This is a weird idea I came up with a few weeks ago. I then started posting this story in the Beast's Lair forums and decided to make use of my old fanfiction account. So anyways, enjoy!

Chapter 1 - Friday, December 23

Tap Tap Tap

"Haah, hooo, haah, hooo."

Taking in deep breathes, I turned around. Other than my own ragged breathing, there was only silence. I slowly began to relax. I had no idea of what I was running from or for how long, but at least for the moment, I was safe. However...where was I?
I looked at my surroundings; it had appeared that I had wandered into an old factory. The place looked like it had been abandoned for years; everything around me seemed to be in a state of disrepair. All the windows had been shattered open, allowing the weather outside to seep in. The floor was soaked due to the rain and the cold wind pushed forth. The light source from within was a single light bulb, which hung high above me. The wind would cause the light to sway back and forth, much like a scene from a horror movie.

Tap Tap Tap

Reacting to the sound I quickly turned around once again, only to find nothing. For as long as I could remember, I had been hearing these footsteps. Normally, I wouldn't have thought anything about it, but they always sounded like they were right behind me. When I would turn, no one would be there. And so I ran, ran as far as I could. That's how I ended up here, and it seemed like my friend had followed me.

Tap Tap Tap

This time the footsteps weren't behind me. In fact, due to the loud echoes in this building, it sounded like they were coming from all around me. Each footstep that my stalker left was hard and forceful. It was as if that person wanted me to know that I was being followed, to wallow in my fear of the unknown. You know, it's times like this that I wished I had brought my knife with me. There wasn't much here to use as a weapon, save for some soggy wood. For the moment, I was completely defenseless.

Taptaptaptaptaptaptap

Suddenly I could hear several quick short footsteps. This time, I was able to tell where they were coming from. Up from a nearby balcony, something stirred. Since the light didn't cover that balcony, I wasn't able to tell what it was.

"Shiiiiiiiiiiikiiiiiiiiiiiiii"

It almost came out as a whisper. The echo the whisper gave off made it sound like I was being stalked by a ghost. Sweat started breaking out all over my body. Just as soon as I thought I had found the location of my stalker, I could no longer feel its presence. Either this person wasn't your everyday stalker or possibly...not even human.

"C'mon Shiki! Don't you wanna play?" the stalker asked with a playful, yet strangely murderous tone. There was something dangerously wrong with this situation. I felt as if I'd go insane if I stood here any longer. However, I also felt that if I attempted to escape I would be caught in an instant. Without a weapon to even defend myself with, all I could do was wait.

"Shiiiiiiiiiiikiiiiiiiiiiiiii" the ghost-like whisper came yet again. I could barely stand anymore of this. My heart was beating fast, my mouth was dry and sweat began pouring down. With this unknown stalker wandering about, playing with me as if a cat had caught its prey, I felt as if I truly were having a nightmare.

"I told you once before Shiki. I would have you take responsibility for killing me."

...That can't be. I thought the voice sounded vaguely familiar but...Not even Arcueid would play such a cruel joke.

"Is that you, Arcueid?" I asked into the darkness. For a while, there was nothing but silence. But suddenly, a burst of cat-like laughter echoed throughout the factory.

"Bzzt! Wrong! You were close, but not close enyaough!"

Suddenly, the thing exploded into view and landed right before me. At first I thought it looked like Arcueid, but on a closer inspection, it was far too small and looked more like...

"A...cat?"

The...cat tilted its head slightly. It seems as if I didn't give it the reaction it was hoping for.

"You were expecting something else-nya?"

Personally, I had no idea of what to expect. Even seeing Roa or Nrvnqsr was more likely than finding a cat that looks a lot like Arcueid. Speaking of which...

"By the way, why is it that you look like Arcueid?"

Raising an eyebrow, the cat responded, "That's a stupid question-nya. It's because I am Neko-Arc."

"That...didn't answer my question at all..."

At the very instant I said that, I saw an odd light shining from its eyes.

"...SHINSO BEAM!!"


"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Shiki screamed as he leaped from his bed. As he tried to get up, his leg got caught onto the bed sheets, causing him to trip and fall onto the floor.

"Owwww..." Quickly leaping onto his feet, Shiki took a quick glance around his room. There was no sign of Neko- Arc at all.

"It was...just a dream," Shiki sighed heavily.

"Good morning, Shiki-sama. I see that you are already awake," Hisui said with a bow. Shiki immediately jumped a few feet into the air. Hisui had snuck into his room so quietly that he didn't even notice her.

"Oh! G-good morning, Hisui," he stuttered. With a puzzled look on her face, Hisui decided to take a few steps closer.

