Chapter I: Crimson Vermilion Red


It had been eight years ago that he had left. Eight years as the son of another family--technically, it too was a branch of the same one, but in name more than anything. The two households had been completely separate these past eight years, two worlds existing parallel to one another without ever touching. True, they weren’t that different; what, some would say, was the difference between living with one branch of a pureline family and another? And yet, it had truly been a world apart.


That was to say, the difference was not in the wealth or prestige--there was a difference in those things, but not one that he had cared enough about to really notice--but in the people. And in many ways, that difference had been a good one. In that world he’d left eight years ago, he hadn’t had a mother and the hatred he and his father had felt for each other was mutual and hot, but in the world he had lived in until now, he’d had both those things--caring parents, even though they weren’t his own.


But even so, he couldn’t regret the decision to go back. No matter how idyllic that other world had been, he hadn’t ever been able to shake the feeling that it wasn’t his own. That did nothing to ease his mind, though; no, it was alive with buzzing questions as he started to ascend the hill. Would he fit in this world? Or was he doomed to live forever between worlds, unable to fit in any? Some part of him, for a long time, had accepted the latter as a given, because the world he was now returning to had been forever lost, or so he’d thought until mere days ago.


Such were the thoughts that ran through his mind as he put one foot in front of the other, slowly climbing up the hill. It felt more like a mountain, in a way, with the lone mansion atop it like the summit, dominating the area. Already, he could see the iron fence that surrounded it, a stern reminder of the policy of his family to keep others out. In the crimson sunset, he could even see the pond with its fountain out front, reflecting perfectly like a vermilion moon fallen to earth.


Actually, he mused, trying to turn his eyes from the sight as his stomach threatened to rebel at it, it looked like blood. That fact was enough to make him hate the sight, so he tried to notice the other residences around him instead. The higher he went upon the hill, the more elaborate they became, many of them neat and elegant and clearly wealthy. They thinned out, too; each successive residence took more room than the last.


All of them, though, were Japanese-styled houses. Even if the territory was now officially the Edo League, the people would never truly lose their identity here, and so he thought of the style that way. And that made it all the more glaring that the house at the top, with its sprawling grounds and great fence barrier was in an entirely western style instead. Contact with the West was hard and rare in this age, but such pointed examples ensured that no one could forget the influence of the other half of the world.


It was, of course, a rather old mansion at this point. He didn’t know how old, but it surely predated the war, for such excess would’ve seemed absurd in the three centuries since then. There were too many empty homes, symbols of past grandeur, that could be claimed by the wealthy for people to expend the labor to build new ones, and with the waves of nationalism that had swept over the nation--he had learned about it almost ad nauseum in school--if new mansions were made, they were always Japanese-style.


Of course, the fact that they lived in such a house didn’t say anything about his family, though. It was just the most prominent house in the town they exerted so much influence in; the Tohno family was as Japanese as any of the other leading families of Edo. No one was foolish enough to doubt that.


Ironically, he mused, as the gate drew closer, he never would’ve known such things from the inside. It was only looking from without that he had truly gotten an idea of what his family was like, in prestige and power, and he’d almost been glad to be away from that life. If he’d stayed, surely he would be deeply involved in the town’s politics by now, as the oldest son of the family.... But instead, as a friend had so insistently pointed out, he was in effect disinherited, a Tohno in name only.


As the other houses started to fade and the massive wrought-iron gates began to dominate his field of vision, the boy--Shiki--finally let his mind return to the matter at hand. No matter how good he was at daydreaming that way, he would soon have to face that old world. In a way, his appearance still suited it; he was taller than a lot of boys his age, with a quietly dignified face; attractive, though not strikingly so the way many boys his age were. There were some negatives to being a pureline human, really.... But his eyes, seen through thick, rounded glasses, were a reserved blue that matched the blue attire he preferred to wear, and on the whole he looked rather... scholarly, with those glasses and his ever-ruffled black hair.


Eight years.... Such a long time, he mused, but some memories could never fade. Some pieces of the past had stayed with him all these years, from his childhood. Despite the clashes with his father, it would’ve been... unfair to say it was an unhappy childhood that he’d had in this huge house.


It was fall now, but his memories of those childhood years seemed to always be of summer. Under the sun, he’d played so freely with his sister, and the other girl.... Without those memories, he acknowledged, there would’ve been no reason to come back after all this time. But he’d been summoned, and... with the knowledge that his father was dead, the only one who could’ve sent that was Akiha.


In his memory, she--his younger sister--had been a gentle girl, uncertainly following behind him with long, black hair, such a contrast to the image of their other playmate. That other girl had always been so energetic.... Though her hair, a lovely pink-red that spoke of cherry blossoms, and her smiling face were burned into his memory, her name escaped it--she hadn't been a member of the family either, so he had no way of knowing if she would still be anywhere to be found.


