Author's Note: This fic comes from reading too many regency romances featuring arranged marriages and my never having found an excuse to enter the
Bleach fandom. The premise of this fic takes mpreg to be a common fact of life. Characters also sport animal ears and tails. And, since this is my first venture
into Bleach, I had to make it a crossover in order to have some pairings that I am comfortable with. If any of that makes your upper lip curl, please hit the back
Pairings: IchigoxIshida, RenjixByakuya, NarutoxSasuke, KuramaxHiei
Warnings: Language, the assumption of mpreg, animal appendages
Heir and a Spare
Part 1: The Arrangement
As canines went, dogs were coarse rude creatures at best. Upon first sight of each other they went into stiff bandy-legged sniffing before devolving into snarls
and toothy sneers or, in the case of the youngsters, tail-wagging explosions of hyperactivity. Kurama kept a close eye on his ward as they remained at a
distance from those low-class mutts. A growing fifteen, the boy stood just to his chest with bright blue eyes and short fluffy blonde hair that currently matched
his ears and tail. Naruto was young, still coming to grips with his change in status, but he was fox through and through. He had no business jumping in there
with the dogs. If only Naruto believed that himself.
"Look at all the dogs!" Naruto said excitedly. "That one's even smaller than me!"
"Indeed," Kurama drawled. He watched as the boy Naruto had so loudly referred to blushed, tucking his bushy brown tail closer to the back of his legs. The
poor pup couldn't be a day over twelve, far too young to be entering the marriage mart. Sadly, some had to start young if they were to ever have any hope of
success. A glance downward to the rabidly excited fox kit beside him drove that fact home. "Just remember, you are not-"
"His hair is even redder than yours!" Naruto pointed. "Is he a fox, too?"
Kurama stiffened when the tall dog sneered over at them. The man was striking, the red of his hair, ears, and tail a much bloodier color than Kurama's own.
The last thing Kurama needed was for Naruto to drag him into a dog fight. He should have expected this, though. The boy had been living with strays for most
of his life. "Learn to speak quietly or keep your mouth closed, Naruto."
Naruto bristled, looking more dog than fox as he scowled up at him. "What?" he demanded. "I was just-"
"Running your mouth like a dumb pup," the redhaired dog muttered, having come over to eyeball them better. His brown-eyed glare went right past the blonde
boy to narrow on Kurama. "Foxes," he sneered. "The hell are your kind doing here? This is an open market. Rich cats never come down here."
"I don't want a rich cat," Naruto scowled. "I want a-"
"Naruto," Kurama said lightly, "one doesn't inform the competition of one's hopes when attending these things."
The dog gaped at him for a moment, then barked out a laugh. "Competition? With a fox? Like hell." His angry bluster evaporated. "The name's Renji," he said,
sticking out a hand.
At least the hand was clean, Kurama noted. He gave in to the now friendly dog's need for a solid shake, determined to teach Naruto at least some good
manners. "Kurama," he sighed. "And this is-"
"Naruto, yeah. Got that." Renji nodded to the kid before frowning back at Kurama. "Seriously, though. I've been coming to this mart for a year and you two are
the first foxes I've seen. Are you slumming or what? Most of the cats who turn up here are bred out already." He dropped his voice, though he didn't try too
hard to keep Naruto from overhearing. "I swear some of them are mousers, mange and all. I shit you not."
Naruto's mouth opened and Kurama dropped a quelling hand on his shoulder before he could ask about mousers, mange, or why the dog was talking about
shit in a public setting. "Thank you for the warning. We'll keep an eye out for that."
"No problem," Renji waved. He turned away as if he hadn't heard the unspoken dismissal. Just because he wasn't used to seeing foxes here, that didn't mean
he was unfamiliar with them. The prissy lot barely even counted as canines as far as he was concerned. The little blonde kit had some potential but the older
one was prettier than half the cats that ventured into this place with his soft flowing red hair, two side locks framing his face and bringing out his wide green
eyes. If not for the silver ears and tail he could have been mistaken for a pretty bitch rather than a male fox. He looked downright effeminate, and as stiff as
any cat. Renji decided he might have to follow him and rough him up a little when this thing let out. This was dog territory, after all.
"Well?" Ichigo asked, when Renji rejoined him at their usual spot along the wall.
Renji snorted. "Probably looking to pop the kid's cherry. I warned him about the mange."
"Even the mangy ones want mates," Ichigo pointed out. He had learned that lesson the hard way a month ago when he had first stepped into this hellhole.
Technically he'd been thrown headfirst through the door by his father, but once inside it didn't matter that he hadn't come willingly. He was too damn old to
smell so many fertile cats and not come skulking back again. Renji had saved him from losing both his cherry and his future to a particularly ripe and
excessively mangy feline. "There has to be a better way to get some tail."
Renji propped an elbow on the younger man's shoulder. Ichigo was a solidly built dog, took after his father there, but he was still young for his age. Renji
counted the guy lucky to have been taken under his wing. "Not for guys like us. They give it away to the damn foxes. We have to pay - money or marriage -
and no one with money would come in here."
"Except them," Ichigo frowned, looking over at the two conspicuously well-dressed foxes. They were still standing near the door, as if they'd be contaminated if
they ventured too close to the rest of them. It didn't make sense. "Why would he come here to pop the kid?" Foxes should have been able to get some
"Good question. I'm still working on that. Either way, I'm set to rough him up later. Want in on it?"
Ichigo winced, his ears slumping into his spiky hair. "I told you I don't do that sort of thing." Everyone always assumed he did, which made him very
experienced with brawls. As the ruddy yellow orange son of a solid black dog he was often accused of dying his hair, which only pretentious punks did around
here. He had probably been in as many fights as Renji over the years. But he didn't start trouble. He definitely wasn't one to pick a fight with some pansy fox
just because he could. "You'd break him in half. Where's the sport in that?"
Renji laughed loudly, knowing full well that his voice had the fox in question darting a sharp look in his direction. "You have a lot to learn. Foxes might be the
next thing down from cats, but they're wicked in a fight. Sly fuckers will face down a whole pack if they have a mind to. You should join me. If you walk away with
your tail intact you'll earn yourself a ton of street-cred. Cats dig that shit."
"Not the cats around here," Ichigo muttered. He had heard plenty about Renji's street-cred. So far it hadn't done him much good. Sure, the other dogs gave
him a wide berth, but the cats still wanted money or marriage before they'd put out. Ichigo had yet to see any felines worth being mated to. In fact, he hadn't
even seen any worth spending money on. The few who appeared clean and fresh were liable to scratch his face off if he offered them money. Not that he had
any money. Like Renji, he wouldn't be here if he had any other options.
