You were not one to care for the affairs of ghouls or humans. As a borrower, you preferred to think about matters of your own size, such as knitting clothes from carpet threads or stopping mice from getting into your crumb stash. Despite this, you did have some understanding of what happened in the city that was your whole world, learned from secretly watching the news from your hideaway in the broken vent.
Humans were killed by ghouls. Ghouls were killed by investigators, or “doves,” as you sometimes overheard them being called. It was a cruel world, but crueller still for a borrower. Neither ghouls nor humans knew you existed, and if they did, you were sure they would kill you without a second thought. Or worse.
It was both the fault of humans and ghouls that you were in your present predicament. The home of the family you had been borrowing from had been torn apart when a ghoul had broken in and killed the occupants. Between the overpowering smell of blood and the dozens of investigators the crime scene was now crawling with, the place no longer felt like a good home to you. Besides, soon you would run out of food without anyone living there.
You packed a few of the necessities: a string-tied backpack containing a safety pin, a match, your favourite thimble, and a few crumbs for the road. Then, during the night, you made your way into the city.
Tokyo was still busy at night, but you were well hidden by a combination of darkness and small size. Unfortunately, it had been a long time since you explored the city, and, scary as it was, you hadn’t ventured outside much since you had settled in with that human family.
You felt awful about what had happened to them. After all, they were the closest thing you had to friends. You hadn’t met another borrower in years.
You darted between shadows, eventually hitching a ride on a taxi. You didn’t have a solid plan as to where you would end up, but you trusted yourself to be able to survive in whatever circumstances you found yourself in.
The house you found yourself at—no, it was more of a tower than a house—was the biggest thing you’d seen in a long time. And as a borrower, you’d seen a lot of big things. A thought struck you: why not take up residence here? You had always dreamed of living in a large home with so much in it to explore it could take months. It was dangerous; sure; but you loved the thrill of a new adventure.
You soon began to scope out the place. Being nighttime, the inside was quite dark and difficult to make out. However, you managed to make it to one room where evidently someone had forgotten to turn out a light. It was a breathtakingly grand library. Books were stacked on different levels high into the sky, but in such a way that you might climb them and perhaps even reach the top.
An idea came to you. Why not make a home among the books? Unfortunately, you couldn’t read very well, and most of these books were not even in any language you knew of. But that wouldn’t stop you from using books as building material.
You got to work building your new home. Pulling out a particularly heavy book, you let it drop to the ground by mistake. Oops. Ah well. It didn’t seem there was anyone around to hear. You were able to squeeze through the gap where the book once was, finding an large empty space behind the row of books. To appear neat, the books were, despite being of different dimensions, pulled out to the front of the shelf. This empty space would function nicely as your new living room. You pushed in a few of the books at certain intervals to even out your “walls” and create a few “doorways” into separate rooms. The shelves here were a little dusty, so you doubted anyone came here very often or would notice the minute changes you had made.
You settled down with a couple of crumbs (they were actually angel food cake, quite the delicacy) and pulled a few torn pages over yourself as a makeshift blanket. Tomorrow, the real work would begin, and you would search the house for supplies for your new home.
***A few weeks later...***
Your house was absolutely splendid. You had a bedroom with a soft bed made from a mitten, some knitting supplies (toothpicks and string) and even a grandfather pocket watch. You hadn’t seen any other borrowers in your expeditions, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary.
The tower you were in was huge, and to get to other floors you had to take a dangerous trip through an elevator shaft to avoid being seen. You had made it to a few other floors, and had seen a few of the beans living there. No scary brushes with death yet, though. And you hadn’t seen any cats.
You sipped some tea from your thimble and stared at one of the torn pages from earlier, poring over it and trying to read the symbols pictured. You were just considering trying to make a notebook from page scraps when, suddenly, you felt the wall behind you shift.
In an instant, you were left face to face with a shocked looking bean.
Its lips quivered a little before softly mouthing “Impossible...”
You were too taken aback to even move before the giant man moved his hand toward you. Seeing this, you jumped, trying to scurry backward away, but the bean was too fast. You were struggling, being somewhat crushed by the strength of the hand around your entire body. He brought you closer to his face.
