Hiroshi continued to work at the junkyard and has been buying more than just food supplies when could. On his way home from his second day of work he passed by an outdoor barbeque stall selling lizard sticks. He then thought Aurora would enjoy some but more than that she is in need of some meat in her bones. Ended up buying a couple for her.
Next day, Hiroshi ended his work early, thinking they had enough money saved to be a bit leisure and took Aurora out with him and decided it's time to take a bath. That morning, Hiroshi woke up with the girl hugging his face. This sounds sweet and adoring but that was not the first thing that popped into his mind when he woke up. He woke up from the smell after all. Not from loud sound or bright light, but from odor. So, Hiroshi found out there were outdoor shower stalls a detour from home. Heard from the junkyard employer that the clean water comes from the other side of the mountain. Therefore, most of the clean water is obtained near the mountains where they can find outdoor shower stalls. Two rows of seven wooden stalls, which were very small, enough to fit one person each but they cost one-third of what they had each. But there were two stalls excluding the fourteen that were slightly bigger, a family sized stall and it cost half of their savings. So, they took a shower together. There was no control for the temperature but it was cool which was perfect in the desert. They had an enjoyable time, Aurora even squealed at one point. Regrettably, though, they did not have a change of clothes. Which was very disheartening for both, the fact they got cleaned but had to get back in reeking dirty clothes again. Well, Hiroshi finally got to see her tail. It wiggled.
On the fifth day, saving up to finally buy a pair of clothes for the both of them, though it was used it better than nothing. For Aurora was a two plain one-piece dress. One mint green another light yellow, both similar in size, large. Which was disappointing. The color of her dress complemented her brown skin and her hair, but the shoulder flap kept coming down. Hiroshi got himself a large white v-neck tank top and a pair of brown pants. When the pants are worn and it would keep falling on one side of his hip. As for the v neck, he wore it and it looked a little funny. Aurora snickered and said, "you look like a girl," Ah, the tank top was meant for girls.
On the seventh day, working at the junkyard has become more difficult. Finding some good parts had been downsized. Now, nearly all there are left are recyclables, which barely paid for a pair of fruits at the end of the day. Luckily or not, They had saved enough to last for 2 more days. But it was not only financial difficulties. He has been losing strength and been turning pale. In desperation, Hiroshi started to go out at night looking for work when Aurora was fast asleep.
Then now, when Hiroshi arrived home from work, Aurora did not look well. She came to the doorway to greet him like she usually does now but she was teetering. Hiroshi touched her forehead to check her temperature and it was high. This was a problem. Medicine is not easy to come by as it was, let alone, in the slum.
In desperation, he decides to take her to a large two-story wooden building, like a cabin he found the night before. Before he entered with Aurora in his arm there were some men coming in and out of the entrance and everytime the door opened there was the noise of people can be heard from within. When Hiroshi enters people started to notice him then slowly stops in their place and the noise came to complete silence. Interior looked more like a bar with a counter near the entrance and lobby with people to their right lighten with candles with thin colored paper laminating is rosy and flush. People of all races gathered sitting and standing around the tables, some half-naked. While mostly the females were standing with trays on their hand in revealing seductive clothes. This was a gentlemen's club.
There were Reptilions of blue skin, as well as red. With a name like Reptil-ion, you would think they have tails and scales for skin but no. They have smooth skin almost like humans. Though they almost have no protrusion for their nose and ears. Their eyebrow and mouth are the only visible protrusions. Their irises are large and shades mostly on the darker side. The features that differentiate between red and blue shinned are their height and physique. While most blue skin's height is on the shorter side, physically they are average to scrawny. While the red skin's heights are very similar to humans, their physiques are mostly masculinely bigger. As for the female, they are flat. They do not have notable breast. So, how do you tell the difference? Their hair, or more like spikes. Only females Reptilions grow thick spikes on their head like hair and sometimes a row on their spine. Which can be seen by some of the servers in the bar.