"Cheer up," Renji said, giving him a light shake. "There are plenty of poor cats out there. Eventually one will show up who'll fall for you with one sniff. You took
my advice, right?"
"Yes, Renji," Ichigo muttered. As if he needed to be told that bathing was a prerequisite before attending these things. He might be poor, but he wasn't some
filthy stray. He did wonder, though, how any cat was supposed to smell him over the rank mutts milling around him. He doubted Renji had a quick answer for
that one. By his own account, Renji had been coming here for a year and still hadn't gotten any tail.
The door at the far end of the room opened and there was a clamor of snarling and shoving as those closest fought to be the first ones through. With a wide
grin, Renji prodded Ichigo to join the flow. Ichigo's tail slumped against his legs even as his ears twitched up at the faint scent of cat. A month of this madness
and he still didn't understand how this worked. His instinct was to chase down the closest source of that tantalizing scent and pounce, and he considered
himself pretty civilized for a dog. He had yet to see a mutt get his face scratched off, so how was it the cats always managed to keep the upper hand? He had
to assume it was safety in numbers. One cat was slinky sexy prey. A room full of them and the sheer haughtiness could put even a fox in his place. He looked
back, seeking another glance at the two foxes who had joined this dog pile, but then he was at the door and all of his attention went to the cats. As always.
When the door opened the well-used sluts rushed forward to twine and tempt the onslought of eager mutts. Across from the entrance, Byakuya's upper lip
curled at the vulgar display. Those cats could be purchased for scraps, yet these mongrel dogs couldn't even afford that much. It was pathetic. Desperation
filled the room as thickly as the rumbling purrs. He had known it would. This was one of the poorest mingling halls to be found without the risk of fleas. He had
drawn the line at fleas. He should have drawn it at mange. He simply had never imagined a cat with such an affliction. Here it was more common than not. Had
his charge not been frozen stiff-tailed in horror - and not a small amount of terror - he would likely have fled by now. Byakuya had half a mind to turn tail
himself. Instead he kept his ears back, his gray eyes narrow, and his hand tightly clamped around Ishida's arm. There was no turning back now. It was too late
for that. Dogs loved nothing more than a chase, after all.
Ishida was bordering on fullblown panic. The dogs reeked of sweat, panting and growling like the mongrels they were. Even their clothes were filthy. And the
cats were no better. That was the worst part. He had never seen such poorly groomed cats and never wanted to again. Some of them were even in heat. What
if the smell of it clung to him and one of the dogs caught scent of it? He would bolt, they would chase, and he might find himself with a mate whether he liked it
or not. Then there would be no hope of deciding anything on his own terms. Not that he wanted to. This was insanity. None of these mutts could be reformed
into a worthwhile mate for a single season, let alone two. He tried to edge away from Byakuya and winced when claws bit into his arm. He had thought having
the cool cat at his side, with his naturally haughty aloofness, would make him feel safe. It didn't. Byakuya was the tallest cat in the room and by far the sleekest
one. Any second now one of the dogs would brave his glare and then what? Would they sniff and eyeball from a polite distance or pile them like the dogs they
were? Pure insanity to be positioned directly across from the door. They could have at least been slinking along the edges of the room to announce their
morals. Ishida stared at one of the angsty little cats doing exactly that and wished slinking wasn't beneath Byakuya's pride. No one would ever mistake a
slinking cat for a horny mouser.
Despite what Ishida believed, Byakuya knew very well that slinking had its uses. It was a good way to scope the dogs without engaging them. But he was too
tall to be that discreet. Ishida was as well, whether he accepted it or not. No, their best course was to maintain position until all the dogs were present. Then
they would wait, disdaining any so bold as to approach them and watching for the stragglers. Those would be the desperate downtrodden betas most likely to
jump at what they had to offer. Even dogs had their pride, unfortunately. The last few trickled in and Byakuya stiffened when green eyes locked on his own for
just a moment before flicking away. A fox? Here, of all places? No, he frowned. Two foxes. The little blonde was shaking, as excited as any pup, but his tail was
too bushy to be anything but fox. And the green-eyed one hadn't even glanced at Ishida. The foxes were here for the same reason they were, then. His lips
eased into a sly smile of amusement. This was proof that his plan had merit. This had to be the most desperate place for those with any standards. Perfect.
Kurama was impressed by how quickly Naruto threw off his baser instincts. Rather than jump into the squirming mass of heavily used tail, his attention
immediately locked on to the dangerous cats slinking along the walls. Had they been looking for life mates, Kurama would have commended him for instantly
challenging the most predatory of the lot. But they were on the hunt for temporary mates at best, hungry ones willing to give up their freedom for a few
seasons in exchange for being set for life. He considered reminding Naruto of that before he got his face scratched off propositioning the wrong cat. Then a
tail slipped by him like a shadow and his own predatory instincts were engaged. Naruto was a quick healer, and they were foxes, after all. They couldn't let the
dogs have all the fun.
Ishida cringed when a hiss rent the air. Byakuya had assured him there was no threat of violence at these...gatherings. Obviously he had been wrong. Ishida
looked over to where a black-eyed cat had been cornered by a small bushy-tailed...fox? What in the world was a fox doing in this doghouse? He was so young,
too. Then Ishida was distracted by two dogs who had braved or ignored Byakuya's chilly glare enough to get within sniffing distance of them. Feeling like a
piece of meat on display, he didn't even want to look at them. This was without a doubt the most humiliating experience of his life, and for what? All in the
hopes of breeding a male on his first try so that some day said male could end up in the same position he was in. This insanity was self-perpetuating and he
wanted no part of it. Byakuya was to blame for his current plight. Ishida forced himself to lift his head so he could look at the man. Byakuya's face was cool, but
his eyes were narrowed with annoyance. He appeared both insulted and put out. Good. He should be feeling a touch of misery considering this entire thing
had been his idea. Only the richest of independent cats would even consider buying a temporary mate. Ishida was still too miserly at heart to accept how much
this venture might cost him.
Had Renji been a cat, he would have been purring. Being a dog, he swaggered, leered, and spoke in a husky voice dripping with amusement and a healthy
dose of lust. The cat was a beauty, all porcelain skin and sleek lines, his black hair captured and tamed into a straight flow by white clasps that just begged to
be removed. This cat was above them all and knew it, which made him even more tempting. Renji had always been one to snap at the stars, just for the fun of
it of course. "The hell is a classy cat like you doing in a den like this? Looking to get a little dirty, sweetheart?"
