Tomas was inside a tamer-designated room, but it wasn't a taming one, the room had two beds, a window, it was similar to the hospital side of the centre but with fewer buttons and nobs on the wall next to the bed. Tomas was sitting, talking to Freya about something as he wrote down on a notebook, the succubus sat near the window and looking outside, to the street, lazing against the wall and looking positively bored.
The young man raised his gaze from the notebook, closing it up and leaving it on the small table. "Rick." He greeted you, the word drawing the attention of the succubus who stared daggers for only an instant before she hid behind a mask of neutrality.
"Hey, you doing ok?" You replied.
The still-shirtless teenager blinked a moment. "Never been better, why?"
"Could we talk in private?" You asked, making a motion to show your girls weren't out right now.
That caught him a little by surprise. "Oh, uh, sure." Tomas hesitated a second, glancing at the other two. "Mind stepping outside and wait for the others at the entrance?"
Rachel's mask of neutrality turned into one of forced smiles. "Yes, Master!" She hopped to her feet, approaching Tomas to give him a kiss and walk out, her movements oozed sensual confidence, and the way Tomas' face lit up with a wide smile told enough of the story of that part of the equation.
"Yes, Master." Freya spoke albeit a bit less enthusiastically, her movements gracefully slow as if trying to stall for some more time. She hesitated to kiss him and it turned into a hug he returned happily.
The door closed behind them, leaving you alone with the young man.
"So what did you want to talk about?" He said as he pocketed the notebook.
"You really need to get yourself a shirt." You tried to lighten the mood with a little chuckle.
That made him react, blush a little and dig into his backpack, pulling out one such item. "I had one, it's just that Rachel insisted I looked better without."
"A succubus, huh." You mentally tried to lay out a plan on how to word this out. "That's quite the catch." You approached amicably, patting Tomas' shoulder as you sat next to him. "I read the entry, that's one dangerous lady, she'll surely be of great use to the group."
"I know, right?" He was flustered and excited. "She got rid of those ferals in a flash, she's strong, and she..." A pause and a blush.
"Is sexy as hell." You finished for him as he stuttered. He could only nod. "I mean, she's a 'succubus', they aren't known to 'soul-sucking man-eating demons' through their ugliness, right?"
That made him squirm. "Though she's... sort of not mine? We made an agreement."
Rather than reply, you prompted him to continue with your silence.
"She told me she's looking to go to Kasul, but that she can't exactly go around without a tamer or she'd risk someone trying to catch her." He explained.
You carefully chew on that. "Did she tell you why she's going there?"
"Said she'd rather not talk about it if she could avoid it, so I didn't push." He sheepishly admitted.
"Hm..." You paused, scratching your head and making it clear this was not an idea you were too sure on. "If she's with you 'out of convenience', then what about all the 'Master' thing?"
"Not wanting to draw bad attention." A rather fast response. "Also said it'd boost my image since tamers who've dominated a succubus are seen as very capable."
"So she's smart, hot as hell, and strong." You listed off. "And she put down some ground rules that sound reasonable... to people like us." You said now more tentatively.
"We're outworlders." You stated. "I'd think it's pretty clear that what we consider normal and reasonable isn't what's usually thought of as normal and reasonable in this world. And vice-versa." Leaning your head a bit, you looked at him inquisitively. "I know that the world we came from that would've been perfectly reasonable, but... have you considered what they mean under this world's context?"
"What?" He asked a bit defensively now.
You made a show to grimace. "Tomas, you know how girls are treated here don't you? You can't be blind about it."
That knocked him into a frown before he nodded with a grim look in his eyes. "Yes, it... sucks."
"A lot." You agreed. "And it's so ingrained into the culture that the girls themselves acknowledge this." You continued. "That was what I meant earlier."
A sudden thoughtful look crossed Tomas' face. "What do you think it is?"
He bit, you nodded in acknowledgement to the question. "Honestly? I don't know. I've barely had much of a chance to talk with her, she may have just grown up in the woods or something. I'd like more people to think more freely like that if I had a say about it, actually." You shrugged, patting his shoulder. "I might as well warn that Diane told me Rachel got rid of her last tamer publicly and not that long ago."
"Oh, yeah, she told me about that and that there would likely be people who looked at her badly in town. Her previous tamer had been under the same agreement." He admitted.
You could only nod at his words, getting a clearer picture of how Rachel seemed to work. Though you couldn't be sure whether it was true or not nor could you prove it. "As long as you're careful, I'll trust you can handle her." You lied through your teeth, the reason you were here being exactly that you didn't trust he could handle her and wanting to find out how deeply the succubus was manipulating the young man.
Maybe that'd change after this conversation. Or maybe not. "Thanks." The young man said.
"Just keep in mind that we're a group." You said with a meaningful nod. "Since she's not going to stick around, there are things we can't trust her with."
"We're outworlders, remember?" You press. "She must not find out about that."
Realization and a sheepish nod. "Right, you're right, yeah, sorry, I forgot about that."
Now you frowned. "You haven't..."
"No, no, absolutely, it's not something that's come up." Tomas shook his head quickly.
A sigh and an amicable smile. "That's good, just remember, we can't trust her to be part of our group, not completely. You said so yourself, right? A relationship of convenience."
"...right." He nodded.
You returned the gesture, feeling like this was as far as the conversation in what meant to Rachel. It was clear she posed a threat, but not a big one, for now. You'd only keep an eye on things and see how they developed over time. You really hoped the young man didn't end up completely wrapped around her finger.
Your thoughts were interrupted when you noted a troubled look on Tomas' face.
"No, it's... just a silly question." He hesitated. "Back when Monica got hit by that pink dust... it was weird for you too, right?"
"I was kind of more concerned over not dying than anything else, and it seemed like it was a rather close call at that." You tried to joke before sensing that this was an important question to him. You remembered Diane's gossip, and sighed, shaking your head a little.
"Ah, yeah, I guess you're right." Tomas nodded sheepishly. "Kind of dumb to worry over the other part."
"Tomas, look, each person has their tastes." You sighed a little. "Mine does not include 'two guys one girl' on the list of options, 'two girls one guy' however..."
Now the young man blushed and coughed a little. "Yeah... that was..."
"Was?" You chuckled. "Ah, so Freya and Rachel..." A nod and a friendly pat on the shoulder. "Well, it's your fun to have. Just remember Freya's part of your harem, and she's not there with a contract with an expiration date."
That confused him a little. "What do you mean?"
"Just saying." You shrugged, quickly hiding the intent of your words. "Monica demanded a lot of attention after I got her back, and Diane felt neglected and told me as such. It's weird having to juggle attention to more than woman at a time. I'm fortunate Diane opted to be open about it."
That gave him pause for thought before he nodded. "It's weird, yeah."
You couldn't really expect much more out of him. An idea dinged in your head. "Well, anyways, I think I should go apologize to Rachel." Tomas could only look at you in startled confusion, you continued. "She came out being... defensive, and I took it the wrong way. I shouldn't have done that."
The young man glanced around for a moment before staring down at his notebook. "Then let's go outside? I don't exactly have a way to calling her over."
It wasn't lost on you that he wanted to be present. "Sure."
You lead the way, Tomas looking pensive as he followed close behind, quietly mulling over something.
Outside, the succubus was leaning against the outer wall, seeming mostly occupied watching the people walk past, her eyes cold and calculating. Freya was at the other side of the entrance, sitting on the floor and carefully polishing her bow with a dark brown cloth. The duo reacted to your appearance quickly.
"Master." The elf nodded respectfully.
You could see the cogs turning as Rachel glanced in your direction, her eyes landed on you for a fraction of a second, serious, before they drifted towards Tomas and her lips instantly spread in that plastic way that never reached her eyes. "Master!" Her tone was overly saccharine, she jumped to glomp the young man in a tight embrace, the actions having flowed so quickly and smoothly you would've never noticed a thing had you not been looking for it.
Tomas just looked at you, since it had been you who'd asked to talk to the infernal monstergirl.
The shared look was noticed, Rachel hesitated in her grip around the young man's shoulders.
Apparently, you wouldn't have much chance to try and make this private, which was probably for the best. You took a deep breath, you're an adult, you've had to do this hundreds of times. Might as well pull all the stops.
You look seriously at Rachel, who instantly tensed and looked back at you whilst Tomas managed to untangle himself from her grip, she seemed to realize something was off. You began to talk before she said anything. "Look, I just wanted to say sorry for how I treated you. I took you for a not very nice person and it was just me jumping to the wrong assumptions." You spoke firmly and keeping your tone neutral. "I'm thankful you joined Tomas' harem and that you're going to take good care of him." Stepping forwards, you offer a hand to shake. "So with the spirit of wanting to set things straight, I'd like to propose we start with a clean slate."
Rachel blinked. "What?" Her expression was completely dumbfounded, looking at you and your hand as if a bomb were about to pop out of it and blow up in her face.
"I said that I'm sorry for my earlier behaviour and wish to start with a clean slate." You reiterated, ignoring the slack-jawed look Freya was shooting your way.
"I meant why." Rachel switched to a frown. "Why are you apologizing?"
"I said why I'm apologizing." You spoke calmly. "I said what I'm sorry about and I am apologising for it." A pause before you let out a tiny grin. "This would be the part where you can decide whether you accept that apology or not."
Another long dubious look. "And what if I don't..."
You had a series of words that came to mind regarding what you could answer her, but instead, you just shrugged. "Then you don't and we get to find out what it's like to spend months travelling together with a bad relationship."
"Rachel, I think-." The young man began to speak a little nervously.
"Tomas." You cut him off, serious, your eyes met his firmly and he froze. "This is my apology to Rachel, and it's her decision." Your eyes turned back to her, watching her closely.
The succubus appeared to frown, clearly confused. "I'll take it." She'd grasped your hand firmly, her skin was incredibly soft, it sent tingles through your skin, a part of your brain had to put conscious effort in making sure your thoughts wouldn't stray. "I'll take your apology." Her voice softened, taking another long second before she let go, looking at you with some dubiousness. "Is that it?"
"That would be it, yes." You nodded curtly.
The monstergirl was glancing at you and then looked at her hand as if checking there was no trick or prank involved. "Ok." She declared, appearing to remember where she was and that there were people watching, she almost flinched as she turned back towards Tomas, the faux smile returning immediately after, her voice shifting to a little squeal ash she glomped him once more. "Your teacher is weird, Master." She cooed, nibbling at his ear and kissing his neck. "Are all your friends like that?"
The instantaneous switch towards bubbliness had everyone mute for a moment. "Uh... no, not really, only Rick's like that." Tomas muttered.
You just stood there trying to figure out what to do with your hands, that strange sensation you got whenever quite not sure what to do to continue the scene, watching the two talk with one another. Well, might as well re-take the lead and change the direction fo the conversation. "Oh, right. Monica shifted last night." You broke the silence. "Completely caught me by surprise."
"Wait, what? Monica!?" Tomas paled as he said this, the reaction was noticed by the others.
There was an odd calculating look from Rachel. "Isn't Monica the mean cat you'd talked about, Master?"
"Yeah..." He looked sheepish at the realization you were standing right there.
"Here, I'll bring her out." You said, summoning Diane out of her device before releasing Monica.
The nurse looked around, realized the look you shot at her, and she froze, thankfully aware she should not start anything.
Monica did not react like this, she instead looked around for a moment before finding you and pulling you into her arms. The height was perfect for your head to find itself pressed against her pillowy chest. "Rick." She spoke, giving a lick at your ear, but stopping as she noticed the others present. "Tomas."
"Monica?!" The young tamer gawked. "Just... How?" He looked at you for a moment and then back to the busty feline, Freya and Rachel were now looking at the cat far more closely.
"Uh..." You scratched your head, being allowed to turn around but the pressure Monica put on you from behind never quite going away.
Rachel appeared to realize something. "Master, perhaps you could scan her?" Her words startled the young man into action, he pulled the dex out and did so, pausing to look at the entry for a moment, his eyes widening. It was Rachel, however, that had a strange look in her eyes as she looked over her tamer's shoulder very attentively.
"I did not know you could shift a girl with... that." His face went beet red.
"Rick." Monica wrapped her muscular arms around you and pulled you further against her very large chest, purring now.
"Good kitty." You chuckled, nudging her to let go.
"I'd like to fuck her, Master." Rachel spoke from where she was, holding Tomas from behind much like Monica was doing to you. Her eyes words might have been in reference to Monica and spoken to Tomas, but her eyes were locked onto yours firmly.
"What?" You said at the same time Tomas had.
"You know, let us girls have some fun." The succubus' tail swished. "Pretty please?"
Tomas and you shared a doubtful look. You couldn't let this weird energy keep going. "I don't see why we can't do it later. But first, we should catch up with the others, do presentations and all that." You commented, trying to deflect this course of action the succubus was suggesting.
A part of you was curious what Rachel's intent was here, but also you'd be lying if you said you wanted to have a clearer picture as to what she was capable of doing. But more than anything, you wanted to ensure the group as a whole kept a smooth run, the succubus clearly looking like a wrench just waiting to happen.
The way she was looking at you seemed to warn you as much.
Hopefully, the talk with Tomas would help avoid that.
Freya had approached her tamer to talk about something, so you moved to give them some privacy, Monica had to let go of your head much to her chagrin, but your focus was on Diane. "Do not start anything." You warned her. "I am not tolerating quips right now."
She gulped and nodded. "Yes, Master."
"Good." You sighed. "Let's wait for the others."