An Arrival of a Rival. CH14


(Previous Chapter:http://touchfluffytail.org/story/an-arrival-of-a-rival-ch13/)

Chapter 14

Familial Struggles.

“All set?” Dressed appropriately for Reiza’s court day regarding Meredith’s trial, Faulkner’s attire wasn’t too different from what he’d wear in TMRC. A light blue dress shirt with a white undershirt and blue jeans combo with black shoes was all he needed.

“Yeah, I’m ready.” Karika wore something similar to Faulkner, though her dress shirt was pink. She also has a light brown blazer over her dress shirt for warmth. For comfort, Karika chose to wear her jogging sneakers. “Hey, are head accessories allowed?”

“I’m not sure. There’s no specific rule that says you can’t. But it’d be better not to wear it, just to be safe.” Reiza went with a comfortable, light red sweater and black khakis. “It sucks, but we’ll have to leave Faulkner’s gifts behind for now.” Reiza went with a pair of black flat heels for her feet to stay somewhat fashionable while looking formal.

“Damn! I feel naked without it.”

“It’s just for today, Karika. Though, it’s going to be a long one…” All dressed and ready to go, Faulkner, Karika, and Reiza set out from Faulkner’s apartment to the courthouse where Meredith’s sentencing takes place.

On the ride to the courthouse, Reiza was understandably nervous as she used her new phone to distract herself before their arrival. Karika was watching Reiza closely, making sure she was alright.

When not focused on the road, Faulkner’s mind wandered to his conversation with Trisha. He couldn’t think of an appropriate time to tell Karika and Reiza about his parents. Should he wait when everyone’s in a good mood? They’re heading to court in the first place for Meredith’s court sentencing. Faulkner figured that it might be appropriate to bring up his parents since their grievances lie with their parents.

Glancing at Reiza, Faulkner would have to revisit that idea later. It would depend on Reiza’s mood by the end of the court sentencing.

Soon, after finding a parking spot, they stand in front of the courthouse.

“…” Attentively watching Reiza, Karika stood close by, giving Reiza the moral support she needed by patting her on her left shoulder.

“Come on, sis, don’t forget we’re here for you.” Moving to stand next to Karika, Faulkner smiled and nodded in agreement.

“She’s right. Nothing bad will happen in that courtroom with all the security there. And if the security ever does fail, we’ll protect you.” Reiza shook her head as she was worried about another thing entirely.

“I know you guys are here with me, but I’m just scared of what my mom will say to me…”

“Who cares what she has to say when you have us?! Mom and Dad will be here later. There’s also Kilala, who came for moral support too.” Sometime between after Christmas day and the Court day, Kilala texted Reiza, asking her if it was okay for her to attend the court sentencing. Soon after, Bergeese and Illina called for the same reason.

“Again, Karika’s right. Whatever Meredith has to say to you, remember we’re here.” Steeling herself, Reiza smiled before holding out one hand each in front of Faulkner and Karika.

“Okay. Then I’ll be relying on you guys.” Taking each of Reiza’s hands offered to them, Karika and Faulkner walk with her to the courthouse. After getting through the screening process, which Karika hated, they make it to the courtroom. While Faulkner and Karika sat in the gallery, Reiza made her way to her to the prosecutor’s table. There, she meets the prosecutor working on her case.

“Ah, you must be Reiza. It’s nice to meet you. My name’s Jaynie Ammerich.” Shaking hands with her, Jaynie briefed Reiza on her rights in court. While Reiza listened to Jaynie, she felt a chill run down her spine.

“…” Standing on the defendant’s side were Meredith and her appointed defense attorney. Wearing an orange prison uniform, Meredith has dark circles under her eyes from stress. Strands of her hair were sticking out from her bangs and the back of her hair since she didn’t have a chance to fix them during her time in prison.

As Meredith made brief eye contact with Reiza, she flashed a toothy grin, causing the flames on Reiza’s horns to whittle down into barely visible embers.

“Reiza, are you alright?” Noticing how uncomfortable Reiza looked, Jaynie stopped explaining for a moment.

“I’m fine.” Seeing Meredith glaring at Reiza, Jaynie shook her head.

“Relax. You’re not in any danger here.” To make her point known, Jaynie looks at a Dullahan next to one of the doors in the courtroom, the Baliff on duty. When Meredith noticed the Baliff staring at her, she scoffs before staring straight at the judge’s stand.

“Did I make it?” Walking past the screening, Kilala looked around the gallery before seeing Karika, who noticed her.

“Hey, over here.” Waving her right arm, Kilala joins them and sits next to Karika.

“Looks like things are getting set up here.” As more people show up, the gallery fills with people who must attend jury duty, the media, and other miscellaneous persons. On the right side of the courtroom, Lester, one of the four men who raped Reiza, comes out wearing prison clothing. Upon noticing him, Reiza reflexively clenched her throat. Escorted by two police officers, one was a man while the other was an Amazoness who smiled at her Dullahan coworker before changing to a stoic expression.

Meredith couldn’t care less about Lester, so she ignored him when he looked at her.

“Ah, there they are.” Arriving just before the judge, Illina and Bergeese spotted Karika and Faulkner. “Sweetie, we’re here.” Karika’s ears perked up as she recognized her mother’s voice calling out to her.

“Mom, Dad. Over here.” Waving to them, Bergeese and Illina went to where Karika was sitting before introducing themselves to Kilala.

“You must be one of Karika’s classmates. It’s nice to meet you.” With a firm handshake, Kilala quickly gathered where Karika got her absurd strength from.

“Ehehe, likewise.” As more people came in, Reiza’s smiled when she recognized a familiar face escorted by a male police officer.

“Ah! Joey!” Joey was surprised when Reiza ran towards him. Without hesitation, Reiza hugs him as the flames on her horn grow, indicating her uplifted mood.

“R-Reiza?” Wearing a casual white button-up shirt and light brown slacks, Reiza gave a toothy grin at Joey, grateful to him for helping her.

“I hadn’t had a chance to thank you for what you did. I might not be here without you.” Seeing Joey in person, Faulkner could tell at a glance that Joey was a good kid.

“So that’s Joey. He looks so meek…” Staring at Lester, Joey could feel Lester’s scorn when he saw Joey staring at him. “How could someone like him be friends with the scumbags that raped Reiza?”

“It’s more common than you think. It’s easy to bully others into doing your bidding. Especially when their victims are meek.” Chiming in the conversation between Faulkner and Karika, there was disgust in Kilala’s eyes when she spotted Lester. “Considering their relationship, Joey was more than likely the unwilling lackey in a group of spoiled manchildren that rely on their parent’s money.”

“I guess. I’m still mad that Joey didn’t call the police right away. If he did, the other douchebags wouldn’t have had a chance to rape Reiza.”

“Just be grateful that those other three men pled guilty.” Tyler, Dolton, and Herbert pled guilty to the rape charges, so there was never a trial held for them since they didn’t have to contest. As for Lester and Meredith, they both pled not guilty. So they’re being trialed together to expedite the process.

“The judge has arrived. Everyone, rise for Konomi.” Soon after the Baliff announced the judge’s arrival, all eyes were on the judge as she sat behind the bench. A Crow Tengu, she adjusted her glasses before sitting down. On the judge’s left was the clerk.

“Everyone, take a seat. We’ll begin with the opening statements from the prosecutor, then the defendant if they have any.” Reassuring Reiza with a gentle pat on her right shoulder, Jaynie stands up to give her opening statement.

“Thank you, your honor. My name is Jaynie Ammerich. I would like to start with a question. People of the jury, how many of you are parents? As a mother of three, I was at a loss for words for this case. Meredith Agnaia, through her selfish desire for monetary influence, got her daughter, Reiza Agnaia, involved in a gangbang that turned into a gang rape.” Further elaborating on the finer details of the case, the trauma of having her body violated against her will sent shivers down Reiza’s spine.

Reiza wouldn’t be alone. The majority of the gallery was left appalled at Meredith’s actions. The Jury box had mixed reactions from those who felt sorry for Reiza, while some remained impartial.

“Rendered helpless via pleasure magic that Pyrows are capable of, Reiza was at the mercy, or rather, lack thereof, from Lester and the other three men, Dolton, Herbert, and Tyler. I’m certain Lester and Meredith are guilty of their abhorred crimes.” Finished with her opening statement, she returns to her seat.

