Yuuki yawned, opened his eyes, and again was amused by the pains
taken to make the room look more like a guest suite than a hospital. He
supposed there must be some initial comfort to the humans who entered here, but
looking at the young couple’s tired and strained faces, he imagined whatever
soothing effects the pastel print wallpaper or ruffled duvet offered were
forgotten hours ago.
He helped himself to a discarded glass of water, hoping it
wouldn’t be much longer. Yuuki had never been to a human birth before, even
though he had plenty of opportunity. Births were reminders he was
still a captive, still bound to a family he detested and who grew to detest him
back. Hatred eventually faded to forgetfulness on the humans’ part.
never forget – there was no getting around the oath he swore - though he too had
let go of hate, for the most part, decades ago. His oath required him to serve one hundred generations of this family, whether they acknowledged his existence or not. Three centuries to the day he made his promise the newest in the family line was about to make her grand entrance.
“Do you know how many of your kin’s deaths I’m responsible
for, small one?” Yuuki said out loud.
No one in the room noticed, as none had
the skill to hear him. Though one nurse must have had a small sensitivity to
fae creatures as she gave a tiny shudder and crossed herself after he spoke.
Yuuki smirked under his kitsune’s mask, pleased to see any reaction, even a small one. Being ignored for over a century was demoralizing. If the nurse could truly see him, kimono clad with a sharp toothed smile
painted on his fox’s mask, she’d probably run out of the room screaming prayers.
So would the young man holding the hand of his laboring wife. It was not an
unwise choice when dealing with kitsune.
But fae-blind Fernando had never once in his life seen Yuuki for what he was, and likely never would. Yuuki slumped on a plump chair, resting his face in his hand and addressed an unaware Fernando. “To be fair, I’m
responsible for saving a few lives too, as well as helping you look away from your
books long enough to find a woman to create this one.” Yuuki nodded towards
Angela’s swollen belly. “Fernando you are a good, but sublimely boring and
unimaginative man. I don’t hate you, but I certainly won’t miss you. Hopefully
your spawn will be somewhat more interesting, though that is hardly a high bar
By the fussing of the
various hospital staff and yelling coming from Angela, Yuuki realized the time
had come at last. A few moments later, what looked like a slimy gore and membrane
covered raisin emerged and shrieked her first cries into the world.The
staff jumped to clean off most of the mess, and once that was done, laid the
child in her mother’s arms.
“God has been good to us Angela,” Fernando said.
Yuuki rolled his eyes behind his mask. “You’d never have met
your wife if it wasn’t for me. I’ll let you call me Jesus Christ if you promise
to give me some sake every now and again. Or tea. I’ll accept tea,” he said.
“He has. Look at our little princesita
our little princess,” Angela said.
“I’m a lucky man," Fernando said, stroking the fuzzy patch of hair on the baby's head. "I've always felt like I've had more than my fair share of good fortune. But whatever luck or divine grace has
guided me to this moment, I wish it all go to our little Ana. May whatever
saint or guardian angel that has been watching over me give themselves
completely to the care of her. I want nothing else from life.”
Yuuki felt a strange shift at Fernando’s words. He looked
from him to the baby girl and realized that his time protecting Fernando had come to an end.
“If you wish for a diaper change, I am not doing it. That is
still your parents’ job,” he said, making a horrible face appear on his mask.
The girl child looked up at Yuuki and smiled. Yuuki blinked
and waved his hand in front of her. A tiny fist grasped his finger tight.
“You see me,” Yuuki whispered.
“Look at that Fernando,” Angela said. “Our girl is smiling!”
“It’s not a real smile,” one nurse said. “She’s too young
for that. It’s likely gas.”
“It’s not gas, you simpleton,” Yuuki said as the nurse
walked out of the room. “This girl sees me. After all these years…”
When a plush fox doll appeared among the gifts for Angela
and Fernando’s new daughter, no one noticed it among the sea of toys that arrived from family and
friends. By the time she could
walk, it was a joke among her family that you could offer her the fanciest doll
in the world, but the only thing that could calm her was that toy fox. Once she
was old enough to talk, Ana practiced most of her new skills babbling to her favorite toy. The plush fox presided over every tea party Ana held, though she insisted on serving real tea instead of pretending over empty cups.
“Tell me again about
the day I was born,” Ana often asked.
“You were covered in blood and guts, not minding it a bit.
And you were smiling. That is how I knew we would be friends,” Yuuki always
"Cool," Ana said.