TohruxNatsuno, GarekixYogi. Natsuno realized it. He figured Tatsumi knew it, too. The reason why there were so few Jinrou. Had it been Megumi that killed him he would have just turned into an ordinary Shiki. But he wasn't, and it wavered his resolve to kill "all" Shiki. There was one he would protect. Had to. From anything.
Gareki was finally back on Ship Two as the first combat physician. He'd hoped to be able to take a bit of time to get back into the routine its residents tended to set, but not two days after his arrival Circus is called to an isolated country that was just recently attacked by "savage monsters that move in the night and kill without mercy, changing some of their victims into their own kind."

I am now a very very bad girl, starting another story again when I have 4 (5 with the one I started two days ago) that still need to be completed. But I just love these characters and I hate how Shiki ended so I wanted to write things for them! And it seems to go really well with Karneval. Again, I have Salt-the-Catgirl to thank for the inspiration to write this one, so I hope she enjoys it.

This first chapter focuses just on the Shiki side of things, as the next chapter will (mostly) be just Karneval, setting things up for the two worlds to collide. I still haven't determined exactly how the two groups meet, but with the two sets of leads being so similar you know something funny is most likely to occur.

I know that some of the events in this are different from anime (I haven't read the manga for either series, btw), but since the ending isn't supposed to be the same as it was for the anime I think I can be granted the little leeway.

Natsuno is wearing the outfit he had on whenever he seemed to be in a tree (spying on Tohru leaving flowers, talking to Ozaki). It also won't be shown (though I might mention it in the next chapter that you see him in) but he does at one point go back and retrieve his other outfits from his house. I just like the one with the big checkered coat so I put him in that, even though it is only references once really.

Okay, so I have a habit and making new nouns based on hair color. In some stories I use bluenette to describe with blue hair, silverette for silver, ravenette for black, etc. Purple is a little harder, so violette is what it ended up becoming. It's used to provide reference to Natsuno, whose hair is a dark purple. It's just one more noun to use to help prevent redundancy when referring to characters.

I do not own Shiki or Karneval :'(

Chapter 1: Plans Change

He stood by silently as the two teenagers absorbed what he'd just told them, the good doctor also respectfully staying silent. This was a lot for them to take in, but he needed their full cooperation if it was to work. He knew he had told Toshio Ozaki before that he planned on destroying all of the Shiki, himself included, but that was before. His mind had shifted that night he told Tohru he would never forgive him for what he'd done. The pain on the blonde's face made his heart clench, and he almost revoked his words right there, but stubbornness kept him silent. Over the next few days as a plan formed in his mind he was able to think it through more clearly, and almost as if someone had lifted a fog in his mind, he suddenly understood his own being more clearly than ever before. He wasn't sure where this knowledge had come from, he just knew. Now he stood in silence and waited for the two to answer his request.

"I'll do it," the boy said determinedly, locking eyes with the Jinrou. "I'll give you my blood."

Glancing over at her brother, Kaori slowly nodded in understanding before turning back to face her friend. "I will, too," she replied. "If what you said is true, then... Please save Tohru."

Nodding his head, and sending a quick look in Toshio's direction to make sure the man wasn't going to try to stop him or stake him, Natsuno glided across the floor to the siblings. He didn't particularly want to do this, but unfortunately it was necessary. Violet eyes going dark with a red ring around his crimson pupils, his lips parted to reveal the set of elongated canines now adorning his mouth. Titling Akira's head to the side, he hunched down and, as gently as possible, pierced the pliable skin with his fangs. Warm liquid rushed into his mouth, heart beating faster as his Okiagari nature relished the feast while his human conscious revolted against it. While he held no disdain towards Tohru for drinking, he had no need for the substance so it felt wrong to have it in his mouth. Still, he would require the extra strength it would provide him, so he begrudgingly swallowed the thick liquid.

This was different from the time he hypnotized Ozaki to prevent Chizuru from controlling him. He'd barely taken any of the doctor's blood at that time because he didn't bite him to feed. This time he was drinking the life from another person, a sensation all its own, and for a fraction of a second he thought he understood what drove the Shiki so fervently. He didn't need blood to survive, but he could feel the monster inside him reveling at the taste. No doubt it was even worse for the Shiki.

