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Maiden in your Pocket (mini shirohebi WIP)

Dramanon Jul 16th, 2015 (edited) 2,309 Never
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  1. Current Update: Line 165
  2. So, yeah. I realize that I fell through on that whole 'weekly updates' thing, so I figured I'd explain what happened. Last week (July 28-August 3) I was out of town at GenCon and didn't have my laptop with me. I am also currently in the middle of moving with my family. Add in work, and it pretty much killed my writing momentum. I'm hoping to get back into my stride over the next few days and (hopefully) have something to put out by Friday.
  3.  
  4.         You wander around the mall, your head on a swivel looking for it. You had heard rumors that they brought one in, but you hadn't seen it yet. It's gotta be somewhere...A-ha!
  5.        
  6.         They had erected it in the East Side plaza, and now you see why: this thing was massive. The machine stood probably a good two feet taller than you were. The globe on its top was big enough for you to fit in with room to spare. Each capsule was about the size of a softball, made out of bright plastic & completely opaque. As opposed to just a simple spiral, it was more like one of the novelty machines, with belts, tracks, and hooks that led the capsule around before depositing it. A large banner over the thing read:
  7.  
  8.         >POCKET GIRLS: ADOPT ONE TODAY FOR JUST $50. SUPPLIES LIMITED<
  9.        
  10.         It was the newest fad among monster girls. They would sign up to be shrunk down to the size of a doll, put to sleep in a capsule, and wait to be 'adopted' by some guy willing to fork over the money. It was supposed to be economic; give guys who didn't have the means to house a full-sized monster a way to live with one, and help any monsters who couldn't find a guy. The entire presentation seemed a little weird, making them seem more like collectibles than potential roommates. (could you really call them girlfriends?) A friend of yours had joked that they should be called 'Pocket Monsters', but you were reasonably sure Nintendo would have sued the crap out of them for that.
  11.        
  12.         And despite all of your misgivings about it, here you were, money in hand. Frankly, it had just gotten boring living alone. You wanted someone to talk to, to spend time with, even if they could fit in your hand. You finally make it to the front of the line and hand over your cash to the young tanuki running the kiosk. She counts it out & puts it away before handing you a sheet of paper with a pen.
  13.        
  14.         'Just a waiver to state that you take full responsibility for the girl.'
  15.        
  16.         You scrawl out your signature and hand it back to her. She looks it over and smiles.
  17.        
  18.         'Everything seems to be in order, then. Here you are, sir, and good luck!'
  19.        
  20.         She hands you a metal token about the size of a mini CD. Seems a little overkill for all of this, but who were you to judge? You step up to the machine and drop the token into the slot. The crank takes a fair bit of force to actually turn, but with a bit of effort it finally rolls over with a satisfying *thunk*. An ice blue capsule drops out of the globe, slowly winding its way through the complex track. After a good minute of watching it go up, down, and all around in the machine, it is finally deposited in the well for you. How do any of the girls in these things survive?
  21.        
  22.         You opt to take the capsule out to your car before opening it. You're still a little curious about who or what could be inside, and try to peek in a bit. Sadly, the plastic is too thick to shine a light through, so you can see nothing. Once you're in your car, you take hold of the two halves of the capsule with both hands. Taking a deep breath, you crack the bubble open.
  23.        
  24.         A small plume of smoke is the first thing to escape the capsule. You get a whiff of it and you suddenly feel a little drowsy. Must be some kind of sleeping spell, whatever was keeping the girl inside suspended.
  25.        
  26.         You peer into a half of the capsule and are greeted by a mass of white coils. Slowly they begin to shift, revealing a human form hidden inside. She's wearing a small white robe with a red skirt. pale, bluish-silver hair is draped all along her body. Her eyes flutter open, revealing brilliant crimson irises. She pushes herself up on delicate arms and groggily looks around until she finds your face. Her eyes widen as she realizes what has happened, and a smile spreads across her face.
  27.        
  28.         'Greetings, master! Thank you so much for choosing me!' She bows to you, thrown slightly off balance by the after effects of whatever spell she was under. 'My name is Miko, and I am honored to make your acquaintance. May I ask your name?'
  29.        