A few steps back, Ichigo choked back a snort and ended up coughing into his hand. The brass balls of the bastard. There were easier ways to get ones face
clawed off. One look at the regal cat watching the crowd with open condescension and Ichigo had been set to avoid him at all costs. Yeah, there was a risk of
mange in twining and rubbing with the rest of them, but at least he'd get to brush a few tails before it was over. This cat's black tail was cutting the air behind
him so sharply it would probably leave a welt on anyone foolish enough to go near it. Ichigo knew why Renji was risking it, though. The cat's body language
screamed fuck off and die, but his scent...damn. Now that was worth a few scratches. That was why Ichigo had followed along. He didn't need Renji to tell him
the odds of cats like these ever showing their tails around here again were zilch. He winced at the icy set down Renji received for his efforts and looked over
the other one. Not as tall or pretty as the ice queen, his hair was short with just the front long enough to frame his face. His dark eyes were lowered, covered
by thin rectangular glasses. But he smelled ripe and nervous, with his sleek black tail curled tightly around the side of his left leg. Bad move that. Had he been
alone he'd have been mauled by now. The only nervous cats who survived this pack were the dangerous ones who slunk along the edges with their claws and
The red dog was bold and coarse and everything Byakuya had intended to avoid. He couldn't imagine suffering more than five minutes of his company without
employing a muzzle. The low class mutt would set his entire house on its ears the first time he opened his mouth. But that hair... Byakuya had given up the
possibility of red when he had refused to unite with the fox his advisers had chosen for him. To see such red in a dog was bizarre. Perhaps there was some
wolf swimming around in that mixed blood of his. He certainly had the build for it with those long lean muscles that positively oozed masculinity. It was off-
putting, to say the least. In any other setting he would have called it brazenly vulgar. Here he supposed it was simply honest advertising. Even in proper
clothing the red would never be mistaken for anything but a street dog, and an alpha at that. His only redeeming quality was his hair, as thick and long as his
tail. Byakuya was forced to make that comparison because the tip of said tail gave a bold swipe against his leg. His eyes flashed at the gall of the mutt. "Are
you so feeble-minded you mistake me for a mouser?"
"No," Renji grinned. "I can't quite see you squirming and purring like a well-stuffed...mouser." Slut was the better term considering the heavily-used cats
around here rarely had to work for a living. But this cat smelled as pure as the skittish teen standing beside him. Renji appreciated that too much to insult him
for it. There were plenty of other things he could insult him for, after all. "I see you as a high cat come down from his perch for a bit of fun. Want to muss up
that hair a little, princess?"
"Hardly," Byakuya sniffed. His hair took hours to arrange as befitted his station. The additions he had gained over the years made it so complicated he
couldn't even repair it on his own. Not that a dog who tied his only redeeming quality back in a sloppy tail would understand. He really should send the fool on
his way. Just teaching him to quit with the insulting endearments would take months of effort. His gaze flicked away from the bold red and swept past the center
knot to the stragglers. There was an awkward brown pup near the door who would be easily led. Far too young and short for him, but he might serve Ishida -
with a liberal dose of alcohol to speed things along, if necessary. He glanced at his charge and his eyes snapped open wide. Ishida was blushing. Worse than
that, his tail was up. "Ishida!" Byakuya hissed.
Ishida jumped and sent a startled look around. He followed Byakuya's shocked stare and felt his face flame as he quickly snapped his tail down and tight
against his leg. He hadn't moved it intentionally. He had only been looking. And smelling, he forced himself to admit. The dog's tail was a gentle swish rather
than a hyper or threatening swipe. And he hadn't come any closer, remaining behind and to the side of the red a few feet away. But he had stared at him for
so long that Ishida had been irritated into staring back. That was when he had smelled him. It was tempting and cloying, and it made him want to sway in the
same rhythm as that orangish yellow tail. He kept his eyes down and hoped his tail hadn't been swaying. Bad enough it had come up at all. Just from the scent
of a strange dog? How shameless. If not for Byakuya's presence he might well have been twining and rubbing with the rest of the cats. Yet he would never
have come here at all if not for Byakuya. He glared at his feet and hoped that bold red mutt did something so outrageous Byakuya would march them both out
of this...den of iniquity. He could still feel those brown eyes staring at him, could still smell him, and how was he supposed to not react to that? He was a cat,
With another coaxing swipe of his tail, Renji drew that frigid gray glare back to him. "Looks like your friend wants to get a little dirty, even if you don't." He
watched that pale upper lip curl, but it was Ichigo who responded first. The spoilsport.
"Leave him alone, Renji," Ichigo muttered. The blue eyed cat was as frozen as the ice queen now. Drawing attention to that wouldn't help anything.
Renji grinned and took that last step, the one that put him so close the rich cat would have to retreat or react. He was looking forward to either. "A good idea.
What do you say, princess? Let's leave them alone to get to know each other better, while you and I do the same. It doesn't have to be dirty if you don't want it
that way. I think you'd like it, though..."
"You are incorrigible," Byakuya bit out.
"Have to be," Renji agreed cheekily. "Stiff cat like you needs a bold dog to loosen him up. I'd have you limp and purring in no time."
"You have certainly excelled at the limp part." Byakuya raised an eyebrow when the dog's face went blank, then flared with surprise and anger. Unlike Ishida,
he wasn't one to succumb to a tempting scent. Vulgar talk certainly didn't appeal to him, either. He released Ishida's arm and murmured into his back-turned
ear. "Keep that tail to yourself unless you're certain he's the one you want. There are young pups here who would be far easier to manage than a full-grown
dog. Easier to dispose of as well." He turned with a flick of his tail and walked away, confident the bristling red would follow hot on his heels. It was time to find
out if that hair was worth the price of a muzzle, assuming he could even locate one big enough to muffle that mouth of his.
Ichigo stepped forward the moment they stepped away. He wasn't one to look a lone cat in the tail, but this particular tail was once again clamped tightly
around the cat's leg. Things would get messy if the other dogs spotted that, so he positioned himself close enough to obscure it. Too close for the cat,
unfortunately. He gritted his teeth, hoping the cat wouldn't bolt. He was pretty sure he'd chase him if he ran. Instinct and all. "I'm Ichigo."
