A ROTTEN BOY

By tercio

Being a he-streamer is pretty great. The 'work' is literally just playing videogames. I log on for a few hours every night, play a game I was going to play anyway, and bask in the adoration of my fans. They're mostly monstergirls of course. There are a lot of shy monstergirls out there who like to fantasize about a cute guy. I wouldn't say that I lead them on exactly, it's just that I know how to make them happy. Look directly into the camera, smile a lot, speak as if they're the only one I'm talking to, anything to make them feel like they're right there with me. Even the aggressive ones can be handled fairly easily. Monstergirls love to hunt. There's no shortage of girls who want to track me down on stream and 'one versus one' me. I'm good enough that I usually win, but the occasional gracious loss is the real special sauce. My skill makes it feel like they really accomplished something and I always make sure to offer them some personalized congratulations. For example, mentioning something very specific they did well really shows that I was paying attention. The rush of victory and the praise is catnip for the winners and a shining dream for the losers and those too shy to join in themselves.

It's not without its problems of course. My Dad hates it. He insists that I can't accept gifts of any kind which is kind of lame. I understand not wanting to take advantage of some girls who might think they're buying something they can't have but he seems to have an almost pathological hatred of the practice. Every time I ask him about it he just mutters something about "thots", whatever that is.

The other problem is the fans themselves. I'm not a big name so most of my fans are local. That means that I see quite a few of them at school or around town. On one hand this is a huge perk. I'm super popular thanks to my streams. On the other hand it creates the obvious challenge of lots of monstergirls gunning for me. Early on though I had an epiphany: it's much safer to have tons of monstergirls after you than just one. Get targeted by a hellhound or a manticore? Forget it. Even Paladins in power armor sometimes lose to them. But what if they're both after you? If you play your cards right then each one will sabotage the other. Not to toot my own horn but I've become a past master of this technique. At this point I've acquired so many fans that it requires almost no effort to keep the crab bucket effect going. I still chuckle thinking about that time I noticed that kunoichi pussy blocking an ochimusha in the woods behind the school. The encounter had devolved into a wrestling match by the time I 'accidentally' walked over. Mortified, they awkwardly (and unconvincingly) pretended they were making out instead of admitting the ninja girl had ambushed the undead swordswoman to prevent her from jumping me. The looks on their faces were priceless.

But sometimes there was no avoiding awkward situations. For example: Saint Valentine's Day. Monstergirls freaking love Valentine's Day. It's the perfect excuse for them to go after the boys they fancy. So it came as no surprise that on the fateful day I'd received about ten times as many store bought chocolates as any other boy. The sheer amount of personal validation that represented felt amazing. Plus, my old man couldn't very well complain about Valentine's presents could he? The awkward part came when I had to turn a girl down. There were quite a few girls, usually the shyer and less confident ones ironically, who offered me homemade chocolates. The social conventions were a little loose but this was generally accepted as a girl's confession of genuine love. For the right (or wrong) type of girl accepting a love gift like that was basically proposing marriage. That kind of favoritism could wreck my whole system, never mind end the game. I did want to get married eventually of course, but I was holding out for a really high tier girl. Something like a Dragon, an Ice Queen, a Pharaoh, someone regal. Important. Besides, I was enjoying being single and the center of attention way too much to end it all just yet.

Admittedly, it did kind of suck seeing how sad the low tier girls got when I rejected them. Most of them had probably spent hours crafting their gifts, and even longer dreaming about me accepting their offering and by extension them. Getting turned down cut them deeply no matter how gently I tried to do it. There were no actual tears, but I think some of them were pretty close. For my part I tried not to think about it too much. It wasn't like I could do anything about it. Even I said yes to one of them I'd still be rejecting the others after all.

The last rejection of the day was the worst on a lot of levels. I'd stayed after class to go to the janitor's closet and borrow a plastic bag to haul all of my candy home in, so the school was pretty empty. I was expecting a least one or two of the shyest girls to approach me now that there were fewer people around and I wasn't disappointed. Even if the girl wasn't who I was expecting. Her arrival was announced by the familiar chitinous tapping of insectoid tarsi. Given that my mom and sisters are giant ant girls this didn't creep me out the way it would a lot of boys. On the contrary, I was actually a little optimistic. Living in an insect forest, there were quite a few high ranking insect girls at my school. Maybe I'd caught the eye of someone high tier? But my heart fell once I realized that I was being approached by Estrith the beelzebub.

Granted, so far as appearances went, she wasn't that bad. I'm not sure there are any monstergirls who are truly ugly. And I wasn't bothered by her insectiod arms or legs. Even the housefly like wings and abdomen sticking out of her back were OK by me. I'd had a huge crush on my honeybee girl teacher when I was little. The problem was what she was. Despite their grandiose name "Beelzebubs" are basically just housefly girls. Now, insect girls do tend to get a bit of an undeserved bad rap due to most peoples' instinctive revulsion towards bugs. This is generally ameliorated somewhat by the fact that an insect monstergirl's bug parts are just that, parts. There's always a smoking hot girl attached to the buggy bits. And it helps that the bug parts aren't simply direct one to one scaled up versions. Bug girls aren't slimy or stinky. Their pseudo-setae aren't coarse bristly hairs like on a real bug, but manifest as fluffy fur or delicate whiskers. I might be biased but once you get to know bug girls they're really nice. Plus, there's something admirable about almost all of them. Ant girls are hard workers, bee girls are super helpful, soldier beetle girls are extremely protective, I can even sort of respect the unapologetic aggression of hornets. You'll definitely know if a hornet girl likes you... Housefly girls though? Housefly girls who get turned on by sweat?! Housefly girls who are synonymous with gorging yourself? That's just disgusting. Houseflys are gross enough as is. Add in a beelzebub's predilections and the whole situation was a hard pass.

To be fair, Estrith kept herself fairly well put together. To the point where I suspected she was overcompensating. Her long silvery hair was kept impeccably managed in an extremely conservative bang cut. Likewise her uniform didn't have a stitch out of place and she'd opted for the "full dresser" with all of the optional bits that girls with non-human forms often didn't bother wearing. Her posture was perfect, ramrod straight, and her face hovered somewhere between severe and neutral. Thinking back, I really couldn't remember her leaving any impression on me at all over the years. I knew she was a good student, but she wasn't one of the hand up all the time types. She usually just sat quietly in the back of the class with an unreadable expression, aced her assignments, and left. I didn't even think she was one of my stream fans.

"Hello." Estrith's tone was so deadpan she could have passed for a mantis, "Happy St. Valentine's day. If you're amenable, I'd very much like it if we could spend some time getting to know one another better."

Some part of me had still been hoping that she'd had a question about our homework or something. I couldn't remember the last time we'd even spoken. On the other hand that could be a red flag. Stalkers are bad enough, but monstergirl stalkers are something else. At least a hellhound will TELL you she wants to jump your bones. For all I knew Estrith had been watching me from the shadows for years, becoming more and more obsessive while frantically schlicking to thoughts of me every night. The extremely high quality of the homemade chocolates she was offering me suggested that she'd put a lot of effort into her gift at least. I figured I'd need to handle this rejection especially carefully.

"Oh geez, look Estrith, I can't accept this. You're a great girl and all, really. But you're not my type. You deserve a guy wh-"

"I understand. Good night."

And that was that. She just gave up. There was no begging, no pleading, no nothing. Estrith didn't betray even a hint of emotion as she calmly turned on her heel and walked away. On its face it had been the easiest turn down of the day. But I couldn't shake the feeling that there was far more going on than I could see.

***

"Gimme the candy!"

I laughed as my Littlest Sister crawled all over me, sniffing my pockets and feeling me all over with her antennae, "Sorry, all gone."

"Liar! I can smell it!"

"I ate it already!"

Littlest Sister dropped off of me and pouted, "S'poused to share..."

"It was St. Valentine's Day candy. Do you want to marry the girls who gave it to me?"

My Little Sister chimed in, "That's only for the homemade stuff. If you'd accepted any of that you'd probably still be trapped in some hussy's clutches."

Little Sister gave me a sour look. If Littlest was at the clingy "baby sister" stage then Little was getting to the age where she wanted to pretend to be all grown up. And big monstergirls want husband headpats, not Daddy or Big Brother headpats! It was cute, but kind of annoying. I stuck my tongue out at her and gave Littlest a headpat, "Aw, you got me. I'll give you both some from my secret stash when we get home, OK?"

"Like I'd want any of that skank candy..." Little Sister muttered as Littlest jumped in place and cheered.

I laughed again as Littlest ran ahead to excitedly explain to Mom and Dad that Big Brother had promised to share his candy. Dad picked her up and gave her a hug, "Well then, you'd better work super hard today so that candy won't ruin your dinner!"

"Yes Daddy!" Littlest hugged him back and then started squirming around until he let her go and she raced ahead to join the rest of her little friends in the assembly area. Soon she and another young ant girl were working together to carry a magisteel beam twenty times their size.

"Have a good day sweetie!" Mom gave Dad a kiss and me a hug before she and Little Sister went off to join the ant girls old enough to lift beams by themselves. Dad smiled as waved goodbye to them before turning to me with a stern expression.