  30.         You introduce yourself to Miko, extending a hand towards her before realizing how stupid it is. She takes your index finger in her tiny hands, holding it as delicately as if it were made of glass, and gives you another courteous bow. 'It is a pleasure to meet you, master.'
  31.        
  32.         'You don't have to do that, you know.'
  33.        
  34.         'Do what?' She gives you quizzical tilt of her head.
  35.        
  36.         'Call me master. It's really awkward.'
  37.        
  38.         She shakes her head. 'Oh, no, but I insist. You are the one who chose me. I owe this life to you, and so I see as my master. It is a sign of great respect.' She really seems adamant about this whole 'master' deal. Guess you'll just have to get used to it.
  39.        
  40.         She slowly slithers up out of the capsule and onto your arm, looking around. She rises up about five inches, but from head to tail she looks to be a bit over a foot long. You also make out red lines on her back. It's hard to tell if they're just scales or some sort of tattoo.
  41.        
  42.         'Pardon me for asking, master, but is this your residence?' The question pulls you back to the present and focused on the little serpent woman.
  43.        
  44.         'Huh? Oh, no. I don't live here. This is just my car.'
  45.        
  46.         'Ahh, I see. Forgive my cluelessness. I lived a rather simple life back at my temple before leaving.'
  47.        
  48.         'It's no problem. We'll be back at my place in a little while. Just have to make a quick stop first.'
  49.        
  50.         'Where are we going?'
  51.        
  52.         'Pet store. I didn't think I'd be ending up with a lamia, so I need to get a few things. You should probably buckle up.'
  53.        
  54.         'Buckle up?'
  55.        
  56.         Hearing the words repeated back just made you realize how utterly stupid they actually sounded. Of course there was no way she could ride in the seat normally, and putting her back in the capsule was probably not a smart idea. You look around for somewhere for her to ride safely. 'Hmmm... Alright, here we go.'
  57.        
  58.         You open up the chest pocket of your jacket and lift her up to it. 'Not the safest way to travel, but it should work until I can figure something out.' She climbs in, pulling her snake tail in until only the tip hangs out. She hold onto the lip of the pocket, a somewhat eager look on her face. 'Comfortable?'
  59.        
  60.         'Yes, thank you.'
  61.        
  62.         'Alright, hold on then.' You start up your car and pull out of the parking lot, taking care to not be too reckless with Miko in your pocket.
  63.        
  64.         You pull up to the pet store and head inside, Miko riding along in your jacket still. She stares around in wonder at the various aisles of animals, food, and supplies.
  65.        
  66.         'So this is a pet store? Incredible.'
  67.        
  68.         'You've never seen one?'
  69.        
  70.         She shakes her head. 'The temple I grew up in was high in the mountains, far away from big cities. We were mostly self-sufficient, and what little we needed from the outside was donated by visitors from a nearby town. I had never even left the temple before I enrolled in this program.'
  71.        
  72.         That was quite a surprise to you. You figured that most of the girls who signed up for this would have been city kids looking for a guy or just doing it for kicks, not some sheltered kid from the countryside. Guess there's all kinds of girls in those bubbles.
  73.        
  74.         You make your way towards the reptile section of the store. Miko seems to be enamored by the various snakes and lizards in the tanks. 'Master, are all these creatures here for sale?'
  75.        
  76.         'Yep. People can come here and pick out all sorts of animals to take home as their pets.'
  77.        
  78.         'Is that like how you chose me?'
  79.        
  80.         She catches you off-guard a bit with that. On the one hand, she was sort of right; You had just gone out and bought her. But you obviously didn't think of her as a pet. 'You're a bit different from any of the snakes here.'
  81.        
  82.         'In what ways?'
  83.        
  84.         Geez, she was really trying to push you on this. 'Well... A pet is just that, a pet. You can feed them, bathe them, play with them and love them. They may even love you back, but they're just your pet. You're... different. You're a special kind of companion. There are things you can do that they can't.'
  85.        
  86.         Miko seems to ponder your words as you go about your business. You pick out a good sized tank and some very fine gravel. Not entirely sure if you'll need it, but it wouldn't hurt. You come up on the light fixtures and ask Miko a question. 'Lamiae are cold-blooded, right?' Seems like it would be an obvious answer, but it doesn't hurt to check.
  87.        
  88.         'I am a shirohebi, but yes, I am.'
  89.        
  90.         Okay. You pick up a heating lamp and place it in the tank you have. Double-checking that you have everything, you head for the check-out. A bit steeper price than you had expected to pay, but it was stuff you'd need. You load up the things into your car and head off home.
  91.        
  92.         'Alright, here we are.'
  93.        
  94.         You balance the tank in one arm as you flip on the lights to your apartment. It's not a very big place, and somewhat sparsely decorated, but it was a decent one bedroom place for a single guy. Well, not entirely single anymore.
  95.        
  96.         Miko peeks up a bit further out of the pocket to look around. 'So this is your home, master?'
  97.        
  98.         'It's your home now, too, but yeah. This is where I live. Sorry if it's not quite as grand as the temple you lived in.'
  99.        
  100.         The little shirohebi shakes her head. 'It is wonderful. It simple and comfortable. No wasted space. I'm sure I will love living here with you.'
  101.        
  102.         You carry the tank and supplies to your bedroom. It's just as simple as the rest of your house: a queen sized bed, a desk with your laptop on it, and a small shelf for what few books and knick-knacks you own. Next to your bed is a decently sized dresser, where you had planned to set up a living space for the girl you brought home. Over in the corner, the stereo that had previously occupied it sat.
  103.        
  104.         You set the tank down on the dresser and lay the rest of the supplies out on the bed. You lift Miko out of your pocket and set her down on your desk to watch. Going to work on the tank, you carefully separate one of the large glass panels from the rest of the structure to make  sort of entrance. Once you pop it off, you hook the heating lamp up to the top of the tank. You also drape some sheets over the sides of the tank to give her some means of privacy.
  105.        
  106.         With the basic set-up done, you pull out a second bag from your closet. Inside it are a few miniature bedroom items you had picked up from a toy shop. You bring Miko over onto the dresser o that she can decide how she wants everything set up. The idea has her excited; she never really got to decorate her own room before. She decides to go with the gravel rather than leave the tank floor bare. It's extremely fine, almost like sand, so it's more comfortable for her to move around on. She sets up the four-post bed (complete with curtains for privacy) in the corner. The small desk and mirror go along the back wall, with the miniature dresser going on the wall opposite the bed. You feed the cord to her lamp into the tank and set the dial down in the corner so she could adjust it however she pleased.
  107.        
  108.         'So, what do you think?'
  109.        
  110.         Miko explores the bits of furniture before flopping onto the bed, giggling all the while. 'It is wonderful, thank you so much, master!' She rolls over to look up to you. 'I am curious, though. Would there happen to be a shrine or temple somewhere nearby?'
  111.        
  112.         'Why do you ask?'
  113.        
  114.         'I would still like to perform my regular meditations and prayers, even if I am no longer back at my own temple.'
  115.        
  116.         You think it over for a bit, but nothing comes to mind. But even if there was one, it probably wouldn't be too safe  for her to be going outside on her own. Heck, even getting around your apartment would be a tricky proposition. This whole living arrangement was going to take some thought. 'Sorry, I don't think we have one around here. But I'll try and figure something out for you.'
  117.        
  118.         'If you are willing to do that for me, it is all I can ask. Thank you.'
  119.        
  120.         You look at your watch and see that it's gotten rather late. Suddenly, you're very aware of how hungry you are. Miko's probably hungry as well after all the time she spent in that capsule. 'Hey, it's getting pretty late. You hungry?'
  121.        
  122.         She puts a hand to her stomach, and you could swear you almost heard a tiny gurgling noise. 'Something to eat would be nice.'
  123.        
  124.         'Alright, I'll cook us up some food. Do you have any preferences?'
  125.        
  126.         'We had rather simple diets back at the temple. I will eat anything that isn't too extravagant, though I am partial to meat and eggs.'
  127.        
  128.         'Okay then. Let's see what we can whip up.' You hold out a hand for Miko to climb into. She climbs up, and once she has a secure seat on your shoulder, you make your way to the kitchen. Miko leans against your head, watching you as you work your way round the kitchen. You were no five star chef, but you had learned to take care of yourself over the years. There's a steak you had been saving for a special occasion, and figure that bringing a girl home is special enough, even if it wasn't quite what you had planned. You dice and boil up a few potatoes, seasoned with just a pinch of garlic & salt. A small can of green bean normally rounds out the meal, but you decide to do a little extra for Miko. You pull a small carton of eggs from your fridge. Cracking one into a bowl, you whisk it up quick before pouring it into a small pan to cook up. Once everything is finished, you plate it out for you and Miko. You had thought ahead to get some miniature plates and silverware so that she wouldn't have to eat off your plate.
  129.        
  130.         You set up a makeshift table for her on top of your own & lay out the food for her. She slithers down your arm and takes a seat at the small set-up. You join her in your own seat a second later. 'Alright, tell me what you think.'
  131.        
  132.         Miko folds her hands together and says a short prayer before picking up the tiny silverware. She carves off a bite of the steak and pops it into her mouth. Her red eyes suddenly light up, and she attacks the rest of her plate with gusto. Guess she likes it, enough to even ask for seconds. And thirds. Being in that capsule must have really drained her.
  133.        
  134.         It's really late by the time you finish cleaning up from dinner. You look over at Miko and that she's yawning. Running around all day has worn you out, too, so you decide to call it a night. You pick up the sleepy shirohebi and carry her back to your room, setting her down in her 'bedroom'. You dig through the discarded wrappings that litter your bed and find one last package for her.
  135.        
  136.         'I didn't know what kind of clothes you'd like to wear, but I figured you'd at least want something to wear to sleep.' You open up the package and hand her the contents: a small white nightgown. It was made to fit a doll, but it was also the perfect size for her. You turn away to give her a bit of privacy as she changes out of her robes.  When you turn back, she has finished with the gown, and it looks rather cute on her. It's a bit more form-fitting than you had intended, but it will suffice for now. 'Comfortable?'
  137.        
  138.         'Very much so. Thank you, master.' She lets out a small yawn. 'I suppose I shall be retiring at that. Good night, master.' She give you a small bow and slithers over to the lamp controls, flipping over to the low light setting & starting the timer before crawling into bed. You join her, changing into the beater and shorts you use to sleep and flipping off the lights. The dim red glow of the lamp casts everything in an eerie light as you crawl into bed.
  139.        
  140.         You lay there for a few minutes, but your mind keeps wandering back to the little snake next to you. You had some questions you had wanted to ask her, but forgot about with getting her set up. You roll over towards the tank. 'Miko, are you still awake?'
  141.        
  142.         'Hmmm?' Sounds like she was almost asleep.
  143.        
  144.         'Sorry. I was just wondering about some stuff, but if you were already about to sleep-'
  145.        
  146.         'It is no problem, master. What did you wish to know?'
  147.        
  148.         You mull over the questions in your head. You decide to leave the more personal questions for another time and settle on one that you hope she won't mind answering. 'Well, I was just wondering, why did you sign up for all this? I mean, from the sounds of it, you were just a country girl, perfectly happy spending her days at the temple. Why sign up to get shrunk down and jammed in a bubble to live with some guy you've never met?'
  149.        
  150.         There's a small pause before she responds. 'It is true, I was content living at the temple with the other maidens. For the most part, at least. I was also a touch rambunctious. I had a bit of a habit of sneaking out at night to try and explore the countryside. I loved when the temple patrons would come and visit, and I would often talk with them endlessly, listening to their stories of the outside world. The high priestess could see in me a desire to go out and see the world, but we could never afford to travel. I had no means of making money, no way of getting around, and nobody on the outside who could accommodate me. When I heard about this program, I was excited, but also scared. I had found a way to live out my dreams, but I was afraid of all that doing it would imply. Leaving my family, being with someone I had never met, and being turned into this-' You couldn't see her, but you assumed she was gesturing to her current size. '-made me anxious. She told me that I had to be willing to face the unknown if I hoped to follow my dreams. So I left the temple, signed up with a program coordinator in the nearby town, and now here I am.'
  151.        
  152.         'Do you regret any of it?'
  153.        
  154.         'It will take some time to adjust, and I will miss my sisters at the temple. But already I have found the experience worthwhile. I have seen so much in just one day, and have found a kind master to care for me.'
  155.        
  156.         You smile a bit at the last part. You'd been flying by the seat of your pants so far with this, but it was reassuring to know she appreciated all you had done so far. 'Was there anything else, master?'
  157.        
  158.         'No, Miko. That's enough for now. Goodnight.'
  159.        
  160.         'And to you as well, master.'
  161.        
  162.         You roll back over in your bed, much more relaxed now, and settle in for the night.
  163. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  164.  
  165.         You wake up early the next morning, eager to get to work on everything you need to do. Miko is still sound asleep, probably still sleeping of the effects of the magic she had been under. You quietly get ready for the morning and make yourself a quick breakfast, setting aside some on a tiny plate for Miko. You wrap up the plate and set it in her tank, along with a note for where you were going. You also set the house phone next to her tank with your number next to it. It felt like you were leaving your child home alone for the first time, but you figured it was better to have everything within reach for her rather than having her roam the house right now.
  166.        
  167.         The first stop on your list is the pet store again. You had brainstormed how to let her get around the house without being underfoot, and had come up with what you thought was a rather brilliant idea. You head towards the section of the store for rodents and small mammals, and after a little searching you find what you needed: hamster pipes. You load up on set after set of pipes until you have a small mountain of them in your arms. The clerk at the checkout gives you an odd look, wondering what you could possibly need all of that for. Thankfully, she opts not to ask. You throw the sets of pipe into a cart and wheel it out to your car, loading it into the trunk.
  168.        
  169.         The other stop was a bit of an odd one. You had spent a bit of time this morning as you ate looking up any potential stores for this, but the only one you found was clear across town. Even with the GPS on your phone this place is a chore to get to, but eventually you find it. It's a small shop down a side alley, barely even visible from the street. A sign over the door reads:
  170.                 >A Touch of the East: Exotic Home Decor<
  171.        
  172.         You walk inside, and your nose is assaulted by the smell of burning incense.  There's so much stuff going on around you, you barely know where to start looking.
  173.        
  174.         'Can I help you with anything?'
  175.        
  176.         The sudden voice from behind you startles you. You turn around and come face to face with who you assume is the shopkeeper. Her face is calm and emotionless, almost cold. A pair of green antennae protrude from her forehead, and what appear to be yellow eyes are affixed to her temples. An emerald abdomen protrudes from underneath the back of her shirt. The most striking feature, however, is on each of her wrists. Protruding from each one is a wicked-looking green blade, each one seeming more than capable of lopping off a limb.
  177.        
  178.         'Uhh, yeah. I was, umm, looking for some stuff for a garden of sorts.' You do your best to maintain eye contact with the girl, but you can't help but drift back to those blades of hers, wondering just what they could do to you.
  179.        
  180.         Her blank eyes look you over for moment, as if she is trying to gaze into your very soul. After what seems like an eternity, she finally responds. 'Follow me.' She walks past you towards the back of the shop. You give her a wide berth, careful to avoid her blades. 'These are our selection of indoor rock & zen gardens. I hope you can find one that is to your liking.'
  181.        
  182.         You look over the various displays until you find one that looks nice. It's a bit bigger one, made from black lacquered wood with a small fence around the back. Hopefully Miko will be able to enjoy it. You take one of the sets and bring it to the front counter where the shopkeeper is waiting. 'Will there be anything else?'
  183.        
  184.         'Yeah. I was wondering if you had any sort of miniature shrine models for sale?' She ducks back behind the counter and pulls out several small decorative shrines for you to look over. One that catches your eye is carved from wood with gold trimming on it. It even has some small statues carved into it.
  185.        
  186.         'If I may ask, is there a particular reason why you want these items?' The clerk seems to have a look of... not quite interest on her face, but some mild curiosity. It's hard to tell with how subdued she is.
  187.        
  188.         'Well, it's a little hard to explain, but the short version is that a girl moved in with me, and she used to live at a temple. I'm just trying to help her feel at home.' As you finish packing up, the clerk hands you a small box. You turn it over to see that it's an incense set.
  189.        
  190.         'She'll probably need a set of those. On the house.'
  191.        
  192.         'Thanks, but won't you get in trouble for just giving this away?'
  193.        
  194.         'Not if I own the store. I get so few visitors, it's nice to have someone with an interest in all this.' You thank her for your generosity and finish bagging up your things. As you leave the shop, you look back t her, and you could almost swear you saw a faint smile on her face.
  195.        
  196.         It's well into the afternoon by the time you make it back home. The bags full of piping are extremely awkward to handle, especially with the other things in your arms. You barely make it through the door and dump all the pipes onto your couch A quick scan of the living room and kitchen shows that Miko isn't out here. She probably just stayed in her tank for safety's sake. That was all right, since it would give you a chance to get this stuff set up for her.
  197.        
  198.         Over along the side of the living room, you clear off an old coffee table you'd been using for a second counter. You'll have to find space for that stuff later, but right now you want to get this garden set up. You crack open the box and pull out its contents. For how big it was, it actually went together pretty easily. The base came pre-assembled, and the decorative fence just pegged into some holes. You cut open the bag of sand that it came with & carefully pour it into the basin. Once it's all evened out, you place the fake rocks at even spots around the sand & put the tree down in the corner. You carefully slide it out so that the garden sits towards the center of the table, so she can get at it from any angle. Finally, you set up the shrine miniature next to it, along with the incense set that the clerk had given you.
  199.        
  200.         You feel pretty good about all this and decide it's time to show Miko her present. You head for your room, and sure enough, she's sitting in her tank. Her body is coiled up underneath her and she's sitting in some sort of meditative pose, eyes closed and totally relaxed. As the door opens, her eyes open and she looks up to you. 'Oh! Welcome home, master.' She give you a little bow from her seated position.
  201.        
  202.         'Hey Miko. Did you sleep well?'
  203.        
  204.         'Indeed, master. It was extremely relaxing to have a real bed under me after being in that bubble.'
  205.        
  206.         'Nice. I hope I wasn't disturbing anything.'
  207.        
  208.         Her long body slowly uncoils as she begins to move around a bit. 'Not at all. I was simply doing some of my regular meditations.'
  209.        
  210.         'Okay. Well, if you're finished with that, I have something I want to show you. C'mon.' You walk over and hold out your hand & Miko climbs up. 'I want this to be a surprise, so cover your eyes.' She complies, though she seems to think that it's a little silly.
  211.        
  212.         You walk her out to the living room and carefully set her down on the table. 'Okay, open your eyes.' She opens then, and lets out an audible gasp as she sees what's in front of her. You bend down and watch as she explores the small shrine & looks out on her garden.
  213.        
  214.         'Is all this for me?'
  215.        
  216.         'Yep. I know it's probably not as nice as the one you grew up in, but I figured it would be a nice compromise. Do you like it?'
  217.        
  218.         'I love it! Thank you so much!' She suddenly darts across the table and hug you as best she can. With her size, though, the best she can manage is to just give the side of your face an awkward squeeze. She lingers there for a moment before  backing up a bit, an embarrassed look on her face. 'I'm sorry about that, master. I was just really excited and got caught up in the moment.'
  219.        
  220.         'It was no problem. I'm glad that you like it.' You give her a warm smile back. 'So, did you want to spend some time out here with this, or would you rather stay with me as I work on these?' You gesture towards to huge stack of pipes sitting on your couch.
  221.        
  222.         Miko gives a longing look to the little garden before turning back to you. 'If it is okay with you, master, I would like to spend some time here. This garden is beautiful, but whoever arranged it clearly had no idea what to do.' She picks up the small rake next to the garden and climbs up, setting out to make it perfect.
  223.        
  224.         While she occupies herself with that, you set out on the tedious task of getting the pipes set up. On a closer inspection, the pipes actually split in half, effectively doubling the amount of pipes you had to work with. Your wallet felt a little sore from that discovery, but it least it meant Miko could move around in them relatively normally. You start to fit them together, taking a break once in a while to measure them out on the walls. Even with how small your apartment is, you end up burning through a good amount of the piping that you bought. Eventually, though, it starts to come together. You nail the lengths of pipe up to the walls around eye level (So much for the security deposit on this place) and put in junctions to make clear paths through the entire house. It wraps around most of the length of the living room so that Miko can reach both her little shrine and the couch if she ever wanted to use it. The kitchen you opt to try and solve another time, though; Most of the stuff in there was way too big for her to use, anyway.
  225.        
  226.         It's about time to eat by the time you're done, but you're pretty proud of your work. The pipes thread through the entire apartment sans kitchen, and don't obstruct anything major. The only real loss is the fact that passing the pipes through doors means you can't close them anymore; Gonna have to try and be careful about privacy from now on. You head back out to the living room, and Miko is still working on the zen garden. She's rearranged the rocks into various clusters & positions, but the sand it relatively untouched. It looks like she's tried to do something a few times, but keeps redoing it.
  227.        
  228.         'How's it coming out here?'
  229.        
  230.         Miko sets aside the rake and wipes her tiny brow. 'I think I have the stones arranged how I want them, but I can't quite decide on what type of pattern I wish to work into it.' She looks herself over a bit and realizes how much sand has gotten on both her and her robes. 'And now my only robe is a mess.'
  231.        
  232.         'Well, how about this? I'll wash your robe while you get cleaned up, then I'll make us some dinner, okay?'
  233.        
  234.         'That sounds wonderful, master.'
  235.        
  236.         You take the little serpent into the bathroom and try to get something figured out for her. Obviously, using the full-sized tub is out of the question. You think for a moment before heading back out to the kitchen. You return with a large bowl and a knife. You run the faucet until it is just barely steaming and fill up the bowl for her, then you grab a fresh bar of soap from under the sink. With the knife, you carve her off a smaller chunk to use. Then, you go digging into your cabinet and pull out a small cup. You cut away at the cup until it can be used as a basin for her size & squirt some shampoo into it. Finally, you lay out a washcloth for her to dry off with.
  237.        
  238.         'Alright, that should do it.'
  239.        
  240.         'Thank you, master.' Miko turns to the bowl of water before stopping in her tracks.
  241.        
  242.         'Is something wrong?'
  243.        
  244.         Miko turns back to you fidgeting a little. 'Well, it's just that you offered to clean my robe for me as I bathed. But the only way I can give it to you is...' Her voice trails off from there.
  245.        
  246.         It takes a few seconds, but you manage to put together what she's saying. 'Ohh... Ohh!' Suddenly, your cheeks feel rather warm. You look around for some way to make this work, but there's nothing immediately available that won't expose the shirohebi to you at her most intimate.
  247.        
  248.         'If I may, master, I might have a solution.' Miko's face has taken on a much pinker hue, and she's having a hard time making eye contact. 'If you were to close your eyes, I would be able to disrobe and hand over my clothing to you. I have faith that you will be able to respect my privacy.'
  249.        
  250.         This girl is extremely trustworthy of someone she's only known for a day now. You shut your eyes as tightly as you can and lay your hand on the counter. 'Okay... Just do it quick, and I'll get out of here.' You hear a faint rustling of fabric and feel her robe in your hand a second later. Keeping our eyes screwed shut, you back out of the bathroom, carefully pulling the door closed with you. Once you're safely out in the hall you open your eyes and let out a deep breath.
  251.        
  252.         Warm water fills your kitchen sink as you get ready to wash Miko's robe. You'd done your best to clean the sink out beforehand to get rid of all the food. You add in a small cap of laundry soap, swirling it around to work up a good lather. Once it's all done, you pick up the tiny garments. the fabric is amazingly fluid & comfortable, not what you were expecting it to be. You wonder if whatever magic had shrank the girl down to her current size had done the same with her clothes. It sort of made the doll clothes you bought for her seem cheap in comparison.
  253.        
  254.         As you gently work the robes in your hands, your mind begins to wander to the girl who was bathing herself down the hall. She had been the sweetest, most respectful person you could have asked to meet. She was very kind, and showed so much trust in a relative stranger. And she was beautiful. Her long, flowing hair. Those eyes, red as rubies, that seemed to pop in contrast. Soft, gentle features. Elegant curves-
  255.        
  256.         Whoa, whoa, whoa! Why were you thinking of her like that? You just met this girl! You have no idea about her life, and she knows nothing about yours. You bought her in a plastic bubble, for God's sake. Was it even right to think of her as a potential girlfriend? The size difference alone would be an obstacle, not to mention the circumstances of how you met. Really, what would you even call your arrangement? were you roommates who were going to live together for a long time, or were you just playing the host for this girl while she satisfied her wanderlust? And what about Miko's opinion in all of this?