Of course, there are Mammalion like Aurora, and few other family species. One of the noticeable ones is the hairy, intimidatingly big Mammalions. They are similar to Aurora, a Fanglion: appearance similar to human except for the semi-long pointy furry ears and a long tail. Clawlions' difference is their height. They can reach seven feet or more without a problem. Other features are their thick lair if hairs on arms, legs, and chest, even the females. Though female Clawlion's attractive features are to make their fur fluff and a long straight tail, which can be seen by some servers. Though the males did not show any sign of having a tail.
The especially eye-catching in the bar are few young, very young Mammalions with short tails and big furry ears slightly higher on their head drinking quietly like all the man in this bar. They are the midgets of the Mammalions called Taillion (tail-li-on) which most don't grow taller than adult human's chest. The female Taillion were nowhere to be seen.
On the center of the lobby, there are many people gathered around a sturdy table with a big-armed red skinned and a black furred Clawlion especially close. They were arm-wrestling and the people were gambling until Hiroshi entered. Everyone was staring at Hiroshi with hatred. The female servers were confused but it was obvious to them that Hiroshi was the cause of this unpleasant atmosphere.
"Hiroshi... I'm okay. Let not stay here..." Aurora said gripping his shirt tightly.
"Shh... It's okay, it's going okay," Hiroshi said out of breath while lifting her up to his shoulder. He walks toward the counter table. Behind the counter was a flabby female red skinned Reptilion cleaning a clear green glass cup... She had all kinds of jewels on her fingers, around her neck, and even on her spikes and nose.
"I told you not to come back here," said the red-skinned lady with a bit of a crackling voice without even turning to look their way.
"I know but she's has a fever," as Hiroshi whispered then the lady finally turns.
"I'm okay," Aurora immediately said.
"Please, I promise. I will pay for the medicine. I'll work for free, day and night. Just until she gets better, let her have some meals and a place to sleep. Just until then," Hiroshi said sounding more desperate by the sentence.
"I'm okay, Hiroshi. Please... let's go," Aurora whined. She noticed the stares and it was making her uncomfortable. She tries to avoid everyone's eyes and starts to try to dig into Hiroshi's arm. The Reptilion behind the counter glances at the small child in his arm and sighs.
"Chocho, take care of the counter," the old lady called out. The one responds was also behind the counter serving the customer by the counter. An intimidatingly big, but definitely attractive Mammalion, Clawlion, that was slightly different from the other servers. She was in a tight one-piece dress but nowhere near revealing as the rest of the servers. The old lady grabs an intricate cane that was hanging on the counter and starts to walk out the counter grabbing a lit candle on way and to go up the stair and open the first door from the stairs for Hiroshi. The room was a sleeping quarter with two-story bunk-beds for eight. The lady picked a bed one lower near the door she starts to brush off the surface with her arm and points at the bed, directing Hiroshi to lay the child down which he followed. Aurora was reluctant, not letting go of his shirt. Hiroshi grabs her gripping hand.
"It's going to be okay, Aurora," Hiroshi said trying to calm her.
"Don't leave me!" Aurora said with huffing breath.
"What?" Hiroshi said without thinking, then pauses. He contemplates for few moments and choked before saying, "Of course, I won't leave." Aurora finally loosened her grip and slowly let him go. The Reptilion lady gets between them with a small bag she got from the drawer right outside the door. The lady started to check Aurora's fever, breathing, and heart.
"Why did you come to me?" she said without looking at his direction but it was obvious who she was talking to.
"You seemed motherly," Hiroshi said. After hearing him say that the lady laughs along with the crackling in her voice startling Aurora.
"What makes you think that?" the lady asks in high spirit.
"You have only women working here. I thought you would, at least take care of her," Hiroshi said, "Even if you won't for me." The lady finally turns and starts to have a serious expression looking for his genuineness, even with his burly face. Hiroshi was still short-winded and pale, pacing himself.
"Get out," The lady said.
"What?" Hiroshi immediately responded.
"I want to talk to her alone. Close the door on your way out," the lady said with crackling voice.
"Ah," Hiroshi responds and was about to step out.
"No!" Aurora tries to yell and Hiroshi stops.