“Very good.” Konomi turned her attention to Meredith and Lester’s defense attorney next. “And what of you? Do you have an opening statement for us?” Standing up from his chair, the defense attorney put his right fist over his lips to clear his throat before speaking in Meredith and Lester’s defense.

“Thank you, your honor. My name is Martin Desmond. Let’s be real here. Young adults always let a sense of freedom get over their heads. Having participated in other gangbangs beforehand, my clients believe that Reiza is simply acting the role of a victim to get back at her mother. Convincing Joey to play along with this farce, I’m sure she’s used seduction tactics Pyrows are known for to make him putty in her hands.” The defense attorney had barely started his speech before Karika looked visibly mad. Surprisingly, Kilala had the opposite reaction as she was smiling.

“Hey, what’s the big deal? I don’t see what’s so funny about this.” Whispering to Kilala, Karika was understandably confused.

“What a terrible opening statement. Either the defendant’s an idiot or Meredith and Lester suggested it. Either way, someone there isn’t thinking.” Everyone around Karika seemingly understood what Kilala meant by this as they nodded in agreement.

“Can someone please explain it to me? Listening to this bozo’s just pissing me off.”

“The defendant isn’t focusing on making Meredith and Lester sound innocent. He’s making them sound like victims.” With his arms crossed as he listened closely to the defendant’s statements, everyone aside from Karika saw that Meredith and Lester couldn’t defend what they did, knowing there was a witness and video evidence of their wrongdoing.

“In simple terms, Karika. The defendant wants to shift the Jury box’s attention away from what Meredith and Lester did. He wants to make Reiza sound like the bad guy. They probably think that if they use the stereotypes Pyrows are known for, they could turn this case around in their favor.” Again, everyone agreed with Kilala before Karika finally grasped what was happening.

“Then, this case should be a cakewalk.” Karika waited for everyone to nod with her, but no one did.

“It should be. But that all depends on how Reiza interprets this.” Clenching his hands on his arms tightly, Faulkner could only hope that Reiza realized what the Defendant was trying here.

“And that’s why I believe Meredith and Lester are the victims here.” Finished with his statement, the defendant took his seat.

“Alright. Now that the opening statements are over for each side, Jaynie. You may begin presenting any evidence you have.”

“Yes, your honor. I’d like to call to the witness stand, Joey.” As he walked to the witness stand, all eyes were on Joey.

“Would you please state your name for the court?”

“Joey Finch.” Answering the clerk’s question, Joey called out his first and last name, spelling it when asked.

“Would you prefer to affirm or swear to a holy book?”

“Swear to a holy book.” As Joey gave his oath, The way the clerk was staring at him made Joey tense. He had no intention of lying or hiding the truth, however.

“Joey, what is your relationship with Lester, Dolton, Tyler, and Herbert?”

“They were my friends through association through our fathers.”

“I see, and your role in this incident?”

“I was appointed as the ‘cameraman’ on the promise of participation and monetary compensation.”

“So you came with them fully knowing what would happen?”

“Yes. But in my defense, Meredith never mentioned getting Reiza involved when we arrived at her apartment.” Meredith’s expression didn’t change one bit as she seemed apathetically calm. On the other hand, Lester could feel his blood boil over Joey’s betrayal.

“Let me get this straight, young man. Are you saying that Reiza, who the defense attorney claims to be a playboy, didn’t participate willingly?”

“Correct. It was clear from Reiza and Meredith’s prior conversation before the incident that Reiza didn’t want to get involved.” Covering her mouth in contemplation with her right-wing, Konomi glanced at the defense table. Her red-eyed stare didn’t go unnoticed as Martin flinched slightly. Impartiality was her role here, so Konomi quickly reeled herself in.

“You mention being the ‘cameraman’ of the group. That means you have video evidence of the scene in question?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Good. Let’s review the evidence at hand.” As a projector screen from the roof lowers, the color on Reiza’s face and the flames on her horns fade away. Reiza wanted to forget about the incident, but she knew the video would have had to be shown at some point in court to prove Meredith and Lester’s mistreatment of her. What concerned her more was Karika, Faulkner, and the others would see what had happened to her.

The stoic expression Jaynie carried momentarily cracks when she sees Reiza shaking. Meredith noticed and smiled briefly, thinking that no one saw her smile.

“Are you recording?”

“Yes, it’s recording now, Lester.”

“Make sure you edit this video later.” The video starts with Reiza on her bed. Laying down on her stomach, Lester smiled for the camera before grabbing Reiza by her right horn, forcing her to face the camera. “Smile for the camera, bitch!” Desperately fighting off the stimulus waves of forced pleasure coursing through her body, Reiza’s face contorted between defiance and ecstasy.

“Agh…” To hear it from Reiza was one thing, but to see it was an entirely different experience. Before they had set out for court, Faulkner warned Karika to keep her composure during court so that the trial could proceed without issue. This warning was the only thing holding her back as Karika’s body tensed in anger.

Though outwardly calm, Faulkner’s heart began to beat faster as the video played. Pausing and skipping the video in bits and pieces, Jaynie details how roughly Lester treated Reiza throughout the video.

Kilala could only put her hands over her mouth in horror as she watched the video. Illina was much the same, while Bergeese was the only one among the group with a stern frown directed at Meredith.

Getting to the part of the video when Lester mentioned how mismatched the black ribbon hair tie she wore to the rest of her outfit, Faulkner felt his heart sink when he saw how Reiza reacted.

Pausing the video again where Lester slapped Reiza, Reiza held her cheek as she could recall the sensation there.

Observing where Rezia’s attention was when Lester taunted her with the black ribbon hair tie, the other members of the gallery and those in the jury box had no context as to why Reiza spat at Lester when mocked about her hair tie. Some assumed that she retaliated from being insulted. A few others thought that it was stupid of her as this led to Reiza getting slapped in the first place.

The only ones who know why she acted the way she did is Faulkner and the others in their group. And Faulkner, in particular, was going through a torrent of emotions ranging from gratitude for how much Reiza cherished something seemingly trivial to gut-wrenching guilt. Knowing it’s because of how important the gift was to her that led her to surrender to Lester’s abuse.

Inching closer to her breaking point, Karika was trembling in anger. Watching Reiza abused by Lester, the urge to jump over the gallery barrier to beat Lester within an inch of his life became more tempting to Karika as the video continued.

“Alright, Reiza, make sure you smile for the audience now!” Reaching the part of the video where Lester puts Reiza in a choke hold, the mental binds keeping Karika’s rage intact were on the brink of tearing. She wasn’t the only one as Faulkner’s blood pressure rose to the point where his veins were visible on his temples. Sensing their anger, the Amazoness police officer signaled her partner to prepare himself.

Thankfully, Bergeese and Illina were there to calm the two down, with Bergeese holding down Faulkner while Illina did the same for Karika.

“Faulkner, calm down. You’ll cause a scene if you let your anger take control.”

“Come on, sweetie. That scum isn’t worth it.” Coercing Karika to calm down, she stood down before crossing her arms. Karika felt like glancing at her mother, thinking it must be nice to be so calm, but she was wrong.

Hidden beneath Illina’s calm facade was torrential fury begging to come out. It’s like she had reverted to her primal roots as her eyes had a sharper gleam.

Bergeese was the only one there who remained calm as Kilala was too focused on watching the video in horror to notice Karika and Faulkner.

“I believe I’ve seen enough…” Cutting off the video evidence short, Konomi looked back at the prosecutor before continuing. “I understand that there’s more evidence to show, yes?”

“Yes, your honor. I have testimonies from police officers Pauline and Kaleb, who were there to arrest Meredith and the others at the scene. There’s Oustean from the paramedics’ team, who treated Reiza’s injuries. And Aino from the precinct, who is responsible for interrogations.” Before Jaynie could bring any mentioned people to the stand, Konomi noticed Martin stand up.

“Yes, Mr. Martin?”

“I object, your honor. The evidence presented to the court scratches only the surface of what otherwise is a ploy to make my clients here look guilty.”

“And do you have solid evidence that would suggest otherwise?”

“Yes, your honor. I’d like to call to the witness stand, Reiza.” Mummers from the gallery and jury stand filled the courtroom as Reiza made her way to the witness stand, passing by Joey as she did so. “State your full name for the court, please.”

