It's a-mee, the one-trick Karin/Nicolai pony, back with yet another one-shot that might get depressing.

Disclaimer: All I want for Christmas is that adorable Vatican exorcist. Unfortunately, Midway/Nautilus/whatever owns him, Yuri, and Karin. So bleh.

By now, Karin had buckled down and come to terms with the fact that only by saying his name repeatedly could she even get him to cast a spare glance her way.

Yuri, Yuri, turn around and listen to me – it was always the same tune, and she was getting so damn sick of singing it.

And eventually he would concede, and would turn to regard her, but then came the part where she would try to talk to him, and he'd get that glazed look on his face, as if he heard her but was simply unable to comprehend her words. It wasn't hard to see that he didn't care much about her history, or her feelings… even the spontaneous humorous remarks that her other friends found so amusing failed to turn his ear her way.

Perhaps he was too busy staring at her more generous attributes to realize that she was speaking to him. In another world she would be prepared to forgive him, since he was, after all, a man, but she'd already grown so tired of seeing his eyes constantly slide downwards ever so slightly that she was more inclined to be annoyed than to excuse his seemingly bottomless libido.

But she'd tried to look past it. She'd tried to look past the vulgarity; tried to give him something to be interested in. She'd embellished, elaborated; anything to make her life sound as exciting as she possibly could – a family of Munich's respectable old money, her spectacular rise in the German army at the tender age of twenty-five… and to anyone else, she thought it actually might have been quite engaging, but that was only if they had the minor patience required for the intellectual commitment.

So she talked about him. He seemed far more eager to converse when it was about his own life, even though he told her repeatedly that he 'didn't want to talk about it', and although it wasn't always a subject Karin wanted to hear about, it was in some small way her link to him. But even when she asked him questions about his family, his home, even about Alice, he was distant and impersonal, always seeming adrift in his own world and his own musings, which she suspected were to be shared only with his lost love and not with an annoying, prying stranger who had only just come into his life.

And honestly, as of now she wasn't sure she wanted to take part in whatever it was he concerned himself with – his life, his history… especially not Alice.

And yet she couldn't help but wonder what it was that Yuri Hyuga thought about. Having so many minds in a single head must have given him a multi-dimensional outlook on life. Did each separate creature have a distinct personality and soul? They sure didn't make him any kinder or more perceptive… perhaps they were all male demons, and happened to share the infuriating blindness that came with the gender. If there was one thing she thought he might have gained by housing so many elegant creatures within his own body, it was class – and yet, somehow the man seemed ridiculously far from any semblance of it.

Killing time in the only place she could find that was remotely like a bar in the peaceful Inugami Village, Karin sat on a stool before a largish bottle of hot sake, face rested pensively on one open palm as she stared with half-lidded eyes into the wall. Not quite tipsy yet, she wished desperately that she had some hard liquor with which to knock herself out, even though she couldn't put her finger on the reason.

Of course her entire family had been brutally killed less than a month in the past, but it had all happened so quickly that she was less miserable than numb with the suddenness of it all, and she certainly wasn't devastated quite enough to drink herself silly. As far as she was concerned, although it had been prestigious in its time, the time had come for the Koenig family name to simply die out.

It wasn't often that something could make her so depressed that she wanted to escape reality. She had actually rather like the world she called home up until recently. For no good reason, some unmistakable sadness had decided to roll over her like a tenacious raincloud, fogging her sense of humor until she became pessimistic; even dangerously unhappy around others. Even her friends.

Her friends, who needed her to be funny and charming all the time, who wouldn't stand for her to be sad or dejected, even if it only meant they wouldn't have to bother themselves with cheering her up.

Karin laughed a bit at the idea and redoubled her efforts to become inebriated. She couldn't imagine why it was taking so long – sake didn't have much alcohol content, but ten percent was more than enough to overcome her paltry excuse for a tolerance.

Her next swig was so deep and sustained that she could feel the eyes of the counter attendant fixing her with a curious stare, for her elbow had only moments ago brushed against something cold and metallic at her side, scraping along its many embedded gems and pointed gold-carved trimmings and serving as an unwelcome and unpleasant reminder of the reason she could not eat or sleep in her right mind, with or without that tiny voice in her head telling her that she could have done something about 'it'.

She had always admired the weapon in its decorated scabbard, elegant and beautiful in contrast to the trifling military-issue blade she'd handled alongside it. This was the magnificent blade whose polished honey-colored hilt and numerous glimmering set jewels were said to have been handled by sir Galahad of the Round Table himself… and which had, much later, been wielded by another man who occupied Karin's every thought no matter how hard she tried to drive him from her mind.

Hunching her back further and bringing her head closer to the table, she closed her fingers around her cup and tapped it lightly against the table, over and over until she worked up the nerve.

"Nicolai," she said simply, earning another quizzical glance, and then to the attendant's further surprise, she laughed, wondering if she were going quietly insane.

Saying his name didn't make her feel any better. Quite the opposite, in fact – it made her feel dirty and low; a bitter taste the sake couldn't wash out.

Nicolas Conrad. Intelligent, handsome. With class. Also a man whose brutal and untimely death was on her conscience.

