Graced by the gentle touch of his own fingertips to the side of his head, close to his pointed ear, the tickling sensation of his own fur gradually shifted the Roferian back into reality. Only flesh and bone remained in the place he once had metal and wire, violating the sensations and broken state of consciousness he indulged within his dreams; where he was feared and had everything which he desired, still walking the universe as a tall, young adult. These things were not meant to be, being brought into fruition by memory banks that didn't understand he was no longer that individual. The paw that came to rouse him from the merciful embrace of sleep was small, with the short, delicate fingers of a child. Velius was gone, and he remained in his shadow.
Rousing from his sleep, Richter's body felt numb and lost where it laid, with his muzzle tucked deeply into the center of a fresh pillow. Lethargic and in a daze, his eyes barely opened to show a faint hint of their emerald green; changing his breathing as he took a deep breath and shifted his hips, to stretch his legs against the mattress. A sudden, irritating sting scraped across the front of his thighs, bringing the young boy to wince and take a sharp intake of air through his clenched, sharp teeth. Muscles and paws slowly returning to their limp state, his eyes returned to their little slits, staring off at the wall the side of his bed was tucked against. Staying still to prevent any further discomfort, he stared blankly at the lightly marbled wood tone of his bedroom wall, and a streak of light striking across it from the window near his feet. This tiny spot of wall was a sight he was becoming accustomed to, but not one he was all too fond of in his lonesome. White pillow cover lightly stained from prior tear-soakings, it was where he stared when he had nothing but moonlight to accompany his pain-stricken, angry lamentations.
It had been two weeks since he fell under the ray of rejuvenatory radiation that sent him back to childhood, and into the waiting arms of a family so far away from San Francisco. Entirely uncooperative, the five year old, brand new Roferian had to be pulled from his rejuvenator to usher him along into a waiting transport shuttle for a ride that lasted over an hour. In plain clothing, with a hole cut in his slacks and briefs for his tail, he spent the time in unspoken rage and an inner agony, looking over the black 'P's on the backs of his paws. He was a Penitatas, and alive - both of which he didn't expect to be, and it had resulted in much yelling and throwing of his fists during his initial days. Whoever decided where he would be placed gave it much careful thought, matching him with ideal parents and a setting perfect for his specific, anti-technological needs. As highlighted by the low sounds of animals far outside his window, they had placed him on a small farm, out in one of the few sparsely populated hill regions in England.
Grass and wildflowers abound, his new Penitatas parents weren't of the urban variety, being one of the suppliers of local meats and vegetables; clearly better than anything a replicator could design. They were modest and hard working people, good natured and mindful of discipline. He was under their wings, no matter how resistant or disobedient he pushed to be. As the scratchy sting all around his thighs and firm ache within his backside told, the pair swung back, even if they had to hold him down. These long days had been tiresome and arduous, coming into a new life he didn't desire - trying so hard to remain tough and stoic while swats and lashes drove him to tears. The last thing he wanted to do was cry; reduced to a shell of what he once was, in the form of a bitter child.
When he wasn't expressing his loathing hatred and acting poorly, the young Richter was a reclusive defeatist with no social aptitude. He never spoke unless spoken to, and even then he didn't always say anything. Quiet, looked down a lot, and never attempted to play. He always looked as if he was deep in thought and turmoil, so confused and disturbed; as if this was someone else's trip, and he was merely along for the ride. Unacceptant of his age and subsequent vulnerability, he was trying to remain the young man that stood before Judge Ulera; as unrealistic as that was. As the youngest sort of rejuve, he couldn't expect to have the strength or maturity to stand on his own. Safety, enjoyment, care, and support, were universal needs of all children - including those who fell from very high places.
It had left him in this room, unwilling to get up and meet the day, despite the sun's early rays lighting his room from undrawn curtains. All he could do was lay there in his bare fur, staring at the wall as he blinked drowsily. There was no optimism or urge to pull him from that place, head tucked deeply into the inner fluff of his pillow, no matter how many noises and clatters of life he heard radiating from his home. Made from synthetic woods and reinforced interior metals, and not an automated door in the entire house, his doorway was left open as his adoptive Penitatas mother deemed necessary. Richter heard her steps and activity, keeping him still, as to not be bothered or noticed; as if it would render him invisible, with his back facing the open door. His mental abilities fully suppressed, he couldn't track her movements or determine just how close she was; having been constantly peeking in on her new handful of a son.
Wiping her hands dry with a washcloth, the older sort of human woman in her late forties watched her Penitatas rest as she stood by his bedroom door, just adjacent to the kitchen. Fairly retro for the era, using old fashioned styles and having only a single floor, the location of Richter's room was all the better to keep an eye on him during her daily housework. Unafraid to pull her weight and stand as a leader, preferring to make rather than purchase, she was a stout woman; having some muscle in her arms and legs, despite her yellow, ankle length summer dress. Red hair down to her upper back and an occasional freckle dotting her fair skin, she was a good lass who wasn't to be trifled with - unafraid to don a pair of overalls and join her husband in the fine outdoors.
"Richter? Richter lad, it's time to get up.", the lady, Elizabeth Tanner, called to him with a mild, sturdy female voice, rich with a light regional accent. Her tone was soft, making sure not to startle her son in case he wasn't awake, tucked in beneath his blanket with the first white spine on his neck poking out. Learning from days prior, she was already becoming wise of her son's behaviors and habits, or lack thereof, and weighed the possibility he was laying there to avoid her. Towards the wall at his side, the Roferian boy gave a single tepid blink. He didn't much care what time it was, nor whom hovered around his bedroom door.
"You're a light sleeper. If you were really asleep, you would have moved a little when I tried to rouse you.", Elizabeth spoke no differently, taking a calm and casual approach, to maintain the peace within her home. She was a particularly observant parent who liked to lead by example, so it struck her as prudent to show she couldn't be so easily fooled by his apathetic attempt to remain in bed. Brows curling slightly, Richter came to glare at the wall.
"I might sleep better if you didn't lash me before bed every night.", he griped plainly in his small voice, keeping to the same sort of tone his older self had. Far from the frightful, sadistic pitch that bellowed through the narrow corridors of DeltaStar, his exceptionally young voice was kept low and rigid.
The tiny welts that stung him when he tried to move his legs were fresh from last night, coating both the front and back of his thighs, just as they had for a few nights prior. His mother ordered the strict spanking days ago to repeat every bedtime for a week, as punishment for something she found incorrigible. Much to the Roferian's familiarity and disdain, his parents were given a spanking implement used by his own race - a Takanazo, like the one he was spanked with when he was a real child on Ventasa. Made from a dried marsh reed called a Tak, it was thin and flexible with a woven handle, able to lash repeatedly and leave terrible long, tiny welts that stung very uniquely. Limp but strong, it had an tenancy to wrap around the leg slightly if lashed right. His mother even used it correctly, lashing his thighs both front and back, while his father held his wrists above his head and made him stand. Swung longer and much more severely in his Penitatas status, intensely painful, the thin welts came to coat his skin liberally.
"You kicked a rabbit. I'm not sorry for using that thing on you.", his mother came to roll her tone into that of a scold, to press that she didn't feel bad for punishing him. The Takanazo was still foreign to her, but having heard of how it was used, she felt it was a fine a time as ever to get used to it. Laying next to Richter's bed, the instrument of last night's bout of pillow staining remained on the floor to be used again. He still had another two sessions to go, on top of his other disciplinary needs.
"It bit me!", Richter lifted his muzzle from his pillow to snap over his shoulder without rolling over away from his wall, sounding firm and agitated. He didn't think much of his actions, seeing them as retaliatory. Feeding the rabbits had been his chore since his arrival, and his patience was thin when it came to such tasks.
"You've told me, but that still doesn't change anything. We don't mistreat the animals. There are things you have to accept without getting mad.", Elizabeth sighed, trying to keep the calm tone she had been working with. Working with Richter called for the use of patience and a soft touch, and she held on to the hope that leading by example would rub some of these qualities off on him over time. He was a rough and brash child, and he could swing his tail hard for someone his age - made all the more frightful by the bony spikes that went down each of his vertebrae. Small and not too sharp, they were still something she didn't want hitting her in the face while giving the boy a harsh paddling over her lap. He tended to thrash and get desperate, so she at least knew the close calls were just an accident.
"At least you didn't tell me to bugger off this morning. I do appreciate it.", she decided to add as a compliment, feeling that recognizing his good behaviors would be critical during these first weeks. While Richter was sour and holding a questionable tone, Elizabeth liked that their conversation was better than usual. They were actually having one, for starters, and her calm and casual approach seemed to be working to a degree. Other mornings did not go so well, and she was growing desperate to connect to him in any way.
Without any complaints, Richter pressed his open left paw against his bed and pushed to upright himself with a slow, weak motion. A shift of his tail scraped his bony spines against his sheets, moving the Roferian appendage behind himself as he sat up, leaning forward with his head lazily hanging. His brilliant eyes struck by the light of the morning, his paws came to settle the blanket into his lap, holding onto it while he sat on his bare, mildly bruised rear. All of his lightly thicker gray fur and white spines exposed, along with his face, Elizabeth could see that he was drooping, even though he was still trying to pass himself off as apathetic and stoic in the face of his new-found discipline. She was aware of all he had done and that this was more than deserved, but at the same time, she was also aware that he tried to kill himself before being captured. The last thing she wanted was for the boy to sink into sadness, handling his personal despair until he decided to try and off himself again. So often swatted and without a single friend, she understood being glum would be a five year old's inner reaction regardless of how tough Richter truly was.
"No, I didn't. I'm not in the mood to deal with what came after that.", the Roferian boy managed to keep speaking, somber and frank, looking down towards the shape of his feet beneath the blanket that warmed him. Just a few days prior, he had told his mother to get lost in very colorful language, refusing to get out of bed and face another day of chores with those undeserving, wretched little animals. Elizabeth's answer to that was to pick him up, thrust him over her lap, and spank him with her bare hand as firmly as she could for what felt like nearly fifteen minutes. It wasn't how he liked starting the day, being driven so forcefully to cooperate - or else. He was at least not trying so hard to get into trouble on purpose.
"The whole purpose of things like that are to teach you lessons. Learning to avoid these lessons is a good first step.", Elizabeth embraced as a chance to talk, stepping through the doorway with her red and white checkered washcloth held in her right hand. While most Penitatas would have admitably accepted that avoiding being punished was a good idea much sooner than Richter, she was pleased to be getting somewhere, albeit slowly. Unassuming and slow, the human woman came to take a seat beside her son, sitting on the side edge of his bed with her rag across her lap.
Seeing him trying to hide the faint hint of a frown, Elizabeth pondered all the things that brought him to her home. She knew so little about him aside from his long list of crimes, as dark and bloody as they were. It was tough to feel sympathetic for him, but living within her home, she wanted to at least be his mother; to look past what he had done, and correct him for it. This frail, forlorn looking furred boy used to consider himself a god, standing as a genocidal maniac of a hacker. No one deserved their lashings more than he, but this was to be more than torture. He had to understand she was more than a mindless spanker, or else this rut of his would go deeper, and his discipline would go nowhere. A swatting without a lesson was just violence.
Richter lifted his muzzle just slightly, peering over towards his mother with sagging emerald eyes. While they may have struck discomfort in others when he was older and wild, at least in his small state they actually looked fairly pretty.
"I really am tired.", he came to say with little energy after a short span of silence, as his parent sat and allowed him to speak at his own pace. There was a degree of discomfort in the way he said it, as if he had to force himself to speak under these conditions. Elizabeth had no reason to doubt his short statement, seeing the way he sat there, and how much his fight had dwindled. As time passed, it crossed her as logical that he was gradually accepting the fact he was still alive, and this life wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. It had to be hard for him to cope with.
"I'll tell you what. After your morning chores I'll make you a nice breakfast, and you can take an early nap after you've eaten. Sandy won't be here 'till noon.", Elizabeth presented in a gentle English voice, seeking to reward the fact he communicated a concern with her. She was more than willing to let him rest, being that a five year old ought to be taking naps as it was. He would be free until his psychologist, Sandy, arrived to work with him in the afternoon. Richter was not cooperative with her either, but being court mandated, they had to stress that sitting with her was a rule, even if he didn't want to say anything. Upon seeing her boy's eyes lighten up, the parent couldn't help but crack a smile, thinking of other things she could try; to maintain this momentum.
"In fact, I'll make it better. If we can keep having a good day like this, and you show behavior better than you have been, I'll promise not to spank your front at bedtime. No more laying on welts.", she announced her deal and it's conditions, willing to find a common ground and cut some slack if they could make some headway towards making a bond and understanding each other. All while the human woman spoke, Richter tilted his head and stiffened his brows, looking confused, if not a little shocked. Clearly he didn't know what to make of it, never having been given such concessions before during these past two weeks.
"What are you trying to do?", Richter asked with a general note of suspicion, though his tone of voice drifted further from it's usual cautiously despising overtone. If Elizabeth didn't know any better, it actually had a note of honest curiosity in there. That's all she wanted; just a chance! This tug of war had to end sometime, and she'd do her best to stop it sooner rather than later.