“Reiza Agnaia…”

“Agnaia. It’s a shame that you’d stoop so low to shame your single mother, who cared and looked after you. People of the jury, I present to you exhibit A.” Presenting their evidence, Martin flipped through a series of photos taken by Meredith’s phone in a time before Reiza met Faulkner.

From several selfies taken with men and women she’s slept with to provocative photos of Reiza getting fucked by one or more people, she felt a deep shame and regret for her past self. To be reminded of when she slept with anyone who could shower her with gifts reminded her further of how narrow-minded she was at the time as long as it felt good.

“You seem to be having lots of fun with all these men? Tell me, miss Reiza. Do you remember any of these people? Their names, where you met them, or even why you slept with them in the first place?”

“…no…I can’t recall any names. I’d usually meet them in pleasure clubs or bars. As for why I slept with them, it was for monetary or personal gain. ”

“So, you remembered where you could find your victims and what you could gain from them, but not their names?”

“I-I…” Looking around the courtroom, the people in the jury box whisper to one another in contempt. Most of the people in the gallery also began to express their doubt, given the evidence presented against her. From Reiza’s perspective, she began to panic, wondering if they’ll believe anything she should say in her defense.

Though remaining stoic, Meredith was quite pleased with how nervous Reiza was getting. Her goal at this point wasn’t to prove her innocence. Out of pure spite, she wished nothing more than to expose Reiza’s past to the public to paint her in a bad image.

‘That’s right. These are just a few of the many photos we took together back. You seemed so proud of being a whore for anyone willing to line your pockets with gifts and cash. I may not be able to fool the judge into thinking I’m a victim, but I can at least humiliate you in front of the people you love and ruin your public image!’ Reveling in her thoughts, Meredith had to work hard to stifle her desire to laugh.

“So, you can’t recall any of them? And what about these instances?” Pulling up a video next, it shows Reiza sitting on top of a man facing away from him on his lap. Wearing expensive lingerie to entice the man on top of her, she playfully rubbed his crotch with her right hand while her left hand clung onto the man’s neck for support while biting and kissing it. “You act like the victim here, yet not too long ago, you used your demonic charms to drain these men of their spirit energy and money, correct?”

“Y-yes…”

“And now, you want to act like a victim here, using your new ‘victims’ as convenient witnesses to prove your innocence!” Referring to Faulkner and Karika, Reiza was on the verge of breaking down. She wanted to forget about her past and change for the better. Yet, when faced with photographic and video reminders of her past self, her confidence starts to dwindle as her fears of rejection from the connections she made with Faulkner, Karika, and her friends begin to surface. Who would want to be in a serious relationship with her when she used to treat said relationships with a grain of salt? No one would blame Faulkner for being disgusted with her nonchalant behavior regarding sex, she thought. Reiza led a slutty lifestyle up until now, so even if she wanted to change, it wouldn’t change what she’d already done in the past.

“I…” Try as she might, Reiza found it hard to respond as she’d choke up between trying to keep herself from crying and answering.

“…” Staring at Reiza, Faulkner found it hard to watch what Reiza was like in the past. From Reiza’s confession, Faulkner knows all sorts of things she did with her previous lovers. Whether it was for money, to feed herself, or just for the sake of sex, Faulkner thought he had already looked past that. It was a hard pill to swallow. Admittingly, Faulkner felt a tinge of jealousy and anger at the people Reiza slept with in the past. Curious to see what Karika thought of this situation, he was surprised that Karika remained unchanged.

Staring angrily at Martin and Meredith, Karika was furious and disgusted that Meredith would take any enjoyment from watching Reiza suffer.

Seeing Karika’s resolve unchanged reminded Faulkner of his conversation with Reiza when he drove her home before the incident. He said it himself, didn’t he? His concern wasn’t the fact that Reiza had sex with other people before him. He knows Reiza could do better than live the way Meredith taught her.

With his doubts shattered at the nick of time, Faulkner saw Reiza looking at him. It was painful for Reiza to look him in the eyes as they gleamed with doubt. So he smiled instead while crossing his arms. Karika grinned with a thumbs up, while Kilala smiled while giving her a gentle nod. Finally, there’s Illina, who was ready to cry for her, while Bergeese gave Reiza a stern look that she was unfamiliar with due to not having a father figure.

‘What am I panicking for?! They’re here for me, aren’t they?! I can’t believe that I let this guy get into my head! I could care less if I don’t believe in myself, but I’ll fight tooth and nail for those who DO believe in me!’ With her mind cleared of doubt, Reiza took a deep breath before giving Martin her answer.

“Heh! Go ahead, call me out for the things I did in the past.” Catching Martin off guard, Meredith raised an eyebrow in concern when Reiza, who Meredith thought would be crying in panic, smiled for the jury. “What I did in the past is behind me. I’m not that kind of person anymore.”

“Yes, that’s all well and good. However, that doesn’t prove anything. Doesn’t your statement make it more obvious than ever that you hold a grudge against Meredith and Lester?” Though the better half of the jury box knew Martin’s defense was falling apart, some stragglers amongst the group still see Reiza in a negative light. Thankfully, that didn’t last long.

“Jaynie? I assume you have an objection here?”

“Yes, your honor. These questions have derailed from proving Reiza being manipulative towards her mother and Lester to pressuring her into confessing her past livelihood.” Not wanting to be outdone, Martin interjected.

“What do you mean? I aim to show the people of the jury that Reiza hadn’t changed one bit from how she was before.” Mulling over the situation, Konomi decided it’d be best to cut Martin off as she agreed with Jaynie.

“I agree with Jaynie. Your questions, while relevant, are getting repetitive. Therefore, I’d like to hear what Jaynie has to offer.”

“Thank you, your honor. I would like to call to the stand, Pauline.” As Pauline got to the stand, she briefed everyone on what unfolded when they arrived at Meredith’s apartment to make an arrest.

“Meredith and Lester did not act as the victims upon our arrival. For one, Herbert, Dolton, and Tyler pleading guilty was an immediate red flag considering Meredith and Lester insist they were victims. Given everyone but Joey participated in the rape gangbang, shouldn’t all of them be considered victims?” Pauline’s testimony was the same as Kaleb’s when it was his turn to the stand. Seeing their testimony jeopardized their chances of winning, Martin stood up to make his objections known.

“Oh please, everyone knows pleading guilty can lead to lighter sentencing! Dolton, Tyler, and Herbert were cowards that didn’t want to fight for the truth!” It wasn’t apparent from Konomi’s indifferent expression, but in her mind, she found it amusing that Martin still had the gall to contest.

“That could be the case, but I know someone who could prove that theory wrong. I’d like to call Oustean to the stand next.” When it was Oustean’s turn to take the stand, she had a slideshow that showed the injuries Reiza sustained during the incident. The medical documents Oustean presented had everything she needed to show the extent of Reiza’s injuries.

“Your honor, I found multiple muscle tears all over Reiza’s body which weren’t immediately obvious by a glance using body scan magic on her. Thankfully, the tears were minimal and subsequently healed by me.”

“Oustean, I understand that Reiza refused to go to the hospital. What were her reasons again?” When she heard Konomi’s question, Reiza felt a surge of regret as she realized that her reasons for refusing admittance to the hospital were purely personal rather than rational.

“Her reasons were purely personal, your honor.”

“I see. So you have no physical documentation like hospital statements like MRI and X-ray scans, Miss Oustean?”

“Yes, your honor.” Oustean’s testimony didn’t go as well as Reiza had hoped, regretting not going to the hospital to prove her internal injuries.

However, she soon wouldn’t have to regret her decision when it was Aino’s turn to the witness stand.

“Aino, would you please tell the jury what you learned from interrogating the suspects and victims of the incident?”

“Yes, your honor…” The atmosphere in the courtroom changed as Aino presented her case. From Meredith’s scowl to Reiza’s dumbfounded expression, Karika was the only person in the group who didn’t understand what was happening.

It’s not that Karika had trouble understanding the facts Aino presented to the judge, but rather how trusting she was of Aino.

Konomi questioned Oustean’s words while she remained quiet when listening to Aino. What was so different about Aino’s testimony? Was it the fact that she had written documents of her interrogation efforts? Or the audio recordings of the actual interrogation process?