"Don't slack off, OK?"

I groaned internally but mumbled something which would hopefully be mistaken for agreement. Colony Family Day sucked. If not having slave away on a construction project one day every weekend meant that I didn't have 'Ant Virtue' then sign me up for Ant Hell. It just wasn't fair. But there wasn't much I could do about it so I left Dad to join the other engineers and trudged over to the coolie line of Ant husbands and sons who didn't have the technical skills to contribute much beyond menial labor.

After four hours of breaking my back to accomplish what an Ant girl could have done in a fraction of the time it was finally time to break for lunch. As was my habit I snuck off from the others to eat in private. I never felt super comfortable hanging out with the other guys on these things. Most of them actually seemed to enjoy the physical labor. The older guys were the worst. They were proud of what they were! I never, ever wanted to take pride in how hard I had worked or how tired I was when the job was done. The whole blue collar attitude and aesthetic made my skin crawl. If I could get ahead without grinding myself down to nothing then all the better. I figured that an Ice Queen's husband wasn't bone tired at the end of the day. Or at least not until she was done with him.

That day I'd managed to find a nice secluded spot in the nearby woods with a good view of the construction site. Even if I wasn't a fan of dragging magisteel beams around I had to admit the project was pretty impressive. Once the excavation was complete and the magisteel frame was in place the mages would come in and fast grow a titanic tree around the skeleton we'd built. I didn't understand the mechanics but the end result would be a nigh indestructible, immortal tree filled with internal voids people could live in. The tree's vascular system would even provide all of the necessary plumbing, and the remnants of the magical beams could be used for energy distribution. If I remembered correctly a bee hive was going to move into the upper part while the lower part was going to be the home of a young Lilim and her followers, mostly soldier beetles and arach-

"Hello sex."

Part of me wanted to jump out of my skin. Part of me wanted to focus on the icy fingers crawling up my spine. I compromised by very slowly turning around, childishly imagining that delaying would make the situation resolve itself to my benefit. Of course, as entirely expected, when I finally completed my rotation I saw that I had managed to stupidly put myself in a situation where I was alone with a monstergirl. And not just any monstergirl: a jinko. And not even a calm jinko! No, no, if her flushed face and wild eyes were any indication she was in heat. Worst of all, I had no idea who she was. Normally my 'play monstergirls off against each other' strategy depended on the girls keeping tabs on each other. But this girl was a wildcard. I feared that none of my fans even knew she existed and that therefore I was on my own. My mouth opened and closed wordlessly as my mind frantically raced to puzzle out some desperate stratagem to escape my impending nuptials.

"Handsum boi. Like bob?" the jinko clasped her hands together and flexed her arms to press her breasts together, "Put pinus on bob?"

I had to admit, her "bobs" were pretty nice. Like just about every monstergirl she was drop dead gorgeous. The only variable was what tastes their incredible physiques catered to. In my mystery jinko's case she was downright statuesque. Firm, toned muscles complemented delightfully feminine curves. Waves of lustrous black hair cascaded down her back, contrasting nicely with her flawless caramel colored skin. Even her tiger parts were relatively attractive with shiny, impeccably manicured claws poking out of soft, fluffy fur ranging in hue from creamy white to a dark brownish orange all slashed across with stark black stripes. But no matter how beautiful she was I had zero desire to get married the old fashioned way to a girl I hadn't picked myself, let alone one I didn't even know!

Realizing that my time was rapidly running out I tried to stall by feigning idiocy, "Oh, hello. I didn't see you there. Can I help you with something?"

A look of concentration briefly replaced her mask of lust before she responded. It seemed like the broken English wasn't just for show, "Jyotsana meet streem boi. Handsum boi say good hunt, good girl! Jyotsana find streem boi, make husband! No like bob? Put pinus on ebbs? Vegana also like pinus!"

My brain screamed at my libido to stop trying to hijack my train of thought. Contemplating her offer to grind my little buddy on her rock hard girl abs wasn't going to get me out of this. I had to THINK. How on Earth could some jinko apparently fresh off the freaking boat know who I was? Then it hit me, "Oh... are you Hunter555... um... 6 something?"

Her broad smile and happy nodding confirmed my fears, "So, ah, what brings you to my little old hometown? You traveling?"

Her girlish giggle was more frightening than any roar ever produced by her namesake, "Liv heer! Father diplomate, privat skool at consoolate."

All of the pieces were coming together. I asked the final question more for the sake of completeness than anything else, "Oh that's nice. I assumed you lived far away because of the flag the server had assigned to you."

"Use VPN! Listen best moosic from home!"

Yep, that was what I had expected. Old Jyotsana, AKA Hunter555whatever, had been on my stream about a week ago. Players get assigned country flags based on their IP so I'd assumed that she was foreign. Her terrible English had only encouraged my assumption that she was an international player who'd wandered into the stream while randomly browsing lobbies. At the time I'd thought it was a great opportunity. A girl on the other side of the planet was safe. I could tease and flirt a little more than normal and get my usual subscribers really fired up. Her abysmal English had seemed cute at the time and had lent itself to gentle bullying. It helped that she was actually pretty good at the game. I was able to get quite a few decent highlight clips out of that session. Even the dynamic of picking a girl from out of nowhere worked great; every one of my subscribers could imagine that it might be her next time. All in all she'd been the perfect girl to do a one off stream with. After all, what were the chances that she was actually a girl living right in my town using a VPN to generate a foreign IP so she could listen to sitar music on some obscure region locked web service? And even if she took a shine to me, how likely was it that a jinko happened to be going into heat right at that time?

It seemed Lady Luck had finally decided to punish me for my hubris. Deep down I knew there was no way I was going to talk my way out of this but I had to try, "Haha, well it's always great to meet a fan! Unfortunately I really need to get going. I'm on the job you see. Building that big ol' structure over there. The other ants are counting on me! So, I'll be off then..."

The jinko frowned and moved purposefully toward me. Despite my growing terror I still managed to admire how gracefully she moved, "Handsum streem boi leave?! NO! Call Jyotsana good girl! Make vegana feel funny! Take responsibility! Gib headpats! Gib pinus!"

I was not even slightly surprised that she pronounced 'good girl' and 'take responsibility' perfectly. And if this got to the headpat stage I really would need to take responsibility. It was probably pointless, but I broke and ran. I had a vague hope that maybe running through a temperate forest was different then running through a jungle and she'd get confused or something. Pretty thin broth so far as hopes go, but it was all I could think of. I didn't dare look back as I crashed through the underbrush. Maybe, just maybe, I could make it close enough to the work site that some of the other ants would hear us. Jinkos in heat were pretty notoriously aggressive but she wouldn't actually rape me in front of a bunch of witnesses. Would she?

My morbid musing was interrupted by a loud buzzing sound. Something flew past me faster than my eyes could track and I heard a crash behind me. It sounded like a flying insect girl had tackled my pursuer. The smart thing to do would have been to keep running. If someone wanted to save me from a proactive dater then who was I to complain? But not wanting to marry a girl isn't the same as hating her. The impact had sounded pretty brutal. I felt honor bound to make sure that both of the girls were alright. I was also a little curious to know the identity of my savior. Had mild mannered Tallulah the bee girl, so shy she rarely even used the text chat in stream, stepped up to save me? Or was it brash Natalie the hornet (temp banned three times for excessive obscene language in chat)? Or maybe even one of the Queen's daughters?! At least one of our colony's princesses was unmarried and by extension still had her wings. My heart thrilled at the thought that royalty might be interested in me!

So you can imagine my disappointment when I looked back to see uptight Estrith, the gross housefly girl, calmly looking down at the jinko girl lying in a heap. Estrith's face developed a slight moue as the jinko snarled and leapt to her feet. She gave every impression of someone dealing with an unpleasant mess, not a mere bug girl who'd just picked a fight with a now enraged beastgirl of one of the more dangerous types.

Jyotsana seemed to share my assessment, "Shoo fly! Handsum streem boi mine! Put pinus on vegana, make husband!"

Estrith said something I couldn't make out and the jinko lashed out with her claws. The attack didn't connect, but Estrith didn't counterattack either. She just dodged with a buzz of her wings and the irritatingly unpredictable spastic movement pattern anyone who's ever tried to swat a fly is familiar with. Jyotsana roared and redoubled her efforts. The pattern repeated with the jinko unleashing a devastating flurry of blows only to see the fly girl buzz out of the way each time. It seemed like a draw, but I was starting to get worried about Estrith. Jyotsana looked so pissed off I wasn't confident that she'd stop attacking even if I left. How long could Estrith keep dodging like that? It was obvious she had no way of actually winning the fight. I didn't want her getting hurt on my behalf.

"Estrith, it's OK! You don't have to get hurt for me! You can't win this! A fly can't beat a tiger!"

Estrith's reaction wasn't quite what I was expecting. I figured she'd say something heroic before urging me to run or something like that. Instead she stopped dead in her tracks. And for the first time I saw something trying to break through her studiously controlled expression. It started with her brow furrowing ever so slightly, followed by the beginnings of a grimace. I could hear the control slipping in her voice as she managed to bite out, "Will. You. Just. Fucking. RUN ALREADY?!"