And then there was one other he remembered.... But before thoughts of her could surface, the gate was before him. Shiki drew in a deep breath as his hand lifted to touch the cool wrought iron. Though he could see it was unlocked, he hesitated, unable for a long moment to bring himself to push it open as the bloody sunset blinded him....


But then, the sun dipped below the mansion’s roof, leaving him and the pool that had reflected so brightly in the shadow of the gigantic western house. Drawing in another breath, deeper than the last, he managed to push the gate open and step through, then close it behind him with an eerie clang.


That trial, though, was not the end of the uncertainty that his memories brought about. No, there was still the trip several hundred meters across the imposing lawn and circular driveway, past the softly bubbling fountain and to the doors of the mansion itself. Now, though, he had passed the point of no return.


With that done, the rest of the trip became easier, but even so he couldn't help the way the tension built up in his chest as he followed one side of the driveway. What could he expect, returning? Even coming back for her sake--or even because he felt the need to come back for her sake after having left her alone to deal with the strictness of his old man--he couldn't expect Akiha to be welcoming. Whatever her reason for calling him back, it was impossible to imagine her not being bitter over his escaping that fate for all these years.


Given that, the tension had build considerably by the time he reached the door. Instead of a doorbell, the door was outfitted with an old-fashioned and rather intimidating knocker. Lifting it, Shiki braced himself as though preparing to suffer some sort of blow and struck the knocker to its metal plate upon the door, causing a resonant sound that made some part of him shudder.


With all of that on his mind, therefore, he couldn't help but be totally shocked by the person who greeted him at the door. It wasn't so surprising in an objective level, but still, to be greeted so cheerfully at this mansion seemed entirely out of place.


Nonetheless, that was the type of greeting from the smiling girl in the doorway. “Welcome home, Shiki-sama!” she announced, her voice as lighthearted and happy as the smile upon her face.


For a moment, he could only stare at her, dumbfounded. Certainly, the pink-red hair was the same as he remembered, but to be confronted with this smiling face from his past was just so... entirely striking. Though he tried to get his mouth to move, all he could manage was an “Ah...” as he stared into the pale golden eyes of the girl dressed in the black and pink kimono.


“ are Shiki-sama, right?” Her head tilted adorably in confusion as he didn't answer, though she was still smiling.


That, at least, managed to jolt him out of his stupor enough to nod slowly, “Yeah, that's right. Sorry, it's just... so strange to be back here after so long,” came his murmured response, taking a glance into the darkened lobby beyond, then looking back to the girl. “You're... one of the maids, right?”


“Oh, good. That's right, I'm Kohaku,” she answered with a smile and a bow, before opening the door entirely so that he could enter that lobby, which was lit by a chandelier rather than electric light, and closing it behind him.


Inside now, he looked around; there was a strange sense of... vagueness about the room. It was like the ghost of a lost memory, and so his perception of it was blunted by the memory, and made less definite. It was definitely familiar, and yet foreign at the same time.


“It's been such a long time,” he murmured, trying to shake off the strange feeling that being in the room left him with, before looking at Kohaku. In his blue eyes, covered as they were by thick glasses, was a silent question. It would be awkward to ask, but at the moment he had absolutely... no idea what would happen next.


With a laugh, the girl smiled at him yet again. “Oh, I guess you must still be confused about all of this, huh? It was all so sudden for you.... Well, let's go to the sitting room; I have a message there for you, from Akiha-sama.”


At this, he frowned and looked away, feeling a pressure in his heart. “...a message? So she doesn't even want to see me, huh? Well, I guess I can't blame her.”


“No, it's not like that at all,” the other replied, cheerfully, beckoning him toward the stairs that led upward on one side of the lobby. “Come on, I think everything will make a lot more sense after you read it, Shiki-sama.”


A look of confusion passed over the boy's features at this, looking up at the girl who had already started to mount the stairs. Well, some things never changed, he reflected ruefully. This could only be the girl who'd played with them all those years ago... “Ah... Alright, but can you stop calling me that? We were friends all those years ago, right? Besides, I don't feel right with a girl my age calling me that.”


This sentiment was probably strange in this day and age, really.... So many people were used to their pokegirls referring to them that way, or as master, but... it didn't seem like Kohaku was one, honestly, and even if she was, it just... wasn't right.


Those golden eyes blinked for a moment, but then the maid shrugged. “If you want, Shiki-san.” With this, the two of them set off to the sitting room, which was a bit into the right wing of the mansion; the distance was further than it sounded, since each wing of the massive building was big enough to be a small hospital.


The halls were surprisingly quiet, though, as the two walked along. In his memories, they'd always been fairly lively, since many relatives had been staying--or freeloading, really--to take advantage of the size of the place and the wealth of its owners. Now, though, there was no sign of such activity.


Kohaku finally stopped at a door and opened it. From within, a quieter voice commented, before Shiki was close enough to see inside or be seen, “Oh, Nee-san, you're back. Was it Shiki-sama?” The voice was quieter, and a little hesitant; on the whole it was a far more reserved tone than Kohaku's.