You noticed he had strange purple hair, and was wearing weird clothing even for a bean. His eyes matched his hair, and both were currently aimed at you. You felt so helpless...
“What are you...?” He asked softly. You didn’t answer, instead breathing faster. “Can you speak?”
“P-put me down!” you cried. He looked taken aback, and released his grip on you a little.
“My apologies, little one, I did not intend on frightening you.” He set you down on the reading table. You looked frantically for somewhere to run or hide, but the only way off was to jump, which you doubted you would survive. You were at the mercy of this bean for now. “I’m sorry if this seems rude, but may I ask: what are you?”
“...A borrower," you exhaled, barely able to say anything.
“I’ve never heard of a borrower.”
“Most beans haven’t.” The bean looked insulted.
“A 'bean?!' What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“You’re a bean. You know, a human bean.” At this, the man's eyes widened and he smirked the tiniest smirk.
“Ah! I see. And why are you called a borrower?”
“We borrow things.”
“We? Then there are more of you?” This bean asked a lot of questions. You were getting fed up with it.
“Hell if I know! Put me back already!”
“Back into my bookshelf? Is that where you live?” You didn’t answer, and instead sat down on the surface of the table, pulling at your hair. You should never have stayed somewhere out in the open like that. Now this guy would never leave you alone.
He knelt down so he could see you sitting on the table at his eye height. Usually, when you saw beans up this close (only ever while they were sleeping!) you could see all of the imperfections in their skin. This man seemingly had none. How strange.
“Yeah. Now leave me alone.” As if that would work.
“Mais mon petit, we’ve only just met! I have so many questions!”
You sighed. You didn’t believe in talking to beans, but this one seemed to not want to hurt you. It might be best to play along until he lost interest.
“Well, get on with them then. I had plans today,” you lied.
He brought you some tea and a biscuit, which he broke into more reasonably sized pieces for someone of your stature. He dug through the pocket of his sweater vest and pulled out a thimble, and carefully poured you a cup of tea.
This thimble had a little porcelain picture of a flower on it. You were a little envious. Your special thimble couldn’t compare.
“I’ve washed it out for you, of course. Just in case you worried.”
“I’ve never really worried about that sort of thing. I don’t even know if I can get human diseases,” you replied.
He took a seat at a chair next to you, and provided you with a little bean bag and a book to function as your own chair and table. His seat was a bit high for his height, so his proportions were suddenly hitting you once again.
“What is your name?” You asked, trying to be brave.
“My name is Tsukiyama Shuu. It is an honour to meet you.”
“My name is (y/n), and that’s laying it on a little thick.”
“Désolé, mon petit.”
“And I don’t speak whatever language that is.”
He pouted a bit, but regained his composure.
“Sorry, it is a little quirk of mine. Pay no attention to it.”
You chatted for a while, and realized that despite your differences, you did have a few things in common. Tsukiyama had apparently also been very lonely as of late, and had taken up people watching to fill the void. Though you couldn’t read, you still had an interest, and he spent a lot of time in the library. He even shared an interest in making a variety of different clothing.
As you chatted, you began to feel drowsy. No, not just drowsy. Suddenly more exhausted than you had ever felt before in your life.
You weren’t sure what was going on, but you felt seconds away from passing out. As your upper body started to give way, you mumbled:
“I’m... just gonna take... nap...”
“No worries,” Tsukiyama cooed with a grin. “I’ll take good care of you while you sleep.”
You awoke, naked, in the dark. You could feel the cold metal surface beneath you on your bare skin. You stood up, still drowsy, unable to completely remember what happened. There had been a bean and-
You’d been tricked.
You desperately felt your way toward the edge of the tiny room you were in, trying to find a way out. No matter which direction you picked, you were surrounded by a cool metal wall. Parts of the ground had some sort of sticky substance on them. As you stumbled in the darkness, you almost tripped over something. You touched it, noticing it was squishy and damp.
A realization was starting to dawn on you.
Suddenly, the ground tilted slightly and shook. Whatever container you were in had probably been moved. The careful movements continued for what felt like forever until there was a brief jolt and your prison was still again.
The roof was lifted away from you, exposing you to the horror of your surroundings.