"I didn't ask and I don't care," Ishida snapped, pointedly not looking at him. He couldn't believe Byakuya had left him alone with the very dog whose scent had
him behaving like a mouser. There was no one between him and the door now. He could run away and deal with Byakuya's lectures later. He would have done
just that if he weren't afraid the strange city outside that door might be even worse than this room.
Ichigo scowled, deciding he had liked the cat better when he hadn't talked. That was typical, though. No one really came to places like this in order to talk.
Most cats here were too busy purring to get a word out. He wondered what it would take to make this cat pur. "Ishida," he said, and earned himself a fleeting
dark-blue glance. The glasses would have to go first. Who ever heard of a purring cat with glasses on?
Ishida kept his mouth shut. He could have made a snide comment about the fact that the dog could obviously hear. Had he been Byakuya he might have
sounded haughty enough to drive the dog away. Or maybe that would only encourage him. This dog had come over with the red one, after all. The bold red
one Byakuya had led away. Ishida's eyes widened and he looked around the room. Byakuya was leaning against a wall, speaking to the red dog with his lips
pulled into a contemptuous smirk that never failed to annoy the hell out of whoever was its unfortunate recipient. Ishida stared at the pair. Shock coursed
through him, followed by disbelief. That one? After all of his talk about finding a poor submissive beta, Byakuya wanted that one? Something soft wisped past
his leg. Ishida jumped back, his tail fluffing to twice its size.
"Sorry," Ichigo grimaced. A whole month of coming here and he was no better than a horny first time pup. It was pathetic.
The dog looked sorry. That formerly swishing tail was now stiff along the back of his legs, all but the tip of it hidden from sight. He was even sporting a light
blush. Ishida forced his own tail to smooth out. Compared to the red, this dog was downright civilized. And he smelled wonderful. He could be a lot worse.
Ishida braced himself and blurted, "Are you here for marriage?"
"Eh?" Ichigo frowned as it suddenly occured to him that Renji might be wrong. Renji had assumed these cats were here for the same reason as the foxes -
slumming it with the poor and desperate. But what if he was wrong? He stared at the sharp eyed cat for a moment, then dismissed the notion. No self
respecting rich cat would come to a slum in order to marry. "I'm here for tail," Ichigo said plainly. He was a little sorry when the cat stiffened, his face pinched
and insulted. "That's the truth," he shrugged. "A bit of brush and rub in here is all I'm likely to get. I can't afford to support babies, let alone a mate." He didn't
say anything about the cats willing to rent out their tails. They were skanky and mangy and this cat would probably throw a fit if he even mentioned them, let
alone admitted that even their tails would be better than none. "Why are you here? You're obviously not here for the brush and rub."
Ishida drew himself up with a heady dose of annoyance. That very much depended upon the tail. He might be more reserved than this lot, but he was still a
cat. This dog had a tail he wouldn't mind twining his own around. In private, of course, within the limits of a carefully outlined agreement. Ichigo lacked money
and wanted tail. He had both. And, he reminded himself, at least this dog was civilized. Aside from that brush of his tail, he hadn't made a single attempt to
maul him. "I'm here in search of someone like you," Ishida admitted frankly. The confounded look on the dog's face warned him he would have to be more
blunt. He sighed, wondering how one went about buying a temporary mate without insulting him.
In the far corner of the room, Naruto had blown right past potential insult and headlong into outrage. The feisty cat he had chosen was spitting mad and
Naruto loved the smell of it. The cat was no bigger than him, but was sleek and strong, with his black hair feathered in back and long enough in the front to
frame his flashing eyes. His tail was a slender whip of temptation. Naruto wanted to pin him down and lick him all over. He was especially looking forward to the
scratches. The cat had some wicked sharp claws. "You wouldn't be here if you had the money to support yourself," Naruto pointed out. "I have lots."
"Get this through your thick head," Sasuke snarled. "I am not for sale." The damned fox just sighed and insisted again that he had to be. He wouldn't be here
otherwise. There was truth in that, which was what infuriated him so badly. He had come to this despicable place out of desperation. It was either marry or steal
and he refused to become a criminal. Selling himself was fast becoming a possibility. But he would sooner bed down with the ugliest mongrel in this place than
sell his own offspring, let alone to a damned fox. "Fuck off, already!"
"But I want to fuck you," Naruto huffed. That was the whole point. "And you want me to. I can smell it. We'll be great together. And once we have two boys,
you'll be set for life."
Sasuke growled, a low deadly sound that he had honed specifically to scare away horny mutts. It had the opposite effect on the damned fox, who licked his lips
and edged so close he was sorely tempted to swipe at him. The attraction was undeniable. There would be no milktoast rubbing and twining. It would be a
rabid tumble of scratching and biting with the promise of exhausted satisfaction in the end. He wouldn't have minded a fling with a fox, to finally get something
out of being a cat. But this fox wanted to breed him and keep the children he bred. That would never happen. "I will mate for life or not at all. Buy your children
from someone else."
Naruto winced despite himself. When it was put like that, it did sound bad. He hadn't really considered it a matter of buying the kids, just...paying for the
temporary mate needed to make them. Once he had the kids he'd never be pressed to marry and he could live his life however he wanted. He could have
crazy sex with wild cats like Sasuke every night for the rest of his life if he wanted. Naruto blinked, squinted, and then gaped. "Oh! If we mated for life that
means we could have sex every night for the rest of our lives!"
Sasuke cringed, wondering if the damned fox could possibly be any louder. "You are a certifiable dumbass," he snapped. "How do you function?"
"No," Naruto insisted, "it's true! And if we were married we wouldn't have to have any kids for years. Because we'd already be married. Married people have
kids whenever they want. That would be a load off. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with the kids once I got them. I just figured you would take them
with you when I paid you off. I guess that wouldn't have worked, anyway."
"Wait," Sasuke said sharply. "You came here to pay someone to be your mate just long enough to produce two males, and then you were going to pay that
person to take the children and leave?"
"Well...yeah. As long as they're alive, I have my heirs out of the way. I don't need to keep them for that. But if we were married, then-"
"No," Sasuke sneered. "I apologize for misunderstanding. Temporary mates, then I get the money and children? I'll accept that proposal."
Naruto blinked, started to smile, then frowned instead. "But if we were married-"
"We can have sex nightly until the children come along," Sasuke scoffed. "We'll both be sick of it by then."
"Do you think so?" Naruto asked curiously. The attraction was like fire in his veins. He couldn't imagine it just going out. "I always figured I'd get addicted to sex
once I started having it."