For her part Jyotsana was totally lost in the fight. Paying our exchange no mind whatsoever she took advantage of Estrith's lack of motion to put all of her strength into a single, overwhelming claw strike aimed at Estrith's head. Even with a monstergirl's magical, intrinsically nonlethal natural weapons a hit like that would make the recipient one hurting puppy. I figured the fight was over and started resigning myself to the not totally unpleasant thought of getting raped by a ripped catgirl. Estrith didn't even try to dodge. Her scowl just deepened and she spoke with the voice of the completely exasperated.

"For God's sake. I hate that stupid book so much."

Then, to the absolute shock of both myself and Jyotsana, Estrith caught the strike with one claw. The jinko panicked, struggling mightily to extricate her arm from Estrith's grip, but to no avail. The fly girl wasn't even paying attention to the jinko anymore. She held Jyotsana's wrist as casually as I might hold my little sisters' hands when we crossed the street. Instead, Estrith's gaze bored into me.

"I. Am. Not. A. Bug." Estrith enunciated her imprecation the way a parent at the end of their patience with a particularly stupid child might, "I AM AN INSECTOID DEMON!"

With that Estrith contemptuously tossed the jinko girl to the ground. Then she just stood there and growled, "Go home and hump a pillow or something you damn cat."

Now, I might be the son of a monstergirl, but I don't really have any special powers. None of us do. At most we sometimes have a knack that helps out with our home life a bit. For example, the sons of arachne are usually really good at moving through webs without getting stuck. So I've never been able to sense mana in the precise way a monstergirl can. But through either innate talent or experience I can kind of get a vague sense of how much is about. It's more of a sense of whether the current situation is "normal Earth" (read: none) or "Demon Realm" (a LOT). But even I could tell that the local mana had just gone berserk. Our section of the insect forest is usually a sort of low moderate. Enough to be a sort of background noise, but not enough to monsterize a human woman unless she spent years here or got up to a lot of fun adult activities. Yet all of a sudden it felt like a a Dark Demon Realm. A human woman who wandered into this level of monster mana would get mana poisoning almost immediately and would probably monsterize within a few days. And all of that energy was radiating from Estrith. It was like standing next to a bonfire.

Jyotsana must have sensed it too because her eyes narrowed and she kipped up into a defensive crouch. The mana level somehow managed to get even higher as the tiger girl gathered her own magic. Jyotsana clearly had less raw mystic energy but I didn't get the sense the she was weaker exactly. It was hard to describe but it felt like Jyotsana's mana was focused inwards, strengthening her rather than influencing the world around her. I watched, rooted in place by fear as the two monstergirls faced off. One hovering in place on buzzing wings, a contemptuous sneer on her face and wild mana blazing around her. The other coiled like a spring and ready to pounce, snarling as her mana swelled inside her.

When it finally happened I very nearly blinked and missed it. Jyotsana exploded upwards at Estrith, claws first. The fly girl's magic flared as she sharply gestured, sending a wave of destruction crashing downward. There was an explosion and I had to shield my eyes to keep from being blinded. When the stars cleared from my eyes Jyotsana was sprawled on the ground, insensate, and Estrith was checking her pulse.

"Good thing she was completely lust addled. Otherwise that might have been a difficult fight." Estrith's deadpan tone was back as she knelt down and picked up the unconscious tiger girl in a fireman's carry.

"Um, thanks for, um, saving me..." I managed to pick my jaw up off the floor long enough to offer my lame thanks. As grateful as I was, I was also unclear on why Estrith had rescued me. I had shot her down pretty hard the other day. Had she been spying on me? Now that the jinko was down and out would Estrith take her own crack at me?

"You can relax. I'm not going to try to rape you myself." Estrith must have picked up on my fears because a trace of hurt anger had seeped into her tone, "I did this more for her than for you."

"O-oh?"

"She's just a silly girl. This is probably the first time she's really been in heat, or at least the first time she's had a crush while she was in heat. So when a smooth talking he-streamer made her feel loved and appreciated her instincts kicked in and she came after you." the anger in Estrith's voice became more apparent and more bitter, "Her instincts don't understand what a selfish, rotten boy you are."

"What the hell?! Just because I turned you down? You aren't entitl-"

"You don't know anything! The only reason I am- I mean, I WAS, interested in you at all is BECAUSE you- ARGH!" Estrith's mana started to surge around her again as she struggled to control her emotions. Fear started to creep back into my consciousness as I realized I was practically picking a fight with a monster. I wisely kept my mouth shut as Estrith turned her back on me and engaged in some sort of presumably calming breathing exercise.

After a minute or so Estrith spoke again in her neutral monotone, "Just leave. I'll make sure the tiger lady here is delivered home safely."

I didn't respond, worried that anything I might say could set her off again. Instead I was focused on trying to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible when Estrith's voice froze me in my tracks.

"That stupid book is wrong you know." she didn't sound angry this time. Just tired. And sad, "I don't want to guzzle a tall glass of sweat or anything like that. I just like the smell of a man. Is that so wrong? Other... other girls are allowed to do that, aren't they? Don't boys find the thought of a girl sniffing your laundry kind of cute? Or stealing one of your old shirts so she can wear it and be comforted by your scent? The lingering shreds of your mana? Why is it endearing when other girls do that stuff but when I want to do it it makes me some kind of disgusting freak?"

It sounded like she was on the verge of tears. A suppressed sniffle confirmed my suspicions, "Everybody... everybody thinks I'm gross no matter what I do. Even a selfish rotten boy like you won't give me the time of day. Even after I try to save you from your own stupid mistakes..."

Oddly, I didn't get the impression she was talking about the jinko there. I didn't know how to react to this at all. Estrith didn't just seem sad, she sounded like she'd lost all hope. There was genuine despair in her voice. I wondered if I should comfort her. I still didn't want to marry her though. It seemed heartless to just leave but would it be more cruel to be nice to a girl you didn't want?

I was saved from having to make a decision when the Ant rescue party showed up looking for the source of the magical explosion.

***

"It really is the least you can do. She saved you from that jinko after all."

"I don't like her Dad!"

"You are such an ungrateful little-"

"What?! I OWE her for saving me now?! She's ENTITLED to my dick, is that it?!"

"We aren't asking you to marry her." my Mom placed a calming hand on Dad's shoulder, "Just give her a chance. Talk with her. Get to know her a little better."

"I already know her. And I don't want her."

"It's OK if that's your ultimate decision. But your father and I met with her and her parents. I can promise you she would be an excellent partner for you sweetie."

I couldn't go against Mom when she used her super reasonable 'you have a choice but you'll be wrong' voice but I was feeling petulant enough to cross my arms and pout, "Hmph. How would you know anyway..."

"A mother knows. Plus monster mana obviously. I was honestly a little worried. Most of the girls who've been chasing after you aren't the most compatible..."

"My son reinvented the freaking simp phenomenon." Dad grumpily muttered under his breath before Mom silenced him with a look.

"...but it's amazing how good a match Estrith is for you. Your father and I would be OK with the two of you getting married immediately if that was what you wanted."

I was a bit taken aback by that. My Mom loved me, but she was still a monstergirl. It sounded like she was dangerously close to being fine with Estrith straight up raping me into marriage. Heck, the fact that she loved me might make her more likely to encourage it if she thought it was in my best interests. I hastily decided that it might be safer to play along with the soft sell before the girls decided to resort to more proactive measures.

"Ugh, fine. I'll go along with this stupid date. But I promise nothing more than talk!"

My mother's serene smile somehow felt sinister given the circumstances, "That's fine sweetie. No one is asking any more than that."

***

So it was that the next day I found myself a-courtin', walking through one of the colony's underground botanical gardens. The atmosphere was pleasant enough. Glowglobes illuminated a wide variety of plants and fungi with various useful properties. The low key lighting and colorful vegetation might even have been considered romantic. Estrith was dressed in her typical conservative fashion: a thick turtleneck sweater with a long skirt, leggings, and sensible shoes. She looked nice, but I was still a little put off by how my parents had pushed me into the meeting and our limited conversation proved awkward. The situation wasn't helped by our chaperon, a deadpan mantis girl. I didn't know her but our parents had mutually agreed on her suitability as the protector of my virtue so I supposed my virginity was safe at least. Her maid cosplay didn't exactly inspire confidence though. It was sufficiently popular amongst monstergirls to be acceptable streetwear these days but I could never help rolling my eyes at super powerful monsters getting off dressing up in such a girly, submissive costume.

My latest lame attempt to engage Estrith in dialogue had sputtered out ineffectually in the face of her terse formality and I was starting to wonder what the point of it all was. Under ordinary circumstances I'd have thought that a monstergirl would be happy to be on a date with a boy, but I guess she could see how little I wanted to be there. I'd rejected her once already, arguably twice. She probably didn't think that this 'date' would change anything. And she was probably right. My desire to get with a gross fly girl hadn't increased any even if she had saved me. Still, I felt vaguely obligated to at least make the attempt to be nice. Casting about for a topic to resuscitate our dead conversation I decided on something I was genuinely curious about.

"So... My Mom said that our mana is pretty compatible. I, uh, I obviously can't really sense that myself so... what's that like? Being able to sense mana like that?"

