Setting: Alternate Universe, Future. Post World War III Japan.
Summary: Kaiba Seto is a Vampire Hunter who has been searching for his kidnapped brother for almost six years. He rescues a young girl, Jounochi Shizuka, who turns out to be a Vampire; in this life-threatening situation, Seto is forced to choose between life as Shizuka's contracted servant or death and failure in finding his long-lost brother. Will he make the right choice, if there's a right choice at all? Seto x Shizuka
Terms and Conditions Chapter One: The Hunt
"Big Brother! Big Brother, help!"
The boy is screaming, his pleas choked by sobs and he frustrated grunts of his struggle. He tries with all the strength his immature body can muster to pull free of the thick dark-skinned arms that hold him. The man to whom those strong arms belong is wearing a black cloak, loose and flowing in cut, with the hood pulled up to conceal his features. Even the deepest shadows that hood casts, however, could never hope to hide the glowing violet of his eyes.
There are two others in the midst of this mess of overturned tables and demolished bookcases; a cerulean-eyes youth and a woman clad in black clothing identical to her cohort. The woman's slim fingers, a shade paler than the man's, are clenched tightly about the youth's pale wrists from behind, keeping him on his knees in spite of his valiant struggle.
"Let him go!" the youth shouts. "If you need someone then take me instead!"
"I am afraid you are not what we seek," the man replies. His voice is deep and weathered, accented in a way neither captive has ever heard before.
The younger of the two narrows his own blue eyes—darker than his brothers, like the night sky—and stomps on one of his captor's feet, causing the man to loosen his grip for a fraction of a second. The boy stumbles forward. "Big Br—" A dark hand is clamped over the child's mouth, effectively silencing him. The man wraps his other arm around the boy's arms and waist, lifting him easily off the ground.
The older boy grits his teeth, angry tears forming in his sapphire eyes. "For Gods, sake—he's just a child!"
"Worry not, boy," the man says in his strange, tired voice. "We have no intention of hurting your brother."
The lithe woman releases the youth's wrists and he immediately shoots to his feet, almost equal height with the woman in spite of his youth. "Then wh—"
His furious demand is interrupted when his own aggressor wraps one arm around his chest, under his own arms, and pulls him back against her. With the other hand she seals his mouth, digging sharp fingernails into his skin and forcing his head to turn, to face her over his shoulder. "Neither, however, do we intend to do anything for the sake of your God."
Her voice is a silky hiss, bearing the same odd accent as her cohort; even this close the youth can not see her features clearly, but he does see the light from the lamp overturned just in front of him play off inhumanly sharp canines. He gasps through her fingers as he realizes what his captor is.
"Now, now, little one," she whispers, "it will all be over soon. Hush."
The older boy clenches his eyes shut, tears at last spilling over. He gives a choked sob and makes one last futile attempt to pull free. The woman continues to murmur into his ear, holding him ever closer, as though consoling a hurt toddler.
"I give you my word that no harm will befall your brother so long as he is in my care," the man says. The boy in question is still now, limp as a rag doll in his aggressor's arms; his night-colored eyes are closed and his skin pale, beneath the man's dark fingers his lips are most certainly tinged ever so slightly blue. Any more air than that which hisses in between the man's fingers would be enough to wake the boy.
"We simply need to check something," the woman continues in a whisper, cold breath running tendrils through the youth's chestnut hair. Her fingers slide from her captive's lips, trailing down to brush over his neck. "If we are incorrect the child will be returned to you unharmed."
The older boy's eyes widen as the unspoken other half of that promise sinks in. "A-And if you're right?" His voice is a ragged whisper, broken. "Then what?"
The woman loosens her hold on the youth's chest, slender fingers trailing over the worn white cotton of his t-shirt. "If we are correct…"
"Then we are sorry," the man completes. His eyes lock with his companion's and the woman tightens her hold on the sapphire-eyed youth's neck for a mere instant. It is enough. "Infinitely sorry."
The youth's vision darkens, and he crumples to the floor.
