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    • By MasterXploder in Peesona 5
         0
      With thanks to Sake for editing
       
      Sunlight. Warm weather. Chirping birds. People walking and talking all around. The various roars and beeps of traffic nearby. Not that long ago, these would have been the bane of her existence, something she would have done anything to escape from. Today, however, they were things she could tolerate, at least while she was close to home, where an escape route could easily be planned.
      But she needed to do better, not just for her sake, but for all of her friends and the people who needed her help. This was why Futaba was squatting outside of Leblanc Cafe one summer Sunday afternoon. She had been mentally preparing for the task that lay before her today. It had nothing to do with going into the Metaverse or battling sinister shadows. No, this task was far scarier than that, something she had nearly talked herself out of doing several times: going somewhere with a lot of people and getting used to being around large crowds, as she had written on her promise list.
      Thankfully, she wouldn’t be going alone; Ren would be by her side. That was the plan, at least, but it required that he was actually present first.
      “What’s he doing in there?” Futaba asked herself as she checked her phone again. Twenty minutes late now. She wondered if Sojiro had tied him up with some dishes to wash or something. She could always go in and see what the deal was, she supposed.
      That, and she had another reason for going into Leblanc. Her morning coffee and just-for-building-confidence energy drink had been working through her body while she waited, and they were reaching their last destination before they would exit her body. Her squat especially didn’t help, since her bladder couldn’t tell the difference between it and the position she took whenever she made use of a squat toilet.
      “Okay, bathroom time!” She stood up and stretched her arms and legs. If she was gonna finish her task, using the toilet beforehand would be a smart idea. It was like her video games, after all; proper prepping could be the difference between success and failure.
      But before she could take a single step, she heard the bells jingling above Leblanc’s door. Out walked Ren in his casual clothes, with no bag or Morgana in sight.
      “Oh! There you are,” said Futaba. “Took your sweet time getting out here, huh?”
      “Yeah, sorry about that.” Ren rubbed his head. “Boss had me do some prep-work before I could leave. Dishes, cooking food, stuff like that.”
      “Heh, figured he roped you into something again. Guess I’m not the only one who needs you as a Key Item.”
      “Er, the what?”
      “It’s nothing,” Futaba said with a giggle. “But speaking of Sojiro, we should probably let him know what we’re up to today. Can’t have him thinking you kidnapped me or something.”
      Ren nodded, his eyes holding a bit of fear at the thought.
      With that, the two headed back into Leblanc. Futaba could feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness coursing through her. She was about to get started on her first promise list since childhood. It wouldn’t be easy, but she would give it her all, and she knew the best place to get started.
       
       
      Akihabara was like heaven on Earth for anyone into the geek scene. Stores for tech and machinery for the nerd in everyone ran up and down each street, with loads of shoppers going in and out every day.
      It was the perfect location for Futaba to learn how to overcome her fear of crowds. The many displays of brand new electronics would help keep her distracted from how scared she was. It was also somewhere she had been to before, even if that trip would have ended badly if not for Ren saving her at the last second.
      Futaba looked up at Ren as they walked through a large and busy chain store. She had already noticed in that prior trip, but it was rather strange how just being around him had a calming effect on her. Even surrounded by strangers and noise with her heart pounding, she didn’t want to run away and hide under a blanket and laptop. She could actually focus on things other than how anxious she felt, like the nifty features on that new laptop, or how ridiculously overpriced those headphones were.
      Her biggest focus, however, was how bad she needed to pee now.
      Futaba realized her mistake the moment she and Ren crammed into the first subway. Being wedged between so many strangers got her anxiety up, and that always made her need to pee worse. Again, Ren’s presence kept her fears from going out of control, but there was little he could do for the other problem.
      It felt like ages had passed before they finally stepped off the last subway. Her nerves calmed down not long after, but her bladder felt just as full. She knew full well the solution to her problem, and had turned to Ren a few times already to try asking him where the bathroom was. Each of those attempts ended with the question dying in her throat.
      Whenever she looked at him, Futaba couldn’t help but recall the day she took down Medjed for the Phantom Thieves. She didn’t acknowledge at first, but it felt nice to show off her hacking skills in front of an audience. That was, until she peed her pants immediately afterwards, with Ren and a talking cat there to see it all. It didn’t make her wish for death like she had told them, but it was still a humiliating experience that she would rather forget as soon as possible.
      She had no doubt Ren hadn’t forgotten about that incident, and mentioning her need to pee would bring that memory front and center. She couldn’t let that happen, not when she was doing everything she could to make herself a capable, semi-sociable individual again.
      Instead, she had a better plan: wait for Ren to visit the bathroom, then slip into the ladies’ room while he was gone. No need to even say anything, then; he probably wouldn’t even mention anything once she got back. All she had to do now was play the waiting game and act inconspicuous all the while.
      “You okay there, Futaba?”
      “Huh?”
      Perhaps she needed to work on the inconspicuous part. Futaba looked to Ren like she’d been caught peeking at another student’s paper during a test. “Um, sure! Doing okay here, yep, that’s me!” she quickly answered, standing up tall.
      “Er, alright then,” said Ren with a slight head-tilt.
      He might have said it, but Futaba knew he had to be concerned for her, scrutinizing every last move she made to see if she was hiding something. She had to distract him, somehow. It was a long-shot, but she would have to use a skill that she was still a novice at: smalltalk.
      “Hey, did you see that tablet earlier? Whoever drew that was a real pro,” she said, “Not as good as Inari, though. He’s got a particularly pervy view on art.”
      Futaba looked away the whole time, not wanting to see if Ren’s inquisitive stare still piercing through her. If she couldn’t think of a way to placate him, then she just had to hope something else would take his focus off her.
      Just as she thought that, a loud commotion started up next to the two.
      “Wh-Whoa, what’s going on!?” said Futaba as they turned to find a crowd near them.
      “There’s a super-limited sale at the PC section!” yelled a skinny man.
      “Three terabytes for only 500 yen!? What a steal!” declared a black-haired woman.
      “That’s gonna sell out in seconds!” said another man as he jogged past the two.
      He was not the only one. Futaba and Ren felt a rumbling of people moving all at once behind them. They turned around, but it was already too late: a massive crowd rushed past, too dense to avoid anyone. Before Futaba knew it, she felt herself being dragged along its numbers, the sheer body heat and density making it hard to breathe.
      “Gah! Ren! Help! Teammate pulled by horde!” she yelled, flailing her arms in an attempt to break free.
      Almost as quickly as she was pulled in, the crowd came to a stop. Futaba knew this would be her best chance of escape. Pulling her arms back down, she made use of her small frame to squeeze through the mess of unfamiliar faces while they remained unaware of her presence. Eventually, she stumbled out of the crowd like someone lost in a corn field, landing on her hands and knees. Oh sweet personal space, how I missed you! she thought while she took the moment to breathe.
      “Well, that was one experience I wasn’t expecting today,” she said as she stood up, turning towards Ren.
      Ren was unable to respond on account of not being there.
      “Uh, R-Ren?” Futaba looked around, scanning the dozens of faces around her. Not a single one belonged to her friend. It only now dawned on her that she was the only one pulled away by the crowd.
      All by herself in the middle of the city, surrounded by strangers; Futaba had reached her worst-case scenario. She could hear her heart beating faster even with all the commotion around her. A bead of sweat formed on her forehead, and her hands began to shake.
      But worst of all, her bladder let off a sharp pang of pressure, forcing her legs together from the knees up. As her anxiety grew, her faith in her ability to hold it dropped in response. She could already picture herself standing in a puddle with soaked pants as a crowd stared and judged, the words “Game Over” hanging above her head while tears flowed from her eyes. At the rate things were going, that fantasy seemed destined to become reality.
      No! Futaba clapped her hands to her head. This is just the first task on my promise list. I’m a Phantom Thief, I can beat this no problem!
      Despite her attempt to calm herself, Futaba could still feel her heart beating faster with each second. She had to act before her anxiety could take over, or it would be mission failed on level one. With trembling hands, Futaba pulled out her phone and called Ren’s number, doing her best to ignore that she was calling a boy around her age. One ring, two rings, and then…
      “Futaba? You okay?”
      Hearing his voice made Futaba feel like she was in a post-apocalyptic film and had just made contact with another living person.
      “M-Mayday, mayday,” she started, looking around herself. “I’m trapped in the Home Appliances Kingdom. The Three Terabytes war rages on outside. There are just… so many people…” Another pang from her bladder forced her to put a hand to her groin. “Hrgh… I don’t know if I can last much longer. My heart’s pounding, and I… I really have to-”
      A dial tone interrupted her. She looked at her phone and saw the words “Call Failed” in an ominous red color. Her plan to stay put while helping direct Ren to her was not going to work now. He’d have to comb the whole appliance section to find her first, and between her panicky brain and bursting bladder, she simply couldn’t wait that long. She had to get back to where they got split up, and fast.
      Keeping one hand between her legs, Futaba stepped off in the direction the crowd came from. She bit her lower lip and whimpered while passing what seemed like dozens, no, hundreds of strangers, each one looking more intimidating and judgmental than the last. She could only wonder how many of them were looking at her and thinking snide remarks about the strange girl walking by.
      Aah, don’t think about that! she chided herself. She needed to stay focused on her target, the scruffy-haired and bespectacled Ren. Her fearless leader wouldn’t let anything stop him, especially not being lost in a store. He would be calm and suave and totally in control like usual.
      Most importantly, he would be standing right over there, which he actually was.
      “Ah!” Futaba ran to him just as he was about to take off somewhere. “There you are!”
      “Futaba!” He turned to her, his worried frown disappearing.
      “I… I, I, I…” With everything she was feeling, Futaba couldn’t begin to think of a response.
      “I was about to come find you,” said Ren.
      “Oh…” Futaba looked at him and smiled. “Th-Thanks. I didn’t think I was gonna see you until the end of time, but then I thought about you while I was wondering around the store, and bam, a wild Ren appeared!”
      Ren chuckled. “It’s good to see you again.”
      “So you’re relieved? What an incredible coincidence! Me too.” Back by his side, Futaba could feel her heart slowing down and muscles relaxing. With the terror of the crowd in the past, she felt like the rest of this trip would go smoothly now.
      “Aah!?”
      Until a spurt into her underwear reminded her of something she had neglected for far too long.
      Futaba’s face contorted and hands snapped back to her groin to keep anything and everything else from slipping through her defenses. Time was running out and she knew it; if she didn’t find a bathroom soon, she’d be tripping the instant-fail condition of this quest right at the tail end.
      “Hey, what’s wrong?” she heard Ren ask.
      “Nngh, bladder status critical! Need toilet now!” she managed to say.
      “A… bathroom?” Ren raised an eyebrow.
      “Now!”
      “R-Right! They had some at the entrance. This way!” said Ren as he stepped forward.
      “Th-The entrance!?” Futaba’s pupils shrank. It already felt like she couldn’t take more than a couple steps. The front of the store may as well be on the other side of the city. Curse you, real world, and your lack of fast travel!
      While she fretted, she didn’t notice Ren walking around her until he felt his hands on her bare shoulders. She jumped a little at the contact, but was otherwise rooted to the spot.
      “Come on, Futaba, you got this,” he said. “Just take it one step at a time.”
      “I…” really don’t think I can make it! she wanted to say as she looked up to Ren. That thought died once she saw his eyes, full of confidence and concern for her. She had no idea if he knew, but looking into those eyes made the impossible tasks feel beatable, like getting a special new power right before the final boss.
      “A-Alright,” she said. “There, now, please!”
      Futaba lowered her head and closed her eyes, letting Ren guide her steps through the store. With each step, she felt her bladder tremble, fearing that it would be the one that burst the dam. Even with how weak her hold felt, she refused to give in, not when her friend believed in her. She didn’t think about how many people were potentially looking at her, or how far she still had to go to reach the bathroom. All of her focus was on taking that next step, making sure she could keep it all in for just that little bit longer...
      “Futaba, we’re here!”
      “Huh?” Futaba opened her eyes. Right in front of her was the door the ladies’ room, a sight so good that she had to wonder if she wasn’t just suffering from some pee-induced delusion. She would figure that out soon enough.
      “Aah, BRB!” she declared as she pushed through the door, disappearing from Ren’s sight.
      A nice, clean bathroom greeted her, with an open stall at the end. It wasn’t more than a few meters, but Futaba knew they would feel like miles. One false move here, and her efforts would be in vain.
      Come on, just a little further! She thought as she squeezed herself especially hard, steeling herself for the desperate run to come. “All-out attaaaaack!”
      Throwing everything she had into this last dash, Futaba rushed forward, one hand firmly between her legs while the other caught and closed the door as she stepped inside the stall. Once it locked, she faced the toilet, discovering it to be the Western sit-down kind. She thanked her lucky rolls that Sojiro’s House had one of these, so she was well-trained either way.
      Turning around, she wiggled in place while undoing her belt and zipper. Once undone, she executed her super move of yanking down her cargo pants and Feathermen-themed panties while falling back onto the toilet.
      As soon as her butt landed on the seat, the last of Futaba’s holding strength gave out. It started with a light dribble falling straight down, the noise of each drop distinguishable from the other. The floodgates slowly opened from there, growing into a powerful, erratic, yellow-tinted spray, much of it crashing into the water while a bit still hit the surrounding bowl. The room filled with a loud splashing noise coupled with a strong hiss. If anyone else was in the bathroom, they would have no doubt as to what was happening in her stall.
      None of it mattered one bit to Futaba. Not the noisiness of her pee, not having to do it in a public bathroom, or the desperate march she made through the store to get there. Against all odds, she had averted disaster and made it to the toilet, with only a single spurt into her panties counting against her. It was a mission accomplished by the skin of her teeth, and  a victory worth celebrating.
      Leaning her head back, Futaba shut her eyes and opened her mouth into a big smile. Lost in her delirium, she let out a sound that was part-sigh and part-laughter, not unlike a hyena’s laugh. Anyone else in the bathroom would think she was a demented girl, but how else was she to express her relief and joy with this tingly sensation coursing through her?
      Her pee went on like this for who-knows-how-long. Futaba certainly didn’t; it seemed like years passed before her stream slowly died away, turning into a light trickle for a little bit, then stopping altogether. Her big smile died away as well, though a bit of the tingle remained.
      Futaba paid little mind to it, however. The high of her pee time had passed, letting her become more aware of her situation again. Sooner or later, she would have to leave this stall and face Ren and anyone else who saw her desperate march. Suddenly, she didn’t feel so much like celebrating anymore.
      But first, she needed to clean herself up. Turning her head, she reached out for the toilet paper.
      “Wh-What!?”
      Her smile dropped entirely as she saw the dispenser completely void of any paper, her arm trembling in the air. She was officially stranded on the toilet without a lifeline, a situation she had never considered happening despite her many hours spent preparing for this outing. She couldn’t even begin to think of a solution to her problem.
      Facing forward, Futaba let her arm down, content to sit there and let her anxiety build. However, her hand didn’t fall to the side like she expected. Instead, it landed on a panel next to the seat, the palm pressing a button.
      “What th-GYAAAAAH!?”
      Futaba didn’t even have the time to process that when something far more important got her attention. Beneath her lap, a spray of water shot from the bowl, landing a critical hit right at her weak spot for massive damage. Her eyes and mouth shot open as sensations and emotions of all kinds bombarded her brain.
      It was too much, too fast for her liking. She fumbled along the panel, mashing buttons faster than she did for any video game. Each one made the pressure and aim go all over the place, giving her bottom and elsewhere a good soaking. She eventually found the off button, but the damage was done.
      Yup, I’m done here! Futaba stood up and patted her behind at lightning speed, only getting it to a cool dampness before pulling her pants back up. She shivered at her underwear making contact with the wetness. Please don’t show up on my pants!
      From then on, Futaba’s only thought became of leaving the bathroom. She certainly did not want to think about the lingering tingling at a certain part of her, at least not until she got back to her room where she would be totally alone again. Her mind went elsewhere while she washed her hands, scrubbing for much longer than necessary. Afterwards, she stuck a paper towel down her pants to try and properly dry those places, for as much good as it could do by then.
      Seconds later, she creaked the bathroom door open and crept outside, where Ren turned to her at once. His eyes went down to her pants then back to her red face and fogged-up glasses.
      “Um, you alright there?” he asked.
      Futaba kept her head down while she spoke. “C-Can we, um, please b-be somewhere, er, not people-y?”
      Ren looked as if he was about to ask something else, but instead nodded and motioned for Futaba to follow. She walked behind him like a puppy following its mother, not caring where she ended up, just so long as it was not here.
       