“Your honor, I sensed residual magic often used by Pyrow’s lingering in Reiza’s body. This mag-” Standing up in objection, Martin points at Aino.

“Reiza is a Pyrow. How do you know it’s Meredith’s magic, not Reiza’s? Your honor, this is a clear waste of time.”

“Is it? The judge can decide as soon as you let me finish talking.” With a sharp tone and a piercing gaze to match, Martin couldn’t utter another word before sitting down.

“As I was saying. The residual magic I sensed in Reiza’s body caused her body to react violently to physical stimuli. Like venom injected into their bloodstream, these can result in painful convulsions. But Reiza’s case was one of the worst I’ve seen yet. A Pyrow is naturally resistant to pleasure magic, so the one inflicted on Reiza must’ve been powerful enough to overcome it.”

“Was that the only type of magic used on her?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“I see. And what did you find out while you interrogated Meredith and Lester?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary, your honor. Their confessions match their testimony regarding their plea of innocence. Though, as I’m sure people of the jury have already gathered, their plea of innocence is a total sham.” Getting visibly irritated, Martin points at Aino.

“And I suppose you read their minds to come to that conclusion?” Martin’s decorum was less than appropriate. The bailiff would’ve stepped in to say something if it wasn’t for Aino lightly chuckling in disbelief.

“Read their minds? The only thing I read to them was their Miranda rights. It doesn’t take a mind reader to know they’re lying.”

“Why you-”

“Enough!” As the Bailiff’s voice boomed throughout the courtroom, she cleared her throat once the courtroom fell silent.

“Right. I’ve heard enough from both sides. I’ll asses the facts and statements given by the prosecutor and defendant with the people on the jury. End of the discussion, we will recess for approximately an hour.” With Konomi’s announcement, she and the people in the jury box left to discuss the trial in detail in a separate room. During that time, everyone else left the courtroom for a much-needed lunch break.

“Dammit. I wanted to beat that fucking defendant half to death.” Grumbling in frustration, Karika bites into a hotdog as she, Faulkner, Kilala, and her parents eat at a hotdog stand outside the court building.

“She already lost the case when Aino went to the stand. So don’t bother.” Faulkner had just finished his first hot dog as he watched Karika finish hers in less than a minute. Clearly, she was eating out of frustration.

“Speaking of Aino, the courtroom’s atmosphere sure did change when she showed up. Why is that? The judge crow tengu lady seemed to trust Aino’s testimony more than Oustean’s.” Karika ordered two more hotdogs to munch on before Kilala jumped into their conversation.

“At least here in the United States, the government has an interrogator in each with State superior mind-reading magical abilities. Aino is the official interrogator of this State. And there can only be one said interrogator with those permissions per state.”

“Okay, but what good do mind-reading abilities have if people can deny it? And what’s stopping her from ignoring their refusal?”

“It’s a matter of trust at that point. To ensure that the interrogators hired by the government are doing their jobs right, they go through frequent evaluations to make sure they remain fair and impartial when doing their jobs.” Taking Kilala’s pause as a sign, it was Faulkner’s turn to explain the rest, giving Kilala time to eat.

“You gave Aino your consent to probe your mind to see if you were telling the truth, right?”

“Obviously. It baffles me that Meredith would accuse Reiza of manipulating them.”

“That’s the thing, though. Anything goes with magic. Who’s to say that the victim is telling the truth? Maybe they’re being made to tell lies by mind manipulation magic that the victim casts on them? What about those close to the victim, like friends and family? Even the suspects aren’t safe. They could just be pawns. That’s why Aino was the interrogator assigned to us. Either through hypnotic suggestion or memory manipulation, Aino can tell since she’s a master of using magic.” As she crossed her arms in thought, there was one other thing that Karika didn’t understand.

“In that case, did Aino probe Meredith and the bastard crew’s minds for the truth?”

“I doubt it. Suspects are more than likely to deny mind probing. They’re entitled to their rights, so they can refuse to have their minds read. That said, Aino can still scan them to see if a magic spell is manipulating them.” Scoffing at the idea of Meredith being innocent, Karika finished her third hot dog before washing it down. “It doesn’t matter anyways. Meredith and Lester are as good as guilty.”

“Faulkner, what about the other three who pleaded guilty? What were their sentences?” Eating lightly compared to her daughter, Illina had one hot dog before posing her question to Faulkner.

“Herbert, Tyler, and Dolton are serving five years without bail.” Illina and Bergeese were surprised at how short their sentence was.

“Fuckers should be there longer if you ask me. I don’t care if they were sorry for what they did.” It was clear on Karika’s face that she was unhappy with Dolton, Herbert, and Tyler’s sentencing

“That’s enough, Karika. Unlike Lester and Meredith, those three gave Aino their consent to read their minds. They really were under the impression that Reiza was a massive masochist and assumed she was playing around.”

“It doesn’t make what they did any less terrible.”

“True.” The group spent another fifteen minutes after eating outside of court before being called back to the courtroom.

With everyone back in their proper places, Faulkner and the others wave at Reiza as she waves back at them with a solemn smile.

“Alright. After careful deliberation, the people of the jury find Meredith and Lester guilty.” Wrapping the tip of her right wing on a gavel, Konomi strikes the block with it before staring at Lester.

“Lester Brenston, for your involvement, you are sentenced to twenty years in prison without parole.” Disbelief was written all over Lester’s face. His father already refused to pay for his bail after finding out what he did, so to know that he has to spend twenty years of his life in prison devastated him.

“As for you, Meredith, know that this verdict isn’t final as you will have to attend another trial at another date to address the drug trafficking and fraudulent purchases charges pressed against you. Meredith, you are sentenced to thirty-five years in prison without parole.” With a sign of resignation, Meredith was oddly calm about her sentencing. As Lester and Meredith were about to be escorted out by the police officers, the Amazoness felt a shiver run down her spine when Meredith suddenly started to chuckle.

“Is there something you find amusing, Meredith?”

“As a matter of fact, there is, your honor.” Turning her head toward Reiza, Meredith flashed a snide smile at her. “Oh, sweet daughter of mine. You got what you wanted in the end, didn’t you?” Sensing Meredith’s intent to cause a disturbance in the courtroom, the Bailiff urges the officers to take her away before she starts resisting. “AHAHAHA! The moment you found a convenient fuck boy to bleed dry, you cast me away! Just like all the others you’ve literally fucked around with!” Taking sadistic pleasure in seeing Reiza’s face contorted in horror, she was hopeful that one day, she could make amends with Meredith and start over. Constricted to their utmost limits as her pupils danced in a crazed manner, Meredith never averted her gaze as she struggled to shake the officers subduing her.

“Get that woman out of this courtroom, now!” With three police officers dragging Meredith out, she takes advantage of the adrenaline high she’s experiencing to squirm her way out of their grasp. The flames on her horns and tail grew violently as a show of her defiance. She went through all that so she could have her final say.

“You have my blessings to wed my whore of a daughter, Faulkner! I hope you don’t mind now that the public knows what she was like in the past!” Satisfied with herself, Meredith offered no resistance as they escorted her out.

“…” Clenching her hands into fists, tears began to form around Reiza’s eyes before she started to cry. Coming to her aid were Karika and Kilala as they hugged Reiza between themselves. Pulling Reiza’s head between her chest, Karika gently strokes her hair to comfort her.

“Ignore that bitch, sis. You can’t let what she said get to you.” Looking up at Karika, Reiza had to wipe the tears from her eyes to see Karika.

“I’m not worried about what she said about me. I’m worried about what people will think of you guys…” Walking in front of Reiza, Karika, and Kilala let Reiza go before it was his turn to hug her.

“You know I don’t give a damn about what she said. Neither she nor the public will change the fact that I love you.” Following close by were Illina and Bergeese, both of which nodded in agreement with Faulkner. Seeing Bergeese and Illina, Reiza remembered what they told her a week ago. With Illina as her mother to spoil her love and Bergeese as her father to embarrass her as only a dad could, the tears flooding her eyes a few moments ago stopped. So, with a smile to reassure them, how could she feel sad with them by her side?

“Right…I know you don’t. I just hope that it won’t cause problems for us in the future. Especially when we eventually have kids.”