"Are you okay, Shiki-sama?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just had a bad dream, I guess."

"Is that so? Breakfast will be ready soon so please come down to the sitting room when you are ready." With yet another bow, Hisui silently left the room. After she had left, Shiki walked over to his nightstand and put on his glasses.

"Yeah, of course it was a dream. There's no way that a creature like that could exist."

--

As Shiki closed the door behind him, another in his room was just waking up. Walking out from underneath the bed, Ren groggily walked out. She then hopped up onto the bed, only to see that her master was not there. Tilting her head to its side, she realized that he must have already left. With Shiki gone, there was not much else for her to do. However, today she could look around the mansion. Ren has walked around the mansion before, however she had never really explored it; the thought never came across her mind. Making one final stretch and her mind made up, Ren started heading towards the door.

The door itself looked massive and intimidating to her cat form. Of course, Ren could just change forms and open the door, but that would be boring. Today has to be exciting! Ah! The door was open just a crack. Pushing her body against the door, Ren managed to open it with a CREEEEEAAAAK.

After exiting the room she came into the hallway. Completely empty and devoid of any life whatsoever, the hallway made exploring the mansion seem like it was going to be tough work. Now then, where should Ren go first? Ren's ears twitched from a sound coming further down the hallway, near the lobby. This was probably Shiki and Akiha talking in the sitting room, the same thing they do almost everyday. It wasn't too interesting, but it's better than sitting in the hallway all day...

As Ren entered the lobby she could hear a door opening and shutting. Looking down from the stairwell, she saw Akiha with Kohaku following close behind. They were probably leaving the house already. Not paying those two too much attention, Ren decided to head into the dining room. As she got to the door, it opened suddenly.

"Sorry to have to run, but I won't make it in time if I don't hurry."

"Have a good day, Shiki-sama."

"Yeah, you too, Hisui," And with that, Shiki was out the door. As for Ren, she was pushed aside as the door opened so suddenly, almost crushing her between the door and the wall. Prying herself free, Ren found herself next to Hisui.

"Hm? Oh, good morning, Ren-sama," Hisui said with a bow. Looking over at where Ren just was, she added, "Are you hurt at all?"

As usual, Ren didn't answer, she just looked up at Hisui. Not looking the least bit injured, Hisui looked as if she understood and simply nodded.

"If Ren-sama is not busy, could you come to the kitchen? I have a favor to ask of you," Hisui said, walking off though the door.
The kitchen? As Ren thought about it, she had never really visited the kitchen before. With a smile (Or as much as a cat can smile) Ren quickly followed after Hisui.


Meanwhile somewhere in downtown Misaki, Sion Eltnam Atlasia wandered through the streets. Completely wrapped in winter clothing she continued on into a nearby store.

"It's become colder than expected. At this rate, my research will be slowed," she muttered groggily to herself. The recent winter weather had not only slowed down her progress in her research to cure vampirism, but it had also caused her to have trouble sleeping recently. Not that it was to be too surprising; she wasn't living in a place to withstand the cold too well.

You see, Sion lived with our favorite unlucky vampire Satsuki Yumizuka, of whom lived in an abandoned factory, not too far away from the Tohno mansion. Well...they technically live in the factory; their actual shelter was made up of many cardboard boxes made into a small house. In other words, they live in a cardboard box house in an abandoned factory. Now that you're all caught up, let's continue the story.

Normally, even that type of a shelter would have a bit of resistance to the weather, but the weather this year was unexpectedly low. In her groggy, sleep deprived state, Sion decided to take a walk to clear her mind. Walking around the store she just entered, she thought that she might as well look around while she heats herself up.

"If the weather wasn't so bad, I'd have no problems with my studies. Asking Shiki or Akiha for a temporary shelter is out of the question. I have to keep an eye on Satsuki and keep her out of trouble. And even if I bring her with me, there's no telling if I could keep her vampiric impulse down," Sion thought aloud. Even so, with Satsuki in the mansion, she wouldn't be able to move around so much during the daytime. And when she could walk around, the curfew would be set and Akiha would get angry. Sion sighed deeply to herself.

"But maybe we could get by if we had a heater or a--" Sion stopped dead in her tracks. Looking up she saw IT. On sale for a mere 12,000 yen was a kotatsu. Intrigued, she took a closer look. Both the table and the blanket were nicely made and the heater was relatively new. This would easily last them the whole winter. Not only that, but it could serve as a table for Sion to do her studies on. With her mind made up she pulled out her wallet.

"...Damn it," she cursed while counting her money. She only had about 1,500 yen, far, far too little to even be thinking about it. Slumping over in defeat, Sion started off to leave the store. But then, something else caught her eye. It was a help wanted sign.

