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Of Basketball and Kitsune Tails

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Chapter 1

Meet Uncle Mamoru


     Tetsuya, even at age seven, knew he was different. He just never knew how different until he met his Uncle Mamoru and finally learned the truth of what he really was.

      It all started when he began to see things that no one else noticed. He glimpsed them out of the corner of his eyes, creatures that didn’t belong in the natural world. Things with too many limbs and eyes, and shapes that never looked quite right to a human eye. He wondered if they might be yokai, he had heard enough stories, from nannies and schoolmates trying to frighten him and each other. But yokai didn’t exist or that’s what everyone said.

       His belief didn’t seem to matter, as the weeks went by he began to see them more and more, no longer just glimpses from the corner of his eyes, but walking in front of him, behind him and strolling down the street. They were everywhere he went.

      Is this what going crazy feels like? he wondered.

      Tetsuya asked his nanny, the latest in a long line, about the creatures he saw. She told him to stop imagining things and do his homework. He didn’t bother asking again.

      He was grateful that even though he saw the creatures, they never saw him. It seemed his lack of presence that made him all but invisible to most of the general population worked on these strange creatures too. It was one of the few times he was grateful for his near invisibility.  He did sometimes have fun using his low presence though, to scare off bullies picking on other kids, making them yell in surprise and a little fear before seeming to disappear again. The bullies rarely stayed after that. His low presence kept him safe from the strange creatures, until the day it didn’t.

      Walking home one day from school he saw the monster. It was a huge disgusting mass of black gelatinous liquid that oozed along the road in front of him. It had hundreds of eyes all haphazardly placed all though its body. Its multiple mouths randomly placed throughout its body were filled with razor sharp teeth. Its very existence seemed to pollute the very air around it.

       Tetsuya swallowed hard trying not to throw up; he brought his hand to his moth to keep from making a single noise. He backed up slowly trying to find another route, but the creature oozed closer and closer to him.

     “Hungry, so very hungry,’ it hissed in a low raspy voice.

      It was soon  inches away from him and before he could stop himself the blue haired boy gasped in fear and moved too quickly. The creature instantly focused on him, its hundreds of eyes suddenly all staring straight at him.

    “Hungry. Eat pretty food.” Its multiple mouths hissed, its razor sharp teeth glinting in the sunlight.

     Tetsuya turned to run, any chance at remaining unseen lost. He wasn’t fast enough. The monster was on him in seconds and then all he knew was pain. He heard a voice screaming and distantly realized that it was his own voice.

     I'm going to die, his mind screamed. No one would save him.

     Tetsuya was starting to black out when something pulled the monster from him with a deafening growl. Through his graying eyesight the boy watched as a huge white fox with blue eyes and seven tails ripped the black monster to shreds. The monster howled and screamed and fought, but the fox destroyed it with brutal snaps of its teeth.

    It saved me, he thought before finally succumbing to the blackness.

* * *

     The blue haired boy came to with a strangled gasp of pain, jerking up from the bed he was laying on.  He sighed in relief as the pain slowly dissipated.

   His eyes darted around his surroundings as he remembered the horrible events of the day. He relaxed slightly as he recognized his surroundings as his bedroom. 

    “How?” He whispered out loud confused.

     Last thing he remembered he had been on a street a few blocks from home, nearly killed by the black monster before the giant white fox rescued him.

     Sill confused Tetsuya jerked his head toward the door when it opened. He stared in amazement as the white fox who saved him gracefully walked into the room. He shrunk back in fear as the fox loomed over him as it got closer.

    “Calm, child. I would not have gone to the effort of rescuing you from the miasma demon if I intended you harm.” The fox’s voice was deep and soothing.

   The fox sat down on its back legs, its large body seemly comfortable in the bedrooms too small space. His seven tails covered the floor like a silken rug.

     “You’re talking to me; a giant fox is talking to me. I really have gone crazy.” Tetsuya blurted out before he could stop himself.

      The fox laughed softly. “Yes, Tetsuya, I am talking to you. And no you are not crazy. You merely can see what most humans cannot.”

     The deep rumbling voice was surprisingly soothing and Tetsuya found himself relaxing despite himself.

     The Fox smiled as he watched Tetsuya relax.

    “That’s better. I am not here to hurt you.“

    “What are you? Why did you save me? Why are you here at all?” The boy rapidly blurted out the questions.

     The fox didn’t seem to mind the many questions; he smiled and replied, “as for the first question I am a Kitsune.”

     “A spirit fox.” The blue hared boy interrupted disbelieving.

     “Yes, I am a yokai, specifically a spirit fox. You might not want to believe me, but yokai are what you have been seeing these past few weeks.”

      “How could you know that? How do you know anything about me at all?” Testsuya demanded to know, his earlier fear completely forgotten. He wanted answers.