Estrith seemed to get a little sad when I mentioned my Mom claiming we were compatible but she recovered and replied in her usual monotone, "It's not a big deal."

"It's literally magic."

"Being able to see would probably seem pretty magical to an earthworm."

"Well then at least tell me how you can determine how compatible a guy and a girl are."

"It's... complicated. A monstergirl could love any man who isn't truly evil. The aspect of mana sense you're asking about just lets you know how much of his type you are. And how much of your type he is. Kind of."

"But when a monstergirl claims a guy their mana fuses right? They're permanently bonded. What happens if a monstergirl claims a guy who isn't a good match for her?"

"It's... not easy to explain. At least not in general."

"Well then what about a specific case? You implied I was a bad match for that jinko girl right?"

That finally got a genuine reaction out of her. Estrith rolled her eyes, "She had no idea what she was getting into with you."

"If she was so wrong for me what WOULD have happened if she'd, uh, 'claimed' me?"

"One or both of you would have changed. Hopefully mostly you."

"That's kind of existentially horrifying."

"She would have loved you with her entire soul."

"That doesn't really address my point."

"If someone who loved you truly and completely looked at you with tears in their eyes because you were breaking their heart, wouldn't you WANT to change?"

"I guess..."

"I should hope so." Estrith frowned and looked away from me, "You're a rotten boy, but you're not evil."

"You know, I'm getting pretty sick of these insults." my temper flared when she ignored me and I raised my voice, "What the hell is your problem anyway?! You claim to want me so much but you keep saying I'm 'rotten' or 'bad'... what have I ever done wrong?! I'm not mean or a bully to anyone, I like to think I'm pretty good to my little sisters, I even slave away with the other ants despite hating it! I think I'm a pretty good guy!"

"You're selfish." Estrith's expression was distant, but there was the hint of something more primal hiding behind it. Her caginess made me even angrier.

"Selfish?! How am I selfish!?" I grabbed Estrith's arm and forced her to look at me, "This is just sour grapes isn't it?! You're mad that I turned you down! You watched my stream, became infatuated with me, and got angry when I didn't reciprocate your affections!"

"I don't watch your streams. I never have."

"Wait, what?" I honestly couldn't believe it. I'd never even considered the possibility that a girl would start fancying me without being a stream fan. Or at least not start watching the stream after she started liking me.

Estrith broke away from me with a forceful jerk and sat down on a large rock with her back to me, "I don't like it that you do those streams."

"Why not?"

"Boys..." her claws were gripping the rock so tightly I could see her muscles bunching between the gaps in the pseudo-chitin, "...boys shouldn't want attention from lots of girls."

"There's nothing wrong with me having fun with lots of girls and bringing them a little bit of happiness!"

"You're such a liar." her claws were actually starting to leave marks in the stone, "You don't want those girls to be happy. You want them to give you attention and praise. You want to know that they all want you. You're GREEDY."

"That's not true!"

"YOU'RE JUST LEADING THEM ON! You don't actually care about any of them! You turn them all down and laugh at them when they prevent each other from claiming you by force! You love the validation of having a bunch of girls chasing you more than you could ever love any one of them!"

"WELL, IF I'M SO BAD THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DO-"

Estrith cut me off, "You don't need a naive girl who's head over heels for you! It isn't right for a boy to have that kind of power over his wife! You need a girl who knows how to put a coquet like you in his place!"

With that Estrith lunged at me and grabbed my collar. Panicking, I tried to push her off but I was no match for her strength. She responded by ripping my shirt open with a single convulsive jerk, "A BOY ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE GREEDY FOR LOTS OF GIRLS! HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE GREEDY FOR ONE GIRL!"

"Mistress, you're breaking your promise." the look in Estrith's eyes made it clear she couldn't care less what our mantis chaperon thought as she continued her monologue.

"Why are you interested in them?! You're just a nice boy's voice that they can listen to without even having to leave their bedrooms! You're a zero effort fantasy to them!" my struggles didn't even inconvenience her as Estrith moved her grip to my wrists and started rubbing her cheek in my chest while sniffing, "I understand you. I appreciate you for what you are. I know that you only have these muscles because you have to do manual labor with the other ants. You need a wife who'll force you to keep working out or you'll go to seed. I know that you're a greedy boy who always wants more. You need a wife who can drown you in your desires until even your avarice is satisfied. Until you've had so much you finally understand the limits of what you're lusting after and can think about what really matters!"

"Mistress." a hint of danger had crept into the mantis girl's voice.

"Why... why does a rotten boy have to smell so good?! Is it some kind of ant pheromone thing you inherited?" Estrith's nose was buried in my chest and she was taking long breaths through her nostrils, "I should punish you for making me want you so much you teasing little slut..."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see the mantis maid locking her arm blades into their attack configuration, "Mistress, I am not asking anymore."

Estrith finally pulled her head away from my chest and snarled, "Will you SHUT UP you impudent insect?! YOU'RE JUST MY SERVANT!"

There was a moment of shocked silence. Estrith looked horrified as she slapped her claws over her mouth, "I... I... I'm sorry... I... I didn't mean..."

"Leave us human." the mantis assumed a fighting stance.

I was able to scramble away from Estrith as she staggered to her feet, "Odelia, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I just.. his scent... I couldn't..."

"I will consider it a greater insult if you hold anything back."

Estrith looked utterly defeated as she stared at her feet and clenched her claws. I could have sworn I saw the beginning of tears before the mantis warned me again, "Leave, human. This is between girls. It is not for a boy's eyes."

I didn't look back as I fled, ineffectually trying to hold my tattered shirt together to hide my shame.

***

I got a few strange looks as I rode the lift system to my family's chambers in the colony. More than one single ant girl eyed my torn shirt and still virgin mana appraisingly. Fortunately ant girls aren't particularly aggressive by monstergirl standards and I was able to make my way home unmolested. Once there I only managed to sneak back into my room undetected to replace my damaged shirt thanks to the chaos of the girls' having a sleepover.

Their guest was one of Little Sister's friends: an ant arachne named Zesriina. Ant arachne were an odd type of spider girl whose appearance mimicked that of ant girls. They were pretty easy for humans to tell apart though; ant arachne literally had distinctive markings on their faces. But for some inexplicable reason ant girls simply could not tell that they weren't ants. In the Old World ant arachne made a lot of hay out of this fact by mooching off of ant girl colonies while pretending to be ants. Of course on Earth, with its preponderance of human husbands, this wasn't possible. It broke their whole society. Some had coped by taking up a more conventional arachne lifestyle. Others had tried to ingratiate themselves into ant culture by making themselves useful. Results varied. There was this whole weird, cuckqueany ant arachne "meido" subculture for example. Zesriina's family had taken an intermediate route. They lived in the colony but made ends meet via the traditional arachne job of apparel services. Granted, they didn't work as hard as ants do, but who does?

Zesriina herself was a very shy girl. She wore an oversized orange cat hoodie everywhere, probably mostly to help hide her face. An observer would usually only see a few tufts of silver hair and the gleam of violet eyes peeking out from the darkness beneath the goofy cat ears. Even her body language was reserved. The hoodie had these 'paw' mitten thingies attached and she usually kept her hands inside them, clutched protectively in front of her. I didn't think I'd heard her say more than a couple of words over the years. It was a pleasant surprise to see her opening up a little while she played with Little and Littlest Sister. Even if she did timidly put her hood back up when she saw me.

Watching Zesriina trying to keep up with my excited sisters was a sufficiently cute diversion that I was able to forget my earlier misadventure with Estrith for a time. While having fun with her friend Little Sister dropped her 'I'm a big ant girl now' routine a bit, and both of the older girls were really good about keeping to activities that Littlest Sister could participate in. They were all so sweet and innocent. I joined them myself when Mom set out a section of scrap paper from the remains of one of the colony's big industrial printer rolls. It covered the whole table and everyone drew their own little armies for a 'paper war'. I played the villain so the girls wouldn't have to go against each other. My horde of crudely drawn monsters (old fashioned ones, not monstergirls) drooled and slobbered their way toward orderly fortifications neatly drawn by Little and Littlest as little spider girl mages drawn by Zesriina trapped the beasts with intricately illustrated webs. The finished product actually looked pretty neat. It was hard to tell, but I think Zesriina was pleased to the point of embarrassment when I complimented her work. Doubly hard since Littlest kept grabbing me and trying to show me something she liked about the picture.

Of course once the girls cuddled up on the couch to watch girly movies it was time for the boys to clear out. Dad retreated to his study as Mom started to make popcorn and the giggling girls tried to decide on what to watch first. For my part I headed to my room to play videogames as usual. I didn't feel much like streaming that night though. Normally sweet monstergirl affirmation made me feel better, but I was still shaken up by Estrith's words and actions. Was what I was doing wrong? Was I being bad? I ended up brooding over a slow paced strategy game and not enjoying myself at all.

After a few troubled hours I was debating undertaking yet another probably doomed attempt to quiet my mind enough to fall asleep when there was a very soft tap at my door. To my surprise I was met by a terrified looking Zesriina. Even more unexpected than her arrival was her attire: little more than a giant men's t-shirt worn like a nightgown. She'd even affected to have one of her shoulders peek out the big neck hole. It wasn't exactly indecent but by Zesriina's standards it was practically pornographic.

"H-h-hi.... I... I um... I had a lot of fun today. E-e-especially with um... especially with you..." my heart fell when I noticed the silk cloth her tangled fingers were nervously worrying, "I... I watch your steams all the time. I really... I really like spending time with you. Do you... do you think you might like to spend more time with me?"

Whether through bravery or anxiety Zesriina's voice sped up as she gained steam and confidence, "You wouldn't have to be my husband right away. We could just be boyfriend and girlfriend. We could get married later if you wanted. Or we could get married right away if you want! My birthday was last month and our age difference is low enough! I checked the laws!"

I suspected Zesriina was more scared than excited at the prospect of claiming a man the old fashioned monster girl way. Her hands trembled as she held up the silk she was holding, "Look! I even made you a jacket!"

The clothing was beautiful. Impossibly complex patterns were embedded directly into the weave and the cut was timeless. I had no doubt it would fit perfectly too. An arachne's wedding gift always would.

"Zesriina... I..." that was enough for her to know I didn't see her that way. That was all I had to say to break her heart. My blood ran cold as I watched the tiny spark of hope in her eyes die.

"O-o-oh... I-I-I..." she could barely start, let alone finish the sentence. Her whole body was shaking with the effort of not breaking down and sobbing on the spot.

This was a scene I'd witnessed more than once. I'd certainly turned down far more than my share of monstergirls over the years. But something about this was so much worse than usual. Maybe because it was one of my little sister's friends: a girl barely upon the threshold of womanhood, a monstergirl so young and innocent she hadn't even considered trapping and raping me. A pure girl so guileless that she couldn't hide her despair the way the others had. Or maybe it was just because Estrith had primed me to think about it a different way. Whatever the reason I couldn't leave it there. I was frantic to make her feel better. I momentarily considered going ahead and marrying her. But only for a moment. It seemed profoundly wrong to claim such a young girl, and one of my little sister's friends to boot! I couldn't get over how vulnerable she was. I thought back to my Mom's comments and my conversation with Estrith. And for the first time the thought crossed my mind that maybe... maybe I wouldn't be good for a girl.

"Zesriina! Zesriina! Look at me!" I grabbed the arachne by the shoulders. The poor girl didn't resist beyond trying to escape my gaze by hiding her face in the jacket, "Look at me! Really look at me! Look at my mana! Tell me, tell me honestly. Are we a good match?"

She didn't respond at first so I gave her a gentle shake, "Zesriina. This is important. Look at me. Look at me with your true sight."

Zesriina finally pulled the silk away from her face and turned her tear filled eyes towards me. After a gentle squeeze her eyes focused and her antennae started twitching. Her expression remained sad but a little bit of uncertainty started to creep in. Encouraged, I prompted her, "Tell me. Are we really that compatible?"

"I... not perfectly, but-"

"Zesriina. You deserve the best husband for you. I know there's a guy out there who's perfect for you."

Zesriina lower lip trembled, "B-b-but I like you..."

"You like the character I play on stream."

"No... I like you.... you're nice and funny and you're really kind to your sisters and if we got married I could be the sister of my best friend..." Zesriina didn't have the confidence to state her case very forcefully but I could tell I wasn't getting through to her. I racked my brain for a a line of argument she'd accept.

"Think about it this way. Wouldn't you like to get your husband all tangled up in your webs? Helpless so you can do whatever you want with him?" the suggestion seemed to spark something primal behind her eyes. There was an inchoate desire there. I could work with that, "Look at my mana. Am I into that?"

"N-no... but... we wouldn't have to do that! It would be OK..."

There was a hint of doubt in her voice. It sounded like she might be trying to convince herself. I sighed, "Zesriina. You're a good girl. You're a good monstergirl. You love deeply and easily, and once you've chosen a husband you love truly. That's amazing. I know you COULD love me, but you shouldn't force yourself. You deserve to be a little selective. It's like I said. You deserve the perfect guy. And... and I know I'm not that guy. I... I have a lot of flaws that I think you're ignoring in the name of your devotion to love."

Zesriina was crying openly now, "I-I-I..."

"Shhh. Shhh. It's OK." I pulled Zesriina into a hug and let her cry on my shoulder. I'd never felt worse about myself. I couldn't believe how much I'd hurt this sweet, innocent girl.

I kept trying to comfort her until she was just sniffling a little. Then I pulled away a bit and looked her in the eyes, "I'll make a promise with you OK? If you promise me that you'll do your best to find a guy who's perfect for you then I'll promise that if we're both still single when you're 25 then I'll marry you. OK?"

I think Zesriina knew that this was little more than an illusory hope but it did seem to cheer her up a tiny little bit. She looked at me with eyes still wet with tears, "Promise?"

"I promise. But you really have to look for a good husband, all right? I know for a fact you can find someone a lot better than me if you try."

"Okay..."

"And will you also promise me that you'll talk with your Mom about this? I'm guessing she didn't know you were planning on getting married tonight."

I almost got her to laugh with that, "No. And I will..."

"You really are a good girl. Everyone wants what's best for you. Even me. I know it isn't easy but..." I didn't know how to finish that. For intents and purposes I'd led her on and then crushed her hopes. There was probably no way to ever truly make that right. For the time being I just hoped I could get her through the night, "Do you want to try going back to sleep now?"

Zesriina just looked at her feet. I took that as a yes and gently led her to Little Sister's room. I grabbed a stuffed animal from Littlest Sister's toy chest on the way and offered it to the ant arachne girl. She wordlessly accepted it and clung to it desperately. She didn't let go as I ushered her into the big pile of pillows and blankets the girls had set up for themselves earlier. Little and Littlest sister must have instinctively known how sad Zesriina was. Even half asleep they snuggled up to her. I didn't think I'd ever been more thankful for them than I was then. I threw a blanket over them all and gently pet Zesriina's spider abdomen through the thick fabric while trying to comfort her with whispers, "You're a good girl... you're a good girl..."

Finally, Zesriina's breathing slowed down shifted into deep, regular breaths of a sleeper. Instead of snores she made cute little barely perceptible mews. I sighed silently to myself. There were worse fates than waking up to a girl like Zesriina. I just didn't think I deserved that anymore. Very carefully I made my way past the detritus of the girls' sleepover and out of Little Sister's room. In the darkness of the hallway I saw my Mom watching me with an impossibly sad look on her face. I couldn't meet her eyes and went back to my room without a word.

****

My Mom must have known, or at least guessed, what had happened. She had a long, private talk with Zesriina the next day. For her part Zesriina seemed sad but resigned. My sisters picked up on it immediately and treated her as nicely as they could. Littlest even offered to give Zesriina the stuffed animal she'd slept with, despite not having any idea why the spider girl had been clinging to it so tightly. Monstergirls really were something special.

Uncertain of what to do I just tried to stay out of everyone's way. Eventually Zesriina's Mom came to pick her up and there was another long private conversation between the sad little spider and her Mother. I couldn’t bear being there when she left. All I could do was hope she'd be OK.

I spent a lot of time thinking after that. About the things Estrith had said. About Zesriina. About all of the other girls I'd turned down. It seemed pretty clear what I had to do. I sent out the usual notification for a nightly stream and added a note that it was going to be a special one. When the time came to go live I didn't bother with a game or any kind of special effects. It was just me and the camera.

"Hey, Super Myrmecology Club Members. Welcome to a special stream." it was hard to talk. I felt like I was going to start crying any minute. I swallowed hard and tried to muster my courage, "It... it means a lot to me that you showed up. It means a lot to me that so many of you have spent your precious time with me over the years. This may sound cheesy but I care about every single one of you. You're all good girls. That's... that's why this is going to be my last stream."

The chat went berserk at that. I couldn't bear to watch it, "I also need to apologize. Or I guess I should say that I'm quitting because I need to apologize."

I sighed and took a moment to compose myself, "A lot of you have spent quite a bit of time with me. Some more than others. I'm humbled that so many of you have chosen to be here with me. But you were wrong. You shouldn't have spent any time with me. Oh, I suppose some of you might be alright. If you just nip in on occasion for a few minutes of brief amusement. Or those of you who might watch a highlight clip every once in a while. But I think those of you who this applies to know who you are. If you're honest with yourselves. Those of you who have feelings for me. Any kind of feelings. Or at least any kind of feelings which lead you to spend energy on me. Or worse yet, have hopes about me. That isn't right. This medium, it's fundamentally asymmetric. I can act like I'm a friend or companion to every single one of you. For those of you on the receiving end it can feel very real. I'm ashamed of the amount of effort I've put into fostering that impression. But it's all a lie. I can't be that for all of you. Even if I wanted to, how many could I fulfill that role for in reality? One? Two? Three? How many would that leave behind? How much of your effort, of your hopes would have been wasted on me then? I'm so sorry I've led you all on. I've hurt every one of you. At the absolute minimum I've wasted your time."

I looked directly into the camera. If I had any charisma, any intrinsic persuasive ability at all, I prayed that it would make them listen to this final appeal, "Please. After I'm gone please, please don't just pick up another streamer. You're all good girls. You deserve real husbands. Please go out there in the real world and find them."