"That's right. This is around the time when part-time work is being offered. I could just grab a few jobs and get the kotatsu," she said with a smile, "And I could use my negotiation skills to get my paychecks after working." With her mind made up, Sion went off to ask for the manager.


At long last, Shiki had finally made it to the school gates. Since he woke up late, he was forced to rush out of the house and run most of the way there. It wasn't good for him to push his body so much and at the rate he was going, he could collapse before the day was done. Luckily for him, the morning bell had not rung yet. Collecting himself, Shiki started heading past the gate.

"Good morning, Shiki!" a voice from behind greeted him. Shiki turned to meet Arcueid, who was leaning on the gate he just passed.

"Arcueid? What are you doing here?" Shiki asked. Arcueid seemed to be in an especially happy mood today. Leaving the wall behind, she started coming closer to Shiki.

"That wasn't much of a greeting. I haven't seen you for about a week so it shouldn't be too surprising that I came to see you."

"That's true but...Did you really have to come so early?"

"Yeah, well, I woke up early today and I couldn't get back to sleep. I didn't want to wait until after school to see you so..." Arcueid trailed off.

"Okay, okay, I understand," Shiki smiled.

"Shall we go then?" Arcueid held out her hand towards Shiki. All he could do was continue staring dumbfounded at it.

"I'm sorry, but I can't go with you just yet."

"Why not? You've skipped school a few times before to go out with me."

"I'm sorry, but I have a big test today."

"A...test?"

"That's right. I can't miss this exam, not even Arihiko wouldn't skip today. I'm sorry, but I have to get going now," Shiki explained while starting to take off for the door.

"Aww...that's not fair. You've been spending much more time with everyone else recently," her shoulders slumping, Arcueid said this sadly.

"Arcueid..."

"And Ciel gets to see you everyday too. I guess I'll just head back to my apartment then..."

Ahh...the guilt trip. It works every time.

"After school..." Shiki muttered, not able to look at Arcueid in the face.

"Hmm? What was that?" Arcueid's voice jumped up. It was obvious to Shiki that he had fallen into her trap.

"I'll come by the park after school and we'll go out on a date then."

"Yay!" Arcueid started jumping up and down, which reminded Shiki of a puppy for some reason. Suddenly, the bell started to ring.

"Ah, crap! I'll see you later!"

"Bye Shiki!" Arcueid waved goodbye as Shiki ran off towards his class. Deep down, he hoped that Arcueid would not wait in front of the gate the whole time.


Chop Chop Chop

Ren sat on a nearby counter, watching Hisui chopping away at something. It had been like this for a while; Hisui would occasionally pour something into a pan and add in whatever she was chopping at. Ren was too far away to see exactly what Hisui was doing, but if she had to guess, it looked like some kind of soup or something. Soon the chopping stopped and Hisui tasted the soup. She looked satisfied and poured some into a little bowl.

"Ren-sama, I'd like you to try some of this and tell me if you think Shiki-sama would like it," Hisui said, placing the bowl next to Ren. Ren turned towards the soup and noticed something odd. It looked very red; as if Hisui was cooking blood...She then took a closer look and took a large whiff of the soup.

"!!" Ren immediately backed away. Every sense in her body was suddenly screaming, telling her to not eat whatever this was.

"Ren-sama?" Hisui tilted her head slightly. After looking into her eyes, Ren decided that she should at least try it otherwise Hisui would be crushed. Ignoring all of her senses, Ren took one lick of the blood red soup.

Suddenly her vision blurred red. Taking a few steps back she resisted the urge to vomit. What exactly is Hisui trying to make?!

"No good? I thought so," Hisui sighed. She began walking back towards the mixture, "I guess it needs more vinegar."

V-vinegar?!

"Hmm...I guess I wouldn't hurt to add a few more plums either."

...At that moment, Ren decided if she valued her life, she would escape from the kitchen.

"Since it has become very cold recently, I thought that Shiki-sama would like to come home to something warm to eat. I think he would be happy to know that we helped make this meal," As Hisui said this, Ren managed to open the door and sneak into the dining room. As soon as she entered the room she darted over to the curtains.

"Ren-sama? Where are you?" Hisui soon entered the room with another bowl. She then started to look under the table.

"Ren-sama? Are you hiding?" Hisui stood there for a few seconds, wondering where Ren may have run off. And then it came to her…

"Ren-sama is a cat and cats like to play...Ren-sama must be playing hide and seek then," Hisui concluded. Ren was now worried, she thought that Hisui would understand when she escaped, but now Hisui is going to track her down and then she'll have to try the next batch. Hisui suddenly looked over at the curtains and slowly started to walk over to them.

