn't hurt to help them out after all.

Moving to stand partially underneath the tree limb she launched the apple straight up, and he didn't seem to pay it any mind after giving it a quick glance. A series of soft snaps sounded before a handful of apples fell from above him. He shifted to dodge them when the very one she had thrown smashed into his forehead. Surprised that he'd been struck, he flailed about trying to regain his balance. When he hit the ground with a thud all the children piled on top of him while a few of the older ones looked at her in awe as they asked her how she did it.

"Well, it was easy, once I realized he was watching everywhere but above him..." She giggled as Yukai glared at her playfully.

"Nice one, Princess. I hope you realize it won't happen again." He warned her as he began to tickle the smaller children who'd been too close to his tails.

"Hey! Sarah! I told you before, no pulling on those! Tails are not for playing!" He called out as one little girl squealed in glee as she tried and failed to escape his hands. Quickly enough he released the children as they all darted behind her.

"You know I'll have to get you back for that, right?" Yukai warned her and as Maeya laughed the children pounced. They pulled her to the ground and held her down at least three children per limb as he moved over her. Before she could blink his fingers were assaulting her sides and she was screaming with laughter as the children joined in.

Once she was breathless and gasping for air they relented and gave her some space to catch her breath. Yukai and the children laid back on the grass as they looked up at the now pink and purple sky. Suddenly the children's names sounded throughout the village as their mothers called them in for dinner. The children jumped to their feet and dashed to their homes ready for whatever was going to be put on their plate, leaving Yukai and Maeya alone beneath the tree to watch the sun's descent.

"You know, you're pretty good with children. You handle the ones in this village pretty well." Yukai smiled as Maeya to situate herself against the base of the tree. Maeya shook her head and smiled.

"I think it's more that they are good with me, they have helped me learn and remember quite a few things," she murmured as Yukai moved to use her lap as a pillow. She tensed and felt a bit awkward at the action, but didn't voice a complaint or ask him to move.

"That's good, and I bet they are learning from you as well." He chuckled as his gaze returned to the sky.

"You are pretty good with them yourself, Yu-yu," She teased, a playful smile on her lips as he glanced at her.

"Yu-yu! Maeya! Sorry to interrupt, but it's time to eat! You two best hurry, Kiarra, and Itanu turned up at the house," Yukai's sister called out startling Maeya. Yukai sighed as he jumped to his feet and offered Maeya his hand. She accepted his help, though it hadn't been needed it was certainly appreciated.

"Ma'am," Maeya began as the trio walked back towards their home.

"Nu-uh, Maeya, I told you to call me Kairi." Kairi interrupted the girl with a grin.

"Kairi, sorry... Kiarra and Itanu are they the two mercenaries Tou-kun works with?" The teal haired kitsune tilted her head to the side as Kairi giggled and Yukai smiled.

"Yeah, that's them. They may fight like cats and dogs, but it's good to have them watch my back."

When the trio reached their home, the smell of venison stew filled their nostrils and their mouths waters.

"Kairi," Maeya caught herself, "it smells like you've outdone yourself once more! I wish you'd let me help you at least every now and again." Kairi smiled but said nothing as she nodded to the strawberry blonde woman and the navy haired man who'd been playfully glaring at one another.

"Oh, is this the little princess you rescued, Yukai?" The man got up from where he'd been sitting and moved to stand in front of them his single wolf tail swaying behind him.

"We got here earlier, but you seemed to be preoccupied. So we decided to bother Kairi for a bit. Nice to finally meet you, I'm Kiarra, dog breath over here is Itanu." The woman followed her companion's example and introduced the two of them, knowing Itanu tended to be tactless.

"Oi! At least my breath doesn't reek of rotten fish!" Kiarra's black panther like tail smacked his leg at the comment. Maeya giggled at their antics as Yukai sighed.

"Alright, you two can flirt later."

"I'm Maeya, it's nice to meet the two of you as well." It was bad enough that he called her a princess, she didn't want these two to follow suit. Kiarra flashed a toothy grin at her as Itanu slugged Yukai in the arm.

"Not flirting."

Maeya couldn't help but laugh, dinner was going to be an interesting affair, of that she was certain.

Maeya quickly found herself seated at the table. Kairi was leveling a glare at her to keep Maeya from trying to assist her. Yukai was seated to her right, and Kiarra was between him and Itanu. They left the place to the left of Maeya for Kairi.

Now, seeing as neither Maeya or Yukai had much of an opinion, tonight we are having capon pie. Maeya this is your official welcome to the family!” Kairi cheered as she set the food on the table and started fixing plates.

Hey, I did have an opinion! I said something edible, preferably food. Chicken, in fact! Those were my exact words” Yukai quipped as he accepted a plate of food from Kairi.

Then Kairi, presumably, tried to hit you. Am I correct?” Itanu grinned before reaching out to accept his own plate.

Tried being the key word there” Yukai smirked.

Hey, no one asked for emphasis, Yukai!” Kiarra swung out a hand intending to cuff him on the ear, only to miss as he leaned out of her range.

Yeah, it was just like that!” Yukai laughed. Maeya and Kairi began to laugh at the trio's antics and the others soon joined in. Throughout the meal Maeya observed the groups antics, getting to know them in her own way. They actively tried to include her, but she was still having difficulties coming out of her shell. They would have to give her time to grow more used to everyone.

Okay so, Yukai, Marasai has another job for us,” Kiarra stated after a while.

It's another delivery,” Itanu added, pretending not to notice Kairi's frown.

I honestly don't see why any of you need to be doing these jobs! Is dangerous outside the village. What if one of you got hurt?” Kairi turned her concerned eyes to Yukai.

It's unlikely that we'd get into anything we couldn't handle. Besides, I'll be there to bail them out if need be.” Yukai grinned

You're the one she's worried about! You're too reckless sometimes.” Kiarra pointed out.

Yeah, I know, but this is the best way the three of us can help support the village. The better we do the more villages decide to trade with our village. I'm not that skilled at farming, masonry, or carpentry. Hunting and doing odd jobs is the best thing I can do to help out.” Yukai justified as Kairi sighed.

Well, I don't have to like it! Heck think about poor Maeya, you're the only one she's been able to open up to and you going out and doing odd jobs that can get you killed!” Kairi raised her voice in an attempt to get Maeya to side with her.

...Kairi, Yukai is very skilled with his sword and he is fast. I highly doubt he'll come across anyone that can keep up with him. And even if someone does keep up with him, he's smart enough to know how to get out of it. Plus he has Kiarra and Itanu watching his back. I'm sure he'll be fine.” Maeya finally spoke up, since Kairi dragged her into her argument. She didn't feel like she had a place to say anything because Yukai was his own person and could make his own decisions. Kairi needed to learn to trust him.

Kairi sighed as she realized that nothing she said was going to change anything. Yukai was going to do what he was going to do. All she could do is pray to the gods and goddesses for his safe return. She didn't like it, but short of going with him, it was the best she could do.

© 2017 K. L. Nussbaum

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Added on September 27, 2017
Last Updated on September 27, 2017


K. L. Nussbaum
K. L. Nussbaum

So a little bit about me... Hmm... I'm a mother to a beautiful little boy. Yes, he already has me wrapped around his little fingers. I am a big supporter of the U.S. Military. I have odd, weird.. more..