Kaiba Seto awoke with a start, sapphire eyes wide and deep with pain. He took a shaky breath, holding a hand to his brow to wipe away the perspiration as his heavy breathing calmed.
When his lungs had settled and his heartbeat slowed sufficiently, the young man brought up his legs and circled them with his arms, leaning his forehead on his knees. The cloth of his sheet was cool and soothing, and he let out a long sigh of relief. "It was just a dream," he assured himself. "Just another dream. That's all."
Seto pulled back and looked up at the dark sky above him, still littered with strokes of crimson and violet reminding of a recent sunset. The stars were beginning to show, and though the man knew they wouldn't be as numerous or as clear here as they had at his last site—the city nearby was too big—the glimmer of their heavenly light calmed him nonetheless.
"Just a dream," he murmured, laying back down on his bedroll.
But it wasn't a dream, not really. The details had been etched into the elder Kaiba's memory for nearly six years, record of a deed that could not and would not go unpunished. Six years ago Mokuba had been taken, and Seto hadn't found a trace of him since. No rumors, no sightings, nothing. As though he had never existed at all.
To be fair, as far as governmental records went it was quite possible there was no such person as Kaiba Mokuba; they ran the government these days, after all. It had been ten years since they stole it, giving them plenty of time to rewrite the world.
The Third World War had rocked the planet to its foundations, shaken every man, woman and child until all they had known to be true was forgotten, disproved and rejected. Fantasy became reality and the life mankind had known became a thing of the past. Countries attacked each other at random in their terror, all rulers certain that this country—this country!—was the main base for what they considered their enemy.
In the end, though, they came forward and a treaty was signed that gave them the world humans had almost destroyed in their fear of these mythic, soulless monsters. So now congressional meetings were held at night, schools were open twenty-four hours a day to accommodate the youth of the breed, and getting assigned graveyard duty became desirable.
Some said these night folk were the saviors of the world, that they had helped to avoid the nuclear war everyone had though was inevitable, but Seto knew better. These people, these things, were monsters—every bit as evil as the old stories said. They had stolen a little boy for no reason except their own apparent curiosity, and that little boy's brother was going to make sure they paid for whatever cruel fate they had forced on him.
They all deserved to die for what they had done, every last one of these monsters—these Vampires.
Seto rose from his mat, rolling it up with his foot, and reached up to make sure his earring was still in place. The chill cross of gold cooled is fingertips—mate to the crucifix around his neck—and the young man let out a sigh of relief. This near to the city he had half-expected the be robbed of these meager defenses while he slept through the day—defenses that proved every bit as useful as the old stories said.
He smirked. The problem over in the United States regarding prayer in school had been quickly resolved upon the Vampires' rise to power. Surprisingly, though, the Vampire Lord Darts had allowed parochial schools to remains open, with the condition that any religious trappings were limited to the inside of the building. The same rules were applied to churches and private homes, though they were lifted around Christmas and Easter to allow for the popular light displays Americans so enjoyed.
The young man had been shocked to find a light-up plastic cross in the yard neighboring one of his targets on his last foray to the western world, and the image had stuck with him ever since. Most lesser Vampires couldn't handle even the sight of a cross, of that much he was certain, and yet the Vampire Lord ruling the United States had allowed for a human to erect such a monument in spite of the fact that he—or she, Seto had never met the homeowner—was neighbor to one of the Lord's own kind. It had almost been enough to shake the youth's conviction.
Almost, but not quite, he reminded himself, straightening the gold cross around his neck. After all, he had ended up using that cross to finally banish the monster, and by that point the time to hesitate was most certainly through.
Seto picked up his black trenchcoat and pulled it one over his white turtleneck and blue vest, checking the holster at his side and those at his wrists to make sure all were loaded and sufficiently hidden. Wooden stakes nestled at the base of either hand, under the loose sleeves, a .45 semiautomatic pistol rested at his hip, magazine loaded with silver bullets, and a small bottle—normally used to hold some intoxicating beverage—housing consecrated oil was strapped securely to the small of his back.