Sasuke had taken the fox to be close to his own age. Now he realized he was decades older, mentally if not physically. "You get addicted to the act, not to the
person you're doing it with." Suspicion bloomed into outrage on Naruto's face. Sasuke rolled his eyes. "No, I don't speak from personal experience. Your nose
should have told you that much already."
"Oh," Naruto said sheepishly. "Right."
Had Kurama known how easily Naruto had secured his target, he would have been embarrassed by his own difficulties. Hiei was an enigma. Even after being
cornered, the little black cat paid more attention to the dogs and cats filling the room than he did to him. Hiei wasn't here for marriage, children, or money. He
certainly wasn't interested in brushing tails. Aside from tossing his name out, he had ignored Kurama's probing questions, shrugged off his proposition, and
snorted at his flirting. Worst of all, he seemed to have no reaction whatsoever to Kurama's scent. That was unfathomable. He had never met an unmated cat
who wasn't intrigued by his scent at least a little bit. Perhaps that was the answer. "Are you here to catch your mate cheating?" Finally the cat stopped
perusing the crowd and looked directly at him. His wide red eyes gave him a strange mix of danger and innocence.
"I have no mate. I killed the last dog who attempted it. Don't make the same mistake he did."
"I'm a fox, not a dog," Kurama pointed out. Now that he had his attention, he was eager to hold onto it. He gave his most appealing smile. "We don't force our
attentions onto others. We draw them to us."
"How nice for you," Hiei said blandly. His eyes moved back to the twining mass of cat and dog. There were no female cats here. There were, however, plenty of
dogs who smelled of them. Following each of them would be pointless. Coming here had been a waste of his time. He turned away only to stiffen when a hand
caught his arm. The fox had made no attempt to touch him up till now. That was the only reason he hadn't minded being shadowed. As part of the upper class,
foxes tended to be civilized and, as Kurama had mentioned, they weren't known to force their attentions onto others. He supposed they weren't known for
being ignored by the recipients of that attention, either. He stared at that hand for a long moment before lifting his eyes. "Release me." It wasn't a request.
The cat's scent bled a willingness to react with violence if necessary but not a hint of fear. Pleased with that, Kurama released his arm. Having his undivided
attention was enough for now. "If it isn't a straying mate, then who is it you're looking for? Perhaps I can help."
As a rich fox, he probably could. The question was whether or not he would, and how much it would cost. Hiei stared at his red hair, so at odds with his silver
ears and tails. A front, he suspected. "I have nothing to offer you," Hiei informed him. "I doubt I could breed even if I wanted to."
Rage bubbled to life in Kurama's stomach. None of that made it to his quiet voice. "A dog?"
The corner of Hiei's mouth twitched to reveal one small fang. It was a smile devoid of humor. "A pack of dogs." He could have held his own against a single dog
"I take it they're all dead now," Kurama murmured. That fang peeked out again, but this time there was dark humor in those red eyes. "A shame. I would have
liked to do that for you. I need a mate to keep the busybodies from trying to marry their children to me. An heir would be convenient, but isn't strictly necessary
so long as they all assume I'm doing my best to make one."
The fox still wanted him. Hiei respected that. He himself wasn't one to change his mind once he had decided his course. As far as temporary dealings went, he
had made worse. "Nothing binding. No guarantees."
"Except monogamy," Kurama smiled politely, "for the duration of our association."
Hiei snorted at that. It was no concession on his part. "I'm looking for a white cat. Female."
Kurama's eyes widened. "You won't find one of those here."
"Obviously not. I thought I might recognize her scent if any of these had been near her." He looked back over the dogs. "She is my twin sister, separated from
me at birth. She was given the name Yukina, but may no longer go by it. Red eyes, sea-green hair, and white ears and tail."
"Striking," said Kurama. If her face looked anything like Hiei's that coloring would make her a veritable jewel. "Working class?"
"Rich," Hiei spat. "Our mother was impregnated by a servant. She died giving birth. Yukina was kept for the resemblance. I don't know the family name or
where they resided. The servant was born in this area. I have sniffed out his kin," whose scent was similar enough to his own to be unmistakable, "but they
know nothing of him after childhood."
"Do you believe he's still alive?" They were speaking of Hiei's father. He wondered how Hiei had learned what little he knew about the man. He also wondered
who if anyone had raised him. He was far too...refined for this town, let alone this pit of mutts.
"I can't rule out the possibility," Hiei sighed. He had been haunting these streets for so long he doubted the man would ever return, if he was even still alive.
"If she is still a member of the upper class, I'll find her," Kurama promised. "Beautiful white female cats are very rare."
"I never said she was beautiful."
Kurama smiled. "You didn't have to. She's your sister, after all." His smile widened when Hiei scoffed at that bit of flattery. "Please join me while I check on my
ward. He's on the same mission I am and, I fear, far too young to be trusted alone."
"Yet you did leave him alone," said Hiei.
"Yes, I know. I'm far too old to be tempted away by a bit of tail. But, in my defense, your tail is especially tempting." Hiei snorted softly, just as Kurama had
expected him to. He wondered if Hiei was unaware of his own appeal, or if he took it for granted to the point he didn't consider it worth commenting on. Kurama
was determined to comment on it often until he determined which was the case.
Sakura was livid. Sasuke had known she would be when she learned he had gone to one of those so-called marriage marts. Her reaction to the proposal he
had accepted was even worse. He did his best to ignore her as he began packing. There wasn't much to pack up. They had been in this hovel for less than a
month and had brought little more than the clothes on their backs. One would think it a home sweet home from the way Sakura was carrying on. She kept her
voice down, but the things she said made him long to wash her mouth out with soap. He would have if they hadn't been nearly out of that as well.
"You might as well be a prostitute," Sakura wailed quietly. "Selling yourself to a dog?"
"Whatever! It's wrong, Sasuke. I can't believe you would even consider such a thing. Have you lost your mind? How could you ever-"
"Sakura," Sasuke hissed, whipping around to point at the baby bed. "Your kitten is starving to death. She hasn't cried in over a week. Your milk is dried up and
she can't survive on mushy potatoes. She needs formula, milk, real food." His eyes flashed over her, lingering on the thinning hairs of her white tail. "So do
you, for that matter. Instead of asking if I've lost my mind, try finding your own."
Sakura wilted, ears ducking into her pink hair, arms wrapping tightly around her waist. "I can go back to work..."