I reached over and prepared to press the end button for the stream, "Please though, seriously, you're all good girls. Please be OK. Please do things that will make you be OK. I guess.... I guess that's all. Goodbye."

I pressed the button and the live stream went dead. I stared at my own face in the local feed for a while. I wondered if I'd done the right thing. I wondered if I'd done enough to make up for what I'd already done. Whatever the case I thought I'd done what I could.

But there was still one more thing I had to do.

***

At first I thought I was at the wrong house. I had assumed that a housefly girl would live in a dump. But the house at the address was huge, easily in mansion territory. It had a wall, a gate, multiple outbuildings, the whole nine yards. The only thing about the place which might have fit my preconceptions was how eclectic it was. It looked like it had been built in stages and that every stage had used a distinctive style. Here a bit of Rococo burst out of a Classical facade like a tumor. There a Brutalist concrete bunker served as the foundation for a Gothic tower. Whoever built the place had very odd and variable states.

I was met at the gate by the mantis girl maid who'd chaperoned my date with Estrith. I was secretly chagrined to learn that her maid outfit was apparently legitimate and not an affectation. I also managed to remain tactful enough not to ask her about her fading black eye. I might have been intensely curious to learn how that fight had ended but the maid had made her opinion on boys knowing about such things abundantly clear. Instead I meekly followed the maid to a beautifully furnished room with two facing couches and patiently waited after the maid gestured for me to sit and told me that Estrith's parents would see me shortly.

As it turned out, Estrith's mother was not even vaguely what I expected. Excepting a handful of times, Estrith was always prim and proper. I'd figured her mother would be the same. Given the size of the house I was expecting a put together businesswoman type. Or a demure housewife. Instead, she looked like a caricature of a lewd older woman. The sitting room was full of things which cost more than my gaming setup but she opted to meet me wearing nothing but a bathrobe. Her massive breasts constantly threatened to escape from the cavalierly fastened garment and her voluminous silver hair was in a similar state of wild disarray. It was painfully obvious that she had just come from having sex. She looked impossibly smug, like the cat who'd got the cream. Which I guess technically she was.

Conversely, I might have expected Estrith's father to be just as lewd as his wife. But he looked like nothing so much as a prissy high school student government member. I'd heard about this, monstergirl husbands changing to suit the preferences of their wives, but I'd never personally encountered as extreme a case as a husband looking like a teenager. In keeping with the apparent theme his outfit was an impeccably tailored cross between a tweed suit and a school uniform. He even wore spectacles. The only evidence of the couple's recent activity was his slightly askew glasses and a bit of shirt not properly tucked in, both of which he fixed as I watched. And, unlike his wife, he seemed extremely embarrassed to be found out. Taken together with his wife's appearance it was clear Estrith's mother's preferences ran toward 'corrupt older woman takes advantage of prudish, barely legal boy'.

Estrith's father gave me a sour look and bitterly asked his wife, "Are you absolutely sure?"

She hugged him, making sure to rub her breasts against his arm, and giggled, "I know it's hard to believe but they're extremely compatible."

With him glaring at me I could see that his eyes betrayed his true age. It took everything I had not to wither under that stare as he dressed me down, "Now listen, you little punk. If my wife wasn't vouching for you I wouldn't let you within a country mile of my little angel. As it is you'd better treat her right or else I'll drop kick you into next week."

"Y-yessir."

"Aw, honey, you sound just like my father. He threatened you the exact same way."

"Hmph. Whatever. I guess I have to let you go with your plan."

"I love you honey."

Estrith's father grudgingly hugged his wife back. Then he gave me one last dirty look and left us alone.

The older woman laughed, "Don't mind him. He'll come around. Come on, I'll take you to see Estrith."

She gestured for me to follow her and led me up a stairwell to the second floor of the mansion. On the way I noticed a collection of photos. Most of them were about what you'd expect: the family together with Estrith at various ages, relatives, that sort of thing. But one of the pictures stood out to me. It showed a beelzebub girl about Estrith's age. I might have mistaken the girl for her but there were some key differences. She wore glasses and had braces for example. She was wearing clothes far more casual than anything I'd ever seen Estrith wear. But the biggest difference was her demeanor. Estrith's public face was uptight, rigid, inflexible. It was like a shield. This girl was far more vulnerable. She practically cringed away from the camera with shyness.

Estrith's mother noticed what I was looking at and joined me by the photos. She tenderly placed a claw on the picture of the smiled wistfully, "That's me. I was such a dork back then. I had all these crazy emotions and desires but I was too shy to do anything about it. After puberty I don't think I felt comfortable in my own skin until my beloved saved me."

"That sounds a little familiar."

The older fly girl's mask completely slipped. It was disturbing to see so much fear and concern on a face which seemed more suited to smug lewdness, "I've been so worried about my baby. She closes herself off from me, from everyone. She's been repressing herself so hard and I don't know why or how to fix it. She's ripping herself in half..."

I thought back to the whipsaw changes I'd seen where Estrith had bounced between straitlaced girl and near rapist within the space of a few moments, "I think I know what you mean."

"I think you do." the hope in her voice seemed to reinvigorate her and the smug smile came back, "Now come on. You've timed this perfectly. Just be really quiet or you'll spoil the surprise."

Curious, I crept after Estrith's mother as she led me to an innocuous looking door. She put one claw to her lips and very carefully opened the door so it wouldn't make a sound. This revealed the sight of Estrith's bedroom. Or at least I assumed it was her bedroom since she was lying on a bed spread-eagled while frantically plunging one of her claw fingers into her vagina. She was facing slightly away from the doorway so she could look at a stuffed animal which had been propped up at the foot of the bed. Oddly, she seemed to be directing verbal abuse at the toy.

"AH! You see this? umph... YOU CAN"T HAVE ANY! Stupid rotten boy... ah! You can can jerk off alone!"

"I think this is what my husband's old comic books called 'tsundere'."

"MOM?!"

"You really should secure your door if you're going to do that dear. Anyway, have fun kids!" Estrith's Mom give me a shove and I heard the door lock behind me.

For a moment Estrith and I just stared at each other. Both of us were completely frozen in shock. The impasse was finally broken when a single dribble of Estrith's ... 'juices'... trickled down her inner thigh, catching my eye. When she saw what I was looking at her propriety finally kicked in. Estrith made a cute eeping noise and threw her blankets over herself.

The following silence was as awkward as it was oppressive. I could only imagine how mortified prim and proper Estrith was under her impromptu blanket fortress. I sighed deeply and pulled a chair next to the bed. There was no response whatsoever from the pile of blankets. After some more awkward silence I'd managed to nerve myself up to do what I’d come to do.

"I've been doing a lot of thinking. About what you said earlier and about other... stuff. And I think you were right. About a lot of things. Most importantly I think you were right about me. In retrospect you're the only girl who understands me at all. You're the only one who ever saw through my bullshit. Let alone called me out on it. I think... I think I need you. I think I need to marry you."

The blankets shifted. A tiny tunnel formed and I was pretty sure Estrith was looking at me from somewhere inside. I waited, but there was no other response forthcoming. Thinking back to Estrith's Mom's story I wondered if I was supposed to take the initiative here. Was Estrith trapped between her desires and whatever was making her repress those desires? I tentatively reached out with one hand. Nothing happened so I carefully slipped it under the covers. I felt the warm flesh of what felt like Estrith's thigh. Slowly I slid my hand up until I felt wetness. I stopped there and waited again. Nothing happened. I knew from experience that Estrith could toss me around like a rag doll if she wanted so did that mean she was implicitly consenting? I swallowed hard and explored more with my fingers. I found the source of the wetness. It was surprising how easily my finger slipped in. There was a muffled gasp and Estrith started bucking against my hand. I tried to help out by thrusting and wiggling my digit. I can't imagine my technique was any good given my total lack of experience but monstergirls are sex on easy mode. It wasn't long before I could feel Estrith's entire body shudder. A strange feeling came over me. I could tell it had something to do with mana. I lacked the true mana sense to know exactly what it was, but it didn't take a genius to infer that Estrith's mana was fusing with mine.

Figuring that I may as well complete the old style monster wedding (and more than a little aroused myself) I lifted the blankets and crawled under. I could just make out Estrith's flushed face in the dim light. The instant my pants were unbuckled she wrapped her legs around me and pulled me close. Now, I wasn't proud of how long I lasted. In my defense it was my very first time and she felt AMAZING. After an experience that felt like all of the fluid in my body had been sucked out through my dick I collapsed beside her, gasping and completely spent. I barely had the energy to turn my head and smile wanly at my new wife. The look of crazed hunger on her face was not exactly reassuring. Before I knew it she'd flipped me on my back and was straddling me. To my horror her mana had completely obviated my refractory period and I was already hard again. I could feel the heat of Estrith's sex above my member as a single drop of her wetness fell on me.

"You greedy boy. You went right ahead and put your finger in me. And then you climbed into my bed and fucked me. Just like that! You just went ahead and took what you wanted!" Estrith's tone indicated excitement rather than disapproval, "And now you think you're done?! You think you can just take what you wanted, roll over, and go to sleep?!"

