Of all the places Vince would have expected to find the home of an esoteric martial arts master, the little western style home in a tiny village he never even knew existed was quite far down the list. But Yin Zhi was his guide in this and the Samurai should know the location of her former home. He made his way through the open gate and knocked on the door. Hanako was the only other one with them, the rest of his harem had stayed home to labor under Constance's training regimen. They were getting a bit stir crazy and Vince's alpha thought the solution was to have them beat the cabin fever out of each other. Hanako would point out that she was training too, of course, but her teacher was Yin Zhi and pokekits really weren't expected to fight like their mature counterparts.
The pink haired, rebel headed tamer leaned a little harder on his cane while waiting for the door to be answered, the walking of the day causing his leg to protest profusely. Even after all of the physical therapy and healing, it seemed he'd never again regain the full strength he possessed before... well... all of the excitement of his tamer's career. He felt the urge to snap the tool in two. Not even twenty years old and he had to hobble around with it.
His inner mutterings were interrupted when the door opened. The man on the other side was clearly of Edo descent. His hair was greyed with age, pulled back into a long pony tail with a matching thin mustache that grew down to hang past his chin. The man stood straight and proud though, and sharp dark eyes studied the young man before him. Neither of the two pokegirls were given any of his attention.
“Yes? What is it? Who are you and what is your business here?”
A part of Vince was disappointed that the man didn't have a blatant accent to match his rather stereotypical look, and another part of him was instantly annoyed with the guy's attitude and piss poor greeting. He reminded that part of himself that the guy had no idea who he was and hopefully things would be better once introductions were made. “Hello. My name is Vince and I have a pokegirl that wanted me to bring her to see you.” He motioned towards the Samurai right beside him.
“I am Ji Kyung. What reason would your pokegirl have to-” Ji Kyung followed Vince's hand to the pokegirl in question and his inquiry ended as soon as his eyes fell on the Samurai. “Yin Zhi. You live?”
The Samurai bowed her head before the man. “Yes, sensei. I live. I've come to inform you of the regrettable death of your greatest student and my former master.”
“Yes. Yes... I was already aware of his demise and had thought you dead too. The league informed me weeks ago. Come in. Come in, young master and welcome to my home. I would very much like to hear how you have come to me.”
Vince shared the story of how he obtained Yin Zhi and the ordeals that followed over a pot of tea the young man had little taste for. Ji Kyung was silent the entire time, and Vince felt greatly annoyed with the idea that the man was judging him. At the story's conclusion the older Edo man let out a gruff hum and then merely stated, “I see.” That bugged Vince even more. He could have at least had the decency to sound impressed.
“You are welcome to stay the evening. No doubt Yin Zhi wishes to visit with her dam. She will be able to show you around, I have business to attend to.” With that Ji Kyung rose and left his guest with his pokegirl and pokekit.
Vince glared at the back of the man's head. “Well he seemed happy to see you.”
“Please do not think ill of him, Master.” Yin Zhi pleaded. “His ways are different than yours, but he is a good man.” Vince snorted and Hanako imitated his huff.
Dinner provided no reason for Vince to change his opinion of Ji Kyung, though he did meet Shi Xiang. The Samurai pokewoman had a personality like a stern grandmother mixed with grizzled warrior. Whatever, Yin Zhi was happy to see her and the older Samurai at least showed affection towards her daughter.
That was another thing. It was never mother and daughter; always 'dam' and 'child'. Vince thought it was weird and felt offended by it all; though he had no rational reason as to why.
After dinner was baths for everyone, and then an invitation to soak in a hot tub. After Hanako was nice and pruney it was time for her to read her bedtime story to Vince. He snuck out after she had fallen asleep to find where his Samurai had gone off to.
He found her in the back yard of the property, between the house and a out building that was about half the size of the main. She was standing no more than a step away from a straw bundle set before a wooden board. A massive bow that looked to be just as tall as the pokegirl was in her hand and silently Vince watched her knock an arrow while the bow was high over her head, take in a deep breath as she drew the string back and lowered the bow so that the arrow was at the level of her eye, hold the weapon and breath for a moment, then let the air in her lungs and shaft notched in the bow both loose. The arrow each time flew straight through the target bundle and with a thunk drove into the board behind it. This was repeated many times, each time at the same slow pace with such precise repetition it was like a wordless chant.