"I'm your 'mum. If giving you a goal and compromising a little helps you have an okay day, then I'm all for it.", she offered as a lighter sort of explanation, to slip in past the thickened defensive walls the boy kept erected at all times. To her words, the young Roferian seemed to blink, shifting the way he was seated on his bed to take some pressure off of his backside. Tail curling, sliding along the sheets to make a faint sharp sound, it came to rest draped over his pillow while he listened.
"But things don't come in life unless you earn them. From what you did to end up here, riding on others' creations and currency, it's going to have to be a virtue for you to live by. You still have your chore of feeding the rabbits, and I'm adding the cows to your morning regimen.", Elizabeth mulled over and analyzed her words as she spoke them, making sure she wouldn't strike any tones that could have been construed as oppressive. She wanted to sound like a mother, and nothing more, as she tried to lay down her expectations and guidelines her new Penitatas would have to abide by. Richter came to bare a few teeth as if he cringed, wrinkling the bit of fur and flesh at the base of his half-draconic muzzle.
"Another animal getting passed off to me? Why can't these things feed themselves?", the child Velius openly questioned of his directives, not being the most joyful when it came to what he considered "servitude", doting over these strange alien species. In some ways he sounded like a child who didn't know any better, sitting and sulking in his bed while the sun rose in the sky without him. Buffering her responses with a cloud of patience, Elizabeth shook her head just slightly. Placing Richter in a position where he'd be responsible for taking care of other living things was part of their plan; giving him chores that would teach him to respect life, accepting that there were other beings aside from himself.
"They're just little creatures. They need you.", his mother said in a way that highlighted his chore's purpose, creating the opportunity to see how his actions and behaviors affect other lifeforms, and that everyone plays a role. What she said was carefully picked, feeling like she needed to describe the animals as small, helpless things to win his possible acceptance. A Penitatas of his caliber was a special case, and it was like walking on eggshells trying to play the right notes with him.
Richter looked past his parent and around his room, neutral in expression as he thought about what she asked of him. He wasn't the sort to do as told, feeling above other people's whims. It took a few moments and his inner child to urge him forward, trying to find any kind of reprieve or acceptance he could after so many days of his heart racing. The boy needed a break, and to find it, he'd have to play by a few of the rules he had been assigned, as difficult as that was for him to do. Meeting his new parent eye to eye, paws stiff against his lap, he took an uneasy breath to relax his chest.
"I accept your terms.", Richter relented with a solitary tip of his head, sounding timid about following along with this plan. Doing so meant acknowledging he was a five year old, but growing so weary, he couldn't keep up the fight forever. He'd be a thickheaded, ungodly miscreant, but he wouldn't keep trying to throw punches from such tiny arms unless he felt it was entirely necessary. No matter how much his punishments hurt, he never bled and it always healed. He at least trusted this human woman wouldn't harm him in any dangerous way, outside of what the court thrust him into. Trying her luck, Elizabeth patted her son's lower left leg through his blanket and stood up, releasing her weight from his bed.
"Great! The cows are kept in the metal plated building near the rabbit pen. Just give the few of them a big armful of hay, and that's all there is to them. Do you need a hand getting dressed?", the cheerful woman outlined and inquired with a few gestures of her hands, feeling particularly good on the inside to have made a little progress with her son. However, to her offer of assistance, Richter's face curled into a quiet scowl, as if to tell her she knew better. While five year old's typically didn't dress themselves so soon after being rejuvenated, fumbling with their fingers, he had never allowed her to help him with anything. Elizabeth had to fasten the button above his tail every time, but Richter refused to ask; preferring to walk around holding his slacks up until someone did it on their own accord. Because of his independent ways, baths too were quite the undertaking.
"Right.", Elizabeth spoke awkwardly, feeling a bit on the spot from the sort of look she was getting from such a young rejuve. She had been picking her battles until now, but the mother couldn't exactly let Richter continue pushing his weight around, trying to call the shots as if he could do everything on his own. Looking over his head of gray fur and those two slicked back ears tilted away from her, she came to feel that irritated look of his should be challenged for his own good. Richter wanted reprieve, and she did tell him that he'd have to earn it.
"You're welcome to slip your own clothes on, but there are a few standards Penitatas are held to. I have to pick out what you wear, and I'm going to stay to do your buttons.", she sought for him to begin cooperating with, in accordance with how those in the system were expected to act. While not being able to choose your own clothing was typically a hindrance to the older girls, she at least found it to be a decent starting point towards pulling her son into a position where he'd be more acceptant of his surroundings and parenting. Glared upon from those deep green eyes of his, she just crossed her arms against her sunny yellow dress until the young hacker began to bare his fangs in annoyance. If there was anything that set Richter off, it was feeling at the bottom end of the authoritative spectrum - submissive, and lesser than another.
"Fine, whatever. Lets get on with it.", the childlike form of the Roferian grumped on the rougher side, making a half-open gesture with his right paw for the rest of the room. Taking a single deep breath to stretch his chest muscles and get moving, Richter pivoted cautiously on the base of his backside, using a stiffened curve in his tail to distribute some weight back so he wouldn't bounce off of any bruises or welts getting off of the bed. His padded claws struck the floor with a dull thump, ceasing the rustling and shuffling of his sheets and blanket; coming to stand beside his bed with a weary, exhausted rub of his muzzle to massage the muscles beneath his eyes.
As his parent walked across the room to his dresser made of synthetic woods, as "country" as the rest of their home, the young Penitatas opened his eyes back up to follow a few steps; naked from the slanted tips of his ears to the pads of his Roferian toes. Much like the rejuve that sent him into this punitive life he didn't personally consent to, the boy stood as straight as his short stature would allow, without a care to the fact the morning rays coming in from the window beside his bed were shining warmly against his back, tail, and all of their pointed vertebral spines. Down the silky, thin gray fur of the boy's belly, his pelvis and groin were as smooth as a girl's, thanks to the reptilian qualities in his anatomy. Hidden by a slightly thicker tuft of fur, his male organs were entirely internal, which is what made spanking the front of his legs with the Roferian Takanazo possible in the first place. While he stood small and fragile, the looks Richter gave from his green eyes and the occasional fluid sway of his spiny tail tried to show he was unbothered and confident to stand in his bare fur. The darker bits of gray upon his head and down his back were slightly thinner, but in all, he was quite definitely the five year old version of the beast who looked down the barrel of an energy rifle with only his mind.
Long since used to his smirks and seedy grins, his expressions were now limited to scowls and neutral apathy when he wasn't made to snivel and snarl out his quivering cries. On his quietest days where he kept to himself, the little Velius retained the outward notion that he was rough around the edges. Sometimes that roughness was more jagged when his mother worried about being so close to her son's maw, afraid he could snap his teeth around her face. Deep inside of his cold stares, no stranger to maiming, she could feel his malcontent. It took a lot of overpowering and heavy swatting to calm his soul to the point he would even open his mouth and speak, in wake of being mortally wounded and dropped in front of them. Progress or not, as the modest English woman thumbed through the dresser drawers to select her child's clothing from the small set they had acquired for him, those tensions and memories of louder commotions remained fresh in the front of her mind. In some ways seeing a five year old be such a loose canon, always so angry and hiding the fact he was terribly distraught, still made the woman feel sorry for him; that he was the way he was, and had so many screws rattling around the inside of his skull for them to settle back into place.
Kneeling down at her boy's side, pressing her weight into the solid floor, Elizabeth set the small pile of clothing down at her side to pull a miniaturized, user-friendly hypospray from a pocket tucked into the bosom of her dress. In the trepid silence they had so often shared these past two weeks, Richter often meeting eye to eye and breaking contact as soon as he noticed, the elder of the pair placed the simple medical device against the inside of the small Roferian's neck and engaged it's cellular injector. It hissed lightly, almost faint, as it delivered a tiny payload of strong, receptor bonding agents that kept his empathic senses blank; cutting it off from his brain, in an act that was both necessary, punitive, and questionable. As painless as the injection was, Elizabeth always noticed a nervous look Richter tried to keep suppressed; going as far as wincing once the agent entered his blood stream. He never spoke about things, so she didn't know if the act upset him, or if merely stood as the ultimate thing someone could have done to show him he was at the bottom of the barrel, and not the top.
But with the family unpleasantries out of the way, the human woman began handing Richter his clothing, piece by piece, for him to dress in an organized manner that hopefully felt relaxed. His Roferian boy's briefs falling in line with his anatomical differences, it had a generalized panty shape to it's groin, despite being woven the same way as other boy's underwear, complete with a flap in the front - though a tad lower than usual. He stepped into them without complaint, getting a little clumsy with his feet before yanking them up his legs and sliding his shirt on over his ears, for it's hem to rest gently against the top base of his tail. Like his sheets, the shirt too had to have a strong woven backing with enough slack for his spines.
"Now these are different from what you've been wearing. Just step in and I'll take care of the rest.", Elizabeth disrupted the thick air as she lifted the last garment, holding it outwards for Richter to step into. Ideal for farm-work and to look like his father, she had a pair of blue denim overalls made for him, to protect his body outside of the house. Most Penitatas had to do a bit of sweet talking to own any jeans, so the Roferian had no idea he was so fortunate to have something comfortable made with function in mind.
Her child came to play along, making something of a face as he lifted his right footclaw and then his left, worming them down the stiff legs of the overalls. Richter had never thrown them on before, not quite familiar with the concept, but they didn't bother him all too much until his parent started tugging them up his legs. Lifted to the point she could button above his tail, Elizabeth began working the fresh metal tab while the boy's muzzle curled into an angry snarl without so much as a sound, unknowingly outside her eye's field of vision. Richter's paws balled into fists, having someone assist him to such great lengths. He didn't ask for that! And he sure wasn't going to beg! Turning his head away from the woman, he grit his teeth and tried to ignore the feeling of hands touching his body, pulling up the front of his overalls and working the clasps that went over his shoulders.
Just as his mother was able to get the one over his left shoulder secured, standing beside his dresser and the bare table meant to be his desk, the unrequested tugging ended up boiling his personal discomfort and irritation over the edge. In a snap, his paws shot from his sides and pushed against Elizabeth's hand, sliding on his feet an inch to knock her busy fingers away from his chest.
"Get the hell off of me!", the five year old Richter called out harshly, swinging his head up to meet his muzzle towards her nose as his tail gave a stabilizing, threatening swing behind him; paws coming clear of her hand and wrist, to be thrown out towards his side in the haste that his actions were performed. Quickly the soft, black spongy pads of his palms and fingers darted for the strap over his right shoulder, fumbling with the strap and bronzed metal clasp angrily - not even looking at it as his emerald eyes pierced up at his startled parent whom had only just been struck by his outburst, bending her legs to stand back up and give him his space.
"Button - fine, maybe, but I didn't ask you to teach me how to put this damn thing on!", the young boy stressed with a heavy tone, raising his voice and putting emphasis in it to deepen the way it sounded; emanating from such a small throat. He glared at her earlier for a reason, and it was because he didn't want anyone's help. As the jingling of his right metal clasp came to tell in the coming few seconds, the assistance was more than merely warranted - but Richter would never admit to being incapable of caring for himself. All he had to do was secure it around the button on his chest and pull, but his clumsy, fumbling furred fingers kept slipping free of the metal, or knocking the clasp against the button to bounce it away before getting it through it's rung.
Startled and bothered by Richter's outburst, Elizabeth found herself losing a bit of that calm demeanor she had been working with. Standing straight up she brushed her hands on her dress to smooth out it's winkles, nearly trembling from being so suddenly shocked. Things had been going so well, but he'd go and do that? She was thankful he didn't do anything violent, but she wasn't about to call that perfect; not with his persistently defiant language.
"Child, I have had about enough of your getting foul with me! You can't keep talking to me like that!", the riled parent defended herself, believing firmly that Richter had to start walking a better line and actually act like a Penitatas. It was her and her husband who determined how he would conduct himself, and if the boy wanted to keep lashing out with his tongue, she'd punish the thing directly as best she knew how! Even as she snapped her scold at the short Roferian, he was still baring his teeth, looking like a little fool until he finally managed to latch his right shoulder strap.
"You need to start getting used to watching your mouth, and we practice just the trick. Not everything about being a 'penny is just thrashings. Youngsters that talk to us like that usually get their mouths washed out with soap.", Elizabeth broke into lecture, crossing her arms firmly as she stared down at the eyes piercing through her own. She shook her head just slightly, as if to say that was not his fate.
"But for you, I think we're going to use your father's homemade chili sauce. There isn't anything better I can punish your loose tongue with.", she came to condemn him to, assigning his punishment right there at the scene of his crime. Two weeks in, her leniency had to start sloping away, and he had to start at least trying to respect household affairs and rules. Being told he was to be disciplined made the young Richter swallow, so unfamiliar with this concept of oral punishment. To the idea he scoffed, tilting his head as if to mock and challenge his mother; squinting his eyes.