       
      “Will this do?” Ren turned to her and asked.
      Futaba looked around at the alleyway Ren brought her to. While she could still hear and see people walking nearby, she knew this was probably the most privacy she could ask for. That, and the short walk outside in the fresh air helped to cool her down after… that happened. Her face wasn’t so red, and her glasses were no longer fogged up from the heat on her face.
      “Y-Yeah, it’s good enough.” Futaba turned back to Ren, her hands behind her back. “Uhh, so… good news: I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or an accident on this trip!” She looked up with a shaky smile.
      A couple seconds later, and that smile fell back to a frown. “And that’s about where the positives end.”
      “Is that not good enough?” asked Ren.
      “Are you kidding? I almost wet myself in front of you a second time. I don’t even wanna think about all the people who might’ve seen me being marched to the bathroom like I’m five years old.” She let out a sigh as if she were deflating. “My performance today was like bronze-medal caliber at best.”
      Ren shrugged. “I thought you did alright.”
      “At least you agree with me… Wait, what?” Futaba looked up in confusion.
      “You found your way back to me when we got split up all on your own. That’s something to be proud of.”
      “I, well…” Futaba rubbed her head. “Yeah, I did do that. Still, I wanna go out one time without embarrassing myself. Just be like a total NPC, that’s all.”
      Ren chuckled. “You’ll get there. It just takes time. Think of it…” he scratched his chin for a moment. “Like your RPG’s. You don’t hit the max level from only one quest, but each one gives you more experience than you had before.”
      “Th-That…” Futaba’s eyes widened like a kid on Christmas. “That makes perfect sense! Why did I never think like that before?” She lifted her arms and looked at Ren with a smile. “Okay then, I won’t stop until I’ve completed all my tasks and maxed out my social skills tree. You can count on that!”
      Ren only smiled, for he didn’t need to say anything else.
      “Alright, just gotta remember a few tips next time we’re out. First, think of you if we end up getting separated again. Second, absolutely visit the bathroom before we go anywhere.”
      “See, that’s the spirit,” said Ren.
      “Third, bring emergency toilet paper in case the bathroom doesn’t have any.”
      Ren only blinked in response.
      “Oh, and maybe we should zip-tie our arms together so there’s no chance of us being split up again!”
      “Um, Futaba…”
      “Hee hee, I’m just joking!” About that last one, at least. She sighed and let her arms fall down, slightly swinging from the momentum. “Phew, I know we haven’t been here long, but I feel worn out.”
      “We did go through a lot today.” Ren stepped forward. “We should probably head back.”
      “I guess so,” said Futaba, turning around and setting off. “It feels kinda weird, though. We came all this way to Akihabara, but we didn’t buy anything. Would’ve been nice to have something to take back with… huh!?”
      Futaba stopped in her tracks, her jaw wide open.
      “What’s going on?” asked Ren at her side.
      Futaba lifted an arm and pointed straight forward. “Is that a retro gaming store?”
      Ren followed her hand to the storefront, its windows filled with old video games and merchandise. “Looks like it,” he said.
      “And someone I know happens to have a FamiDrive at their place. Mwehehe…” she turned to him with a smirk. “Come, Ren, it’s time to start your education of the classics.”
      Keeping that smile, Futaba set off towards the store with Ren in tow. Even with her fatigue, she was not going to miss on the chance to help bring him into her world. It was the least she could do after everything he had done for her. After this, she would have to keep working at her promise list and give it her all as a Phantom Thief. Look out, world, here comes Futaba!
    • By MasterXploder in Peesona 5
         0
      (Note: Contains story spoilers past the third palace. Reader discretion advised)
      With thanks to Big Boss for editing
       