“Yeah, he's here now. Shiki-san, this is my sister, Hisui-chan.” Speaking thus, the girl ushered Shiki into the sitting room. Unlike the lobby, though it was in elegant, perfect taste, it didn't look familiar at all, and he decided it must've been redone since the last time he'd seen it.


But, that was an inconsequential detail, really, and soon his blue eyes were upon the other girl who'd spoken. She was much more obviously a maid than her sister, wearing a black, one-piece maid's uniform (and very much not the slutty style that was so popular with pokegirls, which drove home how rich and prestigious his family had to be to be able to afford actual human girls as maids) and a white hair-band.


Though her hair was much the same color as Kohaku's, it was worn much more severely, and on the whole she was very much reserved. Almost directly in contrast to her sister's smiling cheerfulness, her face and blue eyes revealed nothing of her emotions as she bowed to the boy. “Greetings, and welcome, Shiki-sama.”


“Ah... Hello,” he replied, feeling rather uncomfortable with the formality. Unlike with Kohaku, it didn't feel like he could easily ask this girl to drop it. Even so, he gave her a bow, unwilling to let her be so entirely subservient.


Closing the door, Kohaku walked over to one of the couches in the room, near a table where Hisui was already sitting, then gestured Shiki over. Blinking a little, he followed, taking a seat across from the two of them and feeling rather uncomfortable with the situation, in all honesty.


“Okay, so I know this must all be weird for you, Shiki-san, but there really is a reason. And it's good to have you home, right Hisui-chan?” She smiled at her sister, who nodded, even as the former lifted a piece of paper from the table, glancing at it... then setting it aside.


“This is the message that Akiha-sama left for you, Shiki-san. But first, I think you should know the state of things here. Akiha-sama has sent everyone away, since the death of Makihisa-sama. All your relatives are gone now, and we're the only servants left in the house. Hisui-chan will take care of your needs while you're here.”


“...wait, she sent them away? Won't that get her in trouble? I found out that my old man died in the papers, but can she really behave like that? Not even he went against them. And... hey, wait. I don't need a servant, I can take care of myself!” His words were calm--and mostly concerned that his sister would have trouble--at the former, but the latter was said more heatedly, obviously not fond of the idea.


“Shiki-san, don't be silly. You say you can take care of yourself, but that doesn't include cooking or laundry, does it? Besides, you haven't heard everything yet. There wasn't any real choice about sending your relatives away. Akiha-sama always hated them for sending you away, but that's not it.” Kohaku held up a finger reproachingly at the former part, but her voice lost a little of its cheerfulness at the latter.


Here, though, Hisui picked up, taking the letter from the table and offering it to the boy. “Read it, Shiki-sama. It will... make things clearer. Akiha-sama wanted to tell you herself, but...” Despite herself, Hisui sounded decidedly... sad as she said this.


Confused, but too uneasy about whatever secret was hanging in the room between the sisters, he didn't argue for the moment. Instead, he accepted the letter gingerly, lifting it so that the light of a candle in a sconce behind him would light the thick, old-fashioned paper, which had been written upon in an elegant hand with perfect calligraphy.




Dear Nii-san,


It pains my heart that I cannot be there to welcome you in person, but it's safer this way. Things advanced further than I had hoped while you were deciding if you would come. I guess I cannot really blame you--who would want to come back to this house? But I'm glad you've decided to come after all.


I guess I should start by telling you something, Nii-san. The purity of the Tohno house is a lie. It would be inconvenient for a rich and powerful family not to be pureline, right? So in the eyes of the world, that's what we are. But it's not really true. Actually, we've been “mixed blood” from the very beginning.


Really, it's not so hard to keep a secret like that while living as recluses.... Officially, we only ever marry humans, and we've never had a threshold case, but that's a lie. Almost every girl for three or four generations now has been a threshold. And most of the women who married into the family were “mixed blood” too, or just pokegirls that no one could recognize.


So, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that I've sent all our relatives away, huh? Most of them don't know what I told you--the servants either. Kohaku and Hisui have known, of course; they're practically members of the family after all this time.


But the name is still important, even though you're the only one it will matter for now, so I couldn't have anyone knowing your sister was thresholding, right? It just wouldn't be seemly if anyone realized that, Nii-san. So I sent them all away and called for you. If you can still face me, then I'll be waiting for you, Nii-san.








Letting the paper slip from his fingers and glide elegantly back to the table, Shiki just... stared at its falling form for several seconds, speechless and horrified. Akiha, thresholding? That... couldn't be. It had to be a dream, a bad joke, a ploy to get revenge... something. Yet, as someone had told him long ago, he... couldn't tell lies that not even he could believe.


“...this... this is true?” he whispered, his voice sounding very much... broken. Nothing that his sister had intentionally planned could've hurt as much as this news; it was perfect revenge, and it was all so terribly wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong!


“'s true, Shiki-sama,” Hisui murmured after a moment of silence. Kohaku was looking at him quietly as he responded, but she said nothing herself.


“...gods, this can't be happening. Not Akiha.... I wish... I hadn't come back,” he whispered, closing his eyes. He didn't really mean it, but some part of him did feel that way. That part of him wished he'd just remained ignorant of all this. What was he going to do now?


“Don't say that, Shiki-san.” Kohaku had finally spoken up, her voice still... almost discordantly cheerful. “It made Akiha-sama happy to hear that you were coming back. And you're the only one she'll even consider.”


Swallowing, the boy looked up with a blink, his blue eyes blinking slightly. “Consider? What do you mean? Does she want me to find her a...” His voice tightened and he trailed off, unable to finish such an unhappy sentence.


“No, it is not that,” Hisui answered quickly, preventing Kohaku from speaking again in that happy tone of voice. “Shiki-sama, you are the only one Akiha-sama will... allow to... Ah,” she, too, trailed off, a hint of a blush breaching her facade.


Thus, it was Kohaku's voice that finished it, with a giggle, “You're the only one she'll let tame her, Shiki-san.”


Despite the gravity of the situation, he couldn't help the rush of heat that made its way to his face, nor could he speak for a moment. Aside from being acutely embarrassed, it seemed for a moment like this really did have to be a dream. The world spun a little, like he was about to have an attack of anemia. But for once, he knew with certainty that it wasn't his condition acting up.


“...I can't do that. She's my sister,” he whispered, after a moment, his throat dry as he looked up at the two maids. Hisui's face had returned to a perfect mask, but her eyes were unhappy, while Kohaku was shaking her head.


“Shiki-san, you should talk to Akiha-sama about it yourself if you feel that way. You're all she has left with this--you have to at least deal with her wish in person.” The kimono-clad maid said this with a sage nod, then smiled; “Besides, you're blushing, Shiki-san.” There was no real need to elaborate on what she thought that meant.


“...ah,” he replied, swallowing and moving to stand. The excuse of leaving was too appealing to protest right now, even if some part of him knew that this was going to be a matter of jumping out of the frying pan and landing in the fire.


“Hisui-chan will show you to her room,” Kohaku said, and for a moment he almost could imagine that there was a bit of triumph on that smiling face. The moment passed quickly, however, as Hisui nodded and stood.


“This way, Shiki-sama....” And so, the two of them set off into the long halls of the mansion. Akiha's room was on the second floor, like Shiki's, but on the opposite side of the house, in the other wing.


With such a distance, the trip took perhaps five minutes, in which they walked in silence. Shiki's mind was heavily preoccupied with thoughts of the meeting that was to come. He... could never sleep with the Akiha of eight years ago, but then... he had changed a lot since then. Surely she had changed as well, particularly under the instruction of their old man.


So... what had the shy, uncertain girl become in eight years? That was the question that repeatedly filled his head, seeming to beat against it in time with his pounding heartbeat. Why was he even having such thoughts at all? That question had no answer, honestly.


As they drew nearer, that pounding heartbeat seemed to grow louder in his ears, until he was sure, as Hisui stopped in front of a door, that the sound of it would alert is sister.... The maid bowed, though; “I wish you... good luck, Shiki-sama.” Then, before he could really find the will to object, she'd taken off down the hallway.


That left him, of course, staring at the blank door that led to Akiha's room. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a lingering mark of their childhood, on the wall near the floor. The names made a line that went nearly a meter; “Shiki Akiha, SHIKI, Shiki, Akiha, SHIKI” and repeating. He supposed it was only natural that his own name appeared far more. She'd never been that strong back then.


Drawing a deep breath in though, he lifted his hand to gingerly knock at the door. “...Akiha?” Though he spoke her name quietly, it was apparently loud enough to catch her attention, for there was shuffling on the other side of the door.


Perhaps it was his imagination, but it almost sounded like the voice that called back in answer to his own was equally nervous. “...Nii-san? You... came after all, huh?” There was a pause, neither of them speaking for a long moment, and then her voice reached out to him through the door again. “...the door isn't locked, you know.” In contrast to the nervousness before, that sounded almost sad.


Swallowing hard, Shiki reached out, finding the handle and slowly turning it. The door opened with a creak, slowly giving him entrance to the room beyond. Immediately, what struck him was the color of its interior. He didn't remember Akiha liking red, and yet... everything was some shade of it, except the carpet. The bed was draped in crimson, and the couches were covered in a design of red flowers, with red pillows. Even the woodwork upon the walls was a subtle shade of red, whilst the drapes that blocked off the sunset were crimson.


Of course, with all that, this room too was lit by a number of candles, and their lurid, flickering light cast even more of a red glow upon everything. For a long moment, Shiki had to fight the urge to retch, and his eyes quickly settled on the one island in the sea of red.


As befitted the daughter of a recently-deceased noble, Akiha was dressed in black. The outfit was decidedly simple; her legs, long and slender, were covered by pinstriped black pants, whilst her shirt was a deeper, purer black that glimmered softly in the firelight. It was hard, indeed, to tell where the long, flowing black hair, which reached down to her waist, ended and the shirt began, for her hair was just as glossy and beautiful, pooling around her like a living thing.


This hair framed a downcast face; that face was a beautiful pale white as befitted a high-class lady such as this Akiha had been until just days ago. It was a beautiful face, though she rested it partially against her arms, which were crossed against the armrest of the couch she laid upon.


And, indeed, laid was a better word than sat, though she was halfway between the two positions. Her legs still fell over the edge, stretching out toward the floor, but her chest was nearly horizontal and she was stretched out. Had one not seen the despondent look upon that face, one might've imagined her to be the very image of a Western Venus, lounging idly in all her divine glory and waited upon by cherubim.


However, it was her face that betrayed her deep unhappiness, and those eyes. They were aqua, a lighter blue than her brother's, and they looked upon him balefully, though they shone beautifully in the darkness. Indeed, while a moment ago he had, assaulted by the sight of so much red, felt the need to vomit, now it was very much reversed. His heart picked up, the blood rushing heatedly through his veins.


This was unfair. Entirely unfair. What right did the Gods have to so entirely destroy his resolve by placing one of their own in his path? Surely this creature before him was some Goddess, some Venus or deceptive Aphrodite, and not his sister.... And yet, those eyes he recalled so well called out longingly to him.


If Shiki's throat had been dry before, then it was a desert now and one could not blame him, as he stared at her in that sulking, sultry pose she'd set herself in, for being speechless.


The girl laughed, though, ruefully. “You cannot even look upon me now, Nii-san? Have I become so repugnant to you since we parted?”


“No!” His silence broke with an exclamation so loud that it startled them both back to silence for a moment, and he drew in a breath, forcing his hand to move enough to close the door behind him as he stepped through and into this crimson chamber. “, it's not that at all, Akiha. It's just... you've changed so much. I... couldn't have imagined you'd become so beautiful....”


“I guess I have changed, haven't I...? Well, you haven't changed much, though.” She laughed again, though it was a less depressing sound this time, as one hand lifted to brush back several long locks of hair from her face.


There was a noncommittal nod to that, and a shrug. “I guess not. I'm still boring just like back then.”


“Don't tease me, Nii-san. You read my letter, didn't you? And I'm sure Kohaku told you what I told her to. This... is something serious, so don't joke around like that.” She smiled at him a little, before sighing as her hand returned to the armrest.


“Akiha.... You know I... can't do what you want me to. I want to help you and protect you, but... you're my sister, Akiha. I can't just... just... do that to you.” His voice was deeply pained as he looked away from her.


“Stop lying to me, Nii-san. You tell me I'm beautiful, and you want to protect me, but then you refuse my only request? If you hate me for calling you back here, you can just tell me. What does it matter that I'm your sister now? We both have enough education to know that... that's not a problem anymore.”


The room, already dizzying from its color, seemed to spin around him as she delivered this attack, with those sad eyes. It had already felt like his heart couldn't beat any faster than it had been, and yet now it beat faster, and his entire face went red. Despite his objections, with what she was so pointedly suggesting, he couldn't stop the images that were coming rather eagerly.


“...stop saying that. I could never hate you. You're the one who hates me, right? I left you alone all these years, and... I'm sorry I did, but I could never hate you....” There could be no doubt from his voice that his resolve was already weakening.


Shifting forward enough to lift herself a little higher, the girl smiled a little. “No, you stop it, Nii--san. How can you even say I hate you when... I asked you for this? If you're really sorry about what happened, then you can't deny me this one request, right? You owe me that much if you're sorry and you tell me I'm beautiful.” One hand lifted, reaching out toward the boy, who had been uncertainly closing the distance between them.


As she drew him nearer, sitting up more on the sofa, that smile grew a little, and her other hand found the back of his head, lacing into the unruly black hair upon his head and drawing him down as she leaned up. Her aqua eyes closed as her ruby lips found his and kissed them with a burning passion that his body couldn't refuse. As their lips locked together in this kiss, he barely noticed the way her hair shifted, from its natural black to a color as strikingly intense as the passion that had prompted it. The color, if it had a name, might've been called crimson, vermilion red.


Though that color was his very antithesis, Shiki couldn't notice it. No, the fireworks that the kiss lit off in his head far overshadowed the change in reality. At first, Akiha lead the kiss, her hand in his his hair still, and her passion the more dominant. However, set loose this way, his own soon rose to meet it, nearly doubling the intensity of the heat between them....


And then, his desire overtook his sister's. With a soft moan against her lips, he pressed more firmly, one hand moving to support himself mindlessly against the couch as the other reached up to thread into her hair in turn. It was surprisingly warm and silky, feeling like liquid heat under his fingers, and the feeling sent a shudder through his body.... But, in the wake of that shudder, his lips parted, wanting more than just the teasing hint of her taste that the kiss gave.


So, a moment later his tongue was pressing through his parted lips, against hers. He could feel the shift in the girl beneath him, her confidence ebbing as it was replaced with a hint of uncertainty, but he didn't stop. No, if anything his tongue pressed at her lips more eagerly, demanding entrance.... After several seconds, Akiha relented and her lips parted.


As his tongue penetrated into her mouth, the warmth of his sister shocked him again; it wasn't just her hair that was unnaturally warm against him, but now her mouth too. The heat seared at his mind as he started to explore its source, only to be met by her own tongue, which wasn't quite ready to cede him dominance. Another moan slipped past the boy's lips and into Akiha's as he felt their tongues meet, mingling in the wet heat of her mouth. Already, his vision was starting to waver--he knew they both needed to breathe--but he didn't give in to that.


No, letting his blue eyes shut, he pressed down closer to her, and in that moment the heat of her body as a whole struck him, radiating up from the couch with an intensity that made him simply want to melt and fall down atop her to bask in it. Their position didn't allow for that, though, and even if it had, it was too hard to think as their tongues danced just past her lips. The heat of the kiss had already overpowered his sanity, and his chest felt like it was going to burst from the denied need to breathe.


But even despite the latter--and the fact that he could feel her own body starting to writhe with the shared lack of air, as she tried to pull away from the kiss--Shiki couldn't find the will to end it yet. For several more long seconds, as he felt his sister's hand tighten almost painfully in his hair, he refused to let the kiss go.... It was only when his body was screaming that it would faint without air that he finally released, blue eyes opening to stare at the panting form of the girl upon the couch, who stared up at him with her own beautiful eyes wide.


Unable to respond to her shock even if he'd been able, he could only lean nearer to her, his hand still tight in her hair even as hers loosened a little in his own. Indeed, in the haze that her heat has put his mind into, he didn't want to give her an explanation. This... was what she wanted, and what he had wanted in his heart of hearts as soon as he saw her, so what need was there for words? All that remained was to lay claim to everything about Akiha and make her his.


Tightening his hand a little more in those silky locks, he pulled just a little on them; with a confused slight wince, Akiha lifted her head, wondering for a moment if she'd made a mistake.... Such thoughts were purged from her face, at least, if not from her mind when she felt his heavy breathing against her tender throat. In the firelight, that pale pillar reflected beautifully, and even through her panting she gasped a moment later as his lips touched it, then his teeth, nibbling at her skin even as he pressed against her a bit more, dropping down to a crouch instead of standing.


Still breathing fast, Shiki had to pull his lips back after several seconds to breathe, and this brought a plaintive sound from his sister, who tried to press her neck toward them again. This also brought more of their bodies into contact as she leaned toward him, resting less upon the couch. Intoxicated by her warmth, though, he did let his lips press to her flesh again, but this time the nibbling was harder, and he caught a bit of pain mixed into her gasp. Instead of stopping, he pressed closer to her throat....


However, his teeth stilled after a moment and, having recovered some breath, he started to suckle her skin rather than nibble it.... The sound she made in response to that wasn't quite the moan he found himself wanting to hear, but closer to it as his tongue moved forward to play over the light indentations that his teeth had left in her soft skin, shuddering slightly.


Pulling back again with a gasp, he murmured almost dreamily, “Akiha...” and then was against her skin again. Caught in the grip of that desire to possess her so fully, he couldn't stop or even slow down as he covered her throat in a flurry of kisses, stopping every few seconds to nibble--sometimes just as hard--or suckle her flesh.... It took most of a minute for him to decide that he'd covered every inch to his satisfaction, but instead of stopping there--he could hear his sister's breathing, which hadn't slowed much, and the gasps and almost moans she would make, as well as being able to feel the delicate sensation in her throat every time she swallowed--he pressed on. Breathing hard himself between kisses, he covered the whole of her throat in a second sheet of claiming kisses.


By the time this was finished, both of them were panting as hard as they had at the end of that endless kiss, and despite his impulse, Shiki allowed himself to pause for just a moment and draw back enough to look upon Akiha's face. The pale of her cheeks had darkened with an increasing blush--likely of passion as much as embarrassment--and her aqua eyes had glazed over lightly. The sad expression before had faded entire, replaced by something... much harder to name in a single word.


For several seconds, Shiki rested this way, his hand loosening in her hair but not releasing the flowing vermilion locks as he admired the sight of her, and basked in the heat that rolled off her body in waves. In this pause, though, Akiha caught her breath enough to pout up--or really, it was down now--at him.


“I won't let you... just stop now,” she whispered, her voice low and breathy from the panting--husky, indeed, as their eyes met. In those aqua eyes, there was a strange mix of pleading and commanding; though she'd let him take the lead before, she was far from entirely submissive, even in this moment.


“Good, because I wasn't going to,” he managed in return, attempting to smirk a little but too caught up in the heady moment to do so. His body seemed only willing to act, not to respond to anything other command he gave it, especially with their eyes locked this way.


“Hurry up, then,” she replied, a hint of challenge mixing with need in her voice. “You're going too slow.” To emphasize her point, with her hands free she reached down, finding them hem of her blouse and pulling it up.... As she did, his eyes caught sight of the fact that her nails had elongated slightly, but the fact was too irrelevant to matter much.


No, he was much more interested in the expanse of pale flesh that was revealed; blue eyes swept downward, even as his hand released her hair entirely, allowing her to pull the shirt entirely off her body. Obviously the only daughter of the Tohno line had kept herself in shape over the years, for there was a lithe strength to her form, still half-lounging on the sofa like some sort of predatory feline.


Swallowing, Shiki let his eyes gaze her stomach, her arms, and then to the sight he desired most. Akiha had obviously had plenty of time to prepare for this night, for her breasts were guarded only by teasingly lacy black lingerie that gave plenty of hints of the soft orbs of her breasts beneath it.


Really, compared to most pokegirls, she wasn't particularly endowed in that regard, both breasts being rather modest--though even if he hadn't been afraid of dying for such a thing, he wouldn't have said she was flat-chested either... But he found he preferred it; it matched that lithe strength and the elegance that he couldn't deny she had. Even laying upon a couch, her top now cast casually aside, she was very much an elegant creature....


But all of this was perceived in an instant, for the effect of her words before was quite powerful upon him, and the sight of her not any less so. Leaning nearer again, he let his lips press to the top of her chest, and he nibbled hard a moment in revenge for her chastisement--though by this point, she pressed to even that, rather than pulling away--before letting those lips trail lower with kisses and nibbling, though he didn't stop now to suckle.


When he'd reached the top of the snowy valley betwixt the two gentle hills, though, there was a hint of mischief upon his face. One arm wrapped around her back, but the other lifted to raise his glasses from his face for just a moment--and then, his finger moved as though tracing some invisible line with its nail... A second later, as his glasses fell back into place, her bra split apart cleanly and fell away.


For a moment, Akiha's face registered surprise, but her confusion wasn't important enough to be pursued. Instead, with a slightly dreamy smile, she complained in a voice that was far more pleased than bothered, “Hey, Nii-san... That was expensive, you know....”


The playful complaint was met only with a smile against her skin for a moment, until he realized that the rosy tips of her breasts--almost as bright as her lips, but ultimately still pink instead of red--had started to perk. Then, without warning his lips were closing around one of those tips.... He didn't nibble here, but there was nothing gentle about the sudden pressure of his suckling, and Akiha gasped, arching up off the couch at the sudden sensation of his mouth against her skin.


As she did, the hand that he'd removed her bra with lifted and wrapped around her other breast from below, cupping it as his thumb reached up to capture its nipple as well, working the hardening bud in a circle and feeling it stiffen further against his touch.... After several long moments, he had to draw his head back for breath, but it wasn't far, and his heated panting fell upon her skin in place of his lips for a moment.


When he'd caught his breath, though, the pressure returned, this time with his teeth closing around her nipple as well, but here he was more careful in his nibbling, causing her to cry out softly, more with pleasure than pain....


After a moment, though, the desire he'd felt before flared up again, though, and his hands started to roam her body. The one behind her back started to explore there, his fingertips gliding over the whole of her back--and in placed his nails scraping along her skin, though not long enough to break it.... In the front, this claiming impulse was more gentle, but even so his hand covered the whole of her sides and chest and stomach with a claiming sort of rubbing.


As this moved lower, near to the already sagging waist of the pants she still wore, his pace picked up... But as well, his breathing did, and after another slight pause, he was at her nipple again, this time closing his teeth around the bud and pulling back, so that they dragged along it, eliciting a delicate but poignant sound from her lips that could almost but not quite be called a scream. “Ahhh... Nii-san...”


By the end of this, their breathing was mutually ragged, and Shiki knew in some detached part of his mind that his eyes were probably as glazed as his sister's. Those two sets of eyes met for a moment, then both trailed downward to her pants.... Neither of them moved for a span of several seconds, but Akiha was the one to finally break the stillness.


Sitting up a little more as her brother knelt on the floor in front of her, she lifted an eyebrow at him, though it lost any real reproach with the obvious desire in her eyes and words. “Such a cruel boy.... You want to see everything without showing me anything in return. That just won't do....”


Given what they'd done so far, it felt absurd to be blushing over such a small thing, but nonetheless Shiki found himself doing so, some degree of conscious thought restored. It wasn't much, though; his head was still swimming in the sea of heat that was Akiha's presence. Still, he managed to nod, not really able to form words.


And so, as she--even in her condition, the girl was strikingly self-possessed--seductively began to slip her pants off, Shiki uncertainly unbuttoned his own blue shirt, acutely aware of the tent of fabric that had been made against his pants. He was even more acutely aware, though, of her growing nakedness, fumbling with his own buttons because his attention was entirely upon Akiha....