"And how are you going to do that without Harvey to hold me down?", Richter questioned with quite the underlying tone, eventually breaking the staring contest as he motioned to walk around and past his parent in an attempt to storm off and dodge the whole situation. He wasn't going to let his parent have her way if he could help it, and in this case, he could, walking straight for his open door to head outside and to work, as if this didn't happen. Elizabeth followed her son with her eyes, turning as he went by. She didn't grab either of his ears or aim to slap him hard beneath his tail, but instead followed, keeping her arms crossed as they left his room and into the kitchen and dinning space; filled with reds and hearty oak colors. Front door just beyond, Richter felt exceptionally in the clear once he heard his mother's feet stop beside the dinner table; front door feet away from his muzzle.
Elizabeth would not play his game, choosing to play her own.
"And what does running off accomplish? Just delaying getting into worse trouble later, instead of taking one spoonful of chili sauce now?", the older woman sighed a little as she first began to speak, feeling helpless on the inside no matter how stern she was trying to act on the outside. She never imagined a Penitatas could be this stubborn, operating on such selfish, broken logic. It was as if he had to have the last say and come out on top of every situation, no matter if it caused him more harm in the future! At least her scold got Richter to grit his teeth, feeling deeper under the press of her disciplinary order. His right paw reached up for the front door's old fashioned knob, but his limp fingers came to rest back at his side as he turned, looking back over his shoulder.
"Penitatas don't need to be held. They take what they earn, Richter, willingly. Didn't you ever get in trouble when you were little?", Elizabeth uncrossed her arms, reaching down with her right hand to lean it against her table made from real wood, and quite the rarity. Her other hand stood out open, as she questioned in both curiosity and frustration, unknowing of what her son could hope to accomplish making his life so much harder. Having stopped to listen, the boy turned back for the door and twitched as if he was going to continue, but again hesitated. Something was holding him back; be it logic or parental fear. Standing uneasily, Richter loosened his face and took a few breaths to right his mind as his mother plead for his maturity.
"All the time. We had a Takanazo.", the fresh Penitatas admitted, familiar with having to take parental orders. It didn't mean he wanted to though. In fact, it meant he sure as hell didn't.
"Did you run off from them like this?", his mother took her hand off the table, trying to bring her son to his senses that this had to stop. Much against how she expected his reaction to go, Richter cracked a distant smile, looking off across the room with a loose, tired laugh.
"Eventually.", Richter simplified into a single word, considering he did end up running away. Until then he did take his licks - he knew how, with much experience. His biological father knew how to lash, but he sure wasn't good at anything else; the useless twat. Private and reclusive, he wasn't about to go into any kind of detail with his Penitatas mother, feeling as trapped as he did.
"We know where this is going to end up. You have to accept the things you earn, and answer to your mistakes. You can walk out that door and cancel our deal, or you can come here and keep it going.", Elizabeth, feeling at a loss issued an ultimatum, to let the decision be Richter's own. His prior disobedience had resulted in a few severe paddlings for a boy his age, and with his broad knowledge, he should have been able to deduce how this would go if he disobeyed again.
The boy had a lot to lose, thinking of his poor sleep and the sting nagging the fronts of his legs. Absolutely hating being in such a pinch, thrown into such situations he couldn't win, Richter stepped about randomly on his bare feet for a few moments, pacing only a foot in either direction. Distracted, the tick of a nearby antique clock coincided with his forming, defeatist frown as he lifted a paw and held his forehead with a deep, shaking exhale. She was making him face his discipline himself.
"Fine.", he accepted with a young, small sounding voice as he turned and left the front door, making the several paces back to his mother. Just like when he was little, huh? Richter was not all too amused or pleased, but needing his rest, he would take a spoonful of whatever this stuff was his mother had. He'd have to face his punishments like a man sooner or later, and as his claws stopped in front of his parent - head down - he stood to make this the first time he willingly came to accept disciplinary action. Hardheaded yes, but he had enough intellect to not be a fool in his moments of heavy five year old immaturity.
Slow at first, Elizabeth watched him until he stopped. Damn near shocked, the human woman had to pull herself from the sight in order to quickly prepare the punishment she had promised. In a haste meant to not make her impatient Penitatas wait, afraid he could turn and walk off at any moment and miss this opportunity to teach him something, she fetched two bottles from the fridge. Milk poured into a glass to clear his mouth when the punishment was done and some of her husband's chili sauce poured thickly into the bowl of a metal spoon, she took both to make good on her word. Balanced in the utensil, the chili sauce had many visible bits and seeds, made from highly pure chili peppers grown on the farm. As potent as it was, it's only feasible purpose was punishing miscreant Penitatas, or adding a few drops to spicy dishes. Even inches away above his nostrils, not looking up at it, Richter could smell the spice and underlying hint of vinegar. It was as bad as some of the 'Anti-Matter Hot-Sauce' meat toppings he smelled out in the Outer Colonies, thinking people were insane for eating such things; and that was coming from Velius.
"It's hot, Richter, so I have some cold milk to break down the stuff once you take it. Just open your maw a little for me, and close around it like old-time medicine.", his mother spoke above in a softer, quieter voice, he supposed since he was actually doing as he was told. Truth be it, he had one hell of a lump in his chest. As a child, it was hard to be scolded or punished and not take it to heart. He hated that, feeling... intimidated. Before all this happened, he got to the point nothing intimidated him - ready to take on even death, should someone have dared face him, or deny him.
Wearily lifting his gray, Roferian muzzle, Richter's green eyes looked up towards the spoon and stared for a brief moment; metal illuminated against by the lights overhead, tucked into the ceiling. He surely hoped this would not be so bad, giving the lip of his maw up front a quick lick at the thought of this being unpleasant. With understandable hesitation, not knowing what he was getting himself into, the boy gave an honest try for the sake of making some progress somewhere, and getting the rest he so dearly wanted. His gray muzzle cracked open, slow and timid, to show a bit of his teeth and it's red, moist interior with just enough room for the spoon to be slipped in. Seizing the moment, Elizabeth motioned the spoon for his mouth cautiously, keeping an eye on both he and the spoon until she promptly slid it into his muzzle; pressing it's smooth, cool underside against his tongue on the way in. Tense and initially startled by the sudden press, Richter instinctively shut his maw and clamped around the metal, allowing it to be withdrawn through his lips as clean it was when it was pulled from the drawer.
Immediately the chili sauce ran through his muzzle, searing a burning path through his maw as it flowed in all directions over his tongue, to pool beneath it and coat his pearly teeth. Struck by such an intense chemical fire, painful to the mere touch, the boy came to first growl in discomfort, lashing his tongue inside his mouth to swallow the sauce in a panic. Coming to his throat the homemade concoction of heat and capsaicin forced Richter to cough in that split second; paws bolting straight for his maw. It was way worse than he expected, hit hard by a raging burn that stung deep into every wet, fleshy surface it touched to punish every bit of his small muzzle. Eyes clenched as well as his teeth, coming bared in his moment of agony, the Roferian squealed sharply, clutching his snout and muzzle-lips as tears formed rapidly against his wrinkled eyelids. Breathing quick, he whimpered in desperation, opening his muzzle only to breathe through it, as if giving his tongue a little air would ease his searing fire. Unable to take a second more of that sort of heat, like a scalded child, his eyes cracked to faint hints of clouded, wet green, as he peered up and made a hasty dart for the milk his mother held.
In the last moment, the milk, floating in it's cool glass - water condensing on it's sides - slipped free of his finger's soft, unraised pads. Elizabeth lifted the relief he sought just out of reach of his fingertips, just barely able to tap it's bottom surface with his short, trimmed claws.
"It's yours, but I want you to apologize for what you said to me. All you have to do is say 'I'm sorry'. You don't even have to mean it; but you've never said it before, even once.", the older human woman decided to push forward, speaking quickly so that her son would not have to wait an unfair amount of time to get his milk. Elizabeth's tone of voice sounded uneasy, as if she felt conflicted with what she had chosen to do. Her husband made a mean chili sauce, and she was well aware she couldn't handle a spoonful of it any better than Richter. In only a moment of wordless noise, the younger furred boy squealing a sharp whine, his eyes came to squeeze shut once more; his own salivation distributing and intensifying the burn that ate at even his throat. Letting loose a growling, pain-stricken sob, Richter fell to his knees, grasping his maw so tightly his paws trembled.
"Richter!", his parent slipped in her concern, feeling admitably empathetic. She didn't want to keep the milk from him - not at all! With her open hand she waved it open in his direction, feeling passionate about bringing this to a close.
"It's just two words, child! I'm inviting you to lie!", Elizabeth pressed her intentions, to show that she just wanted to hear him say something he never had before, and meant no malice in the least. There was a desperation in her own voice, not seeking to be the kind of parent that would do this sort of thing. She was strict but also good natured, leaving the act of holding a glass of milk above a crying rejuve's head to feel like an act of cruelty.
Weakly and trembling, Richter's sharp whimpers and squealing sob-like sounds were followed by a lift of his head. The muscles under his eyes fully tensed, his tear-seeping eyes glared up in a pain-fueled squint. The rebellious, thickheaded boy did not utter a word; refusing to plea or beg, not to no one. Not even for his own good, would he say something like 'I'm sorry'. It was a part of his nature, and it was another part of it to seek to deny her what she wanted. He took his punishment, and that was good enough! Room going quiet, it was left with only the small lad's loud, shrill breaths through his nostrils.
Face having gone blank, saddened even, Elizabeth stared down at the sight with her stomach feeling low in her abdomen. Unwilling to allow this to go on, worried for the safety of her son's mouth, her arm, half limp, lowered the tall glass of milk to Richter's level to hand him the relief he so required; caving on her word that he'd have to utter an apology first, no matter how half-hearted it might have been. Like a panicked animal, Richter's paws left his mouth and grabbed the glass roughly, yanking it from her fingers to fling it's damp rim against his burning lips. Tilting it and his head back; tail pressed against his legs; the boy dumped the fresh, home-milked drink into his maw. He guzzled it so fast and desperately the fluid dripped and flowed copiously out of his muzzle, splashing against the floor and running down his neck, to find it's way into the threads of his shirt and denim overalls. Stopping only every other moment, breathing deeply through his mouth in huffs, his mother squatted quietly at his side; bending her knees, with the hem of her bright yellow dress coming to lay upon the floor. She watched the sight, feeling both uncertain and forlorn at the same time.
"All of that, just to not say you were sorry. To feel like you won something.", the woman spoke much softer than she had, sounding airy and at a loss. As Richter washed his mouth out with the fat-laden milk, rushing the capsaicin away, the English mother's mind turned to areas more empathetic, finding her child to be such a strange enigma. Perhaps, his own worst enemy.
"I wish I had a mirror I could drag over here. All you'd see is a teary-eyed boy, kneeling on the floor.", Elizabeth spoke in the same lighthearted manner, almost as tepid as her own son looked at times.
"Maybe then you'd see you didn't win anything at all.", she uttered for Richter's own good, shaking her head a small amount in wake of her words. Her eyes had become listless from disappointment. At first she had been so happy that her boy stepped up to the plate, and she still was in a way, but the experience also told her how much he still had to learn; far from being a model Penitatas, and a world away from being a citizen of anywhere. Struck hard by such words, the last of the milk having sunk into his belly, Richter came to droop his head; muzzle pointed down, as he became uncharacteristically quiet in his situation. Eyes moist, pointed at the floor, he seemed to just kneel there; cut, in a sense.
Muzzle looking tense from his tearful state, trying so hard not to cry, Richter came to turn his head away in the quiet of their country home. Eyes abated, shadowed in his mother's sight, he lifted the glass for her to take; offering it without being told, or showing any further anger. Beads of opaque white remained dangling from it's bottom rim, from all the flowing trails that had run down the glass's side.
"I'm going to get to work.", the five year old said surprisingly quietly, near the volume of a defeated whisper, as if to hide his teary overtone. Elizabeth, seeing that she said something that hit home, accepted the empty glass without word or question; standing along with her son, as he placed a paw against the floor and climbed to his feet, maw still lightly stinging. Glass gone from his grasp, keeping his muzzle pointed away, the young Richter made a quick walk for the front door, stepping out to hurry off to his chores, and away from the scene of discipline he created.
Left behind in the warmth of her home, a place of modesty and kindhearted labor, Elizabeth stood alone with the empty glass of milk, staring out at the door in thought. Withholding milk to a suffering boy wasn't what she signed up for when she sought to become the parent of a wayward lad. Red hair against her upper back; loose and flowing; she was left to wonder if she'd have to go to other extreme lengths with Richter, and if she'd always make good decisions. That tiny hellion may have killed so many, but that didn't stop her desire to be a decent, caring parent while she punished him and showed him other paths to take. In fact, Elizabeth wanted to be one of his more memorable mothers, on what would inevitably be his tour of the Earth, moving every so many years to a new family in a new place. It all started with she and her husband, and the responsibility was overwhelming even for a pair that loved a hard, honest day's work.
Outside, hastily slipping on his sandals on the family's front porch, Richter took a deep sniff now that no one could hear him. Toes and pads against his Roferian footwear, mindful of his claws with their open front, the small boy took to an initial run; clopping his sandals down the two light tan steps of their porch, to clear it's awning and reach the open sun on such a cool day. Frequent rains had left the air moist and comfortable, while the afternoon sun gently warmed it all to keep the sparse patches of purple and pink wildflowers flourishing amidst the tall grasses and rolling fields.