      The subway system of Tokyo was not an experience for the claustrophobic. With hundreds of commuters crammed like sardines into the same vehicle underneath the city’s streets, it was hard for even the most intrepid travelers to not feel a little anxious. Makoto Niijima already had quite a bit to worry about before she even stepped through the train doors and was pressed together with complete strangers. This was not uncommon for her; as both president of the Shujin Academy student council and younger sister to a public prosecutor, it was rare for her to not be concerned with something.
      That had not gotten any better when she ended up becoming a Phantom Thief a month ago, entering into a world she never knew existed before. Not that she regretted such a thing, quite the opposite, as she had never felt a stronger sense of purpose than the moment she donned her thieving costume and mask. She may have looked like an upstanding honor student with her proper posture, white dress shirt, and black short pants, but in her heart, she had fully embraced the path of a rebel fighting against an unjust world.
      At the moment, however, it was rather difficult to focus on any of that. The subway ride had given her time to become aware of some unpleasant feelings radiating from her body. Her stomach felt bloated from all the sushi that she just enjoyed with her friends, and would likely remain that way for a while. It was inconvenient, but at least it would fade away over time, unlike the other pressure that currently plagued her.
      Makoto groaned and squeezed her legs together as she felt another pulse from her groin. With all the fun they were having at the sushi bar, she never once thought about visiting the restroom. Her bladder had been letting her know how big of a mistake that was since then.
      Going for long periods without a bathroom break was nothing new to her, given her many responsibilities at school and home. However, judging by the pressure, it had been quite some time since she last relieved herself, and with coffee and other drinks on top of that. Now, it was enough to make her worry. She was thankful that with so many strangers around her, chances were nobody was focused on her. That way, she could squeeze her legs and hold herself if she needed to without being seen.
      “Hey, Makoto?”
      Or so she had thought.
      “Hmm?” Makoto turned around as best she could and found Ann Takamaki, a fellow student and Phantom Thief. Now knowing that an acquaintance was next to her, she stood up straight and put her hands at her sides. “Oh! I’m sorry, did you need something?” she responded at once.
      “I was just wondering if you had thought of something. You looked like you were concentrating pretty hard.”
      I suppose I was concentrating on something, thought Makoto. “Hmm, no, I can’t say I’ve thought of anything fruitful,” she replied.
      “Me neither,” said Ann with a frown. “My brain’s been spinning in circles, but I don’t feel any closer to solving our problem than when it first came up.”
      That’s right, their problem. It had been roughly a week since Medjed had declared war on the Phantom Thieves, threatening to expose Japan’s private information if they did not unmask themselves. With their target being anonymous cyber-terrorists, they had no idea how to begin fighting such a shadowy foe. To make matters worse, Ren had begun receiving texts from a strange figure named Alibaba asking them to change the heart of one Futaba Sakura. After some detective work, they learned that Futaba was living at Sojiro’s house, the same man overseeing Ren’s probation. At one point, they had an agreement set up: the Thieves would change her heart, and Alibaba would help them with Medjed in return. Problem was, Alibaba had disappeared, and with no way for the Thieves to contact them, they were essentially back to square one.
      “I know, it’s been frustrating me too,” admitted Makoto, “But we’ll think of something. We just need to get everyone together at Leblanc first. Besides, I’ve never been able to focus very well on the subway.”
      “I guess you’re right. Better to brainstorm somewhere quiet and with all six heads put together. Well, more like five and a half with Ryuji.” Ann smiled and chuckled at her joke.
      Despite the remark’s snideness, Makoto found the laughter contagious, and put a hand to her mouth to hide her giggling. That laughter came to an immediate stop, however, as it caused yet another pulse from her bladder. Makoto winced against her wishes, her frown and eye twitch being visible for a split second.
      “Hey, something wrong?” asked a concerned-looking Ann.
      “Huh? Oh, n-no, it’s nothing,” she replied, her eyes drifting away. “I guess I’m just… a little uncomfortable right now.”
      “Uncomfortable? Are you claustrophobic, Makoto?”
      “N-not particularly.” Being honest probably was not in her best interests, but Makoto could not bring herself to lie to a friend. Beating around the bush was the most she could do.
      “So is it the sushi, then? I know I can’t believe how much I had.” Ann rubbed her stomach. “This train ride isn’t helping much, either. Hope I won’t need to make a run for the bathroom, or anything.”
      “Y-yes, me too.” Despite referring to two different uses, Makoto’s bladder let off another pang out of sympathy. Her eye twitched again, and all she could think about was something, anything to change the subject.
      “Now arriving in Yongen-Jaya Station!”
      Fortunately, she didn’t need to this time. Even without the announcement, she felt the train slowing down, and saw the lighting outside the windows change ever-so-subtly. Their platform was coming up, and it was not a long walk to the cafe from there.
      “Well, sounds like we’re at our stop,” said Makoto, turning towards the doors. “Let’s pick this back up at Leblanc, shall we?”
      “Um, okay, I guess?” Ann blinked a couple times, but did not say anything else.
      With that, the ladies and the other Thieves departed with most of the other commuters. Makoto allowed herself to sigh now that that part of her personal trial was over. Still, she needed to pee pretty badly, and waiting until she got home would be a bad idea for certain. It would be for the best if she made use of the toilet at Leblanc before too much longer.
      That, however, came with a couple issues. First and foremost was her pride, something that had rubbed off on her from her sister. Makoto may have been the newest member, but she was still the oldest among them, and their designated strategist to boot. For her to admit that she seriously had to go out of the blue would be… awkward, to say the least. Not just that, but she had been inside Leblanc before, and saw how close the toilet was next to the dining booths. With the cafe closed today, there would not be anything to hide the noises of her relief. She would never be able to walk out of there without a red face.
      Regardless, she was certain her situation would reach critical levels if she neglected the bathroom. She would have to come up with a solid plan soon, or else suffer an experience more humiliating than anything Kaneshiro had threatened her with.
       
       
      The bells above Leblanc’s door jingled as it opened, letting in the Thieves. As expected, not a soul lingered inside; even Sojiro was absent.
      “Okay, so did anyone manage to think of anything?” asked Ann as she took a seat at one of the booths. The rest of the group gathered around her, all choosing to remain standing.
      “We went through all sortsa options on our way here,” said Ryuji Sakamoto, “But, looks like we got no choice but to ask for Alibaba’s help.”
      “Question is, how do we get in touch with him?” asked Ann.
      “He cut off all contact with us after that misunderstanding,” commented Yusuke Kitagawa. “Then again, if we manage to steal Futaba’s heart, he may attempt to reach out to us once more.”
      “But we don’t have any clue what her keywords are,” said Morgana from Ren’s bookbag, “Without those, we can’t so much as set foot inside her Palace.”
      Ryuji threw a fist down in anger. “Dammit, Alibaba! Where the hell are you!?”
      Meanwhile, Makoto stood nearby with her hands held just below her navel. She did her best to listen to the conversation, but couldn’t stop herself from glancing towards the toilet every now and then. Now that she was near one, the signals from her bladder only grew stronger, like it was already preparing to release all the liquid built up inside.
      As strong as that was, her pride was a bit stronger, so she remained where she stood and tried her hardest to think of something. Trouble was, her concentration was just as weak as it was in the subway, since her urge to pee took up the majority of her thoughts. Rather than a plan to thwart Medjed, all she could come up with were plans to get into that bathroom while maintaining her dignity. Even then, they all required her figuring out what to do about their real problem first. She almost wanted to voice out loud her desire for Alibaba to only live a couple blocks away so they could take care of that problem with ease.
      Wait a minute…
      “Actually, he might be closer than we think,” Makoto chimed in.
      “Huh?” Ryuji looked towards her, as did everyone else.
      With all eyes on her, Makoto realized her theory had not completely formed, but she steeled herself and continued. “Hypothetically speaking, even if we stole Futaba’s heart, how would Alibaba know that the deed has been done? Would he truly be able to discern that just from cell phone messages?”
      The group exchanged looks among themselves for a bit. “You mean he’d have to meet her in person?” asked Morgana.
      Makoto nodded. “Alibaba was able to deliver the calling card here. On top of that, he can check on Futaba’s condition. However, according to the circumstances he put forward, he’s unable to meet with us. This leads me to believe that it would be bad for him if we were to see the two of them together.” She paused to take a breath. “It seems to me that Alibaba may in fact be Futaba herself.”
      Every eye in the room opened wide like they had just stumbled onto some rare treasure in the Metaverse. “For real!?” said Ryuji.
      “So she’s asking that we steal her own heart?” asked Yusuke.
      “Maybe she wants us to save her from the scars of her abuse?” said Ann, “That would be hard to ask directly.”
      Makoto turned to Ren and asked, “I’d like to meet with Boss. Does he live nearby?”
      “Yeah, his place is right around the corner. I could take us there now,” Ren replied.
      “Let’s all go together. Boss may get the wrong idea if Ren-kun and I show up alone.”
      Everyone nodded in agreement, and Makoto allowed a little smile to form. Perfect, she thought. With headway being made on the Medjed problem, she could now focus on her more personal matter. Luckily, she was able to devise a plan at the same time she explained her theory: Right as everyone was stepping outside, she would excuse herself to hang back and “freshen up” before meeting with Sojiro. She could pee as much as she want, and while they might suspect her, no one would be able to prove it.
      It was almost worrisome how well she had taken to the art of deception, but she would celebrate after her bladder was empty. First, she just had to say the words to get her potty plan started.
      “Yo, hold up. Can we wait just a second? I gotta take a leak first.”
      The words died in her throat at Ryuji’s declaration, replaced with surprise and worry. Another person needing the bathroom was not something she had accounted for. She had to stop herself from whining in disappointment, silently cursing herself for such an error.
      “Really? You sure now’s the best time for a bathroom break?” asked Morgana.
      “Hey, I can’t help when nature calls.” Ryuji turned and walked towards the bathroom. “I’ll just be a sec.”
      Meanwhile, Makoto could feel the panic swelling up inside. It’s alright, she told herself, This is just a little setback. As soon as Ryuji’s done, you can carry out the plan. You have this.
      “About that,” came Ren’s voice, “Our toilet’s broken right now.”
      Ryuji stopped in his tracks and turned around, his face matching how Makoto felt on the inside. “For real!?” he exclaimed.
      “Something’s wrong with the pipes, so everything’s backing up. There’s supposed to be a plumber coming to fix it tomorrow,” said Ren, rubbing the back of his head.
      “Jeez, that’s some shit luck, literally,” groaned Ryuji, his legs idly rubbing together. “So where have you and Boss been going?”
      Ren pointed to the door behind him. “We’ve been using the one at the bathhouse across the street. The owner is pretty understanding.”
      “Guess I don’t gotta choice.” Ryuji shrugged as he headed towards the front door.
      “Seriously, can’t you just hold it until we’re done talking with Sojiro?” said an annoyed Ann.
      “I would think dealing with our Alibaba problem would be a more pressing matter,” said Yusuke.
      Ryuji glared at the two. “Oh, come on! Do you guys wanna try talking to Boss on a full bladder? I know I don’t!”
      Ann looked away, her fierce look gone. “Um, no, but…”
      “Great, argument over! Be right back!” Ryuji declared as he beelined for the door, going through before anyone could say anything else.
      The group remained silent for a few seconds after the door slammed and the bells quit jingling.
      “Hmm, and I took him for the kind of person who would make use of the sink and be done with it,” commented Yusuke.
      “Ugh, can we move on from the pee talk now? Talk about gross,” said Ann with a grimace.
      “Y-yes, I agree,” Makoto chimed in. “We need to stay focused on the task at hand.” She hoped the pain of having to say those words did not show in her voice.
      “Then I suggest we set off before any further interruptions can occur,” said Yusuke, getting nods from everyone else.
      One by one, the group walked out of the cafe. Despite being closest to the door, Makoto was the last to leave, pausing to take one last look at the broken bathroom with a frown.
      Her plan had been doomed from the start. That was enough to set her insides quivering with worry. Now what was she going to do? The Bathhouse was not an option; there was no way she could use her “freshen up” excuse and expect her friends to buy it. Even then, they had made their desire to go straight to Sojiro’s house clear, especially after the hard time they gave Ryuji. Her chances of reaching a good toilet stealthily seemed worse than beating Medjed right now.
      No, I can’t give up now! She thought, shaking her head and furrowing her brow. I didn’t despair in front of Kaneshiro’s shadow, and I won’t let this beat me, either! On her honor as the Phantom Thieves’ Strategist, she would find a solution to her problem, and rise above it without a stain on her.
       
       
      It had only been a few minutes later, but each one felt like an hour to Makoto. After waiting for Ryuji to get out of the bathhouse, they made their way towards Sojiro’s house. Makoto hung behind the others to hide her stiff walking and occasional hand pressed to her groin, though it did little to alleviate the pressure at that point.
      But soon enough, they had reached the house. For what seemed like the umpteenth time, the soft sound of a doorbell ringing filled the small street. Makoto retracted her finger again and deepened her frown.
      “Nobody’s answering,” she groaned, “But the lights are on…”
      “Think he’s nappin’?” asked Ryuji.
      “Even Boss would’ve woken up with how many times we’ve rung this doorbell,” said Ann.
      “I would think Futaba would have answered now if she were here, too,” added Morgana.
      Yusuke looked at the gate blocking the front yard, and pushed on it. To everyone’s surprise, it pushed open, giving them a clear path to the door.
      “Dude, you can’t go openin’ other people’s stuff like that,” said Ryuji.
      Makoto looked towards the front door and pointed. “But look. The door seems to be slightly open as well. I wonder why. That’s rather careless.”
      As she kept glancing towards the door, Makoto couldn’t help but think of another plan to safely and discreetly relieve herself. Not that she had success with that; even if Sojiro let them in, how was she supposed to excuse herself without anyone catching on? Nobody being home would be her best bet, but then that raised the moral issue of just walking in and using someone’s toilet without their permission.
      The debate continued in her head until a flash of light and rumbling noise caught everyone’s attention. They all turned their heads to the skies and saw the thick, dark clouds heading their way.
      “Whoa, it sounds like it’s going to rain!” said a wide-eyed Morgana. “We should get inside!”
      Gladly! is what Makoto wanted to say, but even with her bladder fit to burst, she thought better. “Do you think that’s okay?” she asked the others.
      “Prolly?” said Ryuji with a mischievous grin.
      That was all the reasoning she needed. “My apologies, Boss!” she declared as she and the rest of the gang quickly made their way inside the house.
      A dark hallway greeted the group once past the doors, with only a crack of light and the faint noise of a TV show at the very end. Not a soul could be found within, giving the house a foreboding atmosphere.
      “Hello, sir?” called out Makoto, her voice losing its confident tone.
      Nobody responded, the sound of thunder filling the gap and everyone removing their shoes.
      “He’s not out, is he?” she continued, stepping forward on bare feet. “The door ahead is open, and I can hear the TV.”
      “I hope he didn’t pass out or something. I mean, Boss is kinda old, ain’t he?” said Ryuji.
      “I’m a bit worried. Should we go in and check on him?” said Ann.
      If it gives me the chance to find the bathroom… “Please excuse us,” she mumbled while they proceeded forward.
      For every step taken further into the house, Makoto felt the chill in her spine grow deeper. She may have infiltrated a Palace to steal its treasure, but trespassing in Sojiro’s home gave her a sense of dread that dwarfed her Metaverse adventures. At least, that’s what she would say if someone questioned her as to why her walk was so stiff now. She wished the doors in the hall weren’t all closed; she might have passed up a good bathroom and had no idea.
      Just as they were about to reach the hall’s end, a bright flash and loud boom went off from outside, and what little light was in the house shut off. An instant later, the group heard a young, feminine shriek from somewhere in the house.
      “A scream!? What was that!?” Suddenly, Makoto felt like a character in a horror movie, her least favorite genre by far.
      “H-How should I know?” replied Morgana.
      Another noise came up, like a door being closed nearby.
      “Did you hear that!?’ said Makoto.
      “Could it be Alibaba… I mean, Futaba?” said Morgana.
      “Can we get out of here, please?” said Ann.
      Makoto didn’t catch the rest of the conversation, too focused on the pounding in her heart and bladder. All she knew at that moment was she was behind Ann a hundred percent on leaving the house. However, her legs felt unstable from both the fear and how bad she had to go. If she was going to go anywhere, she would need help.
      Turning to Ren, Makoto held out a shaky hand. “Um, sorry,” she mumbled, “Can I hold onto you?”
      Ren nodded and turned around, and Makoto wasted no time in putting her hands on his shoulder, holding onto him for dear life. They took baby steps on their way back to the door, the hallway growing longer and menacing with each step. Meanwhile, Makoto’s eyes darted about, trying to find anything that looked like a dangerous monster about to kill them.
      All the while, her hold was the weakest it had ever been. The pulses from her bladder quivered as fast as her heartbeat. It felt like it would only take one false move for her to leave a large stain on Sojiro’s carpet.
      Wood creaked somewhere nearby.
      “Eek!” Makoto shut her eyes and squeezed Ren’s arm harder than ever. She only barely registered a bit of warmth appearing in her underwear.
      “I can sense someone’s presence,” said Yusuke.
      “Who is it? Who’s there!?” Makoto turned her head all around to find her would-be murderer. Still, nobody could be found in the darkness other than Ren.
      Her breath labored, heart pounding, and bladder about to burst, she had had enough. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m leaving!” she yelled with her eyes shut, attempting to take another step.
      But her legs refused to cooperate. Rather than moving forward, all the strength in her legs disappeared at once. She fell onto her knees, only supported by her death grip on Ren. Another spurt of pee escaped into her clothes, this time making the wetness pass into her pants.
      “M-Makoto?” asked Ren.
      “N-no… I can’t move,” she whimpered. She felt more frightened in that moment than if a Shadow had inflicted the Fear ailment on her.
      That fear only grew bigger as she got the feeling that someone or something was very close to her, and she knew it wasn’t Ren. As much as she wanted to close her eyes and pretend everything was fine, Makoto turned her head at a snail’s pace to look behind her.
      Someone was there. She couldn’t make them out, but she knew when someone was in her personal space. A flash of lightning then confirmed her fears. She only had time to process the reflection of eyewear, orange hair color, and an emotionless expression before instinct took over.
      “Aaaaaahhhhhh!”
      “Waaaahhh!”
      Makoto’s legs came back to life for a split second, letting her jump back out of desperation to get away. At the same time, the figure of maybe-Futaba shrieked and ran off. However, Makoto did not even register that she was safe again. Her brain had entered into full fight-or-flight, with the same unfortunate effect as earlier. Her legs quickly gave out once more, and she fell to her knees, grabbing on to Ren’s leg for dear life.
      “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry, please save me, sis!” cried Makoto, her head held low and eyes shut.
      Fully enveloped in her panic, Makoto only paid the slightest sliver of mind towards the growing warmth at her groin. The scare from the shadow was the last break in concentration her bladder needed in order to finally do its job. Pee quickly flowed out into her underwear and pants, soaking her groin within seconds. It was not much longer before it broke through the outermost barrier, starting as broken drops and forming into a stream that broke apart within inches, making a soft piddling sound on the carpet. The rest of her legs were not spared, either, as trails ran down to her knees and pooled there.
      But that didn’t matter in the least to her right now. Somehow, even after being held at the mercy of a ruthless gangster in both the real world and the Metaverse, Makoto had never felt more scared in her life than she did now. She prayed as hard as she could for someone, anyone, to save her from the darkness.
      “Are you okay, Futaba!?”
      Sojiro’s voice came loud and clear through the front door, which swung open moments later. It may have been someone she knew, but hearing the Boss speak in such a threatening way did not quell her panic inside.
      “Who the hell are you? Don’t move, you hear me!” Makoto could hear Sojiro grabbing something. Light then hit the side of her face, making her open her eyes at last. She slowly turned to face Sojiro, whose expression went from fury to surprise.
      “N-Niijima-san? Amamiya? What are you doing here?” asked Sojiro.
      “G-Good evening, sir,” she mumbled.
      Sojiro’s eyes went down as something else caught his eye. “Are you… wetting yourself?”
      In that moment, Makoto no longer cared about her life being in danger. Unfortunately, the panic inside her changed target, and for the first time, Makoto became fully aware that she was peeing her pants.
      “Ah! Oh, no no no no no…” she muttered as she looked at the big wet patch still growing beneath her. Not only that, but Sojiro’s flashlight now lit up the dark patch on her pants and the stream petering to a stop, putting the gross, wet warmth on her legs at the forefront of her mind.
      For a moment, Makoto could not believe that what was happening was real. Shujin’s class president and upstanding younger sister to a prosecutor kneeling on the ground and having an accident, let alone while hugging a friend’s leg? It was more unbelievable than an alternate world made up of humanity’s twisted desires. Yet, it was happening right now, and she had no choice but to believe it, as did the rest of the people in the house.
      “M-Makoto?” Ren gasped as he looked down at her.
      “Whoa! She really is pissin’ herself!” said Ryuji.
      “Does she have severe nyctophobia?” asked Yusuke.
      “I thought I smelled something gross,” said Morgana, his nose wrinkling up.
      “Would it kill you all to show some concern!?” Ann marched straight up to Makoto and knelt down, placing an arm around her shoulders. “Are you okay, Makoto?”
      Makoto looked at Ann, her face red and eyes moist with tears ready to fall. “I… I…”
      Ann wrapped her other arm around Makoto’s stomach. “I’ll help clean you up. Can we borrow your bathroom, Boss?”
      “Uh, sure, it’s the door at the end of the hall,” replied Sojiro, “But I want an explanation from everyone when you’re done, got it?”
      “Sure thing.” Ann looked back to Makoto. “You ready to stand up?”
      Makoto could not speak, so she gave a shaky nod instead. She wanted to go somewhere a lot further away, but the bathroom would have to do.
      “Alright, up we go,” said Ann before Makoto found herself being lifted to her feet. They made their march to the bathroom, Makoto’s legs feeling weak but still carrying her every step of the way.
       
       
      “Well, at least we know for sure that a girl lives here now.”
      It was the only light thing Ann had said since they entered Sojiro’s bathroom. Her statement referred to the hair dryer she found in the cabinet, which she was using to dry off Makoto’s pants and panties, both sprayed with perfume to try and mask the smell. Both girls were thankful that the power kicked back on right as they entered the bathroom.
      Makoto, meanwhile, sat on the toilet, entirely bottomless with just her hands and shirt to preserve her modesty. The irony of the moment was not lost on her.
      “Um, so, are you cleaned up?” asked Ann, keeping her focus on the wet clothes in front of her.
      “Mmm, y-yes,” replied Makoto, her voice carrying no energy. Her legs and elsewhere were dry again, for as much comfort as that was.
      Ann sighed. “I guess that’s good. Means something’s getting dry.”
      Things getting dry was the least of Makoto’s concerns. Her legs were already fine again, and her clothes could be cleaned or even thrown out. No, she was worried over the irreparable damage to her dignity. It was not even a month ago that she had opened herself up to her new friends and earned their respect as a dependable Phantom Thief. Had she already destroyed all that with her utterly humiliating accident tonight? They would never look at her the same way again, that much was certain.
      “Um, Makoto?”
      Makoto stared into the room’s corner.
      “I can probably guess what you’re thinking right now.”
      “Hmm?” Now she had no choice but to pay attention. “Y-You do?”
      Ann nodded. “I just want you to know, this doesn’t change my respect for you. In fact, I think I can relate to you a little more now.”
      “Y-You can?” Makoto had expected a few responses to try and cheer her up, but this was not one of them. “How so?”
      “Well, not the ‘fear of the dark’ part, but…” Ann paused for a moment. “Back when I first moved here from Europe, everything felt so foreign and weird to me. The worst of it was getting used to the squat toilets.”
      “The squat toilets?” Makoto blinked in surprise. She never considered that someone outside the country would have difficulty adjusting to something she learned to use as a little kid.
      Ann nodded. “I hated those things. Never wanted to use them… but, I was at a photoshoot one day, and I really had to pee, but they didn’t have any western toilets nearby.”
      Makoto had an inkling how this story would end, but couldn’t stop herself. “What happened?”
      “I thought I could hold it until I got home,” continued Ann, “but the shoot ended up taking way longer than they said it would. I got on the train back home, but then I…” It was Ann’s turn to look away with a blush. “You can probably guess what happened next.”
      “Y-You didn’t!?” Makoto motioned to cover her mouth, but remembered there would be little to keep her modest.
      “I did. In the train. With the whole car to witness it.” Ann’s cringe became greater with each statement. “It was my worst day in Tokyo up to that point. If I didn’t have school the next day, I probably would have never left my house.”
      “Goodness,” muttered Makoto. She had thought many things of Ann before, but “Public Pants-wetter” was not one of them. Even now, she had trouble imagining Ann in the subway, red-faced and teary-eyed as dark streaks ran down her red leggings among a crowd of people crammed together. Then again, she found nothing but sincerity in the way Ann told it, and Makoto had heard about how bad she was at acting.
      “If I may ask,” Makoto continued, “How did you get over it?”
      “It took a long time. Having to deal with stuff like Kamoshida and being a Phantom Thief helped me remember there are bigger things to worry about, though. I can also say I learned how to use a squat toilet pretty quickly after that,” Ann replied with a nervous laugh.
      “I can imagine,” said Makoto, scratching her cheek.
      “But I guess what I’m trying to say is, yeah, peeing your pants sucks, but it doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back from it. Heck, if I could get over it, I know you can for sure.”
      For the first time that evening, Makoto felt some of the dark clouds inside her lifting away. “You r-really think so?”
      “Totally!” Ann raised a fist. “You’re a kick-butt Phantom Thief now. There’s no way a mistake like this can take all that away.”
      Makoto could not help but smile a little in the face of Ann’s cheering in such a bizarre moment. “Hee hee, then I suppose I’ll just have to keep being ‘kick-butt’ to make up for this.”
      “That’s the spirit!” Ann shot a smile, then looked back to the clothes on the sink. “Well, it looks like this is as dry as they’re gonna get right now. It’s a good thing you wore dark pants today.”
      “Mmm,” Makoto sighed as she remembered what was to come next. “I suppose we should get going. I don’t want to keep Boss waiting any longer than I need to.”
      “Same.” Ann shut off the hair dryer, handed Makoto her clothes, and turned around.
      With as much privacy as she would get, Makoto stood up and slowly pulled her underwear and pants back on. The dampness brushing against her thighs and other places felt awkward, but not nearly as much as when she first wet them.
      “I have to admit, I am not looking forward to meeting with everyone again after this,” she lamented.
      “I don’t think anybody would.” Ann turned to face Makoto. “But just remember, if not for your smarts, we’d never have figured out who Alibaba was.”
      “I guess that’s true.”
      “And if they still try to say anything, feel free to slap them. Twice as hard if it’s Ryuji, okay?” Ann giggled.
      “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Makoto, covering her smile with a hand.
      With that, the girls departed from the bathroom. A hint of red still remained on Makoto’s face, but at least she had found the resolve to head out and face the world again. She now knew Ann was right, and that someday, she would be able to wash this stain off her image and continue to do right by her friends and the world as a true Phantom Thief.
    • By MasterXploder in Peesona 5
         0
      (Note: Contains story spoilers past the fourth palace, and some mature themes. Reader discretion advised)
      With thanks to Nikeryda and Sake for editing
       
       
      "This is your fault!”
      A busy city street. A crowd of shadows gathering around her.
      “Why don’t you say something?”
      N-No, I didn’t…
      A car dented at the front. A body lying in the middle of the road. Red along the pavement.
      “You killed her!”
      “She did this because of you!”
      The shadows surrounded her, fingers pointed and voices growing louder. She fell to her knees and shut her eyes.
      I didn’t mean to…
      “You deserve to die!”
      “When will you wake up?”
      I… deserve…
      “Wake up!”
      To… d-d…
      “Futaba, wake up!”
      “H-Huh!?”
      Futaba opened her eyes. The street, the shadows, the body, all of it had disappeared. Instead, she saw the ceiling of her room, and the face of Sojiro Sakura, her guardian, holding her shoulders.
      “W-what’s going on?” she muttered.
      “Take it easy,” said Sojiro, “It was just a bad dream. It’s over now.”
      “A dream?” Memories of that horrible nightmare returned to her at once, with all the twisted feelings they created. If only it was just a nightmare, she thought to herself.
      “Are you alright, Futaba?” asked Sojiro, “You were yelling in your sleep. I could hear you even in my room.”
      It had happened again, another vivid hallucination, this time in her sleep. Futaba could not find the words to speak, and only shook her head.
      Sojiro took a moment to sigh and lifted Futaba up to a sitting position. “Come on, let’s get you out of bed. You probably don’t want to keep lying in… that.”
      “In… what?” Futaba sat in confusion for a second, but then gasped. She became aware of a sharp smell and a cold, wet feeling against her crotch, butt, legs, and lower back, much too large to just be from sweat.
      A glance to her legs confirmed her fears. She had tossed the covers off her bed during her nightmare, revealing a large, dark patch on her futon. Her black sleep shorts had a noticeable shine at the crotch with the light on them, and a slight glisten could be seen on her inner thighs.
      “Oh… oh no,” whimpered Futaba, her eyes becoming shiny with tears. “I’m so s-sorry, Sojiro.”
      “Hey, hey, don’t worry about it.” Sojiro put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m just glad that nightmare is over. Now, why don’t you go run yourself a bath while I clean up this mess?”
      She wanted to sit there and cradle herself like the worthless kid she was, but Sojiro would never allow that. “O-okay,” she replied, letting him help her onto her feet.
      Grabbing a fresh set of nightwear, Futaba made the slow walk of shame from her room to the bathroom. Locking the door behind her, she barely paid attention as she started the bath and removed her wet clothes. While the tub filled, she sat on the toilet and let the tears fall onto her lap, the running water drowning out her sobs.
      Sojiro was wrong; this nightmare would never be over for her. Tonight had shown that she was not safe from an attack even in her sleep. Wetting the bed for the first time since she was a toddler only cemented it for her. This was her punishment, and she would suffer for her sins until the day she died like she so deserved.
       
       
      Things couldn’t be any better today. This was the feeling Futaba Sakura had all morning as she walked up the stairs to her room, humming a tune from a retro video game. It had been so long since she felt this way, she had forgotten what it was like to be optimistic about the future. It was like she was almost floating on air with how weightless she felt. Then again, her summer outfit, a sleeveless tank top with a Tetris reference and gray cargo pants, might have helped with that, too.
      Of course, this didn’t come about on its own. She had the Phantom Thieves of Hearts to thank for her new outlook on life. They had gone through the ordeal of stealing the treasure within her Palace in the Metaverse, causing the change of heart that made her into the witty and determined girl she used to be. No longer did she think of this house as her tomb, the place she was destined to die in. Now, it was her base of operations where she could do some good for the world.
      But first, she had a debt to repay. Reaching the door to her room, she pushed it open and turned around, putting her hands behind her back. “So, be honest. Is this the first time you’ve ever been invited to a girl’s room?”
      She looked with a playful smile at Ren Amamiya, leader of the Phantom Thieves, and his cat companion Morgana. At her remark, Ren’s eyes widened behind his glasses and he glanced towards the corner.
      Futaba giggled. “Well, it’s not like I’m one to talk. I barely left my room for who knows how long until this morning. I guess you could say you guys were my get-out-of-self-induced-jail card.”
      “Er, glad to hear that,” said Ren, turning back to her. “I hate that we’re asking you for a favor so soon, but we’re really counting on you to come through for us now.”
      “Right, the Medjed thing,” replied Futaba, “If that’s all you’re asking me to do, I gotta say, I feel like I walked away with all the good loot at the end of a team quest.”
      Turning back, Futaba stepped into her room, a shut-in nerd’s paradise if ever there was one. Newspapers and hard books littering the floor, anime character figurines in pristine condition, a high-end computer with several monitors, and a starry curtain blocking out the sunlight created an atmosphere very different from the rest of the house.
      Futaba took a seat in her gaming chair and began tapping at her keyboard. “It’s my turn to help out,” she declared. “Hmph, ‘Medjed.’ How do we cook them?”
      “Um, I’ll leave that up to you,” said Ren, “Just try not to go overboard.”
      “Roger that.”
      “Hey, Futaba?” came a voice from behind her, “We don’t have much time left. Are you sure you could do this?”
      Futaba turned around and balked at what she saw. “Th-The kitty talked!?”
      “I’ll explain it later. Metaverse stuff,” said Ren.
      “R-Right.” Futaba looked back at her monitor. “Eh, I guess it doesn’t matter. Let’s get cracking!”
      Thus began Futaba’s latest hacking crusade. Her target: Medjed, the anonymous internet vigilantes-turned-cyberterrorists that were threatening to expose all of Japan’s private information if the Phantom Thieves did not unmask themselves. She knew better, though; it was most likely some random wannabe hacker using the name to achieve their own goal. Whoever they were, Futaba was certain she could code circles around them. The computer world was where she excelled; she was not about to let some script kiddie show her up.
       
       
      Morgana paced back and forth on Futaba’s bed, looking annoyed all the while. He glanced towards Futaba, who was leaning into her many monitors, her fingers dancing across the keyboard while the rest of her body seemed motionless in comparison.
      “You’re just tapping away over there,” he said, “Are you sure this will work?”
      “Mm-hmm… Mmm… Hmm…”
      “Hey, Futaba!”
      “Heh heh heh…”
      Morgana blinked a couple times. “I don’t think she can hear me. Talk about intense concentration.” He glanced around the room, the floors in particular, where much of the hardwood could not be seen underneath all the newspapers, books, and garbage bags. “This place is so messy, I’m surprised she can focus at all. Futaba, you should really clean your room a bit.”
      “Huh…”
      “She’s not listening…” Morgana sighed. “Oh well, just waiting around is boring. Let’s clean this place up.”
      Ren nodded in response, and the two went to work tidying up the room for her.
      With her guests not focused on her, Futaba breathed a sigh of relief. As focused as she was, she had still picked up on the part where they wouldn’t be paying attention to her. Now, she could bite her lip and cross her legs a little more without feeling so self-conscious.
      In the time since she had started her counterattack on Medjed, Futaba remembered a few things. First, proper computer hacking could take a while. Second, coffee was a natural diuretic. Most importantly, the last time she had used the bathroom was before she fell asleep from exhaustion after awakening to her persona. She didn’t need smarts to know what all that added up to, not when she could feel it pulsing from her groin.
      “Mmm…” she groaned from another of her bladder’s many protests. This sort of nuisance was nothing new to her. For as much time as she spent on the computer, she had occasionally wrestled with her bladder trying to pull her away from whatever she was focused on at the time. At one point, she had attempted to use a bottle as an emergency toilet during a particularly lengthy MMO raid. The resulting mess on the floor and chair discouraged her from trying that again.
      Not that she was about to do that with others in her room, or let them know of her problem in the first place. They had gone through all sorts of trouble to give her another chance at life, and now they only asked for her help with this one problem in return. What would it look like if she stopped in the middle of her task to retreat for a potty break? Embarrassing for one, it was tough enough to let Sojiro know she was heading for the bathroom.
      Even without that, thinking of running to the toilet brought back visions of her past self, the scared girl that would wet the bed and cry in helplessness. She was not that girl anymore. Futaba had been given an extra life, and she would not take a break until the job was done.
       