"Ren...sama?" WHOOSH! Ren quickly darted from behind the curtains and rushed towards the main lobby.

"Ah! Wait!" Hisui was not too far behind...Ren looked around the lobby. If she tried to escape up the stairs, Hisui might spot her and catch up. Her only choices were either the west wing or the east wing. Not having much time to be picky, Ren ran down the west wing hallway. Ren knew that many of the doors in the mansion were locked and she had no idea which ones were open. Hoping against fate, she leaped up into the air and attempted to turn a knob. Surprisingly enough, it opened. Once inside of the room, Ren rammed herself against the door and closed it.

The current room she was in was Makihisa's study. At the moment, Ren was safe. However, who knew how long Hisui would keep up the chase. Looking about the room, Ren found a nice chair in the far corner of the room to hide under. It was placed well enough that you would have to look directly under the chair in order to see her. Not only that, but there was plenty of space to make another run for it if needed.

CREEEEAAAAK. The door to the study opened slowly and Hisui stepped inside.

Sniff Sniff

"Ah, Ren-sama is hiding in here," Hisui concluded as she began searching the room.
"?!" Obviously Ren was shocked. She hadn't even been resting for even a minute before the door opened. How did she find Ren so fast? With these kinds of skills, Hisui could become a great detective or something.

Tap Tap Tap

The sound of footsteps. Hisui was drawing closer to Ren's hiding spot. The door behind Hisui was shut so there were no means of escape.

Tap Tap Tap

Hisui suddenly stopped right in front of the chair where Ren was hiding under. Any second now, Hisui would find her. Ren could sense immanent doom slowly approaching her.

Ba-bump Ba-bump Ba-bump

Ren's heart started beating so loud that it was all she could hear. Hisui started crouching down when--

"Ah! Ne-san is home," Hisui said suddenly. Ren decided to take a little peek. Hisui was looking outside of the window the whole time. Of course she couldn't have known exactly where Ren was, that's just silly! Hisui then started towards the door to greet her sister. Just as the door opened she paused briefly.

"We'll continue this game later, Ren-sama," and with that she was gone. With a deep sigh, Ren stretched herself out. She was safe...for now.


It didn't take long for Sion to nail several jobs throughout Misaki. Aiming straight for the interview, she managed to easily work her way in...not to mention that using the etherlite to get all the information she needed didn't hurt. Although aiming for several jobs wasn't the wisest of choices, Sion was too sleep deprived to make many wise decisions. Also...

"This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu."

In her sleep deprived state, Sion also didn't pay much attention to the jobs she choose. Ranging from waitress to construction worker, it seemed that she would have many trials throughout the day. However...

"This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu," to keep her mind on the prize, Sion would occasionally repeat this. She had already been accepted into these jobs and there would be no backing out. She was not about to waste anymore time. Her current job, however, she felt especially embarrassed about. It wasn't something she would have chosen normally and she cursed her own sleepiness for not paying attention.

"This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu. This is for the kotatsu." Her mantra kept her calm and collected. So long as she reminded herself why she was here, she would be fine. Then it was finally time to say it, the one line in this job that she despised the most.

"Would you...like fries with that?"


The outside of the mansion was caked in fresh snow. Each step that Ren made left a distinct footprint. Luckily, it hadn't snowed enough for it to be difficult for a cat to walk through. Ren was happy because of this, she liked the snow and she hadn't had much of a chance to explore the outside of the mansion. Walking past the garden she began heading towards the detached building, the guesthouse where Shiki lived as a child so long ago.

As she walked through the woods, she felt something ominous. It was as if she were being watched. Ren looked around herself, yet she never caught eye of whatever it was. Before she knew it, Ren was sitting in front of the detached building. Looking at the door, it didn't look like she would get in too easily...But wait! There seems to be a secret door on the wall. Ren pawed the wall and it opened up to reveal a secret passage. Just as Ren was about to enter the passage, she could hear something growling behind her.

Turning around she saw a big black dog. The dog was not happy to see her; apparently it did not like cats. Ren didn't even know that the Tohno family even had a dog...In fact; this looked more like a wolf and its presence felt...odd. Suddenly the wolf rushed towards Ren. Not wanting to get eaten by this creature, Ren started running. The doors to the mansion were shut and, even if she were to go through the passageway, the wolf would probably bust down the door to the detached building. No matter what she thought about, it seemed that there was no escape from this wolf.