Walking the worn path away from their home, out into the rest of their property, Richter's jaw quivered and his facial muscles remained firm, caught in the midst of his half-subdued cry. Teeth firmly together and still feeling a bit of a burn, his head hung, watching the path at his feet as he walked. He hated this place, so filled with plants and these awkward painful concepts. The boy didn't have a desire to open up to others, and he knew right off the bat there was nothing he had in common with any of these simpletons; kindness not even being a factor. There was no way he'd be able to strike up a conversation with the things he knew, being knowledged in high-end technology, bio-neural exchange, and generalized jury-rigging. He knew the black market, or good places to get a drink on the far edges of colonized space. None of it helped him here, and despite always wanting to be alone, like now, the young Richter had never felt so lonely.
He had been by himself since he ran away from home on Ventasa when he was sixteen years old. A disobedient miscreant, he got tired of trying to do things his way, only to find himself in front of his father; legs coated in welts. The man was a phoney to begin with, mocking is every attempt at something new, even as his younger self found an interest in technology, finding idols in the hackers of the Galactic-Net. With his exceptionally alternative personality and nature, he tried to make it on his own once he bolted; jumping from his window one night, beneath the glow of their moon, Orasa. That was all fine, but once he found himself towering above others, basking in his superiority, Richter Saccard placed himself on top of a throne, especially once their "king", Packet-Storm, left the scene. While he was always alone, he didn't tend to feel that way having so many lesser beings beneath his feet - with planets like Earth viewed only as objects, or subjects. Having lost all of that, pulled from the high place he imagined himself, he suddenly felt isolated; like a claustrophobic child locked in a closet.
Richter was somebody, and he would have died to keep it that way.
While most would have loved the sight of the land's splendor, still so lush, his emerald green eyes rarely glanced out over the hills and their farm; filled with scattered structures and a large field of tomato, and potato. The air was ripe with the scent of fresh air and un-fresh animal, having small quantities of pigs, cows, chickens, and even rabbits mingling all in their particular spots, making their particular noises. There were grasses and other things between each area, along with water recycling and modernized farming technologies - quite honestly the only things around Richter took even the faintest moment to analyze as he stepped by. Sandals clapping and clopping against dirt and loose bits of gravel, he headed straight out for the rabbit pen with his tail dangling loosely; swaying unintentionally in the breeze, as his spines were warmed by the light of the sun.
"Richter-boy! Good morning!", his slicked back, pointed Roferian ears picked up as a little faint in the distance. Such things still startled him to a minor degree, not used to hearing people speak up or calling out without him already being aware they were there. A lot of times he could tell someone was going to speak before they said a word, being experienced with a mental sense he couldn't even feel any longer. The invisible world of electrical fields had gone dark; making him feel like a broken person, as if a species like Kayla's acute hearing had been intentionally dulled.
Eyes still watery and reclusive, unwilling to look directly at anyone, Richter turned and tipped his head towards the tomato fields out to his left. With a tool in his hand, his father, Harvey, lifted his free, fairly burly hand into the air and waved it welcomely. A dark haired man, short and clean shaven, he tended to spend a lot of time out there. It was a ways off, but once his Penitatas graduated from the animals, he hoped to share the field and let Richter help.
Even his new old man was a kindhearted person, clearly fitting in with his wife fairly well, although he was faster to spank than even she was. Knowing better than to dawdle his reply, Richter shyly lifted his right paw and waved it at the height of his muzzle for just a moment; fingers limp the whole way. Harvey had this different sort of rule on the farm, where he believed it wasn't enough to be supervised, but to also acknowledge you were being supervised. In one of his usual bad moods, the boy ignored him one morning. By the time he reached the rabbit pen his father had already zipped over, switch in hand, to grab and lash him a solid seven times. It's unexpected nature startled Richter so profoundly, he decided he'd wave back no matter how foul he was feeling, or hated this damn place. If only he got a few quantum torpedoes off, this place and all of these odd alien animals wouldn't be around for him to slave over. Though, with his luck, the rabbit that bit him would have survived, of course.
Reaching the little puff-balls his parents told him were sold as pets, the rabbits were housed in a wooden structure left open to the air with the aid of chicken wire. As he had been doing for the past week, the five year old pulled open a metal cabinet attached to the outside of the pen and picked out a bag of the rabbit's pellet food; taking a moment to sniffle looser and wipe at his muzzle. With a tug upon the rickety door at his side, Richter stepped into the small pen, making sure none of the little things would bolt out of the open door before he could close it. Still feeling pressured by the punishment he just endured, he was not eager for more.
"Come on you little bastards. Out of the way, then you can eat.", Richter found himself talking to the rabbits, looking down to make sure he didn't trip over one of the few hopping things; covered in patches of various white, gray, and black. He sounded quiet and calm, regardless of the language he used out here where nobody could hear. It felt good to speak, feeling so clammed up while in front of others. While the lot of bunnies got excited and hopped about, one darted for the corner of the pen and shrank, making sure he wouldn't get kicked again. Being easily spottable as the only rabbit with a gray patch on it's face, the first small pawful of food pellets got tossed in his general direction to make a loose clatter, and for the rabbit to dart into the other corner.
"Fuck you too.", the young criminal spat at the timid rabbit, still irritated the small thing had bit him. What he didn't tell his mother, hiding most things, was that the rabbit nipped him one while he was trying to pet it. Often times coming out to do his chores upset, Richter tended to procrastinate on purpose so he could feel alone out here - but with company. A broken concept, but it made fine sense to the little introvert. Perhaps if he kicked harder the creature wouldn't have survived; though that was pretty much why he had been rejuvenated to such a young, weak age. He might have been mad, but killing something he wanted to like him wouldn't have done much good.
Stepping carefully, breathing more with his mouth than with his nostrils to avoid the smell of seven rabbits, the Roferian boy went from blue bowl to another, dropping in a liberal amount of food pellets for them all to share. The rabbits would bounce along with him, as some quarreled over one bowl to the next, until they got enough breathing room to be satisfied and eat. Once the last bowl was filled, the boy stood and stretched his back from all the bending over, to see all were eating except for the one that bit him days ago.
Huddled into the corner, ears flat like a fatty puff ball, the thing cowered alone. For a time Richter stared, as if a gear or two twitched inside his head. Then, with a look down at his feet, he slid the last blue bowl towards the rabbit and stepped away to give it space, as quiet as he stepped in. Yeah, he knew what that felt like.
Bag held under his right arm, Richter left the pen with an audible clack of the old door against the rest of the wooden frame. Looking to make sure it was secure, he tossed the food bag back into it's storage locker and swung the metal door closed, as light as it was. His chore of feeding the rabbits was in actuality a very simple one, but in a way, he had been afraid to accept even basic, easy directives without putting up a fight. The inside of his mind was a tattered mess, and he barely knew how to live a normal life. All around him, things big or small, none of it felt much like it mattered. So little felt real, to the point that many things barely appeared alive unless he could empathize with it on some strange level. A crazed hacker with an affinity for murder, became a child with a hell of a lot of problems.
In the sunlight, air rustling the grass and moving about the tiny wildflowers, Richter's black 'P's swayed at his sides; coming to his face to rub his tired, drying eyes every so often as he walked a worn path not previously trekked. The next closest metal structure, the one his mother must have meant, glared a little blindingly the way it reflected light to protect the animals inside. Modern looking, it was a big step up from the rabbits, that was for certain. Looking up as he stepped close to the door, he checked for a way to open it, only to find it could be pulled like a sliding door.
Filled with light from open vent-like windows high above, and a partially ajar door on the other side of the metallic barn, Richter waved his right paw in front of his nose at the sudden rush of manure smell. Dry hay lining the ground, the center of the space was open like a stable, while these creatures called cows stood alone in wide, individual pens with small devices tucked into their corners. Richter squinted as if he wasn't sure what he was looking at, stepping in slowly to scan these animals like a real five year old might have. Knowing so little about Earth, he didn't know what a cow was. He didn't even know the milk he drank shortly ago came from them. They were absolute beasts; white and black all over, with broad, fat bodies.
"You're not going to eat me, now are you?", Richter took up a snide, sarcastic kind of tone to build up his nerve, stepping towards the nearest cow stall to look in through the slats of it's gate. His footclaws approached cautiously, but stumbled noisily against the scattered hay when the creature made a long, low sound; sticking it's head out into the trough beside him, to grab a chunk of hay into it's ferocious maw. Then, as Richter caught his breath, standing with an awkward expression, he began to feel ridiculous... watching the cow stand there, munching slowly with this far away, dimwitted look on it's face. He cocked his head, opening his maw slightly.
"Okay, so that's what I'm feeding you. Good to know.", the boy mumbled to himself, experiencing one of the problems his hardheaded nature had continuously caused him these past two weeks. He was to feed the cows, sure. So when he was told that, he should have asked what they ate, and how to feed them. This was all an active learning experience, and not exactly conducive to getting his chores done so he could go back to bed.
All the while keeping an eye on this new creature, Richter had a quick look around to figure out what he was to do. It seemed simple enough, since his mother told him to grab "an armful of hay" for them. She must have meant this dry, straw-like material these beasts were eating, and there was a decent pile of it right next to the door he came in from, tucked in beside the very first cow stall. With a loose jog in his small frame to that spot, next to some buckets and various random items, Richter bent over into a squat, flexing on his Roferian toes to get down and grab a big chunk of the stuff; tail coming to lay down against the barn floor loosely. Sinking his arms deep into the hay, straight downward with a quick thrust, he thought he'd pull the material to his chest and drop it into one of the cow's feeding bins. How it went, though, was much different, once he reached in with both his arms.
Richter yelped in his own particular way, wincing hard enough to fall from his toe-tipped perch hard onto his small, delicate knees. Face twisted and contorted, caught in less than a second, a pain scraped up both his paws and arms that cut deeply into his skin. In his age, startled and frightened by the sudden blast that shot up his limbs, the boy sharply growled like a pained whine; body so tight he could barely move, everything clenched so badly. All he knew is that he ended up shoving his arms into something he couldn't see, feeling something piercing against his fur and digging into his flesh, but without knowing what, the boy made the choice to try and pull away from what ever ensnared him. The moment he moved, what wrapped around his arms pulled tighter, twisting and tangling, as several points erupted against him as if he had been cut deeper, or further torn. Muffled, Richter cried out, getting a couple of heavy quivers out of his jaw before it faded, squinting painfully to see something come to stick up out of the hay.
It was the hint of a metallic wire, and covering it's surface were infrequent, needle-like protrusions that had been sharpened. While he never seen such a thing, it was still used near the pigs on his new family's farm. Barbed wire wrapped around his arms, tangled and gouged into his skin. The pain was as agonizing as it was, caught on so many of the barbs; gashing him more with each movement, no matter how faint. Heart quickly skipping to a rapid pulse, Richter panted and whined in a panic, not knowing what to do. He looked around, tears in his eyes, finding himself alone. Harvey not too far away, all he'd have to do was call for help, or simply howl loud enough in pain for him to come running to his aid. But, staring into the dry hay, the loner froze, not wanting to ask for anyone's assistance. Surrounded by the sounds of cows and his own weight shuffling against the hay, the Roferian held to his principles with nervous trepidation, thinking of ways he might be able to slip himself free of the rough metal spurs.
Easily, biting his lip, Richter began to withdraw his left arm, moving it slowly. Without being able to see through the thick hay, body filled with adrenaline, he endured a constant cutting of the barbs up his arms and his palm; nicked by unseen other bits of barb as he wormed and wiggled to break himself free. Bit by bit his arm came out of the hay, covered in lines of seeping red. Towards the end, not knowing a wider loop of wire had been just outside of his wrist's path, he went to pull his left paw free and got several barbs jammed into the back of it; pulling the wire tighter on his right arm, jerking it and sinking other barbs deeper. His cry was a broken shout, toned down in volume by the young boy biting his upper right arm to silence himself. Breathing heavy, sputtering and shaking, he pulled his left paw away from the feeling of the wire, taking it slow. Guiding his paw out straight, fingers extended, he trepidly brought his fresh lacerations out of the hay, trying not to get snagged a second time as he stifled his tears; trembling tail betraying him.
As soon as it was out, claws leaving the hay, he sent his paw to his mouth to cradle the wounds that sank into his flesh and soft pads. Blood dripped mildly down his arm from the numerous punctures and gashes, but the thing that hurt the worst was his right arm. It took some work, shaking the way he was, but as soon as Richter was able he started trying to use his freed paw to loosen the barbs from his other arm; wincing and flinching with every attempt to get the metal from his skin. In such pain, as a five year old, he cried quietly, holding back his sobs to keep from moving his stiffened limb to cause deeper injuries. Emerald eyes dripping down his gray fur, he gingerly retracted his right arm, scraping lightly past several barbs to cause a sting, but no significant scrape, until it came to his paw. Well stuck, with a ball of barbed wire wrapped around it, Richter accepted that he'd have to pull it from the hay as softly as he could, to untangle himself.
Free to the open air, coated in loose streaks of blood just like his left arm, the silvery wire came from the hay along with his paw; wrapped around it and his thumb like a string, pulled tight by the jerk his left arm caused. Able to see the spurs in his skin, pricking and hurting badly enough to throb, Richter squeezed his eyes shut and willingly grabbed the wire in his left paw. In a desperate act, he pulled more of the wire out of the dried hay, loosening it enough from his right paw to snap it hastily back towards his chest; ripping the barbs free with a metallic sound from each. The lad growled long, sharp, and tearfully with all of his teeth completely bared, but he was as free as anyone could have made him from such a predicament. At least the pain was caused by his own will, and not that of another; blood dripping to the hay at his knees, and soaking into the chest of his overalls. He bled from both arms and paws, trailing down his fingers to fall from his claws.
Richter opened his stiff eyelids, losing a loose tear as the light met his green irises. Down towards the ground, his deeply pained look was directed at the firm, but malleable feeling wire that caused him so much harm. He stared at it, coiled in and out of the messily strewn straw; cradling his arms while his body and jaw lightly quivered. Filled with a deathly, piercing sort of hatred, he knelt there until the bit of skin at the base of his muzzle started to unwrinkle. Breathing shifting in a different direction, the ends of his maw curled, growing slowly into a hazed, twisted grin. Feeling the piercing, stabbing pain from all his broken skin, Richter's damaged thoughts sank into darker, more savage spaces from what he saw right there before him. Something usable, and the sort of thing he had hoped for since the moment he had been shot those two weeks ago.
Images of his capture flashed by his noisy, clambering inner mind. The blood, the faces; muzzle twitching. With a sudden grunt his bloodied arms left the comfort of his body, shooting out to pull the strand of barbed wire into his grasp. Holding it with lacking care, barb tips grazing the skin on the sides of both his little paws, Richter acted in an irrational flash, throwing the wire around his neck with a sharp pull - tightening the wire to the point the barbs touched his neck. On his knees, leaning forward, his trembling paws were on both sides of his head, ready to pull as hard as he could as if the barbed wire was a cord. Eyes distant, shaking, this would be a way to end a sunny day in hell. Swallowing roughly, Richter knew he'd have to keep his leverage long enough to pass out. He was so young he could easily choke himself to death if he reached unconsciousness; asphyxiating to be found with the wire's spurs deeply embedded into his neck. Quivering like a leaf, breathing as hard as his heart beat within his chest, his emerald eyes stared into the abyss of death and nothingness.
He stayed there, squeezing the wire with his bloodied paws, until he blinked. Not a sound, nor a word.
Then his jaw quivered, and his cheek muscles pulled themselves into a deep, sorrowful sob. Leaning forward, slumping, Richter broke out in a child's tears. Eyes closed and his maw just barely open, he knelt there and cried; sorrowful, and broken. His limp paws came to pull the barbed wire towards his ears, opening the loop he had made to remove the sullied, sharp cable from his neck. There was nothing left for him to win, even if he felt like he had so little to lose.
"It's pointless... ", the child who once stood as Velius tearfully mumbled to the hay, releasing the wire from his grasp to fall harmlessly against it. Backed into a corner and surrounded by weapons, he could have fought to the death. Here, on his knees with nothing to gain, he was nothing more than your average coward. Dying here wouldn't make him a 'someone' again, and with his inner child crying out to him, he had too strong a desire for personal preservation to kill himself now.
All you'd see is a teary-eyed boy, kneeling on the floor. Maybe then you'd see you didn't win anything at all.
Richter had been thinking of those words, haunted by them, and because of it he had gotten off of his knees and returned his mind to the world around him. There was nothing to be won here, and no reason to stay in this dark place that brought him such painful confusion. He had stepped away, staring down at the silvery wire wearily before he turned and hurried out of the metal barn for his home; head down and teeth snapped tight. Clutching his arms down the whole pathway he ran, pushing his legs until he was no longer alone; with even his father noticing the blood, and taking a dash for the house.
Horrified and struck with fright, Elizabeth did what he was becoming used to - springing into action without him having to ask. As soon as she saw his wounds, cuts straight down his arms and dripping, she grabbed him and rushed him off to the sink. Standing on a step stool, she rinsed them with water and washed them as gently as she could; all the while Richter frowned, listless and lost in his thoughts. Tension still following him, heart pounding, he privately coped and contemplated his death lust, and attempt at suicide. These were things he wouldn't tell anyone about for a long time, until the right therapist asked the right question, at just the right time. In both his Roferian ears, tail limp against the well-swatted backs of his thighs, he listened to his mother and father bicker, trying to figure why there was barbed wire in the barn. Elizabeth griped and nagged that Harvey was supposed to remove things like that, but the man swore up and down that he never saw anything, and had no idea there was such a thing there. In fact, it turned out that wasn't where Richter was supposed to get hay from to begin with, and Harvey had no clue there was something under what they were calling "the overflow pile".
But, to the pair's surprise and confusion, Richter barked at them both to stop quarreling. Looking from side to side with his squinted, half-pained and half-annoyed expression they had seen from him before, the Penitatas said that since no one knew the wire was there, it couldn't possibly be anyone's fault, and to "get over it". From his words the parents were struck with silence, listening to the sound of running water as the cool stream washed over their son's numerous and nasty cuts. While he entirely missed the point of what responsibility was all about, and said what he wanted to in a manner rough enough to pop a balloon, they were dumbfounded by the underlying truth of what came out of his mouth. While Richter stared distantly into the sink's running flows of water, eyes worn and reddened, Elizabeth and Harvey both apologized for what happened to him, and left it at that; without any more of their debate over who should have done what.
It wasn't perfect, but if their son, the maniacal Velius could figure something like that out in a moral sense, it meant he could do it with other things. That he could learn, and while it would be a very long journey, he wasn't so broken that he'd never possibly be at least a decent person. Callous and heartless, filled with anger and irrational whims, he would need so much help, and so much care. He earned his long nap, good meal, and un-welted thighs.
Faced with a life he wouldn't be soon leaving, becoming too involved to "lose" now, he mulled a thought beneath the blank facade he wore over his muzzle. It brought the past to mind, thinking of the adversary that ultimately brought him to this place; having said in the halls of DeltaStar that she wanted him to be a Penitatas. Their wills came to clash with that persistence, and not only did she defeat him, but she traced him. She even stopped him from dying at his own hand; be it a good thing, or a bad thing. That, would be up to him from here on out.
"She had better be happy, dammit.", Richter spoke under his breath, listless and tired as he stared into the sink's drain; bright green eyes lost in his own world.
As it would be, far across the land and sprawling waves of salty sea, the adversary he recalled was not actually happy in the least. Lagging behind him in the sanguine spin of the planet that suddenly became his place of residence, following the sun would eventually take you around the world to the horizon of a city called Calleet. Over it's tall, towering downtown skyscrapers and the lines of hover-cars filling invisible motorways, came a comfortable array of suburban homes. One district within the sprawl of colorful houses, unmarked by any sort of border or wall, exclusively raised the area's rejuvenated criminals in a place they could live together, experiencing their discipline with unity and harmony. Like each and every other home, they too brought families together and formed new ones; forging the sort of order and lifestyle the residents of Earth had come to respect and admire these few hundred years.
Once the sun was straight overhead of their fair city, healed since the small riot of two weeks prior, the Earth's original high-profile hacker was surrounded by the soothing, yet droning clatter of water droplets. Kayla was seated in the back of her tub, tail slumped lazily between it's side and her hip, as the shower struck the matted fur from her groin to her toes, barely missing her nose as she sat in silence. Orange strands bundled together, soaked to their roots as the clear water flowed over them and dripped off their tips. In the shower she typically looked like a drowned rat, but rarely did she sit and stare so blankly. Arms over her lap and paws loose, blue eyes lacking any kind of emotional vigor, she gazed off through the sparkling flow of many droplets flying in front of her muzzle. The water was lukewarm, comforting to soak in for a longer period during the summer heat, as this became a place for her to relax and drift away in private.
In these many days following her acts of heroism and return home, the young, generally optimistic fox had fallen onto hard times; wallowing in a moderate depression that cracked her bright spirit and rendered her muzzle quiet. As she came to gingerly nurse and care for her blistered, horribly bruised backside, Kayla slowly grasped how much of her life had crashed down around her, and how little everything else had changed. There had been no sudden calls on their vid-phone telling them the Corrections Counsel had said or done anything in her favor, leaving her the same Penitatas she had been; following the same rules she always had. The girl minded her manners, did as asked, and never touched her sore backside when a parental figure was nearby. Those bedroom walls of hers' were as plain and naked as before, housing only her, and not a single friend these past two long, lonely weeks.
Some time ago, thanks to her mother calling Jacob's own to straighten things out, Kayla had learned what befell her partner she currently so dearly missed. Lory had been told that Emily did not plan to separate the pair, and that they would continue to make fine friends for the time being, but that did not excuse the boy from the punishment he had been assigned. While Jacob was fortunately incorrect in assuming he would be paddled for such a violation, having been honest that Kayla was his love interest, what he was provided as an alternative was in many ways worse. The young doctor had been grounded, and apparently harshly, with nearly all of his privileges suspended. Because of that, the two of them had been apart, and equally alone, with everything straight up to his old communications badge taken away to make sure he couldn't use it. Kayla still hadn't seen his face since that last moment they shared; the kiss that rocked her to the core. Imagining him sitting alone in his room, leaning back onto his tail and hanging his head, the girl could not help but feel responsible and utterly guilty for getting them both into such trouble, all thanks to her solid silver 'P's and yearning for a companion.
Kayla's blisters had shrunk and faded away with time, followed by a longer healing process for the deep bruises her special paddle could cause. Sulking in the shower, she was at least no longer sitting on anything that caused her discomfort. Hidden by her fur, the girl's canine skin had gone through many different shades and colors, followed by painful looking outlines and formations as the stages of natural repair ticked by one after another. Laying down instead of sitting, and avoiding getting spanked as much as she could, she managed to have the ache mostly cleared up after the first week. Even her right paw was healing, having become once again orange to the eye. Without Jacob's treatments her right paw's fur had grown but remained thin; still somewhat out of place while she waited for it to reach it's proper length.
With Ninne finally just today ungrounded, the fox had only her empty room, a stuffed toy, and her parents to provide her with company while she waited patiently for any kind of word from the people who held the key to her chains. Something - anything! Even just 'thanks'! Life had become too normal, and it left her disappointed.
Having been in such a state for the past while, Emily had gotten her out of the house as often as she could to try and encourage her. Mostly the Calleet Mall and other shopping venues, showing her all the fun she could in an attempt to cheer her daughter up and keep her from mulling over sad subjects. Though, each time they returned home, Kayla would slink back off to her room. She spent many hours alone, moping in one way or another. It wasn't how a child, much less a Penitatas wanted to spend their summer vacation. Her parents were aware she was dealing with a lot on her mind, juggling mature dreams on top of adolescent emotions.
It had been hard on them all, and of all people Emily felt the most responsible; trying to devote as much attention to her family as she could. Today she had decided to take things a large step further, to see if they could do something far outside the realm of things Penitatas were typically allowed, with the hope of her family being able to do something special and memorable together. The idea hinged heavily on Kayla's good behavior, but the mother felt she had enough to convince others the trip she wanted to take would be rich and beneficial; if not well earned, by her daughter. After all Kayla had done, and all she had tolerated, Emily was more than willing to go out on a limb for the eight year old Aspatrian.
So for the time Alex was serving as Kayla's sole guardian, watching over the house while his wife was off on her personal mission that morning and afternoon. The blonde haired, colorful clothing wearing man stuck to watching over his daughter from a comfortable distance to give her the maximum space he could allow; not seeking to infringe on her privacy or bother her in any way. Though, with so much time passing and not having seen hide nor hair of her, the reluctant father decided to head upstairs to make sure she was okay. It had been forty-five minutes since she said she was going to hop in the shower, and now her well-being was becoming a worry as he left the final stair and heard the shower water still running. While he hadn't stepped foot in that bathroom since Kayla began taking showers, with that room being a privilege to her, Alex felt forced to barge in and make sure she hadn't slipped and hurt herself. With a light tap of his left hand to the door's controls, it slid open with a small sound to strike him with a wave of warm humidity and the scent of fresh fur-soaps.
"Kayla?", Alex promptly asked as the door slid out of his way, taking a single step forward to hold onto the door's frame as he spoke towards a drawn, seashell themed curtain. Having heard her name, the distracted Penitatas lifted her head and took a breath; slightly startled out of her trance. Arms coming off her legs, Kayla leaned back to speak around the back edge of the curtain.
"Yeah dad?", the young fox called back, not sounding like she cared he was intruding. Her father sighed, relieved she was alright, but her shower had been more than long enough. Looking through the well lit, small space of her bathroom, Alex lifted his free hand towards where he knew she was seated; hopefully not sulking any further in such a place.