"It's okay, Aurora. I'll be right behind this door, okay?" Hiroshi said and waits for Aurora to respond and she nods. Hiroshi steps out and slowly closes the door while seeing Aurora's uneasy expression. After closing the door he sat on the floor next to the door to catch his breath.
"Why is the Iscasa Hacsu helping that bloodsucker!" a masculine with hissing voice said amongst themselves below. Hiroshi snickers quietly as if he heard something humorous, something ironic.
"He had a young child. She just can't look away from that," a feminine voice said.
"Who cares about that! That head-fur has been making all the money while the rest of us has been digging for rotten fruit!" Another masculine voice yells with anger.
"Tch! Then do something about it!" a young voice complains.
Before the rest of the conversation can be heard the door opens. The lady, Hacsu, comes out and closes the door behind her.
"Is she okay?" Hiroshi asks after standing back up in a hurry.
"What are you to her?" Hacsu replies quietly.
"What?" Hiroshi was confused by the fact that she answers his question with a question.
"Are you her father?" Clarifying her question more aggravation tone by crackling her voice.
"No..." Hiroshi answered quietly, unconsciously, while wondering, 'why does that matter at the moment?'
"Then, what do you want from her?" Hacsu asks another.
"What? I don't want anything from..." Hiroshi starts to cough before he could finish his sentence. After catching his breath, he looks straight into her eyes and slowly said "Look, she just deserves better," trying to be clear and audible as possible. Then the two were just silent pause for few seconds.
"She's fine," the lady said as she turning away and heading towards the stair.
"What? What do you mean she's fine? She's clearly is not," Hiroshi said quietly unsatisfied.
"She's fine!" The lady said, louder.
"No, she is not! She has a fever and she is breathing abnormally..." before Hiroshi could continue Hacsu hooks his tank-top and pulls closer to her while she was on the stairs and Hiroshi on the other side of the handrail giving Hiroshi an uncomfortable position.
"She... Is... Going... Through... A... Full... Moon..." Hacsu said, slowly, and clearly.
"A, what?" Hiroshi asks and he gets pulled even closer before he can ask for a clearer answer.
"Red... Full... Moon..." Hacsu said with a deeper crackling voice and gave the Hiroshi a few, very silent seconds.
"Oh..." Hiroshi finally realized what she is talking about. Even in this world, a red full moon is rare. Let alone, it was not a full moon tonight. Noticing he finally understood Hacsu let go of him. "B, but wait! S, she's so young. She is like, seven, eight years old? Is it common for Mammalion to start so early?" Hiroshi's thoughts slipped out like a bean bag with a punctured hole.
"Is it uncommon for humans to start puberty early in the stressful environment?" Hacsu said as she walks down the stairs and Hiroshi followed until he halted to think about what she said. What she said is true, especially so for someone like Aurora and her experience. It is a high possibility.
"And..." Hacsu said and turns to Hiroshi in the middle of the stairs and stops herself before continuing. She thought about what happened when she was alone with Aurora.
After Hiroshi left the room, Hacsu checked her one more time and whispered in her ears, "Did you bleed?" Water started to well up in Aurora's eyes.
"Hiroshi, Hiroshi..." Aurora cried weakly with tear fell down her cheeks. She sat up reaching for the door. Hacsu gently hushed Aurora while laying her back down and patted her head to calm her down. "Am I going to die?" Aurora asks scared and desperate. She has been thinking that she has been reaching her demise but hoping, wishing she would be with Hiroshi til the end.
"No, no dear," Hacsu replied. "Dear child, has that man done anything to you?"
"Wh... what?" Aurora wiped her tears and snot and asked not understanding the full question.
"Has he ever hurt you?" Hacsu asks clarifying her question.
"N, no..." Aurora replied with a hint of a question mark at the end.
"Has he done anything you were uncomfortable with?" Hacsu asks another question.
"Uncomfortable? No." Aurora replied still not really understanding but understood the lady thought ill of Hiroshi. "He has been working hard to get food, and water for me! He even bought me this dress! Even... though, it's a little big..." Aurora said tried to reassure Hacsu. It became obvious that Aurora is infatuated with Hiroshi.
After recalling Hacsu sighs and said, "Nevermind..." She turns around and continues to walk down the stairs and Hiroshi follows.
"Wait, but what are the symptoms?" Hiroshi asks with a hint of desperation. "I mean, I have never seen a Mammalion's..." And before Hiroshi could finish, yet again, Hacsu grabs his beard and pulls him through the door that was in between the table counter and the stairs. Hacsu then closes the door behind him and pushes him against an uncomfortable wall. It was a small closet of shelves with ingredients but it leads to the kitchen. Sizzling and chopping can be heard and the whiff of spices can be smelled.
"Look, you head-fur! Not even the furry-ear mans don't know about the details of it until they're husbands! You do not talk about these things out loud!" Hacsu said without increasing her volume but very clearly and with emphasis. Hacsu lets go of his beard and hung her cane on the shelf behind him and continues to the kitchen.
"Wait, I, I understand and I apologize for that but..." Hiroshi chases after her but stops in his place after seeing an unusual sight. Seven children, only children, excluding Hacsu, were in the kitchen working. The children were fully dressed in white with an apron along stains and a loose mask made of cloth hanging from their furry ears covering their nose and mouth and a little tail protruding from their behind. When they saw Hiroshi it was as if the time froze except for Hacsu. Then one of them drops their pan followed by a big clang. The time fast-forwarded in a flash and they try to get Hacsu to be in between them and their stranger.
"Lady Hacsu!" One of them yelled with a complaining tone in a high pitch voice.
"I~t's fine. He is taking care of a little fang," Hacsu said.
"Oh~," all the little ones said at once while looking at their stranger, except for one with black hair. Instead, she says, "not a little tail...?" with a monotone voice.
"No, she had a long tail." All the little one looks at Hacsu as she said and looks back at Hiroshi.
"Oh~," all the little ones said somewhat disappointed.
Hiroshi thinking their little charade is over he takes a step closer toward Hacsu. Then suddenly the little ones all got closer behind Hacsu and she sighs agitated, crackling but was not complaining.
"Forget them. It's in their nature to be insecure. I mean, think about being in their position," Hacsu said. Hiroshi realized what these girls are, they are the midget if the Mammalion, Taillion, that do not often grow taller than a pre-teen humans. "These girls won't even look at me or their fellow workers until they have that filthy thing over their face. That's why they work in the kitchen, away from others" all the little ones gave a slight glare at Hacsu for what she said but Hacsu ignored them. "The boys tried to change by joining in in gatherings, but if you haven't noticed, they don’t get along with others." Hacsu said as she starts to chop some ingredients and she continues, "I wouldn't be surprised if you are the first human to see a small-tail girl in person."
Hiroshi gives them a hello by waving his hand at them but the Taillion got startled and started to question his gesture. Realizing it wasn't time to be idling he continues where he left off. "Anyways... So, what should I do when she's like this?"
Hacsu drops what she was doing and turn towards Hiroshi. "Why do you care so much for that child?" Hacsu asks. Hiroshi gives her a look saying 'this again'. "I have met few humans, but I have met them. They are clever and efficient but most of all, conniving," Hacsu emphasize by deep and crackling voice again. She glared at Hiroshi. "What if you came here with that child, to get your-self a shelter."
"You do not need to shelter me. I just..." Hacsu interrupted Hiroshi.
"Why should I believe you?" Hacsu said as she straightens her old back and put her hands on her hips to make herself bigger. Even though she was slightly shorter than Hiroshi but it certainly is intimidating.
"A similar cover does not mean the same story." Hiroshi responded and the same by straightening his back to her hostility. Hiroshi was nowhere as bulky as Hacsu but it showed that he will stand his ground.
Hacsu snickers sarcastically, "That certainly is wise saying. A lot more than your human saying 'don't judge a book by its cover,'. Your saying tells us to make sure to read before judging my opinion..." Hacsu glances at Hiroshi. "But are you willing to share your story...?" Hiroshi was still standing strong but his pale complexion and his smaller physique were not helping.
Hacsu sighs realizing he will not move otherwise, "She will be fine but she is very vulnerable in these kinds of time. She will be very clingy..."
