DISCLAIMER: I don't own Zero no Tsukaima.

Saito was having a messed up dream.

Now, he was not dreaming that Tabitha, Kirche, Montmorency, Siesta, and Jessica were in "fairy" outifits from Scarron's fetish tavern, similar to the one Louise wore when Henrietta asked them to work undercover for her, and were catering to his wishes and calling him Goshujin-sama - Master, in other words. That would fall under the classification of 'happy' dream, at least until Louise would inevitably stomp in, whip in hand, decked out with a leather police-type beret, leather boots, and leather hot pants that were held up by two suspender straps that also hid her nipples from view. At that point, the dream would degenerate to horrendous, as Louise would whip the tar out of him, and then pass the whip around to the other girls, who would give out their own lashes. Horrendous, indeed. But it was not messed up.

By his definition, messed up was talking to a cloud of eyes. And these were no ordinary eyes - some he could tell were dog eyes, some were cat eyes, and some belonged to birds. That was as far as he could identify them, and talking was in itself a vague term. Usually when Saito talked to someone, or something, it had a mouth. However, communicating to a scintillating cloud with animal eyes all over - well, he wasn't sure if talking was exactly the right word, despite the fact that he was carrying a conversation with someone.

He hoped he wasn't going insane. Was that a sign of impending insanity, talking to one's self in a dream?

Fear not, human familiar. You are not going mad, except perhaps with your emotions you cannot reveal.

"Who are you?" Saito asked. He looked around the dreamscape, and saw that he was floating on a grid of glowing squares suspended over a field of stars.

I am Hyakkujuu-oh, Spirit Lord of Animals. Other people know me as Pan-Samun, the Patron of Conjurers. Those are but some of my names, and I have many more, one for each incantation that is laid at my altar.

"Wow! This dream is the bomb! I'm actually talking to a Spirit Lord in my dream? Well, this is a dream, so I guess I'll play along. Lord of Spirits, to what do I owe this visit?"

Blessed are you, Saito Hiraga, for it is usually only to intelligent or magical beasts that I appear. Unicorns, dragons, griffins, krakens - my loyal subjects all. Due to your circumstances as a familiar, that makes you the newest member of my wonderful menagerie. And as one who oversees you, I must see to your welfare at least once a year.

"How are you supposed to do that, when this is a dream? Ow!" Saito spun to see what whapped him on the back of his head, and he saw a pink, healthy looking tentacle wave at him, and following it to its source he saw that it came from the cloud of eyes.

Do not doubt me. I am a god, although I may not look like one. I see you have doubts. In that case, to prove my powers to you, ask me for anything that involves transformation, alteration, or bestowing something on your person, and you shall see it when you wake from this dream.

"Transform, alter, or bestow something on me? Like what?"

The multitude of eyes blinked,as if to say, "You can't be serious. Surely there must be something you think you want."

Thinking that this was some great joke, Saito replied, "Alright. Lord of Spirits, please make me feel no pain from anything that Louise, no, make that any female mage throws at me or uses against me."

The cloud of eyes blinked. Done! When you wake from this dream, try it out, and learn the truth of my words! Witness, and believe.

With that, Hyakkujuu-oh left, and Saito had the sensation that he was falling at the rate of 9.8 meters per second, squared. "Ah, heck, this is going to be one of those dreams," Saito thought, as he stretched his legs and arms wide to get more air resistance.

His left hand felt something warm, smooth, and breathing. Instantly, he knew what he was touching, despite his sleep-fogged mind. "Please, kami-sama, don't let her wake up," Saito silently prayed. It was not to be, however. He heard an indignant squeak, which made his left hand clench, which triggered a gasp, which in turn propelled him up and over his side of the bed, landing hard on the cold stone floor, taking the covers with him as he went down.

From what she had felt earlier and the crash she heard just now, Louise made some inferences, and concluded that some pervert had copped a feel, fallen over the side of the bed when she reacted, and was now ready for his daily morning dose of punishment. "You perverted, despicable dog!" she shrieked as she stood on the bed and glared down at the boy she slept with.

"It was an accident! I swear I would never have touched your flat chest... oh crap."

"What. Did. You. Say. About. My. CHEST!?"

"It was nothing! Nothing, I meant -"

"My chest is nothing?! Saito, I'm going to kill you!" Louise yelled, bounding over to her dresser and taking out the whip she kept in the top drawer. With practiced ease and an eerie grin on her face, she pulled her arm back and cracked the whip at Saito.

Silence.

Saito blinked. "Whoa, dodged it!"

"You didn't," Louise said, pointing to his cut cheek. "You're bleeding, as it is."

"Eh?" Now that she mentioned it, Saito did feel a trickle down his cheek and touched it with his finger. He brought it to his vision and saw that there was blood on his finger tip. "Hmm, that's odd, I didn't feel anything."

"What are you talking about? You're saying you didn't feel that lash?"

"Nope."

"That's a lie! Take this! And this!" Louise rained whip lashes on Saito, who half-heartedly raised his arm to fend them off. To both their surprise, Saito didn't yell out as the whip wrapped around his forearm and the spikes buried themselves in his jacket arm.

"Saito," was all Louise could say. She was so shocked that she let go of the whip.

He wasn't paying her any attention, though, as he was trying to recall a vivid dream he was sure he had before he woke up. "Louise."

"What is it?"

"Use your wand on me."

"Huh!? What's gotten into you? Usually you're shaking when I bring out my wand, and now you're asking for it?" she asked, not quite believeing what she heard.

"Just one quick spell blast. Look, if you don't want to do it, I can ask Kirche or Tabitha."

"You wouldn't dare! Grrr, angering me so early in the morning, I'm going to punish you!"

An explosion rocked the room, creating a thick cloud of smoke that wafted out of the thankfully open windows. When it cleared, Saito was sooty, but wasn't stunned, dazed, or on the floor as he usually would be after one of Louise's explosions. "Now this is definitely odd," Saito said, sounding pleased with himself. He stretched, and winced. "My hip still hurts - I guess that means my body hasn't gone numb. Could it be?"

"What are you talking about, Saito? Anyway, come here so I can tend to that cut on your cheek."

"Nah, I think I'm gonna keep it. I wonder what people would say if they saw me with that wound?" he mused.

"Saito, this is no time to joke around! At least let me wipe the blood and soot off! You wouldn't want that cut to be infected, would you?"

Saito was considering his response as he walked over and sat on the bed.

A. It would serve you right if it did get infected.

B. Are you worried about me?

"Are you worried about me?" Saito asked.

"O- of course not! It's just that if my familiar were to appear outside in that condition, people would think that I don't see to my duties properly! They'd say I as an irresponsible mage!"

"So it's your responsibility to patch me up after tearing into me with your wand or whip, eh? In that case, thank you for your minstrations, Mistress. I shall take no more of your time in seeing to that cut. I shall pester the kitchen staff instead - surely they have something for cut fingers and such. If you'll excuse me," Saito recited stiffly, standing up.

Now Louise was really confused. She thought initially that Saito was bluffing, that he was pretending to feel no pain, and it turned out that neither her whip lashes or her magic had any effect on him. She knew from experience that they would have hurt, and his clothes attested to the fact that she wasn't drunk blind and missing her aim, but Saito seemed to be immune to it all. And what was with this sudden attitude change? It was like he suddenly became fearless. At the very least, he wasn't afraid of her punishments anymore.

And if he wasn't afraid of punishment anymore, how can she keep him by her side, away from any other girls? "Saito, why do you insist on going away from me?" she asked softly. "Don't I take care of you well enough?"

In an equally soft voice, he replied, "Because, Louise, there is a difference in being taken care of and in being cared for."

He had decided to put things to the test. "I'm going." He had hardly taken two steps toward the door when he felt hands on his sleeve. He stopped, and waited.

"Don't go," came Louise's teary whisper. "Don't go, Saito, please."

"Tell me why, then. Why would I stay with someone who believes circumstantial evidence over my confession, who always thinks the worst of me, who treats me no better than a pet dog, who sees no one at fault other than me, and finally, one who does not understand that I have feelings like she does."

"Because I can't bear it when I see you with someone else! I get torn up inside, and my first impulse is to hit you so that you don't do it again!"

Saito smiled sadly. He sat back down on the bed, so that if he felt like jerking his arm out of her grip, she wouldn't fall off the bed. He didn't want to do so at the moment, though. "That's how you treat an animal, Louise, and I strongly resent being treated that way. I am a human, and grew up where the rich people have the same rights and needs as the less monied, the only difference being what the less monied can afford. My being your familiar does not remove any of my needs, and I don't think you can, or would want to fill some of them."

"I will, and can do so! Name those needs! As your master, even if I can't fulfill those needs, at the very least I must be aware of them."

Deciding to press his luck - and why shouldn't he, when he can't feel any pain from her actions anymore - Saito named a rather daring need. "Alright. I need physical intimacy."

As expected, Louise's eyes grew wide. "Physical intimacy?"

"Yes. Holding hands, embraces, kisses, that sort of thing. For me, it's proof stronger than words of someone's affection for me."

"I see."

"Can you fulfill that particular need, Louise?" Saito asked, focusing his entire attention on the girl. "Or do I seek fulfillment somewhere else?"

"I... I don't want you to go to another girl!" Louise replied honestly.

"So, is that a yes?"

"H-how many do you think need?"

Saito smiled at her question. "Probably a lot, to ensure that I don't seek them from others. And because I know how you feel about kissing in front of an audience, I'll only collect kisses when no one's around."

After getting to his feet, he helped Louise up. "We can sort out the other details later at night. Now then, let's get you ready for your sister's combat magic class." He leaned down and planted a quick kiss on her nose.