He looked about his camp: He could come back for the blankets later, and the only other possession he owned rested safely beneath his shirt, silver metal brushing the bare skin of his chest when he breathed. He reached up to touch the locket through the fabric of his shirt, closing his eyes and lowering his head as though in prayer.
"Wish me luck, Little Brother," he whispered. Seto opened his sapphire eyes and headed toward the edge of the woods. The little remaining splashes of color had faded from the sky at last, announcing it was time for the young man to begin his foray into the city.
Kaiba Seto joined the hunt once again.
"Mistress, if you would just let one of us—"
The auburn-haired young woman shook her head determinedly, looking herself over in the mirror. "No, Ryou," she commanded, straightening one pleat of her blue skirt. "I can't have a dozen bodyguards with me whenever I go outside—it draws a lot more attention than anyone wants to have."
"But, Shizuka-dono, even one would be better than this," the white-haired young man asserted. His brow creased and he took a step forward, at last passing over the threshold into the woman's room. "It's dangerous, no matter how much you change your clothes."
"He's right, Princess," came a voice from the hallway. Both Shizuka and her companion, Ryou, turned as another snowy-haired young man strode into the room. He could almost have been Ryou's twin if not for the color of his eyes—blue instead of brown—and the considerably darker manner with which he held himself. He turned his sharp eyes on the young woman and cocked his head to one side. "I'm supposed to protect you, aren't I? How can I do that if you won't let me go with you?"
Shizuka sighed and shook her head. "Listen, I'm just going to deliver a message. If the Vampire Lord ruling over Japan should notice that you and I seem to be together extremely often, and then suddenly I start walking around with one of the other guards it will attract his attention." She cast her amber eyes over her shoulder to view the plain white envelope sitting on her bed. On its face, written in English, were a title and a name, with subtext translating them into Japanese. "Lady Cecilia needs to know about this latest development right away, and if we all start wandering around so soon after it happened the Vampire Lord will notice."
Ryou, as much as he hated to admit it, knew she was right. He let out a sigh and lowered his brown eyes, staring at the floor for a long moment before taking a step closer and straightening out the young woman's blue-and-black striped armbands. "Be careful, Mistress," he warned. "I have a very bad feeling about tonight. If something happens—"
"If something happens," she interjected, "then it was meant to happen. Things happen as they're supposed to, Ryou." She hooked her fingers under the young man's chin and tilted his head up to face her. Though several inches taller than his Mistress, the white-haired young man was quite adept at avoiding eye contact. This time, however, he didn't. "I'll be careful, I promise."
She threw her arms around his neck and embraced him tightly; he held her as though he were never going to see her again. In turn she repeated the hug with the other man in the room, who held her exactly as his near-lookalike had. Shizuka backed away from them until she reached to door to her bedroom, and there she hesitated. "I-I'll be back before you know it," she promised. With that, she spun on her heel and bolted down the hall.
Ryou came forward to stand even with the other man in the room. "Do you think she'll be safe, Arken?" He turned his compassionate eyes on his cold companion, and the only reply he received was a shrug. Ryou sighed and looked at the door again, but said nothing more.
A long moment passed in silence. "We'd better tell her brother," Arken said softly, striding to the door. "He'll have kittens if he finds out from someone other than us." And so the two young men vacated the room as well, leaving their Mistress' bedchamber emptier than it had felt in years.
Shizuka raced down the street, booted feet making heavy sounds with each step. This part of town was usually fairly busy at night, so she found herself a little wary to head through its stillness; this was the only way to reach the messenger, though, and she needed this message delivered immediately. The Vampire Lord ruling Japan had never taken a servant before, not under a contract, and the fact that he had chosen a human barely into his twenties was even stranger than his taking a contracted servant in the first place.
It just didn't make sense—there was no reason for him to take a contract with anyone, much less a mortal. To have one so young so close to his person could only spell danger for the ruling Vampire. Shizuka knew that something was wrong, and hoped that her contact overseas could figure out what.
She reached the end of the street and turned to the left, reaching down to pull up her high stockings, matching in color and design to her armbands. Normally she wouldn't have been caught dead in something like this, but she was trying to stay inconspicuous. If she was lucky, then any wanderers under his Lordship's command would mistake her for a mortal and leave her be—even though the blood ban on Japanese humans was swiftly being overruled.
At the end of the next street she came to a wall, smooth and pure black in color, as though recently painted. She looked up the street in either direction before leaning in and placing one pale hand against its surface. "Rafael," she whispered. "Rafael, it's me."
The wall seemed suddenly to lose its solidity and the young woman fell through. She let out a short cry and stumbled dangerously, but found herself steadied by a pair of strong arms, one of which circled her waist while the other took hold of her free hand. Standing straight once more, Shizuka turned to see a tall, muscular young man with hair of pale blond. He smiled down at her and she let out a sigh of relief.
"So, what'll it be today, missy?" He spoke in English, and it took the woman a moment to lapse into her own broken dialect of the foreign language.
Shizuka straightened up as the man turned to walk away, giving the young woman time to look around the room she had stumbled into. It was dark, with nothing more than pale blue panel lights along the walls to illuminate its space. There were round tables placed intermittently throughout the room, curved chairs and thick couches pressed against the far wall. Rafael was making his way toward the bar just in front of her, which was a light in itself, glowing the same pale blue as select panels of the wall.
He turned to glance back at her, still waiting for her reply, and she shook her head. "Nothing today, Rafael," she said, holding up the envelope. "I have a message for Lady Cecilia, express delivery."
The man turned around, reached out and took the envelope, scrutinizing it carefully for several seconds before nodding once in silence and holding it up in the air. "Valon!" he hollered.
Shizuka found herself forced momentarily backward as a rush of air shot by her, throwing her off-balance. When she looked up to see what had just happened, she found a young brunette man with blue eyes floating in the air just beside her letter. He cocked his head to one side and reached out to take it, hesitating a mere instant before his tanned fingers brushed the paper.
"This is for the Lady in Europe, right?" he inquired, voice thick with an Australian accent. That was odd, Shizuka realized, considering the treaty between human and Vampires had been expressly specific that one continent remain free of the night folk; the one chosen had been Australia, a place the Vampires had never really wanted to visit anyway. There was just too much sun. So how was this young Vampire from that continent?
"Hey, Missy," the young man repeated, "Europe, right?"
Shizuka started, realizing she had yet to reply, and nodded hurriedly. She had delivered plenty of messages before, but this was the first time she had actually been present to see the messenger that delivered them. Usually Valon was in another country, another division of his service, and so it would take another day before he could fly back. "L-Lady Cecilia and Lord Pegasus," she clarified. "It would be best if they had it by tomorrow."
The young man crossed his legs indian-style, still hovering, and flipped over as though affixed to a single point in the open air, placing his face just in front of hers. "You're a slave driver, y'know that? It takes almost six hours to get t'Europe from here, and that's when I'm at full strength. Your bloody resistance movement's been taking a serious toll on my abilities."
She pursed her lips. "It's not my movement, Valon," she reminded him.
"I know, but if it were I'd be a lot more anxious to join it for real," he smirked, displaying his perfect white teeth, complete with the inhumanly sharp canines of his people. He flipped back over, letting his legs straighten out beneath him but never touching the ground, and turned to face one of the wide black windows toward the ceiling. "I'll have it to her by noon here, a' right? As long as I can keep pace with the sunrise that's the best I can do, assuming I don't get shot down by the European military again."
Rafael looked up at his comrade with a blank stare. "You know that was an accident. Pegasus apologized."
"Maybe so, but it still hurt like hell." With that Valon turned about, snatching the letter from the blond's outstretched hand, kicked off of nothing at all and became a blur of color that shot out the window.
Shizuka stared up with wide amber eyes, unsure whether to be astonished or bewildered. She heard Rafael chuckle and turned to face him again. "He's a bit hyperactive, right?" he grinned. "Ah, he's a good kid. Confused, but good." He turned around to walk toward the bar. "Are you sure you don't want anything? I give discounts to resistance members."
The young woman smiled and shook her head. "Thank you, Rafael, but no. I promised Arken and Ryou I'd be back as soon as I could." Rafael stepped behind the bar and shrugged noncommittally, waving a hand in both dismissal and farewell. Shizuka waved in return and then spun around to head back out the now-visible door.
He spoke again when she placed her hand on the cool blue metal of the knob, making her freeze in place. "Watch out, Missy," he warned. "There've been sightings lately, grungies all over the place. You should've brought a bodyguard tonight."
"I'm sure I'll be fine," she replied with a smile.
"I sure hope you will."
Her smile faltered at that—she had never seen Rafael in such a dark mood before. She brushed off the feeling of foreboding that had settled over her and opened the door, rushing out into the cool night air.
Seto had been wandering for nearly three hours and had yet to get a hit when he saw her. A young girl, barely over sixteen, dressed in the clothes of a rebellious teenager, rushing along just across the street from him. He looked her up and down, easily keeping pace with her girlish sprint, and wondered idly what a human was doing out so late.
There was nothing about her to indicate that she might have been a Vampire—her skin, while pale, didn't bear the bluish tint he had come to associate with the night folk, her eyes didn't seem to give off any glow, and her hair was a fairly normal shade of auburn. The way she moved was different, too; were she a Vampire he would not have been able to keep up with her run. The monsters were just too fast.
If he had not been watching her in curiosity it was unlikely that he would have noticed the slightly deeper patch of shadow in the alley she raced by, or caught the familiar scent of old blood in the air. Indeed, he might have continued on without ever witnessing the events that followed his notice, and thus singlehandedly changed history.
But he was watching, and he did notice, and he did witness the events that transpired after. For better or worse, he became another note in the song of inevitability, and the world would never forget.
The woman cried out as arms shot out of the darkness and circled her neck, jerking her back into the shadowed alley. Obviously on cue, a dozen or so other shadows detached themselves from the eaves overhead and dropped to the ground, lumbering into the alley as well. Seto ground his teeth, narrowed his eyes, and drew his gun from its holster as he ran across the road. He reached the alley just in time to see the entire procession carry the young woman around a corner. They held her up over their heads like some sort of concert group gone wrong, and though she struggled she clearly could not break free.
Seto swore internally as he fired off a shot; judging by the yelp that reached his hearing he had hit one of them, probably in the foot. "Damn, damn, damn!" he raced on in pursuit. The alley corner opened up to another street, this one considerably worse for the wear. No streetlights lit this road, the sidewalk was cracked and uneven, a parking meter lay on its side in a pile of leaves and debris. It was a dead street.
The girl and her captors were halfway across the street when he came out after them—the one in the back was limping, proving his suspicion that he had hit it in the foot—but they weren't moving nearly fast enough to keep away from the young hunter. He raised his gun, took careful aim and fired. Once, twice, three times; a shriek from the monsters punctuated each shot. They reached the other side of the road, numbers now slightly less than they had started with, and Seto managed to fire on the obvious leader of the group. He had the greatest hold on the woman, so when the cerulean-eyed young man shot him through the chest he howled and dropped her to the ground.
The girl let out a cry of protest as the others tried to lift her up, but it broke off when Seto finally reached her and pulled her up to her feet with his free hand, still firing with his gun. Three, two… he counted down the shots in his magazine, knowing it to be empty without having to hear the telltale click, and stuffed it back in the holster at his hip when he reached zero. Pressing the girl up against the wall for her own protection—as well as returning to him the use of his left hand—Seto flicked both wrists and the stakes placed in his sleeves shot into his hands easily.
He drove one through the chest of the leader monster, who had been struggling to rise, and pulled it out by the point on the other side as he rushed past. He could have sworn there were only a dozen or so of the things, but now it appeared as though another ten had been added; this was confusing. Where were they coming from?
Not that they weren't easy to banish, of course. These monsters were incoherent and animalistic, nothing like the higher Vampires. These beasts were rônin. It was a misnomer; rônin were masterless samurai in the early ages of Japan, and these things obviously had a master. If not, they couldn't have been moving at all. They were even further from human than Seto's usual prey, though, without words or even the ability for abstract thought. Two things and two things only consumed these creatures: Their lust for blood and the commands given by their master. It was a pitiful existence.
Seto wondered what this girl could have done to warrant an attack from even a single rônin, much less this many. There were at least thirty in the fray now, and Seto was steadily wearing down the points on his wooden spikes.
"Look out!" came a high voice from behind. Seto spun around just in time to drive one picket through a monster's eye, far enough to immobilize the thing but without enough force to drive it out the other side. Black blood oozed over the wood, and the young hunter realized he would not be able to retrieve that particular weapon so long as this enemy was alive. That brought his usable weapon count down to two, and one of those he had to use sparingly.
With his free hand—stained with black fluid—Seto reached around the back of his trenchcoat and pulled out the bottle of holy oil. Holding it to his mouth as he danced backward away from the rônin's blows, he twisted off the cap with his tongue and teeth and filled his mouth with the blessed liquid. With all the air he could force from his lungs, Seto showered the beasts with the oil.
Shizuka cried out and recoiled as her young savior sprayed some unknown liquid from his mouth over the attacking rônin. She pressed her back against the wall as hard as she could to avoid being struck by the burning fluid. At first she thought it might have been holy water of some sort, but the way it clung to the skin and faces of her attackers proved her wrong. It was oil.
Ten times more potent than holy water due to its added surface tension, consecrated oil had been known to kill many a Vampire where silver and stakes couldn't; Shizuka did not want to be added to the list. To avoid becoming a statistic, when the young man took another draught from his bottle she bolted from the wall with all the speed she possessed and darted to stand behind him. Without really knowing why, she took hold his trenchcoat and clutched the black leather tightly between her pale fingers. It was then that she realized she was shaking.
The young man jerked backward as a rônin ducked under the stream of consecrated oil and rammed into his midsection, sending him reeling backward against Shizuka. The remaining oil flew from his mouth and the beast tore the bottle from his fingers and flung it away into the dark even as the oil that had splashed on its back ate through its skin and bone.
Shizuka braced her feet on the ground and held the young man upright, clenching her eyes shut and biting back a cry when the familiar taste of fresh blood tarnished the air, making her mouth water. Another blow hit, then another and another, each time forcing back the pair further and further down the dead street. Finally, with one more blow the young man with those bright blue eyes was thrown back entirely, and both he and Shizuka were sent sprawling out on the ground.
He coughed painfully and struggled to rise—Shizuka saw blood trailing from the corner of his mouth and could practically taste the rusted texture of the abrasions on his face as he turned to look at her. His right eye had been struck hard enough to turn the surrounding skin black, and the young woman wondered if he would be able to see through it once all this was over. If it ever is, she thought. As things stood at that moment it wasn't likely that he would survive the fight, and that hurt Shizuka horribly.
This young man had been dragged into this because she had been an idiot and insisted she go out alone. If only she had brought Ryou or Arken or her brother with her…! She took a deep breath, closing her amber eyes to compose herself as the horde drew ever nearer; she could hear their stumbling, sticky footsteps, smell their tainted blood. This boy was about to die, and it was all because of her own foolishness.
"No," she whispered. "Things happen as they're meant to happen." The young woman swallowed thickly, opened her eyes and lifting her head to look at the struggling young man. "There are no coincidences, only inevitabilities. Hitsuzen."
The young man turned his sapphire eyes one her and glared. "What are you doing? Either get out of here or fight!"
But she couldn't fight. She was incapable of killing these things without becoming one herself. That was a curse of her people—they could not hunt these beasts, for every time a true Vampire killed a rônin that Vampire took the monster's place. It was futile and she knew it. And she did not intend to become a monster in front of this valiant young human.