"Clingy?! What are you telling him?" One of the little ones said quickly interrupting Hacsu.
"His child is going through the full moon," Hacsu said as she continues chopping where she left off.
"What?!" All the Taillion said at once and starts complaining, except for one. The Taillion with black hair said with monotone, "I'm okay with it." Silencing everyone and they turn their head towards the individual and she continued, "yeah, if it's him, I don’t mind."
Hacsu started cackling, "you got the approval of littling. The most insecure of all races!" Hacsu laughed even louder along with the jingling of her jewels. "So, I was saying, she will be fine, and every girl Mammalions are different but the most common is they get clingy, drunk even. You should make sure to visit her when this happens again. Better someone she trusts than someone she doesn't."
Then it struck Hiroshi what Hacsu said, "Visit?"
Hacsu chuckles sarcastically and turns toward Hiroshi, "Well, you're not going to stay."
"But Aurora gets to!" Hiroshi said joyously.
Hacsu rolls her eyes and turns back to the kitchen counter, "You can stay in the lobby but for tonight you can stay with her." Again, she turns around but this time with a kitchen knife in her hand, "But if I catch you doing anything funny, our supplies, my girls, or even your girl..." she threw the knife at one of the elongate vegetable chopping it through and to the counter stuck. "I'm chopping your manhood off." Hacsu finishes with a serious expression. Getting the message across, Hiroshi felt shivers down his spine. "Well, get going."
Hiroshi gave her a forced smile and starts to walk off. Before Hiroshi opened the door to the bar lobby chatters could be heard through the door but once he opened it was silent again. Ignoring them he continues his way upstairs and entered the first room.
Aurora sits up after seeing Hiroshi and she extends her arms to him and cries whiningly, "Hiroshi~!" It started to make sense of what Hacsu said. He sits on the floor by her bed but right when he did she immediately hugs around his neck very affectionately. It was uncomfortable. He ends up getting in bed sitting up at the corner against the wall while Aurora lays on his lap on her side while hugging his abdomen. Aurora was sniffling and Hiroshi was patting her head. It was a lot more excessive than what Hiroshi expected.
"Don't leave me alone," Aurora whimpered while not looking at him. Hiroshi wonders what she is talking because he has not left her and if he has...
"But I left you alone when I went to work," Hiroshi said.
"I meant, don’t leave me alone with someone else," she pouted. "She was asking weird questions about you. Thinking bad things about you."
"Oh, yeah... But she was asking those questions because she was worried about you," Hiroshi tried to ease Aurora but it seemed to have done the opposite. Yet she accepted his pat without complaint. "Aurora, if, you know... this happens again, tell me about, okay." Aurora finally turns her head towards him, "it's okay to keep secrets but if it's a burden, talk to someone, or me about it."
"Burden?" Aurora wondered.
"Ah, a... It means, 'something heavy'. So, what I meant is when 'feeling heavy' like 'worries' or things that make you 'want to cry'," Hiroshi explained. "There will be times when you have to hold in your feelings. So, when you can- cry, laugh, and scream. So, you can be strong when the time comes you have to hold it in and be stronger every time." Aurora had a contemplating look. Hiroshi snickered, "it's okay if you don't understand now, but remember this. Always think of a way to be happy because it's happiness that will get you through tough times." It looks as if steams were coming out of Aurora's head. Hiroshi finally laughs at how cute Aurora was. There is a bad news that needs to be told, to tell her that he can't stay with her but in her state, it might be too much. He believed it was better to be told later. So, he decided to let her sleep.
. . . . . .
There were no more men in the lobby and the all the girls were cleaning, even Taillions came out to help. Then a Taillion with brown-red hair came out of the kitchen. She was carrying a wooden tray with a pair wooden bowls full of chunky white creamy soup, cups full of water, spoons and a candle. She climbs the stairs with a bit of trouble. Then slowly open the first door from the stairs, knowing a man is on the other side. She sneaks a peak and saw Hiroshi sleeping sitting up on the bed and Aurora sleeping sitting up against his chest.