You were on a dinner table in a candlelit room, staring at the wicked grinning face of the bean you had met earlier. Specifically on a platter, served with a side of three slices of presumably human flesh, and garnished with blood.
The bean you had trusted had turned out to be a ghoul.
God, you were unlucky.
You tried to scramble away, but Tsukiyama, who was already holding a knife and fork, quickly pinned you down by the leg.
“It seems like the dose I gave you was not quite enough to keep you unconscious. What a shame. I’m not that cruel, you know. I had planned for you to not bear witness to this.”
“Let me go!” you screamed, trying to wiggle out from under the fork. “I thought you were my friend!”
“You’d be surprised how often I hear that.” He held the fork firmer against you, and with his other hand took a second, longer fork, and picked up one of the slices of meat. He dipped it into some of the blood on the plate, and slid it into his mouth, taking time to chew and swallow, but not releasing the pressure on you for a second. As he did so, his eyes changed into the telltale black and red of a ghoul’s kakugan.
“I’m barely a mouthful to you, why even bother?” you cried, grasping at straws (or anything else on the table for that matter).
“Because I may never get a chance like this again,” he replied, and took the second slice of flesh. You watched, terrified, unable to take your eyes away. Seeing the bulge disappear down his throat and into his chest made you feel sick. After finishing it, he went on, increasingly excited.
“You are extraordinaire. I have never met a creature like you before, and I may never again. As a ghoul who prides himself on having one of the most comprehensive palates, I simply must try borrower while I can.” He took the last slice and finished it off quickly, now looking straight at you hungrily. “And now that I have finished my appetizer, it’s time for the entrée.”
The reality of the situation was finally starting to hit you, and you struggled desperately against the metal pushing against you from both sides.
You were going to be eaten alive.
You had always considered this to be a possibility, being essentially bite sized for most creatures, but never by a bean. You had expected if anything were to eat you it would be a cat or a dog or a wild animal of some sort. But this–finding yourself on the plate of the first person you had talked to in years–was a nightmare you had never dreamed of.
Tsukiyama took a knife from the table and gently slid it against the skin of your left thigh, making a shallow cut. Blood spilled onto you, dripping on the plate and mixing with the blood already there. You gasped in pain. You were sure this wasn’t enough to kill you, but bloody hell did it hurt. If he was just going to eat you, why torture you on top of it? He put down the knife and fork and picked you up with his hand. He brought you close to his face and looked you over one last time, his kakugan burning into your mind.
“This is going to be a little more personal than I had anticipated, but as a once in a lifetime chance... I may as well enjoy every bit I can get. Au revoir, mon petit.” With that, he opened his mouth wide, placing you inside. You screamed, but he snapped his jaw shut. Any noise you could make would be quiet and muffled. As if there were anyone around to help you anyway.
His tongue explored your body, tasting every inch of you as you struggled. Running his tongue against your freshly cut leg, he began to moan loudly, and the sounds practically echoed through you. You grasped for something; anything; but everything was covered in slime and you didn’t want to risk putting your hands between those teeth.
“Mmmmmm-hmmmmm!” The moans continued, until he was practically screaming with his mouth closed, drowning out any pathetic attempts you made to call for help.
Would it hurt, you wondered? Being gnashed into a pulp? What a stupid thought. Of course it would. Maybe if you stuck your head between those teeth it would at least be over quickly–
A sudden movement of the tongue below cut off your thought as you were thrown further into the back of his mouth. The flesh around you lurched, and he made a startled sound. You wondered for a second if he was choking on you. Wouldn’t that be amusing?
Instead, with a few forced gulps, you felt yourself moving deeper, feet first, into his throat. He was trying to swallow you whole.
This was so much worse than being gnashed.
The flesh around you tightened and released, squelching every time. Tsukiyama’s throat muscles pulled you deeper and deeper into him with every swallow. It seemed you were a little too big for him to handle without some effort, because he started to thump his chest with his fist, trying to force you down. With every thud, you dropped deeper into his gullet. You attempted to reach above you, back toward the light, but with the walls practically crushing you, you could barely move.