  257.        
  258.         Jeez. This whole situation just got way more complicated...
  259.        
  260.         You go out and tumble the tiny robe in the apartment's dryer to get it ready for Miko. It doesn't take too long, and you keep it on a lower temperature to avoid any (further) shrinking. Once it finishes, you lay it on the track just inside the bathroom so as to avoid having to go in & fumble about. You decide to get going with dinner to try and clear your head, and soon the smell of baking chicken is filling your apartment. You pull out a can of corn to go with it and throw some of yesterday's potatoes into the microwave. Not exactly the same quality of meal as yesterday, but it'll do. At least it helped calm you down.
  261.        
  262.         'Is that our meal for tonight, master?' Miko's head is poking around the corner, her hair hanging down in glossy sheets. In your haste to keep her safe in the kitchen, you had neglected to give her a way to reach the table. That's something you'll have to rectify tomorrow. For now, she'll just have to settle for being carried in the kitchen.
  263.        
  264.         As you eat your food, those questions begin to creep back into your mind. You keep looking over at the miniature maiden sitting on the table, but you never really think of a way to articulate it. You wonder if she had any plans for all of this, or if she had just thought she'd work it out as she went.
  265.        
  266.         Shit, work. With everything going on these past two days, you'd forgotten to talk to her about you working. Well, no time like the present.
  267.        
  268.         'So, Miko. I'm going back to work tomorrow, so you'll be home alone for most of the day. Is there anything that you'll need me to do for you?'
  269.        
  270.         She thought it over for a moment, thinking back to her old routines. 'Well, normally we would wake in the morning, perform our morning prayers, eat, and then tend to the temple.  While the shrine you brought me will suffice for prayers, my current size make most cooking or cleaning a daunting proposition.'
  271.        
  272.         Okay, so she'd probably need you to lay out some food for her again. 'What else besides prayer? I mean, you had to have had some hobbies, right?'
  273.        
  274.         'The garden you purchased should suffice me for now, though I was partial to reading or writing when the mood struck me.'
  275.        
  276.         'Okay, I think I can get something worked out for you, then.'
  277.         The two of you finish up dinner, and once the plates are cleared, head for your room. You pull up a seat at your desk and start up your laptop. Miko watches from next to you, a faint bit of curiosity on her face.
  278.        
  279.         'Have you ever used a computer before?'
  280.        
  281.         Miko shakes her head. 'The only electricity at the temple was used for lights & heating in the winter, and a small radio for news.'
  282.        
  283.         'Alright. Well, there's plenty you can do with the computer if you get bored. For now, though, let's just keep it simple.' You set up a guest profile for her from the start-up menu. This way you could manage how much she could access and minimize the risk of her damaging the computer... and keep her from stumbling across anything too lewd. With her size, using the mouse would be even more unwieldy, so you teach her how to use the track pad.
  284.        
  285.         'So if you want to use the computer, just hit this button up here and it will turn on. And just click on your name here. If you feel like writing something, you click on this-' You mouse over Word, '-and if you want to read anything, I have a few books saved here that you can read,' as you point her to the reading app on the desktop. 'Did you want to try it out?'
  286.        
  287.         'Actually, it's almost time for my evening prayers, but thank you anyway, master. I am sure that it will be most useful to me.' And with that, she gives you a bow before heading off to the living room. You decide to hang back in your room and mess around on your computer to give her some privacy. Those same questions begin to creep into your mind again, but you manage to push them aside by focusing on other things.  There's still a few things that she probably needs to have in order to live comfortably at her size. Figure out the short-term stuff first, worry about the long-term questions later.
  288.        
  289.         Some time later Miko comes back in along the tracks, rubbing her eyes and yawning. 'Getting  tired?'
  290.        
  291.         'Yes, I think I'm ready to sleep now.'
  292.        
  293.         Miko crawls into her bedroom, picking up her sleeping gown. She disappears behind the curtains of her bed for moment, re-emerging in her nightgown, robes draped over her arms. You change into your own sleeping gear as she lays out her clothes for tomorrow. The lights go down, and the two of you crawl into your beds. It's a less comforting sleep than last night as those thoughts start to creep in again, but you try to push them down for another day.
  294. _______________________________________________
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