      “First, I will finish answering you previous questions as they both have the same answer. I saved you and I brought to back home because we are kin Tetsuya.” The fox answered gently.

     “Kin, you’re saying we’re related. That’s a lie, I know who my parents are and I don’t have any extended family.” The boy glared at the fox.

      The white fox sighed. “If we are to continue, perhaps I should take a shape that you will make your more comfortable.”


       The blue haired boy stopped and stared as the giant white fox began to change. The foxes form blurred and misted as it took on an entirely different yet familiar form of a man.

      The fox as a man was still huge, over 6 foot tall. His hair, white as the fox’s fur, was long and pulled back into a tail at the back of his head. Where there was once fur it was now pale skin and he wore a white kimono with silver foxes embroidered on. His eyes were still the same blue as the fox, the same color as mine, the boy thought.

     Dazed by the sudden change Tetsuya almost didn’t hear the fox, now man, begin to talk.

     “Are you okay child?” The voice asked worried.

      The blue haired boy pulled himself from his thoughts and answered. “No, but that is not going to change anytime soon. Please explain.”

      The white haired man laughed at his bluntness.

      “First I should properly introduce myself and then I will finally give you answers. I am your Uncle Mamoru. I am the Head of the local Kitsune family in this territory.” He sat waiting for Tetsuya’s response.

      "Kuroko Tetsuya." He politely introduced himself. The boy nodded for Mamoru to continue.

      “Your birth mother is my youngest sister, Okori, a beautiful five tailed blue fox. She has always been a wild child. She finds humans both fascinating and horrible and loves to play tricks on them. It has gotten her into trouble more than once over the years. Almost ten years ago now she found herself falling in love with a human man, your human father.”

      “Their relationship started off well enough. Okori only met with him in her human form and hoped one day that he would accept her for who she truly was. She truly believed that he loved her, so after about a year into their courting she decided to tell him the truth. He rejected her without a pause and cut all ties with her. It crushed her. She was never quite the same after that, her tricks on humans became less amusing and more dangerous and on occasion deadly.”

       The blue haired boy winced at the information but didn’t interrupt the story.

      “About a year after she was rejected she found out that your father had married a human woman. The thought of your father happily married filled her with rage and she decided to get her revenge for his rejection. She found your father and his new wife and she studied them closely."

  "One night when your human mother was gone for the evening Okori took her form and spent the night with your father. He never knew who it was he slept with. Nine months later you were born. Okori took you to your father’s house, explained exactly what she had done, and left you with him. It ruined you father’s marriage and to this day your human parents rarely spend time together though they refuse to get divorced. My sister has not once shown any interest in you since that day, for that I am sorry.”

    Mamoru looked sadly at Tetsuya as the information sunk in.

    “No wonder my parents hate me.” The boy whispered.

    Mamoru winced, but he didn’t even try to argue with the boy. He unfortunately agreed.

    Tetsuya covered his face with his hands and tried not to cry. He had stopped resisting his Uncle’s explanation fairly quickly, it made so many things in his life make sense. He always knew he was different, now he knew why.

     “I am sorry Tetsuya. I had hoped to find a better way to tell you.  Honestly, if your kitsune blood had not started to show, I would have never told you. But that is the past and this is now. Your kitsune blood has awakened and you need to learn about your kitsune heritage, yokai, and how to defend yourself.” Memoru explained his voice serious.

   Testsuya looked at his uncle. Now that he was paying attention he could see the similarities to him in his uncle’s face and eyes.

   Something occurred to him as he thought about his uncle's words.

   “Uncle Mamoru, have you been keeping an eye on me all this time?”

    “Yes. My sister has every right to be angry with your father, but you are an innocent in this situation. If my sister will not take care of you, I will. You are my kin and I take care of my kin. As a human it was safer for you to be in your Father’s home, but now that you are showing your yokai blood I had to get involved. I am only sorry that I did not help you earlier, you nearly died because I waited too long.”

   Mamoru bowed his head and his hands clamped into fists in his lap at his failure.

    “You saved my life Uncle Mamoru. I never did thank you for that."

    Tetsuya paused and gently put his small hand over one of his uncle’s fists. The man looked up in surprise at the touch and when their eyes met Tetsuya smiled at him, a tiny whisper of a smile.  

    “Thank you for saving my life Uncle Mamoru and for telling me the truth.”

     Mamoru smiled back and held his nephews hand for a moment before letting go. He got up carefully making sure not the bump into Tetsuya.

    “I think that is enough for today. I will let you get some rest. This weekend I will pick you up and properly introduce you to the yokai world."

    He placed his hand gently on Tetsuya’s head and before the boy could ask any more questions he found himself drifting to sleep.

    “Good night, my precious nephew.”