"Come on honey, you've been in here a long time now. It's time to come out.", Alex played his role as a father, needing to place a limit on how long she could be running the shower like that. By his nature he was gentle in the way he spoke, trying not to scold in order to outline a boundary.
Realizing she probably had been in there for quite a while, Kayla grabbed the side of the tub and pulled herself forward to operate the controls on it's edge. Looking down, beads dribbling from her nose as the shower water ran over her head, her nimble right paw's fingers struck a couple of keys before the bathroom fell into silence; using the rapid, extra strokes to reset the shower's temperature and other settings before shutting down the stream. Climbing to her bare feet, feeling the coolness of the tub through the sensitive pinkened pads of her footpaws, Kayla pulled the shower curtain open with a swing of her water-logged arm. The fox wasn't the most bodily conscious when it came to being in the bare fur around her parents; trusting them; but with her orange fur all soaked she was extra careful to keep her legs fairly firmly together. Wet fur did little to hide anything, but as she reached out with a neutral expression to grab her towel off the rack, she noticed her father was taking care of his own to avert his eyes.
"I didn't mean to be in here so long. I'll start bringing a clock in here with me.", Kayla commented and explained of herself, at least being loose and casual in the face of her softer parent. She didn't mean to do anything wrong after all, and seeing Alex staring off into the bathroom's side wall to be polite made her want to make sure he didn't have to step in here to fetch her again.
Soft fabric coming over her head, Kayla rubbed the fur atop her head and ears vigorously to start the process of drying so much fur off, from top to bottom. Standing in the tub, her tail hung straight down without any kind of poof; water rolling off the long, soaked tangle of orange and white. As the cotton-like towel fluttered around her vision, draped down her neck and tapping against her muzzle, she watched Alex step towards her counter and look over it; as if he caught something in the corner of his eye, or found something he wanted a closer look at. In the mirror that went across her counter, Kayla spotted an expression across his face that left her feeling unsure for a split second.
"What is all of this? There's spots from toothpaste all over the sink and mirror. When was the last time you actually cleaned anything in here?", the older human man questioned with a tone of both casual confusion and a sort of parental disappointment, using an open right hand to make gestural chopping motions at all the different things he saw that was out of place. Being given this bathroom was met with a single rule, and that was to be responsible and keep it clean. Fur-care products and items were in a disarray over the counter, and everything looked a bit on the grimy side from the walls to the tile floor. Not too bad, but it was definitely not in the same way it was given to Kayla; and he wasn't about to check the toilet-unit to investigate any further than what he needed to.
"Ahh... ", Kayla muttered with a loose, guilty undertone. Her paws slid the towel from her head to curl around her neck and hang down her shoulders for a moment while she tried to look over at the moderate mess her father was complaining about. Feeling somewhat backed into a corner, staring over at her parent and his inspection, Kayla's facial expression drooped a little as her mind provided her only with excuses and not a single decent explanation. Not wanting to get into trouble, but knowing she had done wrong, the quiet fox slid right into feeling sorry.
"It's been a bad two weeks. I was going to get around to it.", was all even the seasoned Penitatas could think of in such a short time, but it rang with a note of honesty. Holding onto the towel, standing straight and rigid, the girl wanted to shrink as her father continued to step about the throw-rug in front of her bathroom counter. Now he looked to be eye-balling around the perimeter of the space, analyzing faint changes in the white tile against the brown decorative molding. Again, his right hand came out to point along the edge of the wall, and around the bottom rim of her toilet-unit at bits of orange scattered about.
"And Kayla, there is fur everywhere! Are you she-... ", Alex pointed out with a degree of enthusiasm in his voice, until he went to utter a word that made Kayla outright cringe and snap sharply to break it before it could be finished. In that moment even her ears folded back half-ways.
"Dad! Don't say that word; I'm not a dog!", the Aspatrian called out in strong embarrassment, feeling sensitive over things like 'shedding'. Her fur came out just like anyone else's hair did, and it accumulated if left alone to naturally brush their way into corners and crevices. Just like any girl, tough or even a little tom-boy, the notion that her fur would fall out in clumps was upsetting. In the haste that she said her prompt correction, Kayla stepped her right foot over the edge of the tub and stepped forward onto the other end of the throw-rug, in front of her toilet-unit. Still dripping wet, it was far from modest or graceful; tail slopping like a wet rag against the side of the tub as she darted to Alex's side to place a paw to the tuft of white on her chest and make a quick plea.
"That's all natural - it just happens! I'm really sorry, I'll get everything swept and cleaned up, I promise!", Kayla sought to press in her favor, in order to shove past the intimidating notion of someone commenting on her loose fur. Perturbing to begin with, it was also a stronger indicator that the bathroom had seen little cleaning attention. It had riled her to attention very quickly, though her father didn't at all mean any disrespect - only coming to see after the fact that his daughter would more than likely be offended or upset with such a comparison.
"It's just after all that's gone on, I... ", the eight year old fox tried to explain, making excuses for herself in a nervous, shaken voice until she made what was clearly an embarrassed whine in the midst of looking around timidly. The moment she looked downward to hang her head, because of how she was feeling, Kayla was harshly reminded by her soaked fur that she wasn't done drying and was far too exposed than she would have ever normally accepted. With a fiery blush burning at the sides of her muzzle, her face stiffened; grabbing her white towel to hold it against her chest and cover herself down to her pelvis and groin, having met eyes with her typically invisible cleft. Hugging the towel she breathed awkwardly, looking off.
"And I'm dripping everywhere and making it worse.", Kayla came to gripe with half her normal volume, now feeling the smallest she had since her bathroom cleaning habits had been called out. Water from her Aspatrian toes soaked into the rug, and her tail dripped every which way it could against the tile. On a roll, Alex had a hard time getting any sort of word edge-wise on her; quite the opposite to how most parent-child relationships worked. Kayla had been so quiet and upset the past while, he wasn't surprised she'd take to being so defensive and easily ashamed. He really wasn't trying to nit-pick. Before his daughter could break off into anything else, or feel any more self-conscious about her body, the father placed his right hand on her shoulder and leaned his body a bit, to try and look her in the eye.
"I understand, it's okay. I'm not all that mad or anything, or trying to make you feel put on the spot. The only reason I'm even mentioning it is because this looks more than two weeks old. This room couldn't have been cleaned more than once or twice since your birthday.", Alex decided to explain his side, so the pair could come to a mutual acceptance over the matter. He wasn't big on strong-arming Kayla, and rode on his words to get things done. Taking a quick, deep breath, Kayla kept her hold on her towel as she went back about her drying, a bit stiffer than she had been. It started feeling inevitable that she'd meet a powerful bout of discipline and lose a privilege she had come to rely on for peace and privacy; so she looked displeased and sullen while reaching for her tail to stop it from dripping everywhere, rubbing it vigorously as she did her head.
"I'm not very good at these things.", Kayla hesitantly said about herself after a few quiet moments, unable to look her father in the eye to say it. On the right side of Alex's face, the end of his mouth stiffened into a questioning curl.
"You're brilliant. If you tried for any length of time, you could figure out how to clean a bathroom. So are you not good at it, or are you trying to say you just didn't like doing it?", the man softened his tone to lecture, using his own mannerisms and methods to pull a more blunt truth from his Penitatas' mouth. Beating around the bush with Alex didn't seem to amount to much, and being called out by such a gentle, caring voice cut Kayla's conscience deeply. She knew she had been slacking, but it wasn't something she wanted to have to admit to him. The past two weeks were a good excuse, even he admitted, but it had been longer than that since she really did anything in here. Her parents rarely ever stuck their head in - even Emily. So, to his pressing question, Kayla could only slowly dry her fur, working her arms, chest, and belly. Watching the sad sight, Kayla backed so deeply into a corner, Alex quickly fell into empathy despite his continuing lecture.
"There isn't a lot of things I am good at, but I decided that the best thing I can do for you is to help teach you responsibility, and the concept of a hard day's work. Now, what did your mother say the punishment would be for not keeping this bathroom spotless?", his eyes stayed firmly planted on her face as he removed his hand and stood back up straight, to make sure he caused his adoptive fox no further embarrassment. Alex would never stare, firmly believing in such comforts under his roof. Sounding so casual, the question of consequence made Kayla's teeth clench in sadness. They came free as she swayed, coming stiff again to stare at the mess she had left on her counter-top. Mere question hurting, knowing it's meaning, the poor girl choked a little.
"I understand.", she got off in little more than a whisper, finding her jaw had stiffened a bit. The punishment for not keeping her bathroom clean, per Emily, was having her privilege suspended; sending her back to nightly baths from her mother. Though, from the distraught and defeated tone of her young voice, Alex only came to lift a brow, as if he himself didn't entirely get what she meant. As soon as it struck him in the silence, feeling as awkward as Kayla was, the man lifted up his hands, waving them slightly to dismiss her thought.
"Oh! Kayla, no, no, I didn't mean it like that! It was a literal question, I just wanted you to repeat your mom's rule!", he quickly came to snag on one particular difference in how he and his wife lectured and scolded. Alex felt it was a good method to have rules recited, to bring Kayla into the lecture as a participant. If Emily had said that, then yeah, it likely meant she was about to bring down the mallet. As if to make a point, the man pointed back at himself with his right thumb as the pair shared this little moment in front of Kayla's bathroom mirror.
"At the moment, it's my call, and I don't plan to drop your shower privilege. You've been through enough as of late, and I don't want to make it worse when I'm given an opportunity to teach you a different lesson.", Alex had to explain, and he did it proudly, taking charge in a way he felt could assist his daughter's values. She had never worked a day in her life on this planet, and she'd have a ways to go before she could hold what would essentially be her own enterprise. As he spoke, outlining his leniency, Kayla's blue eyes visibly loosened and lit up; coming eventually to a light, relieved expression.
"But that means this bathroom has to be cleaned up - right now, before your mother gets home. I'll help, so we'll do it together.", he raised both hands to chest level, pointing his index fingers downward to stress 'right now', all while wearing something of a smile to be able to do something to lighten Kayla's overall load. Their work would have to be done before Emily returned, or else Alex ran the risk of his wife adding additional stipulations at her own discretion.
Being offered such a merciful thing made Kayla much more cheerful looking, willing to work especially if she'd have some company and assistance. Clutching her paws around her towel, she pressed it firm to her chest and looked up into her father's face with a delighted grin to show how thankful she was to keep her showering privilege. This would have been the absolute worst time to be stripped of her one last private place, making it a blessing to have been cut so much slack.
"You mean, I'm not in trouble?", Kayla asked with a note of hesitation, looking for clarification that everything was alright, and she was being forgiven. She had barely cleaned her bathroom at all, so she was shocked to not be harshly scolded and reprimanded right here on the spot. With it pleasant or not, her body was still stiff with a degree of apprehension, squinting up just to be sure there was no catch. Being good at reading human expressions and emotions didn't help her much when she came to see the somewhat lighter face her dad made.
"Well... yes, and no.", Alex said with something of a half-hearted mumble, reaching up to rub his neck around his colorful, casual button-down shirt's collar. Sounding put on the spot and sheepish, Kayla tilted her muzzle forward and peered up with this 'are you serious?' look pasted clear across her face. Her nerves didn't know if they should start feeling pre-swatting pains or what.
"Alex, that's a little vague.", the smaller of the pair cautiously pressed for clarification, wrapping her damp tail against her hip to question with a semi-casual tone. He didn't seem like he was trying very hard to punish her, so his loose statement could go in any direction. She'd either be walking out of here sniffling, or not sniffling, and she would have liked to know. Removing his hand from his collar, it came to be a gestural assistant to her father's coming words; trying to keep the pair eye to eye, while he hesitantly answered.
"You're not supposed to know things like this, but you have a scheduled spanking today. I volunteered to do it tonight before bed, but rather than smacking you because someone told me to, I'd rather smack you for something you did. So we're looking at one spanking instead of two, but I figured you'd appreciate cleaning the bathroom without welts. It'll be paws on the counter when we're done, but not until then.", Alex outlined as a means to substitute her discipline with a session that was already to come later, merely knocking it out of the way early and giving it more meaning beyond 'just because'. Kayla's young face shifted back towards a neutral expression, but only slightly with an understanding, stiff nod of her head. It seemed she still had reason to hold her nervous, parentally induced apprehension. Scheduled spankings were something exclusive to Penitatas, unaffected by good behavior; ensuring continuing punishment for their crime, alongside their rehabilitation.
"That's... more than fair.", Kayla took a breath, relenting how she felt over knowing she'd still be punished in some way. She was already going to be, but at least she knew now and it wouldn't be sprung on her before bed, like Penitatas Justice Department assigned scheduled spankings generally would.
A couple times a month as she was being put to bed, she had to endure a basic, random spanking. The days were chosen for Penitatas parents, and they simply enforced them, making them bedtime surprises. On those days, Emily would step into her room and say that it was 'one of those nights'. No matter how good she had been, or if she had been punished for real earlier, she had to lay over her mother's lap for a solid dose of an "unearned" spanking. While saying it was unearned was a bit of a misnomer, it was something all hard time Penitatas endured, as direct punishment for the crimes they committed. Those slaps, cracks, or snaps against her fur were for the Packet-Storm of old, and not the child she was growing into. Exchanging her surprise punishment with her mistake of now, was yet another graceful act she appreciated, despite her expression having something of an acceptant frown.