“Damn, leave me out of the loop why dont’cha? I feel out of place here!” Shifting her gaze back and forth between Karika, Reiza, and Faulkner and Karika’s parents, the confused look Kilala had made Reiza laugh, lifting her mood. The rest soon followed, leaving Kilala confused before she smiled. “Well, at least you’re smiling. That’s good enough for me.” Waiting patiently until the group settled down, Reiza was the first to notice Judge Konomi.

“Miss Reiza, I apologize for how the court proceeding went.”

“It’s not your fault, your honor. Don’t worry about it.” With a bow, Konomi moved aside for Jaynie before she left.

“Reiza, there are some things I need to talk to you about regarding today’s trial.” Jaynie debriefed Reiza and the others on what was to come, such as the date of Meredith’s new trial.

Watching from a distance, Joey, who briefly was interviewed by the local news a few minutes ago, took a moment to look at Reiza and her family. While he is happy to see she’s smiling, the guilt of his involvement in the incident is eating him away from the inside. While the video evidence was needed to prove Meredith and Lester guilty of their crimes, Joey feels terrible that it had dug up painful memories for Reiza. He wants to apologize to her, but seeing that she’s busy with Jaynie, he figured he should take his leave.

“Hmm? Ah, Joey, wait!” Turning around, Reiza grabs hold of his right hand. “Geez, I can’t believe you planned on leaving without saying goodbye.” Staying behind with Jaynie to hear the rest of what she had to say, Joey saw Faulkner smile back at him. Kilala stayed behind with Faulkner as well.

“So…Joey, is it?” Hearing his name, Joey watched as Karika, who stood seven inches over him, approached them. “…” Karika narrowed her gaze before she felt Reiza tug on her shirt, which calmed her down. “Thanks for helping my lil sis out. I owe you.” With a light bow, Karika showed her gratitude to Joey while Illina and Bergeese, who followed Karika, hugged each other on the side as they felt pride in what their daughter did.

“I don’t deserve the thanks. I should’ve stopped them since I was there.” Reiza and Karika slowly turned to face one another before they started laughing. “Wh-what’s so funny?”

“Ahaha! Sorry. It’s just that Porky here said something similar when I told them about what happened.”

“Hey, why are you calling me that in front of your friend, small tits?!”

“Because I can, porky.”

“Bwahaha! It’s so refreshing to see these two act like proper sisters!” Bergeese spread his arms out before pulling Karika and Reiza for a hug. “Joey, as Reiza’s father, you have my thanks for helping her.” While Reiza and Karika tried to squirm their way out of Bergeese’s grasp, Illina saw her chance to show her thanks.

“You have my thanks as well as Reiza’s mother.” Smiling gently at Joey, Karika, and Reiza managed to pull their heads away from Bergeese’s arms, but only because he let them.

Understandably confused, Joey had no context of Reiza’s relationship with Karika, Illina, and Bergeese. So he looked back and forth between all of them.

“Um…I was under the impression that Meredith is Reiza’s mother. Did you guys adopt her into your family after the incident?”

“Adopt? Well, that’s certainly not a bad idea. But no, sweetie. Legally speaking, Reiza isn’t our daughter. We’re Karika’s parents. My name’s Illina, and this is my husband, Bergeese.”

Shaking hands with them, Reiza jumped between Illina and Bergeese to explain her relationship with them.

“It’s a long story. Illina, Bergeese, and Karika consider me a part of their family. And that’s enough for me.” In contrast to the look of anguish Reiza had during the incident, she had a warm smile that set Joey’s mind at ease. “I can tell that you still feel guilty for what happened. So, until you get over that guilt…” Pulling out her phone, she shows him her contact number. “I want you to have my number. That way, we can stay in touch! Maybe set up days so we can hang out as friends.” Backed into a metaphorical wall, Joey almost felt pressured into doing so with how eager Illina and Bergeese looked. Karika gave off a somewhat intimidating vibe as if to dare him not to deny Reiza’s request.

“Please consider. Reiza considers you as her friend regardless of what you think already.” Surprising everyone, Faulkner walked between Illina and Bergeese, standing behind Karika and Reiza before putting his arms around their shoulders. Kilala, who shrunk back to her fairy form, sat on Faulkner’s right shoulder. Left with little choice but to comply, Joey chuckled as he felt this wasn’t too different from what Lester, Dolton, Herbert, and Tyler did to him.

Still, if it’s with Reiza…

“Pfft…if you really insist…then…” The flames on Reiza’s tail grew as it swung from left to right in glee. Exchanging contacts, Reiza hugged Joey once more before he and Reiza’s group went their separate ways. In that same vein, Illina and Bergeese gave Karika, Reiza, and Faulkner hugs and kisses before taking off in their car.

“Reiza, let’s go on a shopping spree soon, alright?”

“Sure! I’ll text you as soon as I’m able to!” Waving goodbye to Reiza, Karika, and Faulkner, Kilala flies back to her house.

“Alright, it’s a little past four. So, unless you girls have somewhere else in mind to go…” Waiting for Reiza and Karika, the two pondered before they shook their heads.

“I can’t think of anywhere I’d want to go to.”

“Same. I just want to go back home and relax!” Reaching an agreement, Faulkner nods with his arms crossed before coming to a decision he mulled over earlier in their car ride here.

“Right. Let’s go. There’s something important I need to discuss with you two once we get home.” Looking at each other, Karika and Reiza were about to ask what it was.

“Wait! Please, hold on!” Hearing someone call them out, Karika, Faulkner, and Reiza saw a woman wearing a wine-red blouse alongside a dark blue knee-length skirt and black stiletto heels. “Hello, my name’s Vallery, a news reporter from Monsters Rights Association, or MRA News! Can you please spare us a few moments for an interview?” Tailing behind the news reporter was a Hobgoblin carrying the camera equipment.

“Y-you move too damn much, Vallery. Don’t you think it’s a bit insensitive to…” The Hobgoblin’s voice faded as she froze in fear.

“Insensitive?! Getting the opinions of the jury box isn’t enough, Abby! Do you think the folks back in HQ will be happy with that?! No, I need…” Abby slowly moves her right hand up before pointing at something behind Vallery. “What, what’re you pointing-” As she turned around, Vallery’s body tensed up upon seeing Karika stand between her and Reiza.

“We’re not interested in an interview…go away.” Standing tall with her arms crossed, Karika made it clear for them to back off.

“I…I see…” Putting his hand on her right shoulder, Faulkner pulls Karika aside to intervene.

“I’m sorry, but please understand that considering the sensitive matter involved, you’ll have to forgive us for declining.” Calming down after Faulkner’s interference, Vallery and Abby respected their plea and nodded.

“Hold on. What is it that you two want to know?” Taking Faulkner and Karika by surprise, Reiza was willing to answer some questions for Vallery. Signaling Abby to start filming, Abby got ready before Vallery got her mic out.

“Oh! Uh, miss Reiza. As Meredith’s daughter, do you feel there’s any chance you can forgive her for what she did to you?” Karika and Faulkner felt anxious, wondering how Reiza would answer such a straightforward question.

“To be honest, I came to this trial today, hoping there’d be a chance I could reconcile with my mother. But I see it’ll be some time before we can make up. She still harbors hatred toward me. After all, I got her arrested.”

“I see.” Cracking a smile, Reiza pulled Karika and Faulkner together in front of the camera.

“I might’ve ended up vindictive like my mother, but I have my sister Karika and my loving boyfriend Faulkner to keep me in line! I have many friends and a new family that loves and cares for me. So I won’t let my past bog me down.” With a wide toothy grin, Reiza giggled while Faulkner and Karika’s cheeks turned bright red in embarrassment.

“I’m happy for you, Miss Reiza.” With a thankful bow, Abby and Vallery got what they wanted before leaving.

“Gee…did you have to put us in the spot like that?” Pulling away from Reiza’s hug first, Karika turned to face away from Reiza to hide her face.

“Hehe, didn’t think you were camera shy, porky…” Putting her right hand over her lips, Reiza snickered at Karika’s shyness.

“Shut it, small tits!”

“Hey, save it for when we get home, Reiza, Karika.” Consigning herself to defeat, Karika turns to face Faulkner.

“Fine…”

“By the way, thanks for what you did earlier. I’d expect nothing less from my big sister…” Walking past Faulkner, Reiza headed for his car first.

“Ah…dammit. I fucking hate it when Reiza does that.”

“What, the genuine thanks she gave you just now?” With a slight pout, Karika walks past Faulkner.

“No. I hate how Reiza says crap like that AFTER her insults! It’s like she knows what to say to shut me up.” Standing next to Karika as they follow Reiza back to his car, Faulkner chuckles and smiles at Karika.

“At least she’s smiling again. It’s a far cry from how I thought she’d be after everything that’s happened today.” After getting in his car, the group heads back to Faulkner’s apartment.

Getting comfortable on their arrival, Reiza and Karika sat down on Faulkner’s couch together with cold soda cans in their hands. Faulkner sat across from them on a single sofa. His soda can is on his coffee table between them.

“So, remember when I was talking with Trisha last week?” Saying nothing, Reiza and Karika nod in sync. “I was torn between telling you two about this. It would’ve depended on Reiza’s mood by the end of Meredith’s trial.” Taking a sip of his soda, Faulkner was happy to see Reiza wasn’t depressed like he thought she’d be, smiling warmly at her afterward.

“Okay, is whatever you’re about to talk about that bad?”

“Yeah. It’s about my parents.” It didn’t dawn on Karika until now, but they never talked about Faulkner’s parents.

“Ah! Now that you mention it, you never brought your parents up before.” Though Karika was shocked about that revelation, Reiza looked even more so.

“Huh?! In the six months, you two were dating before I met you guys, you never once brought his parents up?!”

“No. I mentioned my parents a few times to Faulkner, but I can’t recall a single time we talked about his parents.” Turning their heads together, they stare at Faulkner, encouraging him to continue.

“It’s not by accident that I didn’t bring them up. I’m not happy to say this, but they hate monster girls for personal reasons.” Grabbing their sodas, Reiza and Karika quietly sip their drinks while listening to Faulkner. “Jean Myers, my father. And Urania Myers, my mother. They’re in their fifties by now. So they had me in the early years when Monster’s arrived here on Earth.” Faulkner’s smile faded as he dug through his childhood memories.

“Jean is a hardened conservative, so he hates anyone not naturally born in the United States. He’s a big racist, so when a Cyclops got hired at his job at a steel mill, he got mad that she replaced his position there and harassed her. That promptly led to him getting fired for discrimination.”

“Steel mill?” Reiza gave Karika a side-eyed stare before shaking her head.

“It’s where metal is melted down and repurposed for various uses like metal rods or bars.”

“Oh…”

“As for my mother, she carries bitter hatred for monster girls after her boyfriend of three years dumped her for one. They had just moved into an apartment complex together. He kicked Urania out not even a month after they had moved in together.”

“Ouch…” It was all Karika could say while Reiza remained quiet.

“Working as a garbage truck driver at the time, Jean met Urania sitting on her couch with her other belongings when she got kicked out of her apartment. They soon dated under their mutual hatred for monsters and got married a year later. Then, another year after that, they had me.” As Faulkner revealed more about his parents to Karika and Reiza, memories of his youth flooded his mind.

“When I was three, my mother and father were very strict about the kind of shows I watched on TV. They would remind me over and over again that monsters were not to be trusted. I can’t remember if it was because monster girls were so different from us humans or if I genuinely believed that they would eat me, but I was also narrow-minded, so I grew to hate monster girls as they do. To minimize my exposure to monster girls, my parents had me go to private schools that only allow humans to attend them.”

“Hold on, does that mean you’ve never once got close to a monster girl while you were with your parents?” Sure, Faulkner was hard on Karika and the rest of her classmates when she first met him in TMRC, but she couldn’t imagine Faulkner being racist towards monster girls.

“Basically. The only times I saw monster girls in my youth aside from the internet and TV was when we’d go out somewhere. I remember making monster girls around my age uncomfortable by pointing and calling them out as freaks.” It was brief, but Faulkner frowned at himself for how he acted as a kid. “Deep down, I felt what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t want my parents to hate me, so I continued to believe them.”

“There must’ve been a turning point for you, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t have ended up working at TMRC, where you met Karika, then later me.” Clenching his fist, Faulkner braced himself for the next part of his story.

“That was in high school, in my senior year specifically. We had to do an assignment involving different countries. Only, the countries we had to pick were the ones from your world.”

“So you were forced to do research for a school subject.”

“Exactly. I picked Zipangu since it was the closest country that resembled a country here on Earth. That inadvertently led me to see more of what monster girls are like. From Elementals protected by international law for their environmental efforts to non-intrusive medical procedures through magic, monster girls were more beneficial to have than the threat my father made them sound to be.”

“Did you confront him about that?” Anxious for an answer, Karika crossed her arms and legs while Reiza was on the edge of her seat.

“I did. We got into a heated debate. It ultimately led me to leave the house. I couldn’t forgive my parents for lying to me all those years, so I didn’t care if that would’ve been the last time I’d see them.”

“What about Urania? I’d hate to see you not get along with her too.” Despite learning about Faulkner’s mother just now, Reiza couldn’t help but empathize with Faulkner.

“My mother? I don’t know to be perfectly honest. She might’ve softened up over the years.”

“Shit, you have shitty parents too, Faulkner? I guess I’m the only one who has a normal family.” Faulkner found what Karika said to be funny with how right she was.

“Haha, you should be happy. Anyway, I choose to bring my parents up now because, during my meeting with Mrs. Reiss, she looked into my background and found out about them. TL;DR, she wanted to make sure I don’t have their racist outlook.”

“That’s fucking stupid! The fact that you work at TMRC and banging two of your former students should’ve made it pretty fucking obvious that you’re not a monster racist!”

“I think the issue lies with more than that, sis. Think about it. We know that Faulkner isn’t like that. But what about how others who don’t know about him like we do? Just as how the public will soon see me as a shameless whore with the things I did with my mom, Monster girls are going to assume Faulkner is racist towards them because of his parents.” Nodding in agreement with Reiza, Karika couldn’t think of anything to say as all she could do was grit her teeth in annoyance.

“You both already know about my new responsibilities at my job, right? I won’t just be teaching anymore. I’ll also be responsible for passing down my knowledge to other teachers. Who would listen to me if they assume I’m racist toward monsters? As much as I hate it, I can’t blame Reiss for questioning me. Whether I acknowledged what I was like before was wrong or not, the fact remains that I used to be racist to monsters.” Hitting her where it hurts, Reiza felt her chest tighten at how familiar this sounds. She confessed her past to Faulkner and felt agonizing tension, wondering if he’d look past the fact that she slept with others before him. Or worse, feel disgusted at how promiscuous she was.

Knowing where this conversation was going, Reiza pulled herself forward to the edge of her seat.

“So…knowing what I was like before, do you still feel comfortable being with me?” While Reiza remained calm as she anticipated this, Karika was quite the opposite as a vein bulged out from her right temple. “I love you both so much. But if what I somehow dragged you two down with me because of who I was before, then I’d rather…” Reaching her boiling point, Karika raised her right arm before forming a fist. Reiza and Faulkner stared at Karika before she brought her fist down like a hammer on the coffee table, smashing it right in the middle. The impact sent shards of splintered wood everywhere. The soda cans on the coffee table were sent into the air as Faulkner and Reiza moved to avoid the flying cans. Karika’s hammered fist left an imprint where she struck before she looked at Faulkner.

“You damn idiot!” Stepping over the smashed coffee table, Karika picked Faulkner up by his shirt collar a few inches off the ground before pushing him back down on his seat. “Why is it okay for you to tell people to fuck off about Reiza’s past but not yours?! Do you think Reiza and I would think less of you because of your past?! Fuck that!”

“This is different, Karika!” Getting in between Karika and Faulkner, Reiza turns around to face Karika first with her hands up, gesturing for her to calm down before turning around to face Faulkner.

“Look, I understand where you’re coming from, Faulkner. But don’t you think it’s hypocritical of you to say that? You told me before that my past doesn’t matter, but yours suddenly does? If what you were like before is that bad, I should feel bad about what I did in the past, right?”

“I…no! That’s not what I-” Using his words against him, Faulkner sank back into his couch as he felt Karika and Reiza judgingly staring at him.

“What matters is who you are now, not what you were before. If people have a problem with who you were before, either ignore them or prove them wrong!”

“Considering he has us as his girlfriends and the gratitude of his former students, he doesn’t have to prove anything.”