Beneath her bottom were the panties that matched the bra he'd sliced in two. Like with the latter, they were made of black lace, with a teasingly open mesh. Unlike her bra, though, they were also decidedly damp; he could see them glisten in the light of the candles as she spread her legs rather pointedly.... With more fumbling, he'd managed to remove his own pants, leaving only dark underwear of his own.


As he started to move forward, though--he'd had to stand to undress entirely--more husky, whispered words stopped him from joining her on the couch. “Mmm, Nii-san, you really don't have any sense of propriety... Aren't you even going to carry your bride to a proper bed...?”


These words, though, seemed to turn his world white. Everything disappeared into the white haze except her burning vermilion hair and the dark spot that was her panties. Shuddering, he did manage to lift her--for a student with anemia and no intent to be a tamer at any point, Shiki was surprisingly fit with his body revealed--into his arms. Unable to think straight, he could only draw her sensuous form close to his and carry her to that bed with staggering steps.


When he'd laid her on the crimson coverlet, though, the little bit of sanity that'd allowed him to do it fled, without much chance of returning this time. No, he could only go on with pushing off his own underwear with one hand, even as he reached out to take hers with the other as she moaned softly and spread her legs a bit again, to allow this.


Once that obstacle was gone, though, she again allowed them to open entirely, like the petals of a flower unfolding to reveal the blossom hidden within. And the flower between her pale thighs was a blossom indeed, shimmering with her wetness as the delicate lips spread in an enticing pout.... Shiki had thought his mind couldn't go any whiter as he climbed onto the bed in front of her, but gazing upon the sight before him corrected that misconception, as his own arousal pulsed at the sight, its own tip already glistening as well.


“Akiha...” he breathed, through the ragged sounds of them both drawing in air. One hand reached out almost gingerly, brushing the sweet crop of curls--also dyed red by the change her body was undergoing, one might notice--and then down to her womanhood itself. Even that light touch felt electric, and the heat he could feel from her loins was intoxicating.... Her hips arched up slightly at his touch.


“Ah... Nii-san... Don't wait any longer,” she whispered in turn, reaching up to wrap her arms around his shoulders and draw his unresisting body down atop hers. Pressed flush this way, Shiki felt as though his sister's heat was going to consume him, but his body moved almost without thinking. Both hands reached down; one clumsily spread her lower lips open, the contact causing them both to moan weakly, and the other took hold of his length in turn, which was burning as well but not nearly so heatedly as she was.


Though her eyes closed as she threw her head back into the pillows, her hair somehow having entangled both their bodies, Akiha was able to sense what he was doing, and she lifted her hips toward him, entirely aware of the almost complete contact between their bodies; her breasts pressed up into his chest, their hips were about to meet, and their lips lingered close enough that they could feel eachother's heated breathing.


And then, with a cry, their hips came together. The heat around him nearly sent his mind over the edge and into unconsciousness at the first touch, as it, in the form of her tight, velvet walls, gripped his arousal, and his cry was almost as much a mix of pleasure and pain as hers. Even slick as she was, it had been hard to push in, and that detached part of him realized he must've claimed her virginal seal in that thrust.


Yet, his mind was so overwhelmed with pleasure that his hips pressed further into the exquisite, painful tightness and heat that had consumed him and made him feel that every nerve ending in his body was concentrated to that one shaft of flesh, then set alight. They body cried out again as this second thrust brought their hips flush....


Shiki might've, in the grip of such burning desire, given into his body's desire to start thrusting already if he hadn't felt Akiha's strong, slim legs wrap around his body from behind and those velvet walls somehow clamp down tighter around him, refusing to let him leave her. His body tried to struggle against it, but the effort was in vain, and for nearly a minute they laid there, locked into that unbreakable embrace, neither able to think or speak....


Once again, though, it was Akiha who broke the stillness, her body's grip loosening as she slowly drew her hips back a little with a moan. Even she couldn't speak now, but it didn't matter.... That slight gesture was all Shiki needed to propel his body back into motion, as his hips lifted and then fell again, in time with hers rising.


There was still pain in her voice--even hints of it in his--but neither of them managed to care enough about that to stop, as their hips started to build a rhythm of point and counterpoint, filling her crimson room with the sounds of their union. With their breathing already so ragged, the little cries and moans could only compete with the sound that their thrusts made; none of that mattered at all, though, as they gave in to the white heat and gave vent to their passions....


In the end, Shiki couldn't hold himself back long enough for them to finish together, but when his sanity returned a little, he found that their strength hadn't been quite exhausted, and that the memory of what had passed between them--and the reality of the moment--were more than enough for them to continue.... When they finally did sleep, bodies entwined and entangled in the net that was Akiha's hair, both had thoroughly tasted of pleasure.


The questions that had been in Shiki's mind going into this hadn't gone away, nor even really dulled, but, at least for the moment, he was content. Perhaps the next day--and cold reality, so entirely opposite the burning heat of his sister--would change his mind, but... he was glad to have returned.