She shot to her feet and grabbed both his wrists, pulling him up and hurrying him down the street, broadening the gap between them and their attackers. "Y-you're a hunter, am I right?" she inquired, turning to face him even as she ran. He nodded, too short of breath to speak. "All right, young hunter, I think I should tell you that we are both going to die unless something drastic is done."
"And what, praytell," he huffed, "would you suggest?" Seto's piercing blue eyes locked with the girl's bright amber, and his face went pale; this girl, this poor defenseless teenager, had slit pupils. Her gait was steady in spite of the apparent strain that had been placed on her body, and belying the fact that she had been thrown to the ground only moments before she was unscathed. Not a scrape or bruise marred her alabaster skin.
He had been protecting a Vampire all along.
"Oh, shit," he spat, averting his eyes. It was a bit late now to try to hunt her, he supposed. She had saved him from a back attack, after all. Besides, he had never killed a female before; the thought of hurting a woman made his stomach turn, calling memories he had tried to bury years before Mokuba had bee stolen. "So, did you tick off your master or something? If that why these things are after you?"
"Quite frankly," she replied, "I have no idea." Seto could detect the barest hint of a lie in her words, which meant that she most certainly knew why they were after her but most likely hadn't been expecting it. They ran along for several seconds more, Seto's side erupting in pain as an unpleasant stitch flared, before the girl spoke again. "And I don't have a master. I'm independent."
Seto arched one eyebrow. An independent Vampire? All vampires had a master, regardless of what level they were. Whoever Turned them was their master, there was nothing they could ever do to change that. "Ironic," he hissed with a smirk. "You claim to be masterless, making you a real rônin, but you're being attacked by fakes."
The girl shot him an icy glare, but it softened when she seemed to notice the blue tint that had come to his lips and the sides of his face. The young hunter slowed his dash to a sprint, then stumbled over nothing at all and fell flat on the sidewalk. The girl, to his surprise, came about and knelt down beside him.
"Are you all right?" she inquired frantically. "Hunter! Hunter, say something!"
He took a raspy breath as she rolled him onto his back. "S-Seto," he wheezed.
She blinked. "What?"
"That's my name. Kaiba Seto. You?" She stared down at him, expression unreadable, and he sighed. "I figured it's only fair that we know each other before we die. That way we can laugh this up when we meet in hell."
A long moment passed. "Shizuka," she replied quietly.
Seto smiled. "Shizuka. Nice name for a bloodsucker."
Shizuka smiled back. "Thank you."
Their conversation was cut short as the familiar sound of scraping steps and gurgling breaths caught their attention. The rônin turned the corner and lumbered on toward them.
The amber-eyed young woman swallowed heavily. "They're here, Mister Kaiba," she whispered. "They'll reach us a minute."
He gave a weak nod. So this was it, six years without a lead on his brother's whereabouts, six years hunting and killing the higher-level monsters, and he was going to die against a horde of drooling rônin. It was pathetic.
"I-I don't want to die," she hissed, taking hold of his right hand. "I don't think you do either. I have a proposition that could save us both." Seto opened his eyes and arched one eyebrow. He knew he was spent, but he also knew that desperate times called for desperate measures; the woman wouldn't Turn him, he could tell that much. What else could she do that could save them?
He took a shaky breath. "What…do you…propose?"
"Become my contracted servant," she said. "If you do you'll have access to all my power and none of my stipulations. You'll still be human, but you'll have enough strength to take out these things."
Seto forced himself up to a sitting position. "Become your servant? Are you insane!"
Shizuka glanced sideways at the approaching rônin. "You're hunting for a reason, right? All hunters have a reason—are you doing this to die against a bunch of slavering idiots who don't even remember their own names?"
Seto stiffened, eyes widening as the memory of Mokuba screaming for him to help over and over flitted though his mind. He could still see the pallor of his skin when those two Vampires carried him away, still hear his labored breathing…
Shizuka set her jaw. "Or are you doing this for a real reason?"
The young man thought for a moment more, eyes downcast, and then swallowed heavily. "As soon as this fight is over you're going to release me from your service."