She raised her hands to her eyes and studied them with a glum sigh. She was no stranger to the violence and cruelty of war, but the blood on her hands wasn't that of a man meaningless to her; like the myriad soldiers she had dispatched during her many years in the military. Those were trained dogs, militiamen, trained and bred to fight and to throw their lives away at the first given opportunity. She'd even led such men into battle, and had been revolted at their every attempt to shield her from danger even when it cost them their own lives.

"I liked him, you know," she told the attendant bemusedly as the little Japanese man merely gave her another perplexed look and returned to cleaning the tables behind her. "…really liked him."

The man offered up an unhelpful suggestion in Japanese, and she turned back with a disgruntled "Sure."

She doubted it would have been much help even if she could understand him, because at this point even she didn't know how she felt. It was obvious that during the month or so that they had fought side-by-side, they had become good friends. And she'd known from the start that he was a man she would grow to admire, for she'd been attracted to both his appearance and his personality – the way he respected her as a woman, treated her as an equal, and was prone even to lower himself below her as if she were his superior.

Often he'd made her laugh with his wit and clever way with words, and this many months later, she found it impossible to fathom herself leaving such a man to join Yuri Hyuga. And even now, her only explanation was that she must've done something unspeakably evil in a previous life, because her unbelievable karma had awakened the little white angel-conscience in her at precisely the wrong moment. By now, she'd come to her senses enough to realize that even though she'd seen an entirely different side of him in Domremy's church – a personality that was powerfully driven, passionate; perhaps even obsessed – the fact remained that she could have easily forgiven it. The Nicolai that emerged when Yuri was nearby was by no means an indicator of the man as a whole.

Given time, she was certain she could have made herself more to him than just a friend… but the vindictive fates had thought it best to guide her to Yuri instead of Nicolai, and as a result, here she was staring at the hands that had let him die.


Her heart felt as if it would implode.

"Hurensohn," she cursed, breaking into spontaneous German, "Scheisse, you scared me."

"Uh, sure," Yuri replied, to which she offered a small internal smirk – that little Japanese man wasn't the only one who could speak in tongues. "Sorry."

Karin did her best to plaster a smile onto her lips, and as a result managed to warp her face into a painful grimace that she suspected might appear more like a death mask than an expression that would come off as endearing.

"Yes? What is it?"

"Hey, don't gimme that."

"What?" she retorted glumly.

"The cheery face," he persisted, "Something's wrong."

Karin stared down at the counter top, her forged grin melting into a pathetic scowl. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Yuri slung himself down in the seat beside her, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall with a frown that nearly made her believe that he was concerned. "So what's up?"

"…did the others send you?"

"That's not an answer. And no, they didn't, but they have been worried. Hence, what's up?"

Karin didn't reply, for a myriad of numbingly inappropriate answers appeared in her head all at once, and she knew that if she opened her mouth, one of them would escape against her will.

Well, Yuri, remember that guy who denounced you as a petty bounty without ever meeting you, stabbed you with a cursed relic, knocked you out for two days straight, and condemned you to lose all your memories with a well-placed hex and a smile on his face?

Well, I'm hopelessly in love with him.

She gritted her teeth. No, she was not in love with him. She was not currently trying to heavily intoxicate herself while she pined away for him like a pathetic self-pitying halfwit.

Karin lifted the cup to her lips to buy herself some time, fully aware of Yuri's challenging crimson stare.

"Yuri – "

"Yeah?" he prompted, almost too quickly, and then when she appeared taken aback, he was quick to offer a "…sorry."

"I, ah," she began, "I think I need some time to myself. You know… to think about things."


That was it. 'Oh'. A simple answer from a simple man.

"Do you think you guys could do without me for a while?"

"How long?" he asked with a frown.

"Only a few days. I just want to be away from everybody for a while."

"Something the matter with us?"

"Oh, no," Karin replied quickly, "no, it's not you at all. I'm just a bit high strung right now, seeing as everything's become a little hectic. I thought that maybe a couple of days might help me sort things out."

She saw Yuri's puzzled gaze and added abruptly, "But if you don't want me to, of course I'll stay; I'm sure you have your reasons – "

"No," he interrupted, "no, it's okay, I get it. You take as much time as you need, okay?"

With a wink he added, "Don't worry. Everybody'll still be here when you get back… We'll be waiting for you."

"Right here?" Karin inquired, surprised that he had suddenly conceded with so little objection.

Yuri nodded. "Yeah, right here."

She had the sudden, impetuous urge to kiss him, and wished vaguely that it could be a bit longer than just an 'impetuous urge'. But the fact remained that at the moment, she was certain that she really did love Yuri with all her heart.

She decided to show it by attacking him with an enormous embrace, earning a surprised 'Whoa' and an awkward pat on the head before she pulled away with a real smile.

"Danke schön," she burst happily, "Thank you, Yuri!"

As she abandoned her drink with enough force to set it spinning on the table, Yuri called after.

"Hold on a second; where's the fire? Where are you going in such a hurry?"

Karin shrugged. "I don't know… but the sooner I get there the better."

She was sure that she left him a little more than perplexed when she disappeared from the tiny building without another word.

Okay, so it's not exactly a one-shot.