Vince stepped forward, and hearing his footsteps in the grass Yin Zhi turned to him and smiled. “Shouldn't you take a step back or something? I think I could hit the target from there.” Vince finally asked. Yin Zhi looked puzzled a moment and then brushed the longer strands of her aquamarine bangs behind an ear.
“It is not about aiming, Master. It is in the form. I find it calming. Here.” She held the bow and arrow to him. “This is my Daikyu. It is a Japanese great bow. I've always been drawn to the Japanese styles, though my dam tells me most of our heritage comes from what was Korea. I wonder if it is because the true samurai were of Japan...” Vince blinked. That was by far the longest Yin Zhi had spoken without pause in months by his reckoning. “Anyway, I will show you how to fire it.” And she did, and laughter or a smile threatened to escape her lips at the childish mistakes Vince made; confident he knew how to do things on his own. After many tries though, he had the methodical technique mastered and promptly gave up on the experience once he could claim he had achieved success.
Yin Zhi took the bamboo bow and shaft back and slid the door of the outbuilding open. “Come, Master. I will show you the dojo of my sensei.” They slipped inside a little room and the Samurai instructed Vince to take off his shoes. He asked why, she answered that it would be disrespectful not to. Vince complied but wondered to whom the disrespect would go. Along the same vein, Yin Zhi bowed to the empty room before stepping onto the mat that spanned the entire floor. Vince stepped on without doing so until the Samurai stopped him. After a short argument he bowed as well. Mostly because the fact that Yin Zhi even was arguing did a fair job in convincing Vince it was important.
The mat was bare and white. There were no chairs or furniture beyond weapon racks attached to the walls. Windows were scarce. It seemed all together a rather boring room if not for all the cool Edo weapons. Vince made his way over to pick up a curved sword in its sheath but Yin Zhi reached out a hand to stop him.
“No, Master. You mustn't touch that one.” Vince quirked an eyebrow to the pokegirl. “It belongs to Ji Kyung Sensei. To touch it without his permission would be like another tamer placing his hands upon my body. It is his weapon as I am yours.”
“You're more than a weapon, Yin Zhi. A lot more than just a sword.” He removed his hand from hers and put both of them upon her body, pulling the Samurai close. She turned her head away and Vince felt the heat coming from her face, but she otherwise offered no resistance.
“But I am, Master. As are all of your pokegirls. Even if you lead us into a life of peace I will retain my edge for you, so that you and those important to you are never without protection.”
“You are important to me.” He whispered to her after a quick check to make sure they were alone. The heat radiating from Yin Zhi's face intensified, but now she leaned against him.
“And I find nothing more wonderful in this world, Master. You have given me meaning when I had none. I would have ended my life if not for you.” Vince felt rather uncomfortable at the reminder of Yin Zhi's alien code of honor and what it had been demanding her to do before she became his, so he changed the subject.
“So, are any of these swords yours?” The Samurai nodded and lead him to a different rack.
“Here.” She stated with another weapon held out to him. “This was my very first true sword. It is too small for me now but perhaps, with Sensei's permission, I could take it for Hanako as she continues her training.”
“You want to give Hanako a sword? I don't think Constance or Hana would be very happy about that.” Yin Zhi made a face as if to say she hadn't thought of the approval or lack of that would come from those two. She put it back on the rack.
“Most of my swords were broken in the battle against the pirates. I have none now.”
“What about that really big one you still used?”
“That belonged to my former master, and Sensei before him. I returned it today...” Vince noticed the frown that accompanied her words.
“Could I buy it back from him?” Shock filled Yin Zhi's eyes at his question. “Well, if his swords are like my pokegirls and you learned from him... Just, that sword seemed really important to you. So I want you to have it, if you want to have it. Anything that would make you happy, just ask for it.”
Yin Zhi started trembling in his arms, and her eyes were cast down away from his face. Weaker than a whisper, she finally said. “I dare not.”
“So there is something you want? What is it, tell me. Seriously, ask Reshmi. We've been picking our brains trying to figure out gifts and stuff to get for you but haven't come up with anything.
“I dare not ask. It isn't my place to.” The Samurai squeaked out as she started to pull away from him.
“Yin Zhi, look at me.” Though they were all loyal, Yin Zhi was by far the most subservient. It was baffling to see her this resistant but gently Vince took her head in his hands and guided her eyes to him. “Tell me what it is you want.”
The pokegirl's enchantingly strange teal eyes darted about the room, like she was backed in a corner and hoping to find an escape. “I am not ready!” She blurted before ducking out from his grip. With a lightning quick bound she was at the edge of the mat and quickly dipped in a bow. “Deepest apologies master.” Then she was out the door.
Without the slightest inkling of how to react, Vince sat cross-legged on the dojo mat and thought for a moment. Here was a 'girl who would fight, and had won, five-on-one odds for him but was afraid of answering his question. Just what the fuck was it she didn't want to let him know she wanted? He fished out his pokedex and punched one of his contacts. The device failed to find a signal after a minute of searching, so Vince set out to wander until he could make a connection. It took him quite a ways from Ji Kyung's home, but finally when he was a block away from the pokecenter a bar lit up.
With a press of a button Vince's pokedex entered a video call with a tablet device used by Constance. It had a lot of the functionality of a pokedex but was a lot less durable and lacked the scanning and database features that made a 'dex truly a 'dex. It was a good tool for his alpha none-the-less. “Vince! We missed you,” his Tick Tock beamed as suddenly a multitude of female faces filled every inch of the view screen.
“Hey girls, miss you too.”
“So what's up? Find Yin Zhi's teacher's place?” Vince nodded at the screen. “So how'd it go?”
“I think he's a stuck up old prick, the house is boring, and Yin Zhi's acting... weird.”
Constance frowned at that and shrugged away the crowding pokegirls. “Weird? How so, weird?”
“She argued with me.” Constance blinked as she digested that bit of information for a while and then asked him what about. “Edo stuff, like taking shoes off and bowing before going in a room. That's not when she was really weird, though. We got to talking about what she wanted, that seemed to really freak her out.”
Constance laughed a condescending snort. “Of course it freaked her out. I don't think the concept of not being a selfless servant to you has ever crossed her mind.”
“No, that's the thing. She does want something. She just wouldn't tell me.” Both ends of the line went dead for a moment. Then the screen tilted away from Constance and Reshmi's face came into view.
“Vince, you didn't try to make her say, did you?”
“No.” Reshmi continued to look at him without saying anything. “I didn't, not really.” More staring. “Okay, fine. I really want to know what I can do for her. She's... Well hell, you know what she did when you were all fighting against those pirate thugs Vsevelod hired.”
“You can't make her tell you, though. Just let her know you'll listen when she's ready.” Reshmi smiled knowingly. It made sense now, just Vince would have never thought of it on his own. That was why the Dryder was his beta.
Suddenly the viewport was Reshmi's hands grabbing for the device on that end as it floated away from her grasp. An annoyed Constance's face took up the center of the screen once again. She cleared her throat once. “Reshmi's right. Be patient with her. She's by far the most conservative out of any of us.”
“Right... Thanks girls. I'm going to head back and apologize to her.”
His harem wished him good luck, a good night, and expressed their love to him through the video signal and then the call was over. Vince made his way back to Ji Kyung's home, the whole trip taking well over an hour to accomplish. Shi Xiang let him back in, nodding knowingly when he explained his purpose in leaving was to make a call. Vince headed to the guest bedroom that had been laid out for him, but stopped when he got to the door. There was a strange pokegirl kneeling on the floor of the room.
She had the same hair color as the other two Samurai, maybe a sister to Yin Zhi? She was dressed in a purple silk kimono with long flowing sleeves and an intricate design that flowed throughout the entire fabric. Vivid make up painted her face pale white, cheeks a warm pink, and her lips a luscious red with deep blue around her eyes. She almost looked to be meditating. “Oh,” Vince muttered, “Sorry I thought this was-”
“Welcome back, Master.” Holy fuck the pokegirl was Yin Zhi. She never wore make up. She never would wear something so elaborate. She probably would have patiently waited for him like that plenty of times before but compounded on everything else that was going on that was weird to Vince too.
“You look gorgeous.” Vince finally stated dumbly. The make up dimmed the intensity of Yin Zhi's blushing.
“Come in. Please shut the door behind you.” Vince did as his pokegirl asked and sat down on the floor in front of her. He started his apology but the Samurai cut him off. “It is okay. I am ready to ask of you what I truly wish for, master.” Vince responded with a slow, 'okay,' and Yin Zhi even slower continued. “You see, master. It is... I... My greatest wish is to-,” her voice was fading to be so quiet Vince had to lean in to still make the words out. “...bear you a son.”
Vince's conscious thought processes shut down as his heart started hammering in his chest. Panic started to grip him. He adopted Hanako as a daughter, yeah, but that was him being stupid. Having a kid, just thinking of having a kid... “Now?! You're not a pokewoman are you?!”
“What? No!” Yin Zhi answered with a start. “Not for many years. How could you think I was a pokewoman already?” Vince only managed an 'Uh'. The Samurai started to speak again, much calmer. “No, but when I'm old enough, when you're ready. That is what I want.”
“Okay, but why that? I mean, kids... I kind of figured we'd have a bunch of them eventually. Why ask for it specifically.”
“For Ji Kyung Sensai. He taught me all I know. He gave me food and a bed to sleep on all while I was growing up. Although he'll never let me call him so, he is my father and as his daughter my duty is to provide him with a grandson, to be his student and heir. Otherwise, my family's style will die with Ji Kyung Sensai...”
Wow. That was all a lot to think about. Vince of course answered without thinking any. “Sure.”
Now that he was thinking about it, he hadn't consulted Constance, Reshmi, and the rest of his pokegirls who would undoubtedly want input in the decision. Or the rest of his family for that matter. Oh well. A yes was a yes. “Yeah, that'd be fine. Hell, that'd be kind of cool.” Yin Zhi beamed with joy and graced him with a smile the likes of which he had never seen yet on her face. Throwing herself into his arms she kissed him with more passionate intensity he knew the reserved Samurai to be capable of.
Midway through the next morning Vince happened upon something strange. Hanako was practicing her sword technique in the back yard, that wasn't unusual. What was though was that Ji Kyung was instructing her, and Vince almost could swear the old man was smiling. Left to practice her form, Ji Kyung made his way over to Vince. “She is quite the fearsome spring bud, isn't she? I never would have expected such a spirit from a Flowergirl.”
“She gets it from her mom.”
Vince started to scowl again when the elder looked at him quizzically. “She calls you father, does she not?”
“Well yeah. I needed something for her to call me. I'm not her tamer so master doesn't work. I was considering uncle but then I'm taming her mom so that'd mess up her understanding of family structures. Dad was the only option I had left.”
Ji Kyung chuckled at Vince's answer and then hummed in thought. “Your... daughter, Hanako. I see in her the same strength Yin Zhi now possesses. I believe you give it to them. It comes from the way you treat them. Sometimes, I wish I had done the same...”
“Wait, you're actually considering changing the way you treat pokegirls because of me?”
Ji Kyung barked out a laugh. “Do not be so conceded, boy.” Oh, Vince didn't like that. “I have had this thought many times before I met you. And it is too late for me to change my ways.” He added sadly. “It is just a thought of mine, an old man wondering what could have been.”
“You're never too old to change.” Vince said. Then he wondered where the hell that came from; it sounded corny as hell.
“Hmm.” Vince ground his teeth at the older man's monosyllabic response.
“Hey, about that sword?”
“The nodachi? Yin Zhi told me you discussed it last night. You wish to buy it for her...” Ji Kyung stroked the ends of his mustache. “I will have it ready for you before you leave, as a gift.”
“Really?” Vince was shocked. “Why?”
Ji Kyung turned squarely to look at Vince. “Perhaps you are right that I can still change. Perhaps merely the desire to has already facilitated a change within me. I will give it to you because it will make her happy. Maybe someday, I will be able to tell her how proud I am of her.” His expression turned wistful with that, and he moved his gaze to the clouds above the house. “Yin Zhi also told me what you agreed to last night. I would be honored to train your son, should she provide you with one when the time comes. Do me a favor though.” Vince arched an eyebrow at the old man. “Before you send him to me, be sure he has learned to treat pokegirls as you do.”