"I will," she swore.
"Fine." He lifted his right hand, pulling up his sleeve shakily and helping the young woman to remove the throwing holster strapped to his wrist. "But you might want to hurry up."
The girl took hold of his arm, tilted it to the proper angle and leaned forward, opening her mouth. Cold breath trailed over the elder Kaiba's skin, sending a chill down his spine, and a heartbeat later her sharp fangs brushed over his flesh. Seto ground his teeth and went completely rigid, holding his breath. It was for Mokuba, to stay alive long enough to find him or find out what had happened to him. It was for Mokuba. If he could find his brother by becoming a Vampire's slave, then he would gladly join their ranks. These thoughts didn't make it any easier to bear, however, as the girl inhaled and exhaled once more.
Seto realized that her breath was shaky, even hesitant. She didn't want to do this any more than he did.
At last Shizuka clenched her amber eyes shut and thrust her head downward, sinking her fangs deep into the hunter's flesh and inhaling deeply. Seto almost screamed at the searing pain that rushed through his veins, but bit off the cry into a strangled growl. Shizuka's intake of breath and blood trailed off, and she released his wrist, rising up onto her knees to place a hand on either side of his face and angle it down toward her own.
She pressed her lips to his and forced his own blood out between her teeth. It was hot and metallic when it hit the young man's tongue and he almost gagged. The girl tightened her grip on the sides of his face when the first shudder ran through him, though, and the bile was instantly forced down.
Seto swallowed, and the world exploded in white light.
Shizuka shielded her eyes with her hand as the force of the contract shoved her back, scraping her legs across the rough ground several feet. The light was almost to bright to see through, especially for her nighttime-eyes, but she forced herself to lower her hand and look nonetheless. Through the tears and the wind she could see the hunter, Kaiba Seto, standing upright once again.
His trenchcoat flared out behind him and his eyes burned with an intense inner light; his entire form seemed to glow, giving off the white light that burned the Vampire girl's vision. He turned away from her and faced the approaching rônin, the beasts too stupid to realize that the light was dangerous, with an expression devoid of any emotion. The hunter held up his right hand, the one she had bitten, and the light intensified in his palm. Seto ground his teeth, glowing eyes narrowing.
The light shot out from his hand, shafting out from his fingers like signal lamps and cutting through the darkness of the night sky high above. For an instant the sky was a paler shade of blue, the stars were lost from sight, and Shizuka stared in wonder as she realized that Seto was the sun.
The light hit the approaching horde, and the rônin were obliterated. Not even a scrap of their rag clothing remained, not a speck of ash. It was as though they had never been.
Seto turned about to face the woman once more, eyes still burning even brighter than his skin, and they simply stared at each other for a long moment. The look in his gaze seemed to denote he was about to say something, but instead he let out a sigh and his eyes drifted shut. The light faded from his form and Kaiba Seto, hunter and now contracted servant to Shizuka, passed out on the sidewalk.
Author's Note: I hope anyone reading this mess is enjoying it. I got tired of all those SxS vampire fics where Seto's some sort of vampire king and Turns Shizuka so she can be his slave or whatever, so I did a bit of a role-reversal. They're still the same characters, but they've been placed in opposite positions. I thought it would be fun to work with a just-as-obsessive-as-ever Kaiba and a just-as-pleasant-as-canon Shizuka, but put them in a situation where their personalities are seriously tested. In any case, I hope everyone several enjoyed this first installment of my first-ever Yu-Gi-Oh fic. Feel free to flame me if you think I've completely screwed up everyone's characters; I do listen to flames, believe it or not. It's a bad habit of mine.
Special Thanks to Moriyasha Neko-hime, my beta and awesome little sister, for telling me that this story wasn't a complete waste of my time. Oh yeah, and for letting me use her artstuff-breifcase when I drew the first illustration. And taking on the role of Arken when I was planning out his initial scenes. And for playing Ryou when I wanted to be the nasty one. And for…oh, heck. You rock, Aneki.