Sasuke's glare was both scathing and heartless. "And be raped again? We can't feed one extra mouth. We don't need another." She let out a little sob and he
turned away to rip the blanket off his bed.
"I'll keep a knife on me this time," Sakura muttered, with just a hint of her old stubbornness.
Sasuke gnashed his teeth, determined not to give in. She wanted hugs and reassurances that he would stay and nothing would change. Then when the kitten
died she would need even more hugs. That did no one any good, least of all her. "If your claws weren't enough, a knife wouldn't be, either. You're never going
back there." He let out a disgusted breath and rounded on her. "For fuck's sake, Sakura. You can't even step outside without cringing. Why are you fighting
Bursting into fullblown tears, Sakura dropped onto the makeshift stool beside the baby and scrubbed her hands over her eyes. "I don't want you to marry for
"I'm not marrying him, I'm mating with him, and only long enough to produce two males."
"It's the same thing, except worse!" Sakura exclaimed. "You're mating for money. You're selling your – your reproductive abilities for money. You! You swore
you'd never mate unless it was for life and now you're selling yourself and it's all my fault! I wish we had never met. Then you'd be-"
"Dead," Sasuke snorted. "Chewed up in an alley like so much garbage. You did me a favor. So far I've done a piss-poor job returning it. Face it, there is no
work for a male cat outside prostitution. I would have ended up selling myself eventually. This is dog territory and they'll never let us forget it. Yes, I'm being
paid to breed, but I'm also being paid to keep the children." He laughed and his eyes flicked to the crib, softening on the kitten sleeping there. "You know I've
always wanted children of my own."
"With a mate for life," Sakura sniffled.
"Because I couldn't see any way of securing a future without one," Sasuke shrugged. "He's paying me so I'll never need a real mate. And before you get all
worked up again, this fox is hot. I'd pay to fuck him if I had the money for it. Instead he's the one paying me. I'm getting all the perks out of this deal."
"Sasuke," Sakura protested with a distasteful grimace. "I don't like that sort of talk."
"Well, it's true," Sasuke muttered. He usually hated it when she got all prim on him, but it was better than the weeping. He was sick to death of that.
"I'll never understand your attraction for canines." She drew herself up, mustering at least a pretense of pride. "If you're set on selling yourself to some fox,
then so be it. Kitty and I will miss you."
Sasuke stared at her for a long moment before turning away with an exasperated snarl. "Stop being a bitch and start packing. You know damn well I'm taking
you with me."
"You can't!" Sakura snapped. "You can't bring an unrelated female and her baby to your new mate's house. He'd think Kitty is yours."
She really was a bitch sometimes. He had hoped the mood swings would stop after her pregnancy. Instead they had gotten worse. Maybe it was the lack of
steady food. His own temper was also short these days. "Pack your things, Sakura. And stop calling her Kitty. She needs a real name."
"I won't name her until I know she's going to survive."
That stopped him cold. He had wondered if that were the reason. Any real man would have happily turned criminal to keep a new mother from having such a
fear. Would he have done so if things had turned out differently today? He liked to think so, but in his heart he doubted it. He had never had much. He would
sooner sell what little he did have than steal from someone else. No, he wouldn't have turned thief. He'd have turned prostitute. And Sakura and the kitten
would have had nice cases of mange to go with their freshly filled bellies. Honestly, Sakura should have been as relieved by the deal he had made as he was.
He certainly wouldn't get any diseases from a virgin fox kit.
He turned with a long sigh. "She's going to survive now, Sakura, so start thinking of a name for her. She isn't just going to survive, either. She'll flourish. You
can get her the prettiest baby dresses this side of the world." He looked over Sakura's pale face. She had been at her hair again. Every time he left she cut a
little more of it off. It was barely past her chin now. She was convinced the short hair would make her too ugly to tempt anyone who might break in while he was
gone. She was wrong. She could shave her head bald and she'd still be too damned pretty for her own good. "You can pretty yourself up as well, you know.
No one will touch you there. I'll make sure of that."
Sakura's green eyes shimmered, but she was past the hysterics now and blinked the tears away. "You really think he'll let you bring us with you?"
Sasuke gave a slow smirk. "He wants my tail so badly I could bring an entire harem. What's one girl and a kitten?"
"You egotistical prick," Sakura sniffled past a wan smile. "You better explain to him that Kitty isn't yours. I don't want any hairy eyeball from a jealous fox."
"Of course she's mine," Sasuke scoffed. "I delivered her. You're both mine. You'll be stuck with me until the day you get married."
"That's a joke," Sakura said with a weak laugh. "You know no one will ever marry me now."
"Then you'll always be mine," he shrugged. "At least now I'll have the means to keep you both." He couldn't see Naruto having a problem with that. It was his
tail the fox wanted, after all, not his heart.
Ichigo's father was giddy with excitement as if he had just announced he was marrying a princess. Ichigo was forced to evade three lunging attempts to glomp
him before he landed a good kick to the man's ass and stomped a foot on his shoulders to keep him down. That still didn't stop him from blubbering.
"It's a temporary arrangement," Ichigo muttered. "If we last till he has two boys, we'll reconsider whether or not we want to get married for real or go our own
"Grandsons," his father whimpered ecstatically. "Do you hear that, Darling? Grandbabies!"
"He said if," Ichigo's little sister Karin pointed out. With short and straight black hair, and a typically sober if not outright skeptical look on her face she might
have made a good boy cat if she hadn't been born a girl dog. She was often the voice of reason now that she was the lady of the house. "Sounds like a big if
"Exactly," said Ichigo. "You haven't met this cat. He's..." Uptight, skittish, yet surprisingly blunt when you got right down to it. He looked breakable with his pale
skin, slender build and easily flustered tail. But all Ichigo could think safe enough to explain to his family was that, "He wears glasses."
"A nerd?" Karin demanded.
"There are nerdy cats?" their little sister Yuzu asked curiously. With her fluffy light brown hair, she looked the most like their late mother. "I've never heard of a
Ichigo had been aiming for prude, but he supposed nerd was close enough. "We'll never get along, but I figure it's at least worth a shot." He wasn't going to
mention the money. Once he had moved into Ishida's house his father wouldn't think anything of him sending gifts home to his sisters. Assuming they were
both still here. His insides squirmed as he reluctantly let his father up off the ground. "There's something else. Renji is hooking up with a cat who lives in the
same house as Ishida." Or on the same estate, or in the same neighborhood, or whatever. He still wasn't sure what 'household' meant for such rich cats. "He's
bringing Rukia with him."