You were pretty sure you had passed his collar bone now, since the thumping had stopped and your descent became smoother. You thrashed about, trying to get yourself stuck again-anything to delay the inevitable-but your struggles seemed to only be forcing you down quicker. With a wail, you went limp, resigning yourself to your fate and letting the muscles squeeze your body slowly further down. Soon you felt your legs reaching an open space below you.
With a few quick undulations of his gullet, you dropped into the cavern below, in complete darkness. You could hear every noise in Tsukiyama’s body. His heartbeat, his breathing... the gurgling of his gut as it welcomed its new guest. His breathing seemed a lot heavier than before; maybe he actually had been choking.
“Aahhhhh~” his moaning voice boomed around you. “I didn’t mean to take it so fast... this is... strange...”
You still had a little fight left in you. You tried to stand, but slipped on something in the dark. Instead, you kneeled, punching the rippled walls around you with as much force as you could muster.
“I’m still alive, and I’m gonna kick your ass! Let me out!”
You felt something press up against you from the outside-a hand, maybe. For a second you felt the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe he felt some sort of regret for what he’d done to you.
But that was not the case, because he started talking again.
“This feeling... devouring an entire life in one bite... it is... exhilarating!” You could feel him practically shaking with pleasure around you. That’s right. This wasn’t about survival, even though ghouls killed to live. You were simply an object for his perverted whim. “I can feel every movement within me! I’ve been blessed with a meal of the very essence of life; a struggle to survive even against the inevitable~!”
He wasn’t even responding to you. He was still talking to himself. Egotistical prick. You continued to punch, kick, and even try to scratch your way out but every attempt was met with a sharp moan of pleasure. He was even enjoying your struggles.
You cried an awful, ugly cry, as your punches slowed to a crawl. You had spent all of your energy fighting, and to no avail. You sobbed, curling into the smallest ball you could.
“I don’t wanna die... I don’t wanna die...”
You sat still in the dank darkness. You felt pieces of chewed up flesh around you, probably starting to digest. That would be you soon. Nothing but chewed up meat, a stew of blood and tiny bones. And nobody would ever know.
Your heart sank deeper than it ever had in your life. The fleshy sack you were trapped in was starting to fill with digestive juices, tingling against your skin. You probably didn’t have long now. You imagined the skin melting off your body, and then the muscle melting off your bones, and then even your bones melting away too. Soon, nothing would be left but fluid pumping through the ghoul’s veins. You cried very softly, hoping he wouldn’t be able to hear or feel you. At least maybe you could stop giving him that satisfaction.
You were doomed now, and even your chance at dying quickly and painlessly was gone. You couldn’t stop imagining how much this was going to HURT. Everything around you reeked of blood and meat and blood and meat and blood-
“Oh my. It seems they’ve finally given up. I suppose with that I’ll retire for the night.”
The flesh around you lurched as he began to move, and you tried not to give any indication of still being alive. Hearing his pleasure felt more disgusting than any physical sensation.
Eventually, you were flopped to your side as he laid down. Soon he began to breathe deeply. Asleep. Now you could die in relative peace.
Might as well accept it: you WERE going to die.
The tingling had spread across your whole body now. Perhaps digestion had already started, and the pain was being numbed somehow. You felt around your body, trying to find signs of damage, but you couldn’t feel much of anything through the massive amount of viscous fluids covering you. For all you knew, you had patches of skin already melted off.
You wondered next what would happen after you died. It was something you thought about from time to time, being a little superstitious. Would your ghost be trapped in his gut forever? Would your soul become a part of his?
That last thought was a little comforting. Being able to live on in some way as something bigger and more powerful than you had ever been-disgusting as he was, it might be interesting to finally see the world from the eyes of a bean.
Minutes passed, and you strangely still felt nothing, though the chunks of meat around you were starting to turn into sludge, and you assumed the same was happening to you. You laid your body against the stomach wall, exhausted. The large ripples of the surface felt almost like layers of soft, squishy pillows. If you fell asleep now, you might just pass away quietly while you were unconscious. If that was how you were going to die, you supposed, aside from the humiliation of being nothing but food, it wouldn’t be too bad. Painlessly, somewhere soft and warm. Probably better than being stepped on or gnashed. Terrified as you had been, your exhaustion soon took over and you couldn’t keep your eyes open for long before you passed out.