       
      “Mmmm… Come on…”
      An orange glow from the setting sun peeked in around the corners of the curtains. Not that Futaba needed another marker for how much more time had passed. The growing pain in her groin was doing a good job of that by itself. It seemed for every keystroke made, another drop of urine fell into her bladder, only reminding her of how much more work still needed to be done.
      She was glad to have glanced behind her when things got really quiet and found both Ren and Morgana had dozed off on her futon. That meant she didn’t have to hide her need to pee any longer. As such, she had formed a pattern of bouncing in her seat, squeezing and twisting her legs together, rocking back and forth, and anything else she could think of to keep her gray cargo pants and 50,000 yen gaming chair dry and stain-free.
      But even with all her holding techniques, Futaba’s confidence wavered with each passing minute. Could she really get this all done and still reach the bathroom in time? She certainly couldn’t take a break now, not when Medjed’s supposed cleanse could start at any time. Even so, the idea still proved very tempting. All she had to do was sneak past her sleeping friends, shuffle into the bathroom, sit on the toilet and-
      “Eep!”
      Just the mental image of letting go was enough to make her bladder jump the gun. Before she could stop it, a spurt of pee shot through her defenses and hit her underwear, creating a wet feeling down there that made her break into a sweat. Futaba hunched forward and shot a hand from the keyboard to right between her legs. She had no choice but to divert all her focus from stopping a massive information leak to stopping a massive waste leak.
      Whimpering through her teeth with one eye shut, Futaba wondered if this was her limit. She could not remember the last time she had to go this badly, even including her attempted bottle pee. Her bladder was at the fullest it had ever been, but there was still so much left to do. Was her quest truly doomed to fail here?
      No, she couldn’t give up now, not after the Phantom Thieves went through so much trouble to save her. She was free from the cycle of despair and self-loathing that had plagued her for so long; to give in now would be like dropping to her previous form after obtaining a sleek, new evolution.
      “I won’t… lose!” She declared as she lifted the hand from her groin and placed it back on the keyboard. “Come on, Futaba, it’s comeback time!”
      Furrowing her brow and squeezing her legs harder than ever, Futaba started her last desperate push to finish her challenge. Despite the pressure hitting her just as hard, she entered into a level of concentration unlike ever before, as if guided by some supernatural force. Every keystroke, every mouse click, every last line of code was made with twice the speed and scrutiny.
      Even in her zen-like hacking, she was still well aware of how close she was to bursting. The waves of pain continued as always, as did her many motions and moans to keep from soaking everything below her. No matter how much it hurt, she refused to stop. The Phantom Thieves had passed the baton to her, and she’d be damned if she let them down now.
      This determination kept her going right to the very end. With a heavy, tired push of the “Enter” key, Futaba set in motion the program that would take down Medjed’s server, only to bring it back up with the Phantom Thieves’ calling card plastered front and center. That wasn’t all; the names of almost everyone associated with Medjed, including the one behind the threats to Japan, would be revealed for the whole world to see.
      The program was still in the middle of progress, but Futaba knew she had won. Leaning back and stretching her arms out, she let out a triumphant cry of “I’m doooone!”
      “W-what’s up? Something happened?” said a groggy Morgana as he stood straight up from his sudden awakening.
      “It’s finished,” Futaba replied.
      “Finished? What is?”
      Futaba made to turn around and look right at the two, but something else caught her eye first, namely how visible her room’s floor was now. “Ah, it’s so clean! Why?”
      “We cleaned it,” responded Morgana in an annoyed manner, “Anyway, is it true? Did you really take care of Medjed?”
      Futaba looked around her room, her eyes wide in astonishment. “I handled them, and someone else handled my room! I don’t understand, but this is g-aahh!?”
      Futaba’s entire body froze up. Another spurt leaked out, this one going through her underwear and onto her pants. She hunched over and shoved her hands into her legs at once.
      “Futaba!” shouted Ren, standing up and running to her side.
      “Whoa! What’s wrong?” said Morgana, doing the same.
      “Ah… hahhh…” Forming a proper response was out of her abilities at the moment, especially with her face contorted as it was. She could not move a single muscle, no matter how badly she wanted to.
      “Morgana, does this have to do with her Palace and Shadow?” asked Ren.
      “I-I don’t know! That whole infiltration was unorthodox. Who knows what effects it might have had on her?”
      Futaba wanted to tell them her problem was more embarrassing than that almost as much as she wanted to get on the toilet right now. Unfortunately, she knew that neither of those things could happen now. A single motion would break her hold completely, not that it wasn’t about to do so anyway.
      Only a couple more seconds passed before it did just that. Futaba squeaked again right as her accident began, starting with a light dribble that would not stop no matter how hard she squeezed. It soaked through her panties and went to work creating a wet patch at the crotch of her pants. This wetness spread downwards to her butt, forming a pool that gave both cheeks a good bath.
      “F-Futaba?” asked Ren.
      Morgana sniffed the air and wrinkled his nose. “Wait, is this…”
      “Oooooohhhhhh!”
      In that moment, Futaba realized that trying to hold it back any further was pointless. This battle was lost, so she may as well get it over with. As such, she closed her eyes, and let her pee come out in full force.
      The effect was immediate. A faint hissing sound started up, making Morgana’s ear twitch. The golden pool at her bottom grew outwards, becoming visible to everyone in the room. It spread to the edge of her seat, where it spilled off the chair and onto the carpet in a series of piddling drops. A bit of urine continued down her legs as well, leaving wet trails along the back of her pants and damp spots on her socks.
      At first, Futaba’s mind remained devoid of thought, like a hard drive spinning without loading anything. All she could focus on was all the senses of her accident, the smell and touch growing stronger by the second. Towards the end, however,the harsh truth of what happened set in. A complete failure to hold her pee like a normal person, getting it all on her chair, with people important to her there to witness everything; she had officially hit the worst-case scenario. Her face as red as Ann’s thief outfit, Futaba opened her eyes and let out one last groan as her bladder finished emptying in the worst possible way.
      “I don’t think this has anything to do with her Palace or Shadow,” commented Morgana.
      “I see that now.” Ren put a hand behind his head and did his best to only look at Futaba’s head. “Are you okay?”
      I am the least okay that I could be possibly be right now! is what she wanted to say. The feeling of lukewarm urine all over her lower body and the smell of ammonia brought back memories of the night she had wet the bed. All the crushing emotions from then rose up, and she could feel her eyes watering and clouding her vision.
      A sound from her computer pulled her attention away. She looked at the monitor and found a new pop-up box front and center, the word “successful” sticking out like a rare drop from a felled enemy, and remembered what was truly important here. Against all odds, Futaba had prevailed in taking down her target. Sure, it had still been a messy end for her, but it didn’t matter. For a moment, her accident seemed so inconsequential when she had just saved all of Japan from an economic crisis. Her frown slowly closed and lifted into a small smile. “Gotcha.”
      “Futaba? You’re really starting to worry us,” said Morgana.
      “Hmm?” Futaba remembered the other two present. “Did you guys say something?”
      “We’ve been saying something for awhile.”
      “We’re just worried, that’s all,” said a red-faced Ren, “Are you sure you’re feeling well?”
      “Oh, um, y-yeah, sure! Why wouldn’t I be fine right now?” Futaba stammered.
      “Futaba...” Morgana muttered with a worried look.
      Futaba looked away and sighed. “Okay, so peeing my pants was not part of Operation Medjed Meltdown. Definitely not the greatest moment of my hacking career.”
      “I’m sorry about this,” said Ren. “We didn’t mean for you to push yourself so hard for us.”
      “I mean, we were pressed for time today,” admitted Morgana. “I guess neither of us realized how long hacking really takes.”
      “This wasn’t your fault,” said Futaba, shaking her head. “I got so excited about helping you guys out and doing some good for the world, and I ended up making a noob mistake. If my mom were here right now, she’d be trying to help me and reprimand me at the same time.”
      Both Ren and Morgana glanced away, unable to think of any way to respond to the delicate subject.
      “But, you wanna what the weirdest thing about all this is?” continued Futaba, “I’m… not really that upset about this.”
      “Y-You’re not?” asked Ren.
      “Don’t get me wrong, it’s super-embarrassing, and if you say a word of this to anyone, I’ll have to tell Sojiro that you were being mean to me.”
      “Er, y-you don’t have to worry about that,” Ren quickly responded. Even Morgana formed a bead of sweat at the threat of an angry Sojiro.
      “But like I said, this isn’t upsetting me as much as I thought. If this had happened just a few days ago, I would’ve wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and pray that I would just die already.” She once more thought of the night she wet the bed. Even when steeped in her pee, it seemed so long ago now, like a memory from a previous life. It was enough to make her smile a little. “But this? This doesn’t hurt nearly as bad. It almost feels like… victory.”
      “Victory?” asked Ren.
      Futaba’s smile dropped away as she caught another whiff of her waste. “Aaaand victory feels really gross now.”
      “I’m surprised you’ve been sitting in it all this time, to be honest,” said Morgana, twitching his nose again. “You should get cleaned up. Ren and I can handle the mess for you in here. It’s the least we can do.”
      “That’s not a bad idea,” said Futaba, “But, I think I have a better plan right now.”
      Not waiting for a response, Futaba grabbed the pillow at her seat, patted it dry of any pee, and set it on the desk. She then flopped her head on it, and was lightly snoring within seconds. After everything she had been through today, a good, long nap was just too tempting to pass up. Knowing that there would be no nightmares to plague her anymore made it all the better.
       
       
      “W-wow, she really fell asleep just like that?”
      Both Morgana and Ren stood in dumbfounded silence for a while before they could speak again. “She didn’t even do anything about her accident, either,” the cat continued.
      “Should we help her out somehow?” asked Ren.
      “I don’t know what we could do. It doesn’t look like she’s waking up anytime soon, and she definitely wouldn’t be happy if we tried to move her or change her clothes.” Morgana paused to sigh. “And I thought Yusuke was pretty strange.”
      “You mean stranger than a talking cat?”
      “I am not a cat!” snapped Morgana, shooting Ren a fierce look before returning to Futaba. “Still, this girl is quite a handful. She’s gonna need you guys’ help if she wants to be a Phantom Thief.”
      “You may be right,” said Ren as he looked over Futaba. The poor girl had been through so much, and yet there was no mistaking the smile on her face as she snoozed without a care in the world. “But something tells me she’ll fit right in with us.”
    • By Kirito in Mikan - A Wanko to Kurasou inspired series
         1
      Warm..
      It's so warm is the first thing that floats through my mind as I drift awake. My eyes peer over at the orange haired puppy girl next to me. Her eyes are shut tight with drool hanging out from her mouth as she snores away.
      She looks much better this morning. I contemplate getting up and fixing breakfast for the two of us, but as I start shuffling my way out of bed, I catch the puppy girls' arms wrapped securely around mine. The sudden realization makes me blush, and I slouch back down under the blankets, expecting to drift back to sleep.
      ..Or so I planned.
      But as my body drops back down into the sheets, I notice it seems more than warm down there.
      Was I sweating that much in my sleep..? No.. as I shuffle around beneath the covers, I realize this can't be only sweat. My bottom, and the pajamas I changed into last night, feel.. drenched.
      "...?!?"
      I quickly yank the covers up as a thought rushes through my mind.
      "It can't be.. I.. I didn't?"
      I didn't.
      But the orange haired girl next to me did.
      As I pull the covers up, I can smell it. I can see it. My once white sheets have an enormous yellow stain spreading out from the girl next to me.
      Oh no. She wet the bed. She really wet the bed.
      The thought never crossed me. She is an anthropoid after all. Is she even toilet trained..? Is this purely a night-time thing?
      As the thoughts race through my mind, I detect some foreign shuffling under the sheets as the girls green eyes start to open.
      "......Nh..."
      The doggy girl stirs awake. She peers up at me for a moment and looks bewildered. I wonder if she remembers anything from last night? This could be bad, I think. I'm concerned she may lash out at me for a moment, but suddenly her eyes wander down to the exposed covers.
      Suddenly, her eyes start to water. Her confusion replaced by a mix of panic and shame as she breaks down.

      My body instinctively reacts as my arms find themselves wrapped around the puppy girl and I pull her close, squeezing tight.
      I know this feeling, at least. It's still embarrassing remembering how serious of a bedwetting problem I had until my late teens.
      "Shhh, it's okay, doggy. Don't worry. I'm not mad. It happens." My hands rest against the girls head as I do my best to console her.
      She doesn't fight my embrace. Rather, she leans in closer, sobbing into my shirt as I tenderly stroke up and down her back.
      I continue doing this until she settles down.
      "Come on, let's get you cleaned up, okay?"
      I pull the sheets back and steadily lead her to the restroom. As I pull her along, she stares at me hesitantly again. I don't blame her, I can only imagine what goes through someone's mind in a position like this; taken in by a complete stranger.. and then waking up next to her in wet sheets to top it off.
      As we enter the bathroom, I assess the extent of the damage. My pajamas are thoroughly drenched, clasping tightly to my skin. The doggy girls shirt's soaked through, the white fabric stained a translucent yellow and clinging to her legs and backside as well.
      ..I can't deny that there's something endearing about this situation. The way the wet shirt is clinging to the doggy girls figure, the soaked through fabric providing a teasing view of her tush, and the still warm wetness clinging against my own skin. I'm actually not bothered by this at all. In fact, it's kind of..
      ..Wait, what is wrong with me? I'm standing here soaked in another girls accident and I'm.. enjoying it? God, I am aren't I? There's surely something wrong with me.
      I peek back up at the doggy girl in front of me and realize how much she's blushing. Her shirt is tugged down, and she's avoiding eye contact now. Crap. I got a bit too caught up in my own thoughts and didn't realize how much I was gawking. Come on, Risa, get your mind out of the gutter.
      "..U-Uhm, let's get cleaned up, okay? I still need to get our sheets washed and prepare breakfast so.. is it okay if we wash up together to save time?"
      This isn't anything particularly unusual.
      While anthropoid girls are, for the most part, capable of being as self-sufficient as a typical adult, many owners still prefer to handle tasks such as bathing their pets themselves.
      Pet manuals tend to describe it as being an excellent bonding experience between pets and their masters. Still, I can't help but fluster at the proposal.. especially after staring at her for what must have been a full minute.
      The doggy girl looks up for hardly a moment before burying her gaze again, but after a few moments she makes an agreeing nod. I run some bath water, adjusting the temperature as usual. Once satisfied, I pull the wet t-shirt over the doggy girls head, which was still the only thing she was wearing from the previous night.
      Once that's done, I strip down myself. As my shirt and pajama bottoms fall to the floor, I'm filled with a sudden bit of self-consciousness. This is the first time another girl has seen me naked since high-school, though she doesn't seem to pay any mind one way or the other.