Taking as much as he dared from his first donor, the young Jinrou lifted his head from the boy's neck and licked the few, straying drops from his lips. To his credit, Akira remained conscious, albeit showing signs of lethargia. He also grinned at the older male despite the fact that his blood now rested in the Okiagari's stomach. Turning to face the girl, who gulped despite herself after watching him feed off her brother, he carefully pulled his body onto the bed. He was sitting facing her now, the look in his red-lit eyes saying she could stop him if she wanted to, but she just took a deep breath and tilted her head to the side for him. Giving a nod so inperceivably slight the three wondered if they even saw it, he leant forward and bit into her neck. And again he felt that rush of sickening pleasure to drinking of someone else's blood.

Toshio had remained in the doorway the entire time, watching the scene unfold before him. It was strange to him to think that he was doing nothing while watching an Okiagari feed on children, but the two had willingly offered when he asked. It was almost mesmerizing to watch the violet-haired teen feed, leaving a bad taste in his mouth as each pull of that pale throat stole more of the siblings' blood. It wasn't his place to intervene, though, especially since he'd already agreed to let the Jinrou ask.

When Natsuno had finished he silently stood and glanced between his two friends. While Akira was still holding on to the waking world, Kaori was slipping off into unconsciousness by a combination of blood loss, fatigue and stress. His eyes once again their purple hue, he stated simply, "I will do everything in my power to make them pay. And to bring Tohru back." Then he turned on the ball of his foot and stalked right out the door. He could see the disapproving scowl on the good doctor's face, but he had more pressing matters to attend to than a more polite farewell to his patrons. Tonight they would kill Chizuru, tomorrow raid the mansion, and if all went well, by the time the sun set that night the only Okiagari left would be himself and Tohru.

The plan itself was too simple, though, and he knew it. Holes littered its makeup, not the least of which the fact that only a small portion of "Sunako's children" resided in the mansion. Tatsumi would be a problem to deal with, too, the much older Jinrou more prepared and experienced when it came to close combat. He would need something up his sleeve to win that fight. And help, he added to himself, gazing out the window at the bright sun. Either way, things were already set in motion, and he couldn't risk slowing down. More than one life depended on it...

"So what happened to your 'I'm going to kill all the Shiki, including myself' spiel from before?" Toshio asked, falling in step beside the teen. "You seemed pretty determined at the time to eradicate your own race from the planet."

"At the time I thought that was only way," he replied calmly, hands thrust into his pockets. "That there was no place in this world for the Okiagari. But now I know that is not true. It is just that, unfortunately, few Shiki will ever find what they need to live in this world."

"You mean what you told those two?" the older man inquired, studying the Jinrou's face and finding no hesitation at all. Sighing and turning his attention forward again, he continued, "How sure are you about what you speak?"

The door opened, the two stepped out, and as one headed towards the sheltering trees and the other stayed on the front steps, Natsuno replied, "One-hundred percent." And then he was gone.

As he had thought, only a few Shiki actually resided at Kanemesa, and with the sun high in the sky it had been a simple thing to take them out. Searching for the others, though, had not been so simple. There were any number of places they could be hidden, as was shown with the small village hut he'd rescued Akira from, and with the records skewed by Shiki influence it was difficult to tell which residents were actually alive and which were just meant to look like it.

One of the men invading the Kirishiki's mansion suddenly collapsed to the ground, blood spilling from a fresh hole in his head. It had been silenced, but Natsuno's sensitive ears had easily picked up the rifle shot. If someone was shooting the villagers in broad daylight, then could it be… Tatsumi? There was another one, this time striking a wooden support, and with his hearing now trained on the sound it was easy for the Jinrou to determine its point of origin. If it really was Tatsumi, he couldn't pass up the chance to possibly catch him off guard, but he'd have to approach cautiously. He wasn't stupid. It was easy to tell that the teal-haired Okiagari was definitively stronger than him.

With their targets now under cover and searching for the source, his shooter had become more cautious as well. The two other shots he did try both missed their targets, although by the minimal of margins. The bullet meant for Ozaki's head passed through the space just above it, the doctor ducking further behind his barrier at the frightening sound. The other, meant for the large man who was father to one of the Shiki Chizuru had become fond of, buried itself in the beam he was using as cover. Then he felt a tug on his barrel and was forcefully turned to face the violet-haired boy that had been identified to him as a Jinrou.

Natsuno could smell it on him. This man… this man was human. Purple eyes narrowing, he stood there in silence, his only actions being to hold the gun away from its intended victims and to glare at the one responsible for that. It was the blue-haired, middle-aged man who spoke first. "You are a Jinrou, boy," he started, not even trying to wrest his weapon from the teenager's hand, "so why are you on the human's side."

Studying his adversary's face for a moment, an understanding appeared at the forefront of Natsuno's mind. "You want to be a Shiki," he stated, a hint of disgust tainting his words. To think that there were those who desired the cursed existence Tohru was having to face.

"Yes, although Chizuru expressly refused an attempt," he confirmed, letting his arm relax a little since he knew the boy wasn't going to release his hold. "You see, my father was a hunter of sorts. He hunted people. I wanted to know that feeling, of having someone else's life in my hands, being given the power to choose whether they lived or died.

"When Chizuru found me, I was as much under my father's control as any that he took his rage out on. She freed me from that, but refused to drink my blood in an attempt to turn me. You see, apparently Shiki is somewhat of a genetic condition. Since neither my father nor my mother Rose the chance that I would remain dead as well was high. My only choice was to follow along as a human servant to the Shiki until my eventual death," he finished, watching the boy's face carefully for his reaction. He didn't know if it would be of any use, but if it looked like he was about to attack then he'd pull the trigger, and hope the barrel was angled right for a shot to the heart. At this range with such a high-powered rifle it would blow a large enough hole in the Jinrou's chest to kill him.

What he hadn't counted on, though, was Natsuno's newly-acquired speed. With human blood still feeding his systems, he managed to move behind the older man before he had a chance to react, bending one arm painfully behind his back while the other grabbed his chin. "I don't care for your backstory, or the reason behind your actions," Natsuno said passively, eyes turning black with small, red lights in the center. "I'm not even on the human's side. I just don't like what they're doing, and you're in my way, therefore…" he let his sentence trail off, the man's hazelnut eyes going wide as he noticed the color of the Jinrou's at the corner of his vision. Opening his mouth wide, Natsuno bit down with much less care than he had shown his two friends. Making sure to only drink a small amount of Seishirou's blood, he released his victim and let him slump to the floor, his venom already taking effect on his nervous system. Crouching down so they were at the same level, Natsuno commanded, "Kill any other Jinrou you come across." He didn't think the human would be able to take out Tatsumi, but perhaps he could slow his former comrade down. Then he turned from the man and vanished back into the trees, unaware of the significance this little detour would have on the outcome. After all, the man would end up taking out the one Jinrou he hadn't known about; Yoshie.

He feared his feet wouldn't carry him fast enough. By the time he heard the woman recount where the other Shiki were holed up the humans had a two hour head start on him. And from what she explained it was Tohru who had released her from the cell, certain that this action would lead to his demise. If I don't get to him before they do, it most certainly will, he mentally growled, willing his legs to move faster.

He could hear the men before he saw them, several shouting about how 'there are more over here' and to 'check the other huts for Shiki as well.' This was both a ray of hope and a foreboding message, for if Tohru was in one of the buildings already searched and he came upon his truly dead body… Natsuno could not say for sure what he'd do. The thought alone made a menacing growl rise in his throat, startling the man by the tree line near his position. Skirting around the edgy villager, he exited the woods and melded with the uncontrollable mob perfectly, his Jinrou nature allowing him to hide among them with little suspicion.

Glancing around the large clearing, he was relieved to see that Tohru's corpse wasn't on any of the pallets. There were probably more bodies still in the already searched huts, but he also wasn't getting that sense of dread he knew he'd have if the blonde was slain, and in a rare moment of optimism focused solely on the unexplored buildings. Closing his eyes and shutting his senses off from all outside distractions, the violet-haired Jinrou mentally reached for his counterpart. The area around him rendered itself in his mind's eye, detailing not only where the humans and Shiki were, but also showing the trees, structures, rubble, even the insects that were close enough. No doubt this ability was a product of drinking human blood, and after tonight he wouldn't be able to use it, but at the moment he was grateful for it because, there, just a few buildings down and huddled in the back corner, was the particular Shiki he was looking for. And three men were approaching the door.

He streaked right passed Toshio Ozaki, the man wearing a shocked expression at his presence. After all, he was supposed to have retrieved Tohru and vacated the premises before they arrived, but it couldn't be helped; he'd learned the location too long after they did. The door was already open when he got there, one of the men stepping through the threshold with murderous intent. The second found himself unable to follow as the teen sent him reeling to the ground, a large lump forming on the side of his head to show for his encounter with the Jinrou. The third was silenced before he had the chance to scream for help.

The first cell was empty, as his mental image had shown him, and the man who had already entered was nowhere to be seen. The door to the second cell, however was still swinging slightly on its hinges.

"Can you please… make it quick?" a weak, female voice asked politely. From the sound of it, Ritsuko was extremely weak. Silently walking around the corner to view of scene, Natsuno waited to see how the burly man would react. None of the three seemed to notice his presence.

"You have a lot of nerve asking for something like that, monster!" he spat, visibly shaking with rage. "How many people have you killed? Were any of their deaths quick?"

"Ritsuko never harmed anyone!" that voice belonged to Tohru, and Natsuno couldn't deny that hearing his voice again made his heart flutter a beat. "If you want to say something like that to me…" he continued, anger deflating into something miserable as the sentence spilled from his lips, "then that's fine… because it's true… I've killed people, and not all of them were over quickly… But no matter how much I yelled at and threatened her, Ritsuko refused to drink! She's less of a monster than you are!" He seemed to regain some of his life with those last few words, defending what he thought was the one friend he had left.

Clenching his teeth, the man raised his hand, and subsequently the stake it held, and yelled, "How dare you speak to me like that! Why don't you just act like the demon you are!?"

A firm hand grabbed his wrist as it angled down at the Shiki's heart, locking it in a grip strong as stone. "If that is really what you want, should I oblige?" Natsuno asked, squeezing the delicate joint until the man screamed in pain and dropped the stake. He then shoved the man back, making him collide with the wall and fall to the floor, clutching his shattered wrist, and looked down at the two other Okiagari.

"Natsu… no," Tohru whispered, finding himself unable to hold the Jinrou's gaze and instead staring at the floor.

The weariness showing clearly in her face, Ritsuko still managed to smile up at him. Drawing his gaze to the discarded piece of wood, she asked calmly, "Can I ask you… to make it quick? For both of us? Tohru has… he's suffered enough from all of this."

Gracefully retrieving the stake from the dust, he couldn't help but look down at the woman sadly. She had been one of the few other people in this village that he could stand, and it pained him to see the kind-hearted nurse changed into something that required blood to live. I don't think she'd be happy even if she found her Jinrou, he thought. "I'm afraid I can't," he answered, both sets of Shiki eyes snapping up to face him, one fearful and the other distraught. "Because I have no intentions of killing Tohru."

"What do you—" the nurse started, another voice coming from the entrance cutting her off.

"What the hell, Natsuno?" an irate male shouted. She recognized that voice, and the prospect scared her. The last person she wanted to see her in this state was the one person now walked agitatedly in their direction, albeit yelling at the Jinrou in front of her. Her distress was not missed by the younger male, nor the cause; he had realized before that she liked the older doctor, and had felt sorry for Tohru until he realized his best friend didn't have a crush on her. "I thought you were on our side! Why the hell did you attack them?" The pained groan from the third man Natsuno took down distracted him as he approached the teen, drawing his attention away from the three Okiagari that he was now in a cell with. "What did you do to him?!"

"I just broke his wrist," the Jinrou replied simply, meeting the doctor's glare. "Be thankful that's all I did. I would have probably slaughtered everyone here if he'd managed to kill Tohru."

As if he suddenly realized there were Shiki huddled on the floor, Toshio's head snapped around to take in the two forms. He almost swooned when his violet eyes met Ritsuko's black and red ones, his former employee looking away in shame and clutching his shoulders. "Ritsuko…" he said sadly, averting his gaze to the left. "I heard. About how you stood by your resolve and never bit anyone regardless of how terrible the thirst became." Walking over to the Jinrou, he held one hand out in request of the item the violette was still holding. Nodding slightly, he passed the weapon off to the doctor. Kneeling in front of her, the feel of the pointed wood on her chest made her turn back to him, tears dotting her eyes. "You deserve to rest, my friend," he said, a slight choke at the end as he hammered the stake through her heart.

"Tha…nk y…u," she gasped as the life left her body, a smile permanently frozen on her lips in death. Struggling to a standing position, Toshio's legs tried to give out on him and he stumbled back until his back struck the front of the cage. He stayed there for a short moment, steadying his breath.

"I could have done it for you," Natsuno stated.

"No, I needed to do it," Toshio replied, now steady again. Walking over to his injured comrade he placed an arm under his armpit to help him to his feet as well. "She was like a little sister to me. I had to be the one to end her suffering."

"She didn't think of you as a sibling," Natsuno said, watching the man escort his charge to the door of the cell.

He stopped in the frame, completely silent for almost a minute before he softly spoke, "I know." Handing the man off to someone else, he remained in that position for another short moment, waiting for them to exit, before saying back at the two without turning around, "Don't forget, three weeks. And if you hurt anyone else I will stake you personally!"

"I understand," the Jinrou conceded, turning back to his own ward. Tohru was looked around in a state of confusion, not understanding why the two people who were trying to destroy his people were suddenly letting him live. His attention was pulled back to those amethyst pools when the younger male extended one hand towards him, palm up in forgiving gesture. "My offer still stands," Natsuno told him, somehow managing to keep his voice steady. "Take my hand and we can leave here, together. There is just one last thing I need to do first, and I will need your help."

Resigned to whatever his best friend—Well, former, I guess, he thought—had in store for him, Tohru slowly accepted the offered hand. He was instantly pulled to his feet, the stronger Okiagari supporting his weight until he successfully got his feet underneath him. Then, to his surprise, the Jinrou pulled the collar of his purple checkered coat away from throat and just stared at him. The silence was oppressing, and in an attempt to lighten the air the blonde stuttered, "Wh-what are you…?"

"You haven't fed for at least a day, and you will need the strength my blood can provide you," the violette stated, holding his clothes away from the exposed skin. "It won't hurt me. I've already fed."

If that comment was supposed to calm the blonde down it did the exact opposite. Dark eyes going wide, he felt the strength again leaving his knees, but refused to let himself fall merely because he didn't want to burden the younger teen with having to pick him up again. "You mean you've… drank blood?" he asked somberly.

Sighing, Natsuno replied evenly, "Yes. I knew I wouldn't be strong enough as I was, and when I asked the two offered willingly. Now hurry up because we are running out of time." When Tohru still hesitated, he practically yelled, "I need your help to take out Tatsumi, and you'll be forced into the dead sleep in a few hours. Drink my blood so we can finish the job and get you somewhere safe before then."

"We're going after Tatsumi?" he asked, incredulous. He was absolutely terrified of teal-haired man, how was he going to be any help in killing him? Bait? his mind wondered. Natsuno's the Jinrou, so maybe he plans on catching him off guard by using me to draw him out. Taking a cautious step forward, he swallowed thickly and caught a small glimpse of the determined look in the other boy's eyes before placing one hand on his opposite shoulder for balance and leaned forward. Teeth piercing the slightly-paler-than-normal skin, he wasn't expecting the strange rush that came over him at the taste of Natsuno's blood. It was sweeter than he remembered when the other male was human, and richer. Power seemed to flood his body as the warm liquid slowly filled his stomach, satiating some type of deep thirst he didn't even realize he'd had.

Too quickly it seemed, he pulled away, staring down at his hands in alarm. They were shaking from the rush of power he'd just experienced, seeming just as frightened as he was by the experience. "Did you get enough?" Natsuno asked, rolling his shoulder and massaging the bite mark to alleviate the residual discomfort. "If so then stop moping around and hurry up. I have a lot to fill you in on before we try to take out Tatsumi"

Not even bothering to wait for Tohru's slight nod in understanding, he turned away and marched right out of the building, coat swinging slightly with his dramatics. He waited there until the blonde joined him, several humans gathered around to watch the two Okiagari with thinly veiled hate and fear. Ozaki was currently tending to the men he had previously knocked out, both of whom had regained consciousness, and the one whose wrist he'd crushed. One of the former tried to stand and stalk over to him, but more than one hand kept him seated. The first one belonged to the doctor, and the second was Mr. Mutou, the tall man staring at his son. Tohru couldn't return his gaze, closing his eyes as tight as he could and rubbing his mouth on his sleeve as if he'd spilled some of Natsuno's blood down his chin.

Feeling the Jinrou's gaze on him, Mr. Mutou snapped his attention to his son's best friend, a silent understanding passing between them. Neither needed to say anything, they just knew. I will keep him safe. I trust you with his life. Then Natsuno grabbed the Shiki's wrist and the two disappeared into the surrounding woods.

Tatsumi threw him back into a tree hard enough to break vertebrae had he been human. Instead it left him with a slight ringing in his ears and aching sting across his shoulder blades. Both of those and the bruise trying to form were healed as quickly as they had been dealt thanks to his newfound strength, the blow doing little more than succeeding in putting some distance between the two. "Think about what you're doing," Tatsumi started, stepping over a fallen log. The tree itself looked health, until you reached close to its truck where some force had snapped it in two. The Jinrou's opponent could only be grateful he had managed to dodge that attack, for it would take more than a few seconds to heal that wound. "Of all the people who have been slaughtered because of what you've done."

"You mean those who died by your, the Kirishiki's, hands, only to come back and have to pray on their own loved ones?" the teenager asked, slowly easing himself to the side. "Like how you sent Megumi after Tohru, and then Tohru after me? I guess I was a little hitch in your plan, though, wasn't I?" Natsuno asked, now positioned how he wanted to be. "You realized that Tohru was the only one I would let in my room, and you wanted to torment him because his nature was so different from yours. Break him, in other words. Drag him down to your level." He could see the other Okiagari starting to fume at his words. Oh, so he was picking at scabs now, was he? "Let me guess… She's dead, isn't she?" he deadpanned.

Expecting the attack, Natsuno easily bolted out of the way, the enraged male's claws digging into the ground behind him as he once again sprinted off through the woods. "Don't speak so lightly of things you don't understand."

"There is where you are wrong, Tatsumi," Natsuno chided, digging his heel into the ground and sending a palm strike right back at the older male. Not expecting the sudden move it hit him squarely in the chest and knocked him back a couple yards. "So, did she get tired of you and fry herself or did her death come about because of your negligence?" The snarl was all the answer he needed. "So you couldn't protect her. And now to fuel your own happiness you steal it from others. You should have just offed yourself when your Shiki died."

Lightning fast, Tatsumi covered the distance between them and pinned the smaller to a large pine, crushing his throat to prevent him from speaking any more. "Just give yourself some time and you will understand," he bit out, their faces mere centimeters apart. "What you suggested isn't so easy to do, and the only thing you have left is your own unhappiness. Seeing others as miserable as you is the only joy you can find. If he hadn't suffered so much just from staying alive I would have killed the little blonde the instant I realized you Rose as a Jinrou, as I had done with Yoshie's mate, but I also knew you'd be less likely to conform to our ways and thus the better one to eliminate. If the little weakling is still alive I will be sure to deliver your rotting corpse to him."

Damnit, he still wasn't where he needed to be. He could smell the ravine about half a mile away, the multitude of dead Shiki tossed into it giving it a foul odor. He had to find some way to get the stronger man off him and run there before time ran out. Then as if a lightbulb clicked in his head, he brought one leg up swiftly between his opponent's knees. The sudden pain made him drop the boy, who scrambled a few feet away coughed a few times before taunting, "Curious. I didn't think you'd have anything left there."

A sadistic grin on his face as he quickly recovered from the low blow, he growled in such a menacing voice it made the hair on the back of Natsuno's neck stand on end, "I'll make sure that when I'm through with you that you certainly don't."

And once again the two were off in a race through the woods. Fueled both by human blood and rage, Tatsumi was quickly gaining on the younger Jinrou. The slash of his claws barely missed the other's heel, pulling his attention dangerously away from where he was going. This was Tatsumi's territory, hunting down his prey as if it was a helpless animal, and Natsuno was the animal. Although, after all he had been through in the last several weeks he wasn't about to just lay down and let the predator kill him. Just like a cornered dog, he'd bare his fangs if he had to.

Looking ahead just in time to swerve around a skinny oak, he cringed slightly when he heard the older male's claws scratch the wood as he passed. He knew it had been too much to ask for the teal-haired Okiagari to accidentally run into the tree, but he had still hoped he would.

Then the edge came into sight and, acting like he hadn't been expecting it, he skidded to a halt and braced himself for impact with the other male. Grinning evilly, Tatsumi once again grabbed Natsuno by the throat, lifting him off the ground and this time making sure the other Jinrou wouldn't go for a blow to the crotch; he was holding him over the edge of the pit. "Go ahead, make me drop you this time," he sneered, squeezing a little tighter. "However, from this height you very well might sustain enough damage to kill you, even though you are a Jinrou. So, tell me, any last words for your little Shiki?"

"Ye…ah," Natsuno gasped out, both hands working to loosen his hold on his windpipe. "Now, Tohru!" he yelled.

From his hiding place in the nearby bushes, Tohru almost jumped and forgot his part when his best friend yelled out at him. Both hands shaking with fear, although towards which Jinrou he wasn't entirely sure, he hastily squeezed the trigger. The sharpened end of the grappling gun shot straight at Tatsumi's back, the teal-haired man completely unsuspecting of the trap. It pierced through the skin just below his heart, one blade tearing through his left lung before the metal claw collided with his sternum and stopped. The blonde then ran out of his hiding place leapt off the truck of a tree and over a thick branch, using his weight as a pulley to yank the man, and also Natsuno who was making sure to keep a strong hold on his arm, back from the edge.

The force of the tug pulled the hook back towards its entry hole, but the device had spun slightly when it entered his body. As it was drawn back, two of the claws caught on his spine, and his Okiagari-strengthened bones refused to snap. He released his hold on Natsuno, the younger male letting go once he was safely back over solid ground, opting instead to try and claw the grappling hook out of his back. Tohru landing on the ground and the violette joining him to make sure Tatsumi's weight didn't pull the blonde back into the air, they watched the older man jerk in pain when gravity pulled him back towards the ground and he reached the end of the cord. The look he gave the two was of pure hatred, promising them unspeakable things once he freed himself. "Release him, Tohru," Natsuno commanded.

Letting go of the gun, Tatsumi headed straight for the ground. Almost before his feet touched the ground he was flying towards the two, Natsuno making sure to catch both of his wrists before those menacing claws could tear out Tohru's throat. Just as I thought, he's going after Tohru, he thought, throwing him to the side and away from the ledge. Purple eyes watched the gun jerk on the end of its cord and wrap around the branch, growling at the inanimate device as it did the exact opposite as he wanted. "You should have left me hanging!" his opponent shouted, again launching at the blonde.

"Tohru!" Natsuno yelled, again catching the weakening Jinrou's arms. He didn't need to say any more for his best friend to understood what he wanted, allowing him to turn his attention back to the snapping fangs getting increasingly closer to his neck. Even with the blood loss from the sharpened grappling hook Tatsumi could match his strength, a testament to the teal-haired man's age and dedication to drinking human blood.

Using the same route as before, Tohru vaulted off the trunk of the nearby tree to get to the branch and tangled grappling gun. Crawling out on the shaky branch, whimpering slightly when the fight below made it lurch violently, his pale hands quickly set to work on tangling the weapon. His eyes couldn't help but follow Natsuno, though, underlying tones of sadness and guilt riddling their dark surface. His best friend was moving faster than humanly possible, but then again, he wasn't human anymore. Tatsumi howled in pain as he reached the end of his tether again, giving Natsuno the chance to lay a set of deep scratches across his chest. His attack was quickly paid back in full when Tatsumi got his teeth into the teenager's arm. A couple elbows to the skull and he managed to get the Jinrou to release him, but both were being more cautious with their attacks now.

Tatsumi was still bleeding from the lodged grappling hook, his internal injuries healing painfully slow. On top of that he had probably just suffered a mild concussion, there was a deep cut on his left leg and the clawmarks on his chest were still closing. Natsuno was visually winded. He had severe bruising on his neck, a fang mark on his forearm, blood running down the side of his head and a nice red stain on the side of his white shirt, where Tatsumi's claws had managed a couple good hits. Overall, Tatsumi was in worse shape, but he had also been stronger to begin with so the two Jinrou were still about evenly matched.

Then Tohru got the grappling gun, grabbing it before it fell to the ground and alerted the teal-haired one to being freed. "I've had enough of this game," he growled, crouching in preparation for an attack.

"As have I," Natsuno conceded, but instead of coiling the springs in his legs he stood up straighter. The momentary confusion was all he needed, and as Tatsumi let his guard down Tohru threw the grappling gun into Natsuno's hand. He'd managed to wrap the cord around his limbs twice before Tatsumi recovered enough to struggle, and he quickly passed it back off to Tohru to restrain him while the Shiki finished tying him up.

"Do you really think something like this can keep me?" he asked irately, struggling against the steel cable.

"Of course not," Natsuno chided, dragging the other male over to the edge. "And as you said, a fall from this height might kill a Jinrou, but isn't guaranteed. Therefore, I have a little gift for you."

Natsuno pulled something the inner pocket of his coat, along with a length of rope. Blue-green eyes going wide, he fearfully asked, "D-dynamite?"

Working to secure the explosives to the man's chest, Natsuno replied, "I figured this way there would be enough of you left to recover." Putting the last knot in the rope, he pulled out a match and struck it to life on his boot. "This is something you should have done when you lost your Shiki," he said, introducing the flare to the wick. "Rather than take your loneliness out on Sotoba." And he pushed the Jinrou over the edge.

Both Okiagari stood at the less, listening through the crackle of the approaching fire. Then they heard Tatsumi scream in horror, and the dynamite went off. The chasm funneled the sound up to its mouth, hurting their ears and making both hunch over until the ringing stopped a few minutes later, then they gazed back down in search of any indication the Jinrou had survived. When none presented itself, Natsuno looked back at the encroaching blaze. "Now how are we supposed to get around this so can meet the timeline?" he asked to no one in particular.

"Um, Natsuno?" came a soft voice behind him. The addressed party made no move to reply, but he also didn't yell at the Shiki for the use of his given name so he assumed that meant he could continue. "What had you meant earlier, when talking to Ozaki about three weeks."

"That's the time limit we have to reach the city before the others move on," Natsuno replied, searching his memory for a place to hide the shy blonde behind him with dawn rapid approaching. "It's ninety miles north of here, and most of the land between us and it is forest or farmland. Our main concern will be finding you shelter as we travel through the woods, which we need to find now or both the fire and the sun will consume you, Tohru-chan."

"Natsuno…?" Tohru asked, staring at the departing Jinrou's back. For a second he thought he was hearing things, for there was no way in his mind that Natsuno was using his old pet name again, like when they had been friends, human.

"Yes, Tohru-chan?" he inquired in response, stopping in his tracks and looking back over his shoulder at his companion.

"Why… why are you asking me to come with you?" he asked quietly, looking away from those amaranthine pools. "I thought you said you'd… never forgive me. So, why…?"

"Plans change," he stated simply, then looked straight ahead again and continued on his way, the blonde Shiki following solemnly in tow, the two melding into the shadows of the forest.

Okay, so I don't know if Natsuno did or did not know about Yoshie, but seeing as to how he only ever interacted with Tatsumi I'm gonna say he didn't. Also, Ritsuko's crush on the doctor is something I made up, too, partially because I wanted her death at Toshio's hands to have more meaning.

Amaranthine is a shade of purple, by the way. I was looking up synonyms for purple and that was one of them, and I liked the worde so I might use it again.

Probably my favorite thing about this chapter is how each section was ended. The first two had been coincidence, but then I thought it would be neat to have them all be that way, and voila.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. As always, reviews are luffed and appreciated!