"I'm sure trying.", her father warmly tried to answer to his daughter's acceptant, slow utterance of his actions being fair. Taking a step back towards the automated door to the bathroom, he reached out with his hand and again grabbed the doorway's frame.
"Go ahead and get ready. I'll grab us some things to use.", Alex offered, thinking of the few materials they might need to tidy up this bathroom. A light blue color up it's walls with a faux-wood trim, it was a small, cute space they had long since cared for their Penitatas in. There were memories here, and in his eyes this was to be his daughter's personal space, so long as she kept it that way. A little looser, Kayla nodded her head and kept her maw shut in light of the kindness he had shown her; paws tight up against her towel and chest until the older human man cracked a smile and left the doorway, leaving the light and color of the upstairs hallway in his wake.
The faint amount of steam built up from Kayla's long shower had since flowed out into the hall, and the humidity level in the bathroom was dropping. Left to her own devices, the girl did not stand and stare around in dread of what she knew was to come eventually, choosing to instead go straight back to what she was doing unabated. Standing on that fuzzy rug, soaked around her toes and growing cold to her pad's touch, she stretched out her limbs, having kept them so stiff while standing in front of her dad. Alone and not needing to worry about matters of modesty, she was soon finishing her drying, giving the towel a ruffle down her legs before patting the rest of herself down to get dressed. Having brought in a shirt and pair of underwear, she decided to throw them on regardless of knowing she was soon to be spanked. Her tail would hold her shirt out of the way naturally, and her panties could hit the floor without effort, so at least this way she could clean the bathroom without being horribly embarrassed over bending over or squatting.
Pulling on the black shirt and dark charcoal panties she got her last day in San Francisco, matching comfortably and casually, it had become a simple custom to be able to pick out her own clothing so long as she wasn't going anywhere. Shirt hanging loose, covering half her underwear, it swayed about along with her tail as she bolted to other matters without delay. High on the priority list aside from getting some clothes on, Kayla leaned against her counter and quickly started brushing her fur at a rapid, rushed pace to try and get as much done as she could; ripping at half dried knots in her tail and the fur atop her head. Feeling much better now that she wasn't holding a bashful, shy crimson blush all along her muzzle, the once sulking child at least didn't get too frustrated when her father returned; dropping his belt outside the door, for reasons she knew right off the bat. Able to see herself in the mirror, holding her fur-brush in paw, she made a somber, displeased face that she didn't have enough time to do all her fur. She did hate looking and feeling ratty, but having to clean right now was entirely her own fault.
Cutting in at her side, her father dropped a sponge in the sink and sat down a bottle of cleaning solution beside her from the small armful of things he fetched. Holding a hand-held vacuum device in his right hand, rags ending up on the counter tucked against the wall and the lighting controls, Alex presented himself with enthusiasm to his voice - ready to go.
"Okay, lets get to work! I'll go around the room taking care of your fur, since that's the tougher part. Your job is the counter, mirror, and a quick wipe-down of your toilet-unit. Got it?", Alex delegated without an ounce of a parental tone, sounding much like friend. Sliding the wooden backing of her fur-brush down against the counter, Kayla first began with reorganizing her bottles and things to clear a path for her sponging, while her dad went right to his own duty behind her. Extremely quiet, if not simply for the sound of air, the man got down on his hands and knees and started working on the corner edge of the room, starting from the door with a slow sweep. Alex had a running joke with his wife that the little vacuum had the sucking power of an Andorian prostitute; making the strands of fur disappear effortlessly. Emily wasn't as amused by his analogy as he was.
Though quieter than she was normally, having Alex come to her side without any hesitation or question made her feel a lot better about being here. For the past two weeks, stepping constantly in front of this mirror, she felt like such a prisoner. She was, really, but she never usually felt that way about being a Penitatas. Kayla shed her tears like a good child, but when she finally did something she was so proud of, looking to build upon it, she was sent back here as if she wasn't one. It had been emotionally difficult without Jacob, even if it felt like Emily started spanking with less of her usual vigor. Running water over her sponge, getting her paws wet again, she started filling the sink with a bit of soapy water to get started on her own chore. Standing there, back to her father and tail hanging without a motion, Kayla eyeballed herself in the mirror and her dad's work, feeling stiffer since she wasn't saying anything. He was helping her and being so nice, it felt wrong to continue to sulk in silence with him working so diligently without complaint.
"Hey dad... you've never struck me as the strict type. What got you into this? You looking to have a kid of your own?", Kayla tried to make conversation, looking back over her shoulder to show her father the same sort of politeness he showed her. The man had a way of making her feel relaxed and at home, as if she relied deeply on her fatherly figures. He always treated her like his own daughter, and it made her casual and loose enough with him that she felt like she could talk without holding back as much of her curiosities. Alex didn't like spanking very much, and he left it almost exclusively to Emily - so the fox had always wondered about him. Down on the floor, sounding a bit deeper bouncing off the while tile, her ears picked up a mildly amused 'heh!'.
"What, the Penitatas thing? That was your mom's dream, to take care of you gals and guys. I tagged along because I had to, and... yeah, we're hoping to get a full-fledged parenting license someday.", Alex's half muffled, partially strained voice admitted with some pep to his tone. It at least told Kayla he didn't mind her asking, while he crawled slowly, catching little clumps of her orange fur and the more invisible strands of white against the tile. Every so often he'd find a hint of black, but he couldn't tell if it was from her ear-tips or if they were flecks of dirt or hair that ended up in here.
Looking into the slightly opaque water, Kayla stirred it with an index finger to swirl the suds bubbles around; the scent immediately making her taste the soap, as an induced reflex from having her maw scrubbed out so often. With a dip of her sponge, yellow and soft to her young fingers, she squeezed it and started scrubbing the counter and sink, moving not all too quickly or efficiently; having done this so infrequently.
"Was it worth it?", the fox inquired more softly after a time, deciding to have this talk with her father. With all the bad things that had struck their family, she wondered if taking in Packet-Storm was too much to ask of anyone. Her parents never had any idea what they were getting into. Eyes weakly following her paw, rubbing the chalky, thick white spots left from brushing her teeth, Alex came to look up while following the perimeter of the room.
"You're the sort of daughter I wanted to have, if I didn't have a son. The way you and your mother can quarrel, I'm surprised you didn't come out of her.", Alex replied with an underlying type of humor, trying to be discreet and calm since he could hear Kayla's discomfort.
"You wouldn't have had to spank your daughter as much as me.", Kayla lifted her left paw, showing the back of it over her shoulder while she worked. She tended to default to showing off her Penitatas classification insignias to make her points, especially when she was sulking.
"And mom would be a lot happier, I'm sure.", she muttered gloomily, giving her head a slight shake as she ran around the rim of the sink; knocking out her chore one segment at a time. Her father swallowed, turning his head back down to the edge of the room as he neared the damp tub and the water left behind by Kayla's tail.
"If you had us as parents from the start, you never would have become a Penitatas - and you know that.", the man was very fast to press, digging the small, portable cleaning device into the corner between the tub and wall.
"Your mom loves you too, it's just we have to show it in harsher ways because of your sentence. She's working really hard on her camping trip idea, to make up for some things she said she was unfair about. Stuff she said, and she told me about walloping you in San 'Fran with your brush.", Alex shared aloud, trying to prove he was on the same page, thanks to the things Emily shared with him in private. The pair did talk with one another after all, and he had to do a lot of consoling after she got home from her brush with death. Starting on the length of the tub, he looked up again, even if Kayla didn't look over to see the light expression on his face.
"She was under a lot of pressure, and it's not always easy being the parent of someone with such a history. But, regardless, I'm still very sorry.", he apologized, lowering his tone and making it even softer than before to make sure everything was made right. In the middle of his sentiment, as heartfelt as it sounded, Kayla tipped her head back and huffed weakly; stopping her circular sponging of the counter-top and sink controls.
"I love mom too, and you shouldn't apologize for things you couldn't stop. I know I'm a pain - look at the whole mess I made with Jacob.", the fox griped against herself, voice becoming airy the way she spoke. Head down, blue eyes towards the sink, she couldn't see the sort of gentle frown she had assumed across her muzzle. She was wrestling with so much, and these few words were just snow-cone shavings off a polar icecap. Crawling along, Alex had to think a little before he could say anything to all of that.
"If only you knew just how proud of you your mom was. She always has such nice things to say about you in her weekly departmental reports, and she thinks you're a total genius. It's just... she takes her work so seriously, because she wants you to learn all the lessons you can. She really believes in your punishments, but she can get emotional, just like you.", Alex lightened up his voice, to try and make the things he was saying sound more like compliments and not just sentiments to help her feel better. She didn't often get to hear such things, kept in a separate line of communication than he got to share with Emily.
The pair of women, with technically Kayla being the elder of the two, just kind of knew how to clash at times, being so different but similar enough to know where all the others' buttons were. As for the 'departmental reports', Kayla hadn't even heard of such a thing before. They wrote about her each week? All this time and she had never seen such a thing done; kept hidden from her as a parenting secret. It seemed like her father wasn't very tight lipped with her any longer, and realizing that made her expression fade to something more light and neutral as she resumed her work.
"So you know, we have no regrets. We were excited from the moment we found out Packet-Storm was sitting in our hover-car, all timid and tiny. And, you know what, when it comes to Jacob, I would have done the same thing in your case.", Alex relied on his honesty to convey as easily as he did, bringing a mental image of the old six year old Kayla back to his mind as he recalled the day they met and became an instant family. When it came to his statement about Jacob however, the Aspatrian girl couldn't help but look up into the mirror and shot herself a grin, finishing up her work with the spotted lower areas of the glass.
"What, you would have found yourself a nice guy that respected you?", she prodded playfully, taking a note of sarcasm to convey that she was playing on his words, seeing that he made it so easy. Kayla wanted to outline how she felt, being sure to throw in 'nice guy' and 'respect' to describe Jacob and tell her adoptive father just why she did what she did. She was still sorry, but in other ways, she loved her memories too much to let go; kind of like Za`kira said she should do. Head half between the toilet-unit and tub, navigating the space to vacuum the far back corner, Alex outright snickered, smirking like a teenager.
"You know what I mean.", Alex cracked back, feeling fortunate his Penitatas was female. If he happened to have had a boy, the tile his hand was leaning against might not have been so cleanly. As he moved around the toilet unit, Kayla was already busily rubbing the counter and mirror with a rag to wipe up all the soapy water. She came to sigh lightly, keeping her eyes on her work as they started sharing the same space together; now needing to mind her footpaws to make sure she didn't step on her dad's fingers, standing tip-toed to reach the mirror at her age.
"It's not so much you guys, but... ", Kayla started trying to convey a thought after a time, before she paused with a deep breath; staring out with a growing look of tepid annoyance.
"Scheduled spanking? Seriously? After everything, they can't send me any word of anything, but they'll give you arbitrary dates to flatten my fur?", she turned her head to look down at her side, shaking the rag in her paw with that tone of disbelief. While it sounded very young in Kayla's voice, it was surely well spoken and rationalized; feeling so legitimately snubbed by the actions of others outside their home. Though, to her feelings, her father could only make a tiny sound.
"It's not as bad as it sounds. Your scheduled spanking dates come to us on the first of the month; so they likely came available before you even left for DeltaStar that morning. They're a surprise to you, but they're totally open to us ahead of time, so we can plan accordingly.", Alex again revealed something new, completely removing the veil over the things that go on behind his daughter's back. There was an administrative back-end to their parental duties, and these things weren't supposed to be so openly presented to Penitatas. Starting to vacuum around Kayla's feet, working to avoid her claws, the man went to further explain himself.
"All of this stuff is supposed to be knowledge left to parents, so don't repeat it. But Kayla, you tend to rely on your knowledge in a lot of ways, so I don't think it's a bad thing for you to know a little bit about how the world works around you, if it might make you feel a little better.", he came clean as to his intentions, being simple but firm in his friendly mannerisms; all while maneuvering around Kayla's ankles in his cleaning process. Standing above him, paws on the counter, the fox came to sigh even more loosely. There wasn't much she could say, but she was very thankful to understand a few of the Penitatas Justice Department's policies. They played a larger role than she expected, if they shared weekly communication and monthly directives. It felt strange, knowing her parents had to answer to a higher authority. No wonder Emily told her she placed "even her" in danger, by partaking in a relationship and subsequent adult follies she was explicitly forbidden to.
Not sure of what else she could have said, Kayla dunked her sponge a few times, rang it out, and stepped around her father to the toilet-unit. Thankfully, as a girl, the thing didn't need much attention; but she'd wipe it's rims down anyway, to make it shiny and please Alex. Partially bent over into a squat, the went about her work with a still tail like she had been, while her dad went about to finish his task. With an audible 'phew!', the man was happy to get off of his hands and knees, turning over to sit down and lean his back against the open door frame. Watching his daughter finish, quiet and clearly thinking under that expression and lost blue eyes, for what ever reason the sight made him smile softly; turning to the past two years inside his mind.