"Don't you remember, you rotten boy?" Estrith engulfed me in a single rough movement, heedless of my pitiful moan of pleasure, "I PROMISED TO DROWN YOU IN YOUR OWN DESIRES!"

***

At some point I'd lost track of time. I'd eventually given up trying to participate and simply let Estrith use me to satisfy her pent up lust. Finally she climaxed one last time, riding me like a cowgirl with her claws gently clasped around my throat, and collapsed on top of me. I'd thought she was simply exhausted, but to my surprise she was crying.

"Why do you always bring out the worst in me?! I try so hard to be a good girl but you drive me so crazy I do bad things!"

It was hard to think straight, what with having been so vigorously taken and all, but her pained turmoil broke my heart. I thought back to the quiet, uptight girl I knew from school; a distaff version of her serious and reserved father. It was hard to believe that the wild beast who'd been ravaging me was the same person. If anything the crazed look on her face had seemed even more desperately hedonistic than mother's smug, indulgent expression. Estrith's mother's fear haunted me. Was Estrith at war with herself? Which was the real her? And why did she feel that she had to suppress a part of herself? I didn't know the answer, but watching her struggle was torturing me. In that moment I would have done anything to make her happy.

"Ssh. Ssh. It's OK." I wrapped one arm around her lower back and slowly drew her closer to me. Her grip on my throat loosened as she slowly relaxed on top of me, her hips still halfheartedly thrusting, and I held her tight with one arm as I stroked her hair with the other, "Just let it all out."

"I- I- I don't want to be a bad girl... I want to be good and sensible." Estrith's eye's were shut tight as she pressed her face into my chest, "I don't want to be some gross sweat pig stereotype. I don't want to be a slovenly girl who wallows in pleasure. I want to be respectable."

Without warning she balled her claws up into little fists and started softly pounding on my chest, "It's all your fault! You rotten greedy boy! You have to be so pretty and smell so good and be so stupid and infuriating and lead all the girls around by their noses and you make me want to rape all that stupid smug superiority out of you!"

"It's OK. It's all OK. I won't do that anymore."

"But now... now I did all these bad things with you and you know I'm really a bad girl!"

"There's nothing bad about doing those things with your husband."

"There is when you do it over and over again! There is when you never stop! When your hungers are insatiable! I've been holding you down and using you constantly and I still want more!" Estrith choked back a sob and wailed, "I'm a gross piggy!"

"Estrith, sweetie, I think you're being way too hard on yourself. I'm not exactly surprised a monstergirl has an outsized libido. Ant girls aren't exactly know for their aggression but God knows I've seen my Mom ask Dad for 'help with something' before disappearing with him many, many times." I rolled my eyes remembering the first time I realized what he was helping her with, "Why does this bother you so much?"

Estrith sniffled a little and hugged me tighter, "You thought I was gross before..."

I winced. She had me there. Estrith continued, "Everybody thinks beelzebubs are disgusting. Gross sweat pigs, cum guzzling weirdos, name your repulsive gluttonous stereotype."

"That's just ignorance. I'll admit it. I was ignorant before."

"Is it? We're talking right now but all can think about is how much I want to put your dick in my mouth and taste your seed! I'm a gross greedy piggy..." something seemed to shift in her and she whispered "...just like my Mommy."

Ah. It seemed we were getting to the heart of the issue. I kept stroking her hair and hugged her a little tighter, "Estrith, your Mom seems like a really nice lady."

"She just does whatever she wants! If it wasn't for Daddy we'd be trapped in a boom and bust cycle!"

"But if your Daddy were alone would there be any boom at all?"

Estrith was taken aback by that, "Well... I don't know.... it's just so frustrating how Mommy acts! I don't want to be a lusty stereotype like her! I want to be a good girl! I want to be sensible and not gross! But now... after everything... I'm a piggy after all..."

I sighed. It would probably take a lot of time and love for her to get over this but that was no reason not to start now, "Estrith, it sounds like your Mom and Dad are a good team. It sounds like they help each other out and complement each other. Will you promise me that we can try to do the same thing?"

"I-I guess..."

"Earlier I said that you understood me. I still think that's true. I do... lots of bad things. I need you to help me the way you said you would OK?"

"OK..."

"In return I'll try to help you too. For now let's keep it simple. I don't think it's good for you to keep bottling everything up like this. If you want to do naughty things then let me know, OK? I don't want you to try to suppress that anymore. I think it will be healthier if you satisfy your 'hungers' more regularly instead of crushing them down until they explode."

"But what if I still want to do it all the time?!"

"I am a guy Estrith. I'm not going to complain THAT much. Besides, I understand that you may have a a bit of an, um, 'backlog' you need to work through."

"I'll try..."

"Good girl." Estrith smiled a little as I gave her a head pat, "And try to be a little easier on your Mom. I'm sure she frustrates you a lot but she really does love you. I mean, if you think about it she literally delivered a boy to your door."

I finally got a real laugh out of her with that. Estrith placed her head on my chest smiled, "Thank you... husband. I- I was always too afraid to say it before but.... I love you."

"I love you too."

***

We didn't get much sleep that night. When we finally woke up and wandered downstairs we were greeted by a continental breakfast and a note saying that we should take the car to tell my parents the good news once we were done. After a light meal and a shower (including some molestation by monstergirl, something which I expected to be a common feature of my showers in the future) the mantis girl maid drove us to the ant colony. It was kind of wild taking the vehicle access tunnels to my house in a small limousine. In a way it was exactly the kind of splashy royal treatment I'd always hoped for from my future wife. But now that it was actually happening I couldn't care less. I only had eyes for Estrith. And she seemed troubled.

"Is everything OK, sweetie?"

Estrith fidgeted nervously, "Do you think your whole family will be home for a while?"

"Probably. Why?"

I must have watched for a good half minute as Estrith struggled to admit what she wanted. I hoped it was a good sign that she was remembering her promise when candor won out, "I... I want to rape husband in his childhood bed..."

I laughed and gave her a hug, "I promise we'll get around to that. We can kick everyone out if we have to."

In response Estrith just hugged my arm and hid her face in my shoulder. I stroked her hair and enjoyed the warmth of her embrace until we arrived at our destination. Oddly, the maid drove away once she dropped us off. I didn't know if that was normal for limos or not so I didn't say anything. Of course, once we got inside it was madness. Mom wanted to hug us both, Dad awkwardly fiddled with his pipe uncertain what to say, Littlest shyly hid behind Dad only occasionally peeking out curiously at Estrith, and Little Sister stood off to the side looking oddly cranky.

I assumed that Little Sister was just putting on her usual standoffish 'big ant girl' routine so as soon as I could extricate Estrith from Mom I dragged her over to introduce her to Little Sister. The reaction was not what I expected. Little Sister got increasingly agitated as I went through the introduction and suddenly snapped. Without warning she gave Estrith a big push, sending the fly girl staggering backwards. Everyone goggled in shock as Little Sister tried to follow up on her attack with a charge but I managed to recover my senses enough to grab Little Sister and hold her back. She could have easily thrown me off, but antgirls have incredibly strong instincts to not hurt human boys. Instead Little Sister resorted to angrily yelling.

"Let go of me! I hate her!" I realized that however mad Little Sister was trying to act she was crying too, "She's stealing my Big Brother away! I HATE HER!"

"Is that true?! Is Big Brother going away?!" Littlest clearly hadn't thought through the implications of my marriage until just now. The panic in her voice was heartbreaking.

"Of course, stupid! That slut grabbed him and she's going to take him away all for herself and we'll never see him again!"

"No, that's not going to-"

"DON'T LIE TO ME! I HATE HER! SHE'S STEALING YOU! I HATE HER!"

"O~HOHOHO! I understand the sentiment. You would not believe how hard she was to potty train! But you don't need to worry about her spiriting your brother away just yet!"

I had to admit, Estrith's Mom really knew how to make an entrance. She'd come out of my bedroom followed by thick clouds of obviously magical smoke wearing a sexy parody of a construction worker's outfit. The hard hat seemed legitimate, but I was pretty sure you were supposed to wear a shirt under the high visibility vest which covered more of your cleavage than the vest itself.

"MOM?! What are you doing here?!"

"Moving you in silly."

"Moving me- what?!"

Estrith's Mom waved her hand dismissively as her clipboard bearing husband followed her out of the cloud, "Your new parents and us talked it over. We think that living here would be much better for you. It really isn't proper for a newlywed bride to have a maid. Unless she's into 'the bicorn lifestyle' if you know what I mean. No, no, much better for you to live with your mother in law, at least until your husband graduates."

"But... my room...."

"Psh. You can't have that room back. I've been feeling nostalgic for high school lately so I'm going to turn it into a game room. Invite my old friends over, play a dorky game, have a lot of fun. Only THIS time around we're going to have REAL boys on hand afterwards. None of that imaginary husbandu nonsense." the matronly fly girl smirked lewdly and smacked her husband's butt for emphasis.

"M-m-mom!"

"Relax, we moved all of your stuff here. Used some pocket dimension chicanery to make the place a little bigger, gave you a private bath, soundproofing..." she winked broadly, "... we kept the bed the same though. There's something magical about squeezing into a twin with your husband."

Estrith was reduced to dumbly opening and closing her mouth, unable to process what was happening. Her mother smirked and walked over to me and my sisters. The girls had been flummoxed into soundless immobility just like Estrith so there was no resistance as Estrith's Mom took both their hands and knelt down to their level.

"Now listen you two. Estrith is officially the newest, and therefore youngest, daughter in this family. You both outrank her. You have to promise me that you'll both make sure she does all of her chores. Be sure to bully her a lot, OK?"

It was a masterful redirection. Littlest nodded her head solemnly as if the colony's queen had just given her an important mission, fears of losing me forgotten. Better yet, Little's hot anger had dissipated in an instant. Although I suppose Estrith might not have found the sinister mien Little Sister had replaced it with very reassuring. I had the feeling that my home life wasn't going to get boring anytime soon.

On the bright side, Estrith's Mom had said that my childhood bed was now soundproofed. I was going to be able to fulfill Estrith's latest wish sooner than expected....

***

EPILOGUE

The colony's arboretum was beautiful. A huge, magically strengthened and clarified quartz crystal let sunlight filter deep into a massive open chamber to sustain oxygen generating green trees and plants. Several types of non-ant monsters made their home in the unique underground biome and provided services which made the whole colony even more self sufficient. It was also a popular relaxation destination. Human husbands and sons liked the change of pace from underground tunnels and chambers while ant girls liked it when their boys were happy.

It had only been a week since Estrith and I had gotten married the old fashioned monster way. She'd dragged me along with her despite my protests, insisting that I needed more cardio. However much I wanted to sleep in it was hard to argue with her when she was probably right, and I had promised her that I'd let her help me be better. Running through the natural setting was even kind of fun. Although I did wish she hadn't grabbed the receiver for my heart rate monitor and buzz bombed me to get me to go faster when my heart rate got too low....

When my run and her flight were over we'd stopped on a grassy hillock to rest. Soon enough the rest had turned into a nap for Estrith. I let her sleep. She was running herself ragged trying to keep up with ant tier chores. Littlest's requests were mostly along the lines of 'play with me' or 'read me a story'. Estrith seemed to enjoy those tasks. I was pretty sure that she'd make a great Mom. But Little Sister took sadistic delight in finding difficult and time consuming jobs to inflict on the new 'junior' sister. I appreciated her desire to get revenge on the girl who stole her big brother, but there were limits. Did the underside of the banister really need a weekly wax?

In slumber Estrith's body was honest. She clutched me possessively, almost desperately, and her face was troubled. I was really starting to think that her mother had gotten to the heart of it. Estrith had repressed herself. She was running away from being both her mother and a stereotype of her race. So she brutally crushed her own heartfelt desires. But now that I was getting to know her better I was really starting to see the brittleness of the act. It wasn't good for her. Especially now that we were married. There was no need for her to vacillate between white knuckled sobriety and gorging on sex in bed with me at night followed by pangs of guilt that she'd gone so crazy. She didn't have to hide who she was anymore. It was OK to do naughty things with your husband.

I tenderly stroked her silky silver hair and she visibly relaxed a little. Estrith so obviously wanted what was best for me. Every day I reaffirmed my desire to help her too. She already seemed to be calming down a bit as it started to sink in that she could have me whenever she wanted. She didn't have glut herself on my affection as if I could cast her away forever at any moment. I was trying to do small things to reinforce the point. She liked unsolicited hugs and headpats. A little bit of well earned praise here and there. She'd been helping Mom in the kitchen a lot so I always made a point to complement her when a dish turned out well. I'd also remembered her comment about wearing clothes that a boy had worn for the little bit of scent and mana which clung to them. So I was trying to 'accidentally' leave things around for her to 'steal'. It was a fine line. She liked them used but they couldn't be too dirty. She really wasn't a sweat pig. I guess keeping track of her preferences and catering to them wasn't that much different than how I'd managed my stream fans. Except now I was using those skills for a real relationship, not a virtual one.

I heard one of the air circulators change state and the wind shifted. Estrith's antennae twitched and she groggily mumbled, "Someone's coming."

Sure enough, I spotted a man slowly making his way toward us. He didn't seem threatening so I let him come. Once her got close enough he greeted us with a friendly wave.

"Damn. They got you too, hunh?"

I immediately recognized the young man once he spoke. He was Jürgen, a well known upperclassman from school. Not only was he both an athlete AND a mathlete but he was blessed with classically good looks: chiseled jaw, blond hair, great figure, and piercing blue eyes. The minor mystery of how he hadn't been claimed by a monstergirl yet was a common topic of school gossip. Now however his good looks had suffered somewhat thanks to dark circles under his eyes and a spastic twitching betraying a tale of far too little sleep. Despite these clues I wasn't certain what he was talking about.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"I guess you got caught too early to find out. About a week ago half the girls in school had a big powwow. No idea what set it off but after that it was open season on boys. There have been more marriages since then than there have been the rest of the year!" Jürgen shuddered, "They're everywhere. I heard a few guys even got taken in their own beds! Parents probably approved of those, but still... I've been on the run ever si-"

He started as a woman approached us but relaxed visibly when he realized she was just a human, "-since then. Figured an ant colony would be a good place to hide. Not many aggressive girls and the place is a maze. I've been tapping into the communications grid to warn other guys but I-"

Jürgen really was something special. He managed to look graceful even when falling after being hit by a stunner blast. The hellhound who burst out of the bushes managed to catch him before he hit the ground. The demonic dog girl lovingly cradling the boy and the human woman brandishing the fateful stunner reminded my of nothing so much as one of those old paintings of a stricken general dying on the battlefield. As his consciousness slipped away Jürgen's look of shock changed to one of betrayal at the sight of a beatifically smiling bicorn slowly walking towards the tableau, hands folded demurely in front of her.

"Why..."

"I'm so sorry beloved. I was willing to bide my time, waiting for you to ripen even more. I'm ashamed to admit that my motives were even more selfish than simply claiming you would have been. I rather enjoyed the delayed gratification. The denial. I'd really created a bit of a delightful conundrum for myself and myself alone. I should have considered how hard it was on you. Sleeping alone in that cold bed every night. Did you mistake my secret protection for the disdain of other girls? I'm so sorry."

Jürgen seemed to fight off the effects of the stunner with sheer willpower for a brief moment, "Dammit. I should have known. Just because you never tried to rape me before I thought... you were... safely... in friendzooo........"

"Shh husband. It's all right. Sleep now. This is for the best. I wasn't considering the effects my delay was having on my sister wives either. Poor Susan. She suffered in a cold bed too. A girl really shouldn't have to celebrate her 25th birthday alone." the bicorn turned and looked me in the eye, "We have your schoolmate over there to thank for this. If it wasn't for his pep talk I don't think Ininise would have been inspired to spur us into action. Sometimes even a hellhound needs some encouragement!"

The human girl had finally managed to get her stunner hidden in her purse again and tentatively approached the bicorn, "D-Did I do a good job?"

The bicorn smiled benevolently and gave the human woman a hug, "You did great."

"Do you, do you think I'll monsterize soon?"

"Oh Susan. You're our sister wife. We love you for who you are. The important part of being a monstergirl is what's inside. You don't have to undergo a magical transformation for that. Both of us know you're a good girl. And soon husband will to!" the woman buried her face in the bicorn's chest as they hugged again. When they finally pulled apart the bicorn winked, "But if you do monsterize I'm sure it will be something with horns."

"That would be for the best." the hellhound had apparently finished checking over the now unconscious young man and hoisted him over one shoulder before slapping his ass to punctuate her pronouncement, "It will be pretty hard for a proud hellhound like me to share a man at all. Things will work best if you queans mostly watch."

The bicorn's smile didn't waver but her eyes betrayed a tremendous smugness, "Oh my. If you keep refusing to be honest with yourself then it will be up to your sister wives to help you. Even if that means tying you up for your own good..."

"W-w-what?! I-I-I keep telling you I'm not into that!" the hellhound's denials were rather unconvincing given that she was blushing so hard you could see it even through her ashen skin, "I don't want to be tied up and forced to watch husband have his way with you two! That's sick! What kind of hellhound would be into that?!"

The only response from the bicorn and human was giggles as they walked away arm in arm. The hellhound growled and readjusted her grip on their new husband before starting after them, "Stop it! I totally don't want to do that! I'M NOT A CUCKQUEAN!"

Estrith and I simply goggled open mouthed as we watched the soon to be newlyweds leave. Estrith finally broke the silence, "Wait, what was that about a pep talk? When did you encourage a hellhound to conspire with a bicorn and a freaking human Christmas cake to proactively date one of the most eligible bachelors at our school?"

I was pretty sure I knew what had happened and the far reaching consequences of my actions weighed down on me. In the moment all I could manage to do was give my wife a haunted look and clasp her hand, "Promise me Estrith. Promise me one thing."

My sudden intensity clearly concerned my wife but, bless her heart, she assented immediately, "Of course husband. Anything."

"If we ever have sons we will NEVER let them be streamers!"

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Anonymous

I WANT THAT BICORN'S STORY