“Right! Denise was nice enough to give us a free house because of him!” Having been forced to face the hypocrisy of his words, Faulkner felt both guilty and relieved to be scolded by Karika and Reiza. Nobody’s perfect, so knowing they’ll support him whenever he stumbles blew most of his worries away.

“Thanks, you two.” Standing up from his single sofa, Faulkner kisses Reiza on her forehead. “I should put what I told you into practice, huh?”

“You should. Otherwise, you’re going to make me doubt myself too.” Returning his smile with her own, Faulkner turned to Karika next. Expecting a kiss on the forehead, or even her lips, she bent her knees down and leaned forward with her lips puckered. Instead of a kiss, Faulkner gave Karika a swift karate chop on the head.

“Ow!” Reeling back from the chop, Karika nearly tripped from the coffee table she had smashed earlier.

“I appreciate the pep talk, but did you really have to smash my coffee table?! Not to mention you spilled the drinks that were on it on the floor!” Pointing at the soda cans on the coffee table earlier, Karika rubbed the top of her head to ease the pain.

“Okay, I’m sorry! But did you have to hit me that hard?!”

“Quit complaining! The hand I hit you with took more damage than you did!”

“Speaking of what Denise gave us, when are we moving to our new home anyway?” Successfully changing the subject to calm them down, Faulkner sighs before smiling.

“I’ll rent a storage truck for us. We’ll have it for three days. That should give us plenty of time to move our stuff there. I’m sure Trisha won’t mind lending a hand again. She’ll probably bring a friend along this time around.” Raising their eyebrows in confusion, Karika and Reiza looked at each other before turning to look at Faulkner.

“You make it sound like we’ve never met this ‘friend’ of hers before.”

“That’s because you haven’t met him yet, Karika.”

“Him?”

“That’s enough questions for now. We’ll start moving our stuff on a Thursday. Reiza, considering you’ve had a long, exhausting day, you should spend the rest of the day relaxing. As for you, Karika, you get to help me clean up the mess you made by breaking my coffee table!”

“What?!”

“Or, would you rather clean it up by yourself?” Rather than tempting fate, Karika remained quiet as her shoulders slumped and her ears went limp in defeat. “After that, you’re coming with me for grocery shopping.” The promise of food motivates Karika, making her ears and tail jump up with glee.

“Oh?! What’re you making for dinner?!”

“You’ll find out once we go out shopping.” With the rest of their day planned out, Faulkner and Karika start working on cleaning up the living room.

“I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted, so I’m gonna take a quick nap in the bedroom.”

“Sure. We might be gone by the time you wake up, so just wait for us here, alright?” With an affirming nod, Reiza excused herself and headed to Faulkner’s bedroom.

“…” After closing the bedroom door, Reiza leaned on it as she recalled what Meredith said to her.

‘You have my blessings to wed my whore of a daughter!’ Clenching her hands into fists, memories of her previous lifestyle torment her. If there’s one thing Meredith was right about, it’d be hard to look past public perception. Reiza never cared about her reputation before meeting Faulkner.

“Heh, thinking back to what I was like before, I bet my past self would’ve found the prospect of marriage to be a waste of time, let alone sharing a husband with a thick-headed boar…” With Faulkner’s bed in front of her, Reiza imagines herself sleeping with Faulkner and Karika. “Ah well, who cares about that now? I have them with me, and that’s all that matters.” With her mood lifted, Reiza jumps onto Faulkner’s bed before falling asleep.

____________________

“Hmm, I wonder how long ago those two left to go grocery shopping?” Two hours after Karika and Faulkner tidied up the living, there was no trace of the mess Karika made. The living room felt bigger without a coffee table in the middle of the couch and TV.

“I wonder what time it is…” Reiza didn’t even have time to check the time on her phone as text alerts flooded her screen. “Huh?! A group text message?” Nearly all of Reiza’s friends from TMRC sent her text messages.

[Group Text Message

Erma: Hey! Graduates of Faulkner’s class, I made this text message group! I figured this would be useful since we’re friends and all! Anyways, Reiza, I saw you on the news today! Are you sure you’re alright?

Chelsy: That’s a stupid question to ask, Erma. You saw what she was like in the news interview! She’s fine!

Zedrada: She probably did that to avoid making themselves look back on live television.

Fereida: Yeah, but couldn’t she just refuse? I know I would after going through something like that!

Karika: Whoa! I didn’t know we could make group text messages on our phones?! Anyways, Reiza’s fine.

Nala: I just saw the news! It’s awful!

Mala: That trial made me and Nala feel uneasy. It’s like Meredith wasn’t trying to win that trial.

Persha: Us too!

Jun: We were tense the whole court trial as it was live on TV.

Kami: I hated listening to that Defendant!

Naeomi: It doesn’t matter now, right? The important thing is that they lost!

Sara: Right! Hey, so how’s everyone these days?!

Sena: Don’t detail the subject like that, Sara! We still haven’t heard back from Reiza!

As more text of banter between everyone fills the group chat, Reiza couldn’t help but smile.

Reiza: Sorry for the late reply, girls! I got some sleep in after the court trial. Anyways, I’m doing fine. Even more so knowing how much you guys care.

It didn’t take long before everyone started replying to her text message.

Kilala: Hehe, settle down girls, Reiza needs her rest. I’ll be going shopping with her soon as her bestie.

Reiza: Hey, speaking of, I’ll be free tomorrow. We can go tomorrow if you want.

Nala: You two are going shopping?! Can my sister and I tag along?!

Mala: Yeah, can we?!

Reiza: Sure, I don’t mind if you two come if Kilala’’s okay with it.

Kilala: No problem. The more, the merrier. ]

Just as she was about to text her reply, Reiza heard the front door open before Faulkner came in with a bag of groceries.

“Ah, Faulkner! Do you need help carrying stuff?”

“No, Karika’s got the rest.” Putting the grocery bags down, Faulkner went to his car to grab the rest before Karika came in with her load.

“Man, Faulkner bought more food than I thought he would. Guess he wants to cook a big feast when we move into that new house. Small tits, I saw your reply back to the group text earlier. We were just on our way home when you texted.” Checking her phone, Karika hadn’t seen the part where Kilala chimed in yet. “Ah! You’re planning to go shopping tomorrow?! I want to go too!” With the rest of the groceries taken from his car, Faulkner brings them to the kitchen to sort the food out.

“What’s this I hear about shopping?”

“Faulkner, do you mind taking me to the local strip mall tomorrow?” Helping Faulkner with the groceries, Reiza recognized some of the ingredients he laid on the kitchen table.

“Huh? Have you already planned things out with Kilala? Sure. I don’t mind dropping you off.”

“Can I go with her, Faulkner?”

“I don’t see why you can’t. You did pack everything up in your apartment for when we move, right, Karika?” Instead of a straight answer, Karika froze in place. Stuttering as she tried to find an excuse to tell him, a bead of sweat fell on her forehead as she felt Faulkner glaring at her.

“DAMMIT! You hadn’t even started, did you?!”

“H-hey! Reiza and I helped you pack your things! And Reiza had everyone in your class help her pack! You want me to pack my things on my own?!” Thinking that she was being clever, Karika smiled, thinking that she’s won their argument.

“Oh? If that’s the case, I’ll help you move. Knowing how much crap you have in your apartment, between sorting out your junk and the stuff you want to keep, we’ll be there ALL DAY! So no shopping for you!”

“What?! No fair!” Ignoring Karika’s tantrum, Reiza had a general idea of what Faulkner will cook for tonight.

“Hey, Faulkner. The stuff on the kitchen counter. Are you cooking what I think you’re cooking?” Giving Reiza a knowing smile, Faulkner got his kitchen tools ready.

“Chicken Parmesan. My variation isn’t too different from the one you made for Karika, though I’ll be using Pappardelle pasta noodles.”

“Hehe, I wonder how different it’ll be from how I make it. Mind if I help out?”

“Hmm? Sure. I don’t mind having a set of helping hands.”

“What about me?” Pointing at herself, Faulkner knew leaving Karika out would make her feel lonely.

“Karika, why don’t you get the dinner table ready? After that, clean any dishes we don’t need anymore as Reiza and I cook. That way, we’ll have less to do by the time we finish eating.” Feeling happy at being included by the swinging motions of her tail, Karika smiles at Faulkner before giving him a thumbs up.