Sure, Kayla was right in that she could be a handful, being who she was. On the other hand she was a role model for many, and had a heart that was unjustly corrupted by growing up alone without love or direction. She was a very well behaved Penitatas if you looked at her overall, no matter her issues. The fox learned, and shed deserved tears when the time came necessary. When she was six, she was shy and didn't know how to speak to others outside of swearing her head off. Through all of the things Kayla was currently working through, he could see all of her progress and lessons taking shape. The Penitatas of old, the one who charged headfirst into situations to assist her new friends, unfortunately eager to do wrong might have always been acceptant of orders and discipline. However, in hindsight, knowing just how shy and vulnerable Kayla was during those early days, he saw a frightened rejuve. She was sorry, and in accepting her punishments, what she was truly doing was begging for mercy. Kayla had moved so far beyond that, finding maturity, and her voice.
"You're so much different from the little girl I met.", Alex suddenly uttered into the small, silent expanse of the bathroom; vacuum unit inactive beside his hip. Changing the way her stance positioned her weight, stretching her charcoal colored underwear fabric, Kayla turned her head and stopped her cleaning. Keeping to his tiny smile, speaking lightly, he wanted to let off what was on his mind.
"It was your own words, that a spanking wasn't the end of the world. If no one says anything to us, and nothing changes, I want you to try and remember that you earned this; and you shouldn't forget that. This is your home - your family.", the blonde haired man gave his sentiment, leaning his head back to ruffle his hairs against the frame of the door.
"But I'll always be hoping for the best.", he said, relaxed, showing he too didn't want the Aspatrian to let go of her new dreams. All Alex wanted was for Kayla to accept her surroundings like she always had, smiling and living each day to the fullest no matter where she was. It was one of the qualities everyone loved best of the fox, seeing her smile even when her eyes were filled with tears, or if she was to pay for a mistake. He wanted her to know everything would be okay, and to take what came.
"Thanks dad.", Kayla lifted her face and spirit, hovering over her toilet-unit while she looked down into the water and worked on the last few inches of rim and seat. The man was right, as he always had been. She had just missed her friends, and Jacob so badly. It had been hard to ignore the sweet taste of freedom and progress while mulling over those thoughts by herself, and it was too easy to shrink back into the shell the old Kayla used to live within. She wanted her chance and felt she earned it, and her heart wanted to stay true to it along with all the things that made her who she was.
Finishing her work, the fox was soon standing and stretching her legs while the pair went about completing their impromptu project. Alex had returned to his feet, putting up the hand-held vacuum; clacking and light banging filling the second floor of their home as objects moved and slid about to make the space look tidy. Everything straightened out and returned to their places, the little bathroom looked much better than it did before. Though, before she knew it, the counter in front of her was perfect and all looked acceptable for the moment; ending her period of teamwork, and changing things back towards the realm of parent and child. Picking her eyes up from the sink, the young fox graced her father with a solemn expression, standing at his side. In his hand, just out of her vision beyond the doorway, he already had his belt ready and had been waiting - seeing his daughter would likely tell him with such a look that she was done. That face asked for his directions, ready to do as told without question.
"You did good honey. Next time the tub and shower tiles will need cleaning too, but I'll help you get started. I'll check on the bathroom here myself from now on, to make sure you're doing okay.", Alex started out with a simple announcement, deciding to take Kayla's chores and other responsibilities under his own wing. With a jingle of his belt buckle, making his daughter flinch slightly, he made a light sort of face before he went on to other matters that were looming above them both, waiting for their turn.
"But... for now, go ahead and put your paws on the counter. Drop 'em and hike your tail.", the human man moved forward, delivering the orders the fox had been dreading. While he didn't like to cause pain, he did believe in doing his duty as a parent to his daughter; sort of the price he had to pay to keep her under his roof, and learning as quickly as she was. Stepping from the doorway with light steps, black belt held looped in his right hand, Kayla's blue eyes followed it wearily before her frame sank. Her bottom had healed from it's blistering, but from memory she knew Alex was not a light swatter. That belt stung ferociously, and it wasn't an implement her mother generally used.
Turning her head to face forward, Kayla's arms pulled back to reach beneath the rear hem of her shirt. Fingers worming beneath the bit of cotton, a tiny sound signified the release of her panties' strap above her tail. With little more than a half-hearted tug, the charcoal, smooth garment slid down her orange thighs and came loose enough to flutter to her ankles on their own. Prepared the receive the belt to her bare fur, as mandated, Kayla looked down into the marbled, light colored surface of her bathroom counter. Her paws settled against them balled into loose fists, knuckles up, while her footpaws spread slightly and the white end of her tail took to the air until it curled up towards her back. As she figured, her black shirt was pulled up by her tail, leaving her backside and legs fully exposed; showing their clean, but messily ruffled strands of fur. Feeling her underwear's elastic taut between her two ankles, Kayla watched in the mirror her father move into his own position with plenty of room for his belt. Here in the bathroom, she could watch the whole thing as a spectator, as well as a receiver, the fox sulked.
"One scheduled spanking substitution coming right up. You know what to do hun.", Alex spoke with less of the kind of cheer that he had been utilizing; using a quick lift of his belt as a gesture. In the mirror, Kayla lowered her head to point her muzzle and eyes towards the blue of her sink. With a breath, the girl nodded her head in understanding, acceptance, and acknowledgment. At least it was her father, regardless of how much his belting hurt.
"Sorry again.", the young Penitatas felt it appropriate to add just before her punishment, spoken quietly, but honestly. Though so somber, those words made the human man crack a new smile for a split second above his playful shirt.
"I know.", Alex replied with a voice similar to her own.
Avoiding anything startling or frightful, the father refrained from snapping his ebony coil of a belt. When he raised his hand he made certain the buckle was pinned and couldn't make any sound. The first one to come was that of the leathery device cutting through the air like a sharp fan, as swung firm by a man's arm, and it's resulting massive snap. Alex's belt having been a very loud tool of punishment, the first crack straight across and through the eight year old Aspatrian's backside immediately forced her ears flat against her head in both pain, and to muffle the sound. Her eyes tensed half-shut, standing on her own two feet with no support but her own will; teeth coming fully bare with a tiny zip of a high pitched yelp. Once it struck fur, the belt separated many strands away from the point of impact and flattened everything else, making it's punishing slap direct to her ebony canid skin as if all of the orange fur wasn't there in the milliseconds it took to blaze an intense sting and heat. Right in it's wake her skin tickled and prickled for a split second, before the peak of it's stinging pain came; radiating across the skin to make the shape of the rectangular welt that went from one hip to another, crossing every cell in it's path to make a welt with perfectly straight edges.
While not the fastest implement in the world, nor the best parent at spanking using it, Alex pulled the belt back and re-readied his hand before letting loose another lash; bringing the terrible crack of the belt down once the sting of the last strike erupted to it's peak. So, once the second slap of the belt whacked Kayla clear across the center of her backside, it's force and heat burned straight into the crossed edges of the last swat to make a sudden, intense stab that made the fur of the fox's back shoot straight on end and her knees jerk. She had winced hard, followed by another as the belt snapped again, just a little lower. Swung hard, for a Penitatas' bane, each spank from something so light made her hips jut forward with a stiff flex n her knees. Taking it like a trooper, Kayla kept her head down, trying to avoid any howls or movements from her legs.
Watering eyes coming to peer up towards the mirror, she saw a blur of black cut the air and before she could flinch in anticipation the pain had already slapped through her bottom, hard across the base of her rear. The sound she came to make sounded sharp, like an 'aah!', coming unsteady on her legs from the sudden blow while her endorphins were still building. By the time the next slow slap of the belt came to spank her, the wince it caused made her paws ball tighter as she broke into a quiet cry. The sting was massive and each lash was worse than the last, provided from someone who punished like they meant it; leaving her with flowing channels of horizontal pain beneath her tail that had stiffened to a rock at it's base to keep erected. For her dad, though, she'd stand here and take it until he said 'no more'. She had the will, and she'd do it.
Shoulders coming up with each snap that exploded through the space of the bathroom, enhanced with a short trailing echo, Kayla accepted lash after another, covering previous spanks of the belt to deepen and thicken their welts. Not having started gradually, or worked with light slaps, each heavy blow was a test of a Penitatas' balance and cooperation. Standing here, toes curling tight enough into the throw-rug to loosen it's fibers, the Aspatrian bared her teeth and sobbed, holding back all she could except the occasional tearful grunt; trying to tolerate as much as her body would allow. On her own two feet, it was a symbol of obedience to take her father's lashes as if she was a slightly older, male child. Again and again, snapping against fur and soft skin, it spanked from the base of her tail to the centers of her thighs, making her legs feel weak until the sting blazed and her muscle recovered. Hot and rippling with pricking, jabbing sensations, all of her spanked tissue was howling up her back and down her legs; enduring until the belt stopped cracking through the bathroom unexpectedly.
Body stiff and eyes having clenched shut, the sputtering form of the young girl pressed her paws into the surface of the counter and cried down towards it's surface. Tears were moving in tiny trickles down the thinnest fur on her body - straight down the upper portion of her muzzle, towards her nose where another pair were just meeting her muzzle-lips. Sputtering hard a few times, quickly getting a few puffs of air through her partially open maw, her jaw's quivered eased for a moment as she tilted her head back slightly and sniffed. Her eyes opened a little, looking into the mirror at her own tearful expression; feeling all of the sting and ache in her butt moving around.
"That was twenty-five. How do you feel?", Alex broke the sound of her quiet cries with a question, standing behind her with the belt still in his hand. The question was very light in the way it sounded, with something that sounded like concern, and curiosity. Not the best of disciplinarians, the man seemed to look fairly sympathetic; though he had to know he hurt. Lowering her head back down a little, trying to stifle a series of light, sob-like sputters that suddenly struck her, unable to rub her bottom, Kayla's eyes clenched back shut to form another set of tears on her eyelids.
"It smarts.", Kayla said with something of a pained growl under her more tearful, feminine laments, before she gave a decent sob muffled within her closed muzzle. She took it okay and wasn't too terribly tearful, at least for a Penitatas, but the residual ache was eating at her will to not start a more enthusiastic cry. It was so difficult to keep her paws still during times like this, where the edges of each belt lash were making themselves red hot to the point she could feel their raising borders. However, just as the spanking had ended on a sudden note, it appeared it would be staying that way as Alex assumed a grin outside of her eye's ability to see.
"Then I think you've paid your price.", he warmly suggested, confirming that her punishment was over. Like a reflex, Kayla's tail, having grown bushier with time to dry, zipped right over her backside and pressed against it as a discreet means of rubbing a little ache without doing much movement; pressing her pelvis forward against the edge of her counter, as her feet danced lightly back together. Underwear coming to rest on the rug between her legs, the fox caught her breath and sniffled while her father looked up.
"Lets see, how many strokes do I have to put down on my report? Oh, right. I did thirty-five strokes.", the man came to smirk even more slyly, as if he had taken a note from the sly fox herself at some point. Head down, sniffling and trying to choke back her tears, Kayla's eyes suddenly split into thin strips looking down at the front edge of the sink. It took a couple of moments, but having processed her dad's words, the young Penitatas had a reaction for him. A hiccup, which broke into several half-laughs and half-sobs as the girl lifted her head and smiled stiffly; eyes returning closed in their watery state. Paws on the counter, she choked and tried to calm herself, finding the urge to laugh aggravated the muscles in her chest trying to get her to sob.
"You're gonna' spoil me.", she said as soon as she could get a breath, nice and deep to free up her chest walls. Able to speak clearly enough, Kayla lifted her right paw and started wiping her eyes with her silver Penitatas insignia, sniffing and just barely holding back a sheepish, but utterly thankful laugh. The spanking hurt, quite a bit, but if it went on she wouldn't have been able to stop crying with such ease. A full lashing, especially if she had been bad, could have left her in a quiet bawl for a short while in her room. So, her dad knowingly held back... all she could think of, was how awesome of a father she had.
"You've earned at least a little. Now the next time I go past your room, I want to find you playing with something instead of moping, okay? And if you turn your music player on, pick something from the nineteen-eighty's that wasn't about love or romance.", Alex tried to use the leverage to ask a few things of his daughter in an attempt to pull her from her self-loathing. He knew she missed Jacob, and she had every right, but he knew the boy would be back at her side soon. It was his hope to gather a few of her friends if they could go camping and hiking together in the coming days; rewarded at least by her parents, if no one else stepped forward. Just please - the man wished - go smile for a while.
With her left paw on the counter, Kayla lifted her right foot and reached down to grab her charcoal panties, working on getting them back on with an awkward, post-cry snicker. They slid into her fingers as her orange footpaw reached the white, decorative rug below.
"I don't know if they made anything else.", Kayla said as a joke about her ancient musical choices, sounding a bit nasal-y as she slid the waistband of her underwear over her welts to secure it's tab above her tail.
Time would move on, whether she did or not; thinking of the future, and the face of someone special. She knew what she wanted, and day by day the clock ticked soundly.