"That's not fair!" Karin exploded. "It's bad enough you're leaving. Why do you have to take Rukia? I just started teaching her soccer!"
"And Renji wanted me to ask if I can take Karin along to keep her company," Ichigo finished in a belabored voice.
"Oh," Karin blinked. "That's fine, then."
"It is not!" Yuzu cried. "Daddy! Tell them it's not fine!"
"Well," Ichigo's father started, as he finally climbed up off the floor. "I think-"
"It's a wonderful idea," Karin said firmly. "You know how confused poor Rukia will be living in a cat's house. She's such a sweet young girl. She deserves a
"She really does," their father sighed. "She's so sweet, and so young, too. Rather nubile, in fact..." His leer, combined with his shaggy black hair and the
stubble on his chin, was that of an unrepentant dirty old man.
Ichigo elbowed him in the gut before he could start in on how fertile Renji's little sister smelled. His father had known Rukia's secret at first sniff. Rukia might be
nearly as short as Karin, but she was closer to Ichigo's age. As far as his father was concerned that made her ripe for the plucking. It was a wonder Renji ever
let her come over. "If that's settled, let's get packed. You'll only be staying for a few weeks," he warned Karin. That also helped soothe the pouting Yuzu.
"Maybe less, if Ishida throws me out sooner."
Karin rolled her eyes. "Don't worry. Rukia and I will help you with the nerdy cat. Nerds adore little girls. Everyone knows that."
That was a new one on him. If so, he hoped it proved true for prudes as well as nerds. He suspected he could use all the help he could get.
"From today on, you are officially a cat. Thank me." Renji's proud smile crumbled into a grimace. She kicked damned hard for a cat.
"Maybe I don't want to be a cat," Rukia growled. "Did you ever think of that? I happen to like being a dog."
"But you're not," Renji shrugged. "You're a cat. And now you get to be one. So...thank me?"
"Fuck you!" She kicked him again, just for good measure. "Go screw your rich cat and leave me out of it."
Renji crouched down to rub his abused leg. "You'll have to stop using language like that now that you're a cat." The rumbling growl she gave was worthy of the
biggest dog. He had taught her a little too well. "You'll have to start wearing dresses, too, 'cause...well, you're a girl cat."
"I should rip your balls off and feed them to you," Rukia snarled. "I might be a girl, but I'll be damned if you're going to make me a cat! I refuse. End of
"Girl cats don't talk about ripping balls off," Renji said weakly. "I know you like being a dog, and you know I like you being a dog. You make a great bitch. But
the fact is, you're going to go into heat eventually and everyone will know you're a cat. No amount of filth will hide that smell. I've got the guys around here
whipped enough to stay off you, but word will get out. Then you'll be stuck in. In, as in, inside. Hiding. Trapped. For the rest of your life. So...suck it up and get
ready to be a cat, damn it." He eyed her warily, keeping his arms wrapped protectively around his shins. "Okay...?"
"You're a fucking bastard," Rukia stated. She folded her arms over her chest and eyed him with contempt. "You're also a dumbass. You should have
considered the future when you decided to make me a dog. What do I know about being a cat? Prissy pansy fucks with their noses and tails in the air. You can
put me in as many dresses as you like and it won't change anything. They'll take one look at my ears and dub me a freak. I'm not doing it and you can't make
With a growl of his own, Renji shot to his feet. She could kick like a bitch but she was still half his size. "Yes you are and yes I can. I'll truss you up and carry
you in there if I have to. Then they'll really think you're a freak. This is for your own good. You know what happens to female cats around here. It ain't
happening to you." He ran a hand over his head, fingering the tips of his own ears. Hers had been just as sharp when they had first met. For a few years he
had passed her off as his sister, blaming some wolf blood for their ears. Then her ears had filled out so much there was no mistaking them for anything but cat
ears. He had done what he had to. There was no helping it now. "We might be able to scrape the glue off."
Rukia scoffed at that. "Then they'll be bald as well as bent."
"Well, at least you can stop trimming your tail now. That's something, right?"
"I happen to like trimming it into a point. The fox look is rakish."
Renji groaned. "Girl cats don't look rakish. Even girl dogs don't look rakish. And pointy tails sure as hell aren't limited to foxes. I have a pointy tail and I'm as far
from a fox as you can get and still be a canine."
Rukia's eyes narrowed. "Or maybe you are a fox and I'm not the only one masquerading as the wrong species. It would be just like a fox to adopt a girl cat and
pass her off as a boy dog."
"Now that's not fair. I never passed you off as a boy. You did that all on your own. I bet you're binding your tits even now."
Rukia covered her chest with a furious blush. "They're just small, you bastard! Some women just have small ones. Not that you'd know when you only sniff
around boy cats."
Renji laughed, both at her complaint and her embarrassment. "Be glad I like the boy cats. I hate to think what would have happened to you otherwise."
"I would have scratched your eyes out is what," she sniffed. "I suppose that's one good thing about being a cat again. I can grow my claws out." She lifted a
hand to eye her bluntly cropped nails. "I have missed them."
Renji hadn't. His arms still bore the scars from that violent encounter with the skittish black kitten she had been. On the upside, those claw marks had made his
erotic tales more believable to his mates. He wondered what Byakuya would think of them. Byakuya would probably guess the truth once he met Rukia. Those
sharp eyes of his didn't miss much. His nose didn't, either. Damn that smug cat for pointing out his virginity in a room spotted by his mates. Good thing he was
moving up in the world. He'd lose a lot of street cred once word got out.
"Do you like him?" asked Rukia. She huffed at Renji's blank look. "Your rich cat. Are you just after his tail or do you like him?"
"Just the tail," Renji said flatly. "He's a first-rate priss and then some. I'll take his money, nip some chunks out of that tasty tail of his, and then we'll be on our
way. I figure a year and a half if I can get him breeding fast. Shouldn't be a problem."
"The girl cat in me thinks you're a pig," Rukia stated. "The boy dog in me thinks you're a fox." She shook her head. "How the hell did you luck into this deal?"
"Not luck, honey, skill. Pure manly skill. Plus, I think he has a thing for my hair. I always knew the red would work in my favor one of these days."
"You won't think so if you end up getting an entire litter of red bitches on him. Who ever heard of a red cat?"
"It doesn't matter what color they are. They'll be boys. Boys are what he wants and I aim to please."
"Of course you do," she muttered disgustedly. "And what exactly am I supposed to do in this rich cat's house while you're busy filling him up with brats?"