“Got it!”

____________________

“Damn, she’s already asleep?” After eating dinner, Karika got tired and fell asleep a few minutes after sitting on the couch.

“Leave her be. Karika was hella stressed out today, so trying to keep her anger under control tires her out…” Playing video games an hour before midnight, Reiza and Faulkner sat on the vacant carpeted floor where his coffee table once stood.

“…you know, I kind of feel bad for Karika…”

“Why’s that?” Keeping the TV’s volume down for Karika’s sake, Reiza’s exasperated sigh didn’t go unnoticed as she glanced at Karika from behind.

“What if our past catches up to us?”

“Oh? I thought we discussed this already. It doesn’t matter what we were like before. What we are now is what matters, right?”

“I know that. If it’s just you and me, then I wouldn’t care. But…” Knowing where Reiza was getting at, Faulkner couldn’t help but agree with her.

“Yeah. Karika and her parents. You’re scared that our reputation and past might cause trouble for them in the future. Trust me, I know.” It wasn’t as apparent from the sound of his voice, but Faulkner was pressing the buttons on his controller harder than he needed to.

“Good to know we’re on the same page then. I already feel anxious about people thinking badly of Karika because of her relationship with us. What about the kids we’ll have in the future? How would they feel if they knew their mom used to sleep around like a whore for money?”

“Hah, at least in your case, you had a reason to do what you did. If you didn’t sleep around with random people, you wouldn’t have the money to feed or clothe yourself. There shouldn’t be any reason for baseless discrimination like I used to believe in.” Nudging him with her left arm, Faulkner stopped playing before seeing Reiza pouting at him.

“Pot, meet kettle. You were a sheltered kid who was taught nothing but lies. You had your suspicions as a kid, but you later learned what your parents taught you was wrong by the time you were an adult.” Before the two would invariably go on a back-and-forth tangent between whose actions were justified, they stopped talking when they heard Karika snoring behind them.

“…look at us. Arguing in circles for something we couldn’t help…” Finding their situation funny, Faulkner chuckles with Reiza.

“I normally don’t say this…but maybe we should worry about that stuff when we get to it…”

“Hah, that’s definitely not normal for you.”

“Shut up.” Closing his eyes, Reiza took that opportunity to move and sit on top of Faulkner’s legs. “Wah, Reiza?” Facing him, Reiza leans her arms against his chest, pushing him back against the couch.

“That chicken parm you made was delicious, but I’m still hungry for something else. You’re not going to ridicule me because of what I’m about to do, are you?” The black flames on Reiza’s horns burned as softly as her voice. Rubbing Faulkner’s nipples through his t-shirt with her thumbs, Faulkner noticed Reiza’s tail as it wrapped around his left leg.

“Not as long as you don’t ridicule me for calling you a horny little devil…” Giving her asscheeks a gentle squeeze, he slid his left hand down from the base of where Reiza’s tail to the length of its spaded tip while he traced his right middle and pointing finger between her wings.

“Fuwah…” Hitting her sensitive erogenous spots softly, Reiza muffles her moans by burying her lips on Faulkner’s neck.

“Ah…acting like a vampire now?” Softly biting onto his neck, Reiza didn’t take too kindly to Faulkner calling her vampire.

“Mlah…I’m not a Vampire, you dolt. I’m a Pyrow…” Wearing nothing beneath his pajama pants, Reiza feels Faulkner’s rigid cock beneath her pussy. Anticipating what’s to come next, Reiza swiftly pulls her pajama pants down along with Faulkners before pushing her soaking panties against his dick.

“I know. I’m just teasing you.” Moving his right hand behind Reiza’s head, Faulkner pulls her lips against his. Feeling a gentle yet mind-numbing relief from their kiss, Reiza momentarily went limp in his embrace. Wrapping his left arm around her waist for support, Reiza indulges in Faulkner’s spirit energy as she sucks it from kissing him.

“More…please…” Having acclimated after receiving his spirit energy, Reiza retook the initiative, kissing Faulkner more passionately. Melting under Reiza’s passionate assault, she greedily sucks on his tongue while moving her hips up to pull the crotch of her panties aside with her right hand. Holding onto his shoulder for support with her left hand, she looked down at their crotches before dropping her waist down and swallowing his cock inside her pussy.

“HNNGGG!!!” With a satisfied smile, Reiza’s eyes roll up in relief, feeling his spirit energy flow into her.

“Were you really that hungry?” Seeing Reiza in rapture, her wings extended from her waist before folding around Faulkner’s hips.

“That’s part of it. But it’s mostly from how safe I feel in your embrace. It doesn’t hurt that it feels good either.” Holding onto his shoulders for support, Reiza starts to bounce her hips.

Even though their movements sent ripples to the couch Karika was sleeping on, she was too deep in her sleep to notice Reiza and Faulkner fucking right next to her.

“Dammit…those bouncing tits of yours are really distracting…” With a clear view of Reiza’s bouncing breasts underneath her white undershirt, Faulkner grabs the collar of her shirt. In one swift motion, Faulkner tears her shirt right in the middle. Her bouncing breasts out in the open for Faulkner to ogle at, Reiza stopped moving to scold him.

“Ah! You could’ve asked me to take it off!”

“I could. I could’ve asked, but I thought this was more…exciting. Besides, this is my undershirt that you’re wearing.” Groping her right tit with his left hand, Faulkner pressed his lips against Reiza’s left tit.

“Ah, you dick!” From the tone of her voice, Reiza sounded mad at Faulkner. But physically, she held him tightly in her embrace, pressing his face harder against her chest as if to goad him to suck harder.

“You say that…but you’re moving your hips more frantically now. Are you getting close to cumming?” Noticing her pistoning movements getting slower, Reiza tried to deny Faulkner’s claim by shaking her head.

“Wha-what?! I’m nowhere near satisfied yet” Seeing right through her brave facade, Faulkner took the initiative and pushed Reiza down. “Ah!”

“Try not to act so tough, alright? To be honest, I’m getting close, so I’d rather finish like this if you don’t mind?” With her back against the floor, all she could do to answer was to wrap her legs around his hips. It wasn’t just her legs either. Her tail wrapped around his waist to feel closer to him.

“You’d better make it good then…” The way she averted her gaze and blushed was cute in its own way, but Faulkner wanted to look at her eye to eye.

“I can’t do that if you look away. I want to see those beautiful eyes of yours…” Grabbing her chin, Faulkner gently coerces her to look him in the eyes. Staring deep into her fiery irises, he pushes his lips deeply against hers before slamming his waist against hers as fast as he can.

“HHMPPPFFH!!!” Desperately trying to stay conscious, Reiza wraps her arms around his back. Inadvertently digging her nails into Faulkner’s back, he didn’t flinch even as her nails tore through his skin as he was too preoccupied with kissing her.

Then, with one final thrust, Faulkner hugs Reiza as close to his body as possible before cumming deep inside her. Moaning during their kiss, they pulled their lips away, desperate to catch their breath to the point that they cared little for how much droll spilled from their lips.

“Ah…f…fuck me…” Letting her arms go limp, they slid off his back as Reiza lay on the carpeted floor, panting while smiling at him. “Hey…is Karika still sleeping?” For a moment, Faulkner’s body tensed up from anxiety. Scared to know if Karika watched them silently the whole time he and Reiza were fucking, he slowly turned his head back to the couch where thankfully, Karika was still sleeping.

“By some miracle…she’s still asleep…” With a sigh of relief, Faulkner stood up while Reiza sat up. “Come on, let’s take a shower real quick. After that, let’s clean up the mess we made on the carpet here. That way, when we wake Karika back up to sleep on the bed with us, she won’t notice what we did here.”

“Good idea” Lending her a hand, Faulkner pulls Reiza back up before they head straight to the bathroom for a much-needed shower.

(Next Chapter:https://touchfluffytail.org/story/an-arrival-of-a-rival-ch15/)

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2 thoughts on “An Arrival of a Rival. CH14

  1. Well, there are point in that courtroom that I would like to have made objections to, and, after that last outburst from the defendant mother that I would have pointed out to the judge, asking for another charge to be tried at a later date, and a suggested life without parole ( leaving imprisonment only after an autopsy)… this does end on a happy note, however… I guess I am oversensitive to any injustice, even fictional…

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