      "All right, doggy, let's get cleaned up, okay?" I step into the tub first, making sure the temperature is not too hot or old, then pick the doggy girl up and set her down in with me.
      I start lathering a generous bit of soap into a washcloth and rub the doggy girl down like before. Afterwards, I wash myself down before lathering some citrus scented shampoo into the other girls hair.
      This is nice. I relax for a moment with the doggy girl, massaging her ears as we soak in the bathwater. I figure this is as good a time as any.
      "Hey, doggy.. do you have a name?"
      "....Mh.."
      She starts to speak, but falters. I recall studying a bit about anthropoids in school. It's very rare that they open up to anyone but their original owner or master. Getting her to communicate might be a bit tougher than I expected.
      "My name is Oumi Risa, but you can just call me Risa!"
      "....Risa..", the girl echos my name.
      "That's right! It's kinda awkward calling you doggy all the time though. If you don't want to tell me your name, I'll have to make one up for you. I must warn you though, I can come up with some pretty weird nicknames! So it might be better if I knew your real name instead."
      "....Nh.."
      ..No use, huh?
      A few minutes pass, and then..
      "..Mikan."
      "...! ..Ah! Mikan? Is that your name?"
      The doggy girl.. Mikan, nods.
      It seems silly having to go through so much trouble for a name, but.. this must be a sign that the girl is beginning to trust me. It's a small start, but it makes me happy to know that she's opening up to me.
      "Nice to meet'chya, Mikan! I hope we can become good friends!" I ruffle her hair and give a comforting smile, and she smiles back at me for a moment, before her gaze falls back down to her lap.
      "...Risa. ..Uhm.. Mikan.. Mikan is sorry she made a mess in Risa's bed. ..Mikan.. knows she's a bad girl."
      As expected, she's still hurting from this mornings events.
      "It's okay, Mikan. You're not a bad girl, and I'm not mad at all. Accidents happen. In fact, I used to wet the bed myself up into my late teens! So don't worry, I know you can't help it, and I will never punish or yell at you for something you can't control."
      I ruffle the doggy girls hair again and embrace her softly from behind. She glances up at me meekly, and I give her a reassuring smile.
      "Risa's.. not angry at Mikan?"
      "Of-course not. I do need to ask though.. is this a frequent problem for you? It's not an issue if so, we just might need to get you some extra night-time protection, just like Risa once had."
      Mikan flusters a bit and gives a shy nod.
      Right. So, not a onetime thing. In that case, I'll need to add a few other items to my shopping list today.
      This is the most I've ever talked with an anthropoid girl. Some anthropoids only have basic communication skills, and most don't talk to strangers unless their jobs require it, but Mikan seems to be quite intelligent and well trained.
      I consider pressing her for more information about her original owner and what she was doing on that fateful night, but I don't want to put too much pressure on her right now, so the conversation between us ends there for now.
    • By Kirito in Mikan - A Wanko to Kurasou inspired series
         0
      ...It's raining..
      As I look upon the apartment balcony, I can see a brown-haired girl with twintails staring back at me, her blue eyes flickering as a clash of lightning strikes off in the distance.
      Risa. Oumi Risa. That's her, my name. 
      It's getting late, and the storm doesn't seem like it will let up anytime soon.
      ..Grumble grumble..
      "..Hungry..", my stomach groans out. I stretch and rest my head against the table as rain drops patter against the window.
      I forgot to stock up on groceries yesterday, so now I'm stuck here with nothing to eat. 
      Well, perhaps not. What's a little rain anyway? The convenience store isn't that far away. I still need to shower and do laundry tonight anyhow. 
      I push myself up from the table with a bit of forced enthusiasm, grab my nearby jacket and umbrella from the coat hanger, head out the door and..
      Swoosh!
      "...!"
      As soon as I step out and open my umbrella, a sudden violent gust of wind practically knocks me off my feet. I can feel my skirt fluttering in the wind, the cold rain pelting against my skin as I struggle to maintain my footing.
      "Guh..!"
      I speed around the first corner, splashing through a few puddles hidden in the dark alleyway. Cold! I can feel the rainwater soaking into my socks as I run, but I'd rather not risk slowing down and getting blown over entirely. The last thing I want is to walk into a store looking like I wet my skirt.
      I can feel the rain fiercely pelting against my umbrella as I rush around another corner and instantly almost trip over something in the alleyway.
      "Wha...?!"
      A pile of dirty clothes..? No, a.. stray dog?

      There's an orange haired anthropoid girl wearing worn-out clothes laying here. She's thoroughly drenched by the rain, and motionless.
      What is she doing out here in this weather? I lean down and stare at her for a moment before giving a few curious pokes.
      "H-Hey.. are you okay?"
      She shuffles a bit, searching me with a lifeless stare, scarcely able to acknowledge my presence.
      This is not good. She's not going to survive the night out here like this.
      I stand up and look, but there's no one else around. Judging by her condition and how soaked the dog girl is, she's plainly been out here a long time.. the only thing I can think of is she's been abandoned by someone. But who could do such a thing? There are shelters you can leave anthropoid animals you are unable to care for, leaving them out on the street like this is just cruel.
      I don't know if there's much I can do to help, but I can't just leave her out here to die..
      If she's been abandoned, she's probably starving too. There's no time to do any serious shopping, but..
      I pull off my jacket and wrap it around the doggy girl. It might not be of much use at this point, but I don't know what else to do. Afterwards, I hastily run into the store and grab some of the closest things I can find. A couple bags of chips, a carton of milk, and a couple pieces of melon bread I find near the checkout counter. It's not much, but it will do for now.
      I quickly pay for the items, waiting impatiently as the cashier tucks them inside a plastic bag for me, and head out the door back into the alleyway.
      "...Crap."
      As I stare down at her with groceries and umbrella in-hand, it strikes me that carrying her is going to be difficult. I'm not sure I could even do it in perfect weather as it is. I consider going back inside and asking for help, but.. other than the cashier, no one seems to have been crazy enough to come out and brave this storm.
      While debating my options, the doggy girl stirs for a moment. I see her peering up towards the bag in my hand. She must still be conscious enough to smell food nearby.
      I didn't come this far to give up. I have to try. I toss my umbrella to the side and pull the grocery bag up my arm before crouching. The puppy girl stares up at me for a moment, and I have to fight back tears as I struggle to help. Her clothes are torn, and she looks bruised all over. It's not the most elegant display in the world, but after a few tries I manage to pick her up. 
      I nearly slip as I take a few steps out into the rain, but I'm surprised by how light the puppy girl is. I'm able to push my way through the storm and back to my apartment building in decent time.
      After a few clumsy attempts, I manage to get my door unlocked and carry her inside, using my foot to push the door shut behind us. I carefully rest her head against the back of the couch as I contemplate what I should do next.
      I'm sure the poor thing must be starved, but after settling back in, I realize that I'm nearly freezing after being drenched from head to toe in the rain. I can only imagine how it must be for her after being left out in that for so long. The first thing I should do for now is get her warm.
      I can start some bathwater and get some milk warmed up for her at the same time. I head to the kitchen to get the milk warming up first, then quickly make my way to the bathroom and run some warm bathwater.
      Once I'm content with the temperature, I head back out to living room and begin to strip off the doggy girls soiled clothing.
      I'm not sure if I'll be able to salvage these, I'll need to buy her some new clothes first thing tomorrow. I can ask around the pet shop and see if anyone's registered a missing pet while I'm there as well.
      Once she's undressed, I gingerly pick the girl up and carry her to the bathroom. Her body is absolutely freezing to the touch. I sincerely hope I'm doing the right thing here as as I lower her into the tub.
      She recoils at the sudden temperature shock, but doesn't otherwise say anything or react in any way.
      I make sure she's positioned so she stays above the water as I head back into the kitchen, retrieving the warmed cup of milk and bringing it back to the bathroom.
      "Hey, doggy.. here, drink this."
      I bring the cup of milk to her mouth. She sniffs the bowl a few times, then opens her mouth and quietly drinks it down.
      Some of it spills into the tub, but it seems she was able to get most of it down. I can sense a bit of warmth coming back to the girls cheeks as I lather some soap into a nearby washcloth and begin to run it along her shoulders, washing the mud and grime from her body as best I can.
      As I rinse the suds away from her hair, I can finally see some life returning to the puppy girls eyes. She's still lingering in and out of consciousness, but that's expected from sheer exhaustion more than anything.
      I let the water drain from the tub as I make one final pass with the shower head, grabbing a nearby towel and using it to pick the girl out of the tub, ensuring she doesn't fall over as I dry her off as much as I can.
      I wasn't paying much attention earlier, considering the urgency of the situation, but now that things have settled down a bit, I can't help but blush a bit as I glance over the puppy girls body.
      She's petite, her chest maybe a B-Cup at best, but I can't help but admire the girls plump bottom as I make a final pass with the towel.
      She doesn't seem to really notice or mind, but I feel a bit conflicted about all of this. Am I really doing the right thing here? Should I have just taken her to a shelter instead? Would they even be open in this weather?
      I don't know. I force my mind back to the task at hand, setting the girl down on the toilet for a moment as I run to the bedroom to retrieve a particularly long t-shirt for the puppy girl to wear. Anthropoid animals require special clothing to compensate for their tails. If I tried to put any of my clothes on her, they'd probably just fall right off, or at the least be extremely uncomfortable for her.
      "Here.. can you lift your arms up for me?"
      She stares at me for a moment. She looks confused. I guess the reality that she's in a strangers care right now has started to dawn on her, but she doesn't seem to protest much. Her arms lift up, and I'm able to slide the t-shirt over her with ease.
      It's a bit big, but it'll have to do for now.
      I help walk the girl into my bedroom, pick her up and gently and tuck her into a few blankets. Finally, I bring over an electric heater and turn it on in her direction.
      After a few minutes, the dog girl manages to drift off to sleep. It's past 3 AM now, and it looks like she should make a full recovery, I hope. I might be in over my head here. I can barely take care of myself. 
      I guess we'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.