Dark Heavens is the property of Kylie Chan, the world used here without permission for non-profit purposes. This is a work of fanfiction only. Please comment and criticise.
"Look, Kincaid, your dad's good – but that doesn't mean I'm going to jump him as soon as he gets here. You should know me better than that." I growled at the blonde on the other side of my desk.
"I know you well enough, Maira." Kincaid replied, irritated. The twenty-something half-Chinese man didn't believe me for a minute, I knew. He reeked of disbelief.
Maybe I should back up for a moment. My name is Maira Killarney, and I'm a Retainer to Bai Hu, the White Tiger God, the West Wind. He wants me to be more, but even if my spiritual nature didn't make it an impossibility there was no way I would get involved with someone who spent most of his time in a form that holds no interest for me.
"Then you should know that unless he decides he wants me when he visits, he'll have about as much effect on me as you do, five five eight." I told him, leaning back in my chair with a sigh. Kincaid was one of my master slash suitor's sons. I didn't think the Tiger actually knew his name, but he was the head groom here at the Tralee stables.
"I have no reason to believe that. He seduced you before. Look, just don't make things... complicated, okay?" He sighed. "The last thing I want is to have the pecking order disturbed, and Kate's been getting restless."
"He tried and failed." I reminded him. "I won't go out of my way unless he starts trying it for real. I think he's forgotten me, though - last I heard he was aiming for some Australian girl the Dark Lord employed. You know what he's like when he's trying to get a new girl in."
"Just be careful." Kincaid finished, forcefully, before turning and storming out. Emotions burn hotly amongst the Irish, and I knew that he'd be angry for a while now. Kincaid had never liked the fact that his mother, the most senior of Bai Hu's women in Ireland, was sometimes ignored in favour of the Tiger's continued attempts to ensure that I joined his wives. It wasn't just that he thought his mother, Ashley, should be the Tiger's first call when he arrived, but also because I wasn't human, let alone Immortal or Shen.
About sixty years ago, the King of the Demons' thirtieth son had decided to try interbreeding eastern spirits with western creatures. My mother had been a captive kitsune, or Japanese fox spirit he'd been saving for a special occasion, while my father was a grig, a kind of Celtic faerie known for their musical glamour. That made me technically a demon, though perhaps it was the nature of a kitsune, or something to do with the often sexual nature of the fey, but where previous attempts had led to brittle freaks who were easy to destroy but had strange powers, the hell-spurred union of my parents had led to a creature who had some of the best aspects of both races. I wasn't going to be hurling foxfire around or controlling humans with a fiddle any time soon, but as long as I didn't have any unfortunate accidents with hawthorn or iron, I was never going to look older than mid-twenties in this form, I could take the shape of pretty much any animal I could learn enough about, as well as my current human form and my natural one, and I was an unnaturally good musician.
Putting Kincaid's visit out of my mind, I turned back to what I had been doing. Bai Hu had assured me that his women never had to work, but I'd discovered my refuge long before swearing in as his Retainer, and now I needed the refuge of numbers more than ever. Running the accounts for the stable and riding club was a safe way of indulging myself without anyone getting bent out of shape about my conduct amongst humans. I'd barely been able to read three lines before the air became energised in the way that only the presence of a powerful yang creature can effect. The Tiger had arrived.
A few moments later, the door to my office burst open so hard it banged against the wall, bouncing to swing back slowly as it quivered. The man who entered was only average height, but powerfully built and with the most amazing thick, white hair. Despite the hair, he looked to be in the prime of his life.
"Maira! You look healthy. How have you been?" He asked, jovially, almost stalking across the room to come round the table and attempt to kiss me. I avoided it with a subtle glare.
"Well enough, my Lord." I replied. "Please don't try that again, you know how I feel about that form."
"Of course, of course." He grinned, stepping back. "I would change, for you, but I have to meet with someone soon, and I would hate to rush things." He turned to sit in my chair, and I moved back around with a small sigh. He must have heard it, but he made no comment, instead reading the documents I'd been working on.
"Still balancing books, love?" He asked, glancing up at me.
"Always." It was impossible to dislike Bai Hu, or Tiger White as his British passport claimed. He was an incorrigible flirt, a womanizer and rude, but he could also be gentle and caring... in a predatory kind of way. "With the amounts of cash flowing through this establishment, it's a full-time job."
"You should employ someone to do it. It's not fitting for one of my women to belittle herself with work." He told me, looking me straight in the eyes. I felt a slight flush rising, and squashed it.
"I am not one of your wives, Tiger, and Celestial willing I never will be." I reminded him. I wasn't going to bring up the two wives he kept here's dislike of me now – it would only serve to cause trouble.
"Pah. There's nothing stopping you joining my harem any time you want." He grumbled, turning back to the books and frowning slightly.
"I am a tame demon, Bai Hu." I reminded him, patiently. "I cannot even marry a human, let alone a Shen, let alone the West Wind." Even if I wanted to. I'd tried explaining that, though, and it had gone straight over his head. It seemed inconceivable to him that any woman wouldn't be interested in him, even if they would demand he change sex first. Not that he had any problem with using a female form to seduce a girl he wanted, but it hadn't fooled me. Even with breasts, the White Tiger was still very, very male.
"Pfft." Was the only response my Lord had to that. I sighed and started clearing up.
"Oh. By the way, Maira." He spoke, and I looked at him, waiting. "I'm meeting with the Frenchwoman in about ten minutes."
"As you say, sir." I sighed. "Feel free to use my office. I'll make myself scarce."
"Don't go far. I might need you." He told me, and I nodded. It was a clear dismissal, so I stepped outside and went for a walk.
It was only three days after that when Simon Wong first appeared. He walked into the courtyard and started asking about horse hire and lessons. If Kincaid, Patrick or Andrew had been the one working Casey that morning, I hesitate to think what would have happened, but it was Sarah, a human girl from the city who didn't know about Shen, or demons or the Celestial who he spoke to. I'd only accepted her help warily – she almost seemed to be too good to be true, offering to help muck out and work the horses during the week in exchange for riding lessons, but so far she seemed to be completely genuine. I arrived in time to see Wong leaving, and he was gone too quickly for me to understand his true nature at that time.