Renji grinned suddenly. "I almost forgot! Ichigo is tying up with a cat in the same household I am. I asked him to bring Karin along to keep you company till you
get settled in. You see? I've thought of everything. You really should thank-" He saw the foot coming and sidestepped it, but she just swept it around and
slammed it into the back of his knee instead of his shin. He let out a bark of pain as he hit the floor hard. "You little bitch!"
"Cat," Rukia corrected him lividly. "If I can't forget, neither can you. What the hell were you thinking dragging Ichigo into this mess? He's barely more than a
"He's older than you. Ow, damn it! Will you stop that?"
"Just a horny puppy and you dragged him into that den? It's bad enough you go there without you perverting innocent puppies like him!"
"If you must know, that's where we first met. His dad threw him through the door. I just helped him settle in. You might say I rescued- Ow, you fucking bitch!
Watch the tail!" Temper finally snapping, he grabbed that hard booted foot and yanked her to the floor. "That's it, I'm trussing you up. I'm still bigger than-" He
yiped painfully. "Not the face, you idiot! Or the hair! Stop that! I can't show up bruised and...ow, damn it, that hurts!"
"That was for Ichigo! This is for Karin, so hold still and take it like a man, you coward!"
"Men don't fight with girl cats, damn it. You hold still and-" He really should have seen it coming. He had saved up for months to get those steel toed boots,
knowing she'd need something to replace her claws once she started going into heat and the secret was out. But never in a million years had he imagined she
would use the tricks he had taught her on him. He curled into a piteous ball, his throat too tight for the horrified recriminations he should have been spitting
out. All he could manage was a high pitched whine.
"Hah!" Rukia spat. "Let's see how many boys you breed on him now."
He watched through blurry eyes as she stomped away. This wasn't over. She hadn't popped either of his balls, they just felt as if she had. The pain was bound
to stop soon. Then he'd pounce the little bitch, get those boots off her, and hogtie her. He just hoped he wasn't still limping when they made it to Byakuya's
place. Bad enough having to explain the trussed up cat under his arm without having a swollen crotch to contend with, too.
"It's not fair," Naruto grouched. His arms were folded over his chest as he glared, not at Kurama, but at the black cat seated beside the fox. "Why couldn't I go
"Because you weren't invited to do so," said Kurama. He still wasn't sure how Naruto had managed to snare his quarry. The volatile cat had given him a
dismissive glance before telling Naruto where to send the car. Then he had stalked away without another word. "The car will be picking him up this evening.
You'll see him soon enough."
"If he even shows up. What if he doesn't? I don't even know where he lives!"
"If he doesn't show up, then he isn't interested. You'll find someone else."
"Naruto," Kurama frowned. "Did he give you any reason to think he'll change his mind?"
"Then stop worrying about it."
Naruto growled under his breath. That was easy for Kurama to say. Kurama hadn't let his cat out of his sight for even a second. Kurama had even gotten out
of the car and gone over to watch as Hiei retrieved his belongings. The little brown sack was now on the floor near his feet. Naruto wondered what was in it. He
had been watching out the car window, so he had seen how high up in the tree Hiei had gone to fetch it. It couldn't weigh much. Did Sasuke keep his stuff in a
tree, too? Maybe it was a cat thing. Naruto had kept his belongings behind a dumpster when he had been poor. Kurama had wanted to throw it all away at first.
Eventually he had bagged the stuff together with some powder to take the stench out. Sasuke hadn't smelled bad at all, so he probably kept his stuff
somewhere clean. Naruto really hoped it wasn't up in a tree. He was bad at climbing, always had been. Maybe if he took Sasuke out on the roof he would stay
out of the trees altogether. The roof was taller than any tree on their property, anyway.
It wasn't long before Naruto broke the silence again. All his plans and worries would mean nothing if Sasuke didn't show up. "If he doesn't show, I'm hunting
him down," he muttered.
Kurama didn't bother looking up this time. "Foxes do not hunt down cats, Naruto."
Naruto's face twisted as he sarcastically mouthed the words. He was sick of being told what foxes did and didn't do. He was a fox. If he wanted to do something
then obviously foxes did do that thing. "You're only saying that because your cat hasn't left your sight. You don't have to hunt him down." He scowled at the
cat, who didn't even glance away from the window he'd been staring out this entire time. He couldn't figure out why Kurama even wanted him. He was short,
closer to Naruto's height than Kurama's. His black hair was odd, swept into a point like a flame or petal or something. If he was trying to use that hair to make
himself look taller it wasn't working. He had white in his hair, too, like he was old or streaked it or something. His face wasn't bad, but his eyes were red and
that was just creepy. Naruto had seen plenty of gorgeous cats mewling around Kurama, all of them tall and sleek and sexy as hell. So why had he picked this
cat? With Sasuke, it was his scent that had pulled him in and set him on fire. He leaned forward and gave the strange cat a good sniff.
"Naruto," Kurama sighed. "Foxes do not sniff other people's mates. It's rude." To say the least.
"You're not mates yet," Naruto rightfully pointed out. He was getting better at finding loopholes in all the rules Kurama kept throwing at him. "He's only a...
"It's still rude," said Kurama. Hiei might not care, but he certainly did. "Don't do it again."
Naruto slumped back in his seat. "Like I'd want to. He doesn't smell anything like Sasuke. Or any of the other cats who were there." He hadn't yet sorted out all
of the smells that had assaulted his nose today. Most of the cats had smelled good, like ready sex, and a few had been nearly as exciting as Sasuke. There
were others he hadn't liked, some that smelled bad, rotten almost, and even some that smelled more like dog than cat. But not a single one of them had
smelled like Hiei. "He smells weird," he told Kurama. "I think you should get your nose checked."
Kurama reminded himself that Naruto was still young. Having learned little in the way of manners growing up, he had come a long way in the last few years.
Hiei was calm, sitting comfortably just a few inches from his side. Hiei could care less what the fox kit thought of him. Kurama forced his annoyance away.
There would be time enough later to teach Naruto to respect his new mate. "I didn't ask your opinion, Naruto, so kindly keep it to yourself." His eyes flicked to
the strip of pale skin along the back of Hiei's neck, between his hair and that black form-concealing cloak of his. "I think Hiei smells wonderful." He smiled when
the cat gave a soft snort, right on cue. Yes, Hiei was an odd cat. A sharp little onion. Kurama looked forward to unwrapping him one layer at a time. Starting
with that cloak, of course.