Suddenly the answer came to her. Taking a sharp turn, Ren leaped up into the air, catching herself onto a tree. Not wasting a moment's hesitation, Ren started climbing up the tree. As she hit one of the upper branches, she decided to look down. The black wolf, Coulter, was at the base of the tree barking up at Ren. It didn't look like it was going to try and climb for now so Ren decided to take a small nap, while she had the opportunity.


Meanwhile at the school, it appeared that for some reason or another, Shiki's final class was canceled for the day. There was not much of a reason to stick around at the school so Shiki decided to head towards the park. Finding Arcueid didn't take him too long; she was waiting near the center of the park, sitting on a bench. She noticed his presence rather quickly and headed towards Shiki.

"Ah! Shiki, you're here."

"Of course I'm here, I promised to take you out on a date, didn't I?"

"I know, I'm just happy that you're here now. C'mon!" Without warning Arcueid suddenly grabbed Shiki's arm and started dragging him.

"Ah, Arcueid, where are we going?" Shiki asked while trying to keep his balance. Arcueid quickly stopped in her tracks and started thinking. Shiki had already figured as much, she had been only thinking about waiting for him to show up, it wasn't too surprising that she hadn't already planned what to do next.

"Hmm...I hadn't really thought about it. Do you know of any fun places Shiki?"

To be honest, he really couldn't think of many fun places off the top of his head. Everywhere was quite busy at this time of the year, which reminded him...

"Ah, that's right, Christmas is coming up."

He remembered a conversation he had with Arihiko earlier that day. He was asked if he was planning on giving out any gifts this year, but Shiki retorted that he was too poor to really think about it. He couldn't really remember the rest of the conversation other than being accused for spending too much money on his girlfriends.

"Hmm? What about it?" Arcueid asked.

"Is there anything that you'd like for Christmas?"

"Anything...I'd like?" Arcueid sounded confused. She probably didn't understand what he was talking about.

"On Christmas, people usually give presents to their loved ones. I was wondering if there was anything that you'd like," Shiki explained. Arcueid quickly assumed a thinking posture.

"Anything I'd like...huh?" Suddenly a grin formed onto her face. Shiki suddenly had a bad premonition.

"Will you spend the day with me?"

"Huh? You mean on Christmas?"

"Yeah, it just so happens that that is also my birthday too."

"It-it is?" Shiki began to wonder if vampires even had any birthdays but Arcueid didn't answer him, she just kept smiling away. As he thought about it, it wasn't a bad idea. He currently didn't have any other plans that day, so it should be fine.

"Alright, I'll spend the day with you on Christmas."

"Really?! You have no problems with it?"

"Of course not. Plus, if it's your birthday than that's more of a reason to accept."

"Yeah, thank you Shiki," it seemed that Arcueid was truly happy. Shiki couldn't help but find her smile really cute.

"Huh? Why are you so red Shiki?"

"Ah! I-it's nothing. We should probably get going now."

"Okay!"


Creeeaaak

A door that had not been used in ages creaked loudly. The echoes from the mere act of pushing open the door could be heard throughout the entirety of the apartment complex. The room itself had been lost to decay, it was plainly obvious that no one had lived in, or even set foot, into this room for years.

Sion sighed deeply, "Not here either." Normally, Sion would have ignored the job offer: "Find my pet" the flier said. However, the reward was 4,000 yen, not bad for tracking down one dog. According to those she spoke with the dog was last seen in the abandoned apartment complex she was currently in. She had already checked the entirety of the first floor and three rooms on the second. So far, she had no luck whatsoever.

The place was eerily quiet. Each step Sion took within these decrepit ruins echoed throughout the entirety of the building. This just simply meant that a sneak attack on the canine was most likely impossible.

Taptaptaptaptap

Footsteps? Sion took a sharp glance down the hall. As to be expected, nothing was there. Sion readied a leash and started walking down the hall.

"Chulainn. Where are you Chulainn?" she called out. No matter how many times she said it, she still thought it was a weird name for a dog. Not only that, but his owner's name was kind of odd as well, a Mr. Ransah or something like that. Without any incident, Sion hit the end of the hall. She could sense that something was nearby. Something that was watching her...

"...There!" Spotting a quick movement out of the corner of her eye, Sion shot the leash forward like a whip. After latching hold of something, she pulled the leash back with great force. Taking a quick look at what she had caught she noticed that it wasn't a dog after all. In fact, it was...

"A...cat?" No...On closer inspection it looked more like a doll. It wore a short skirt with a beret in between its two ears. The cat also had long braided hair and...Wait a second. If Sion didn't know any better, she'd have to say that this doll looked just like her, like a Neko-Sion or something.

While Sion was distracted, a large black object suddenly appeared and charged at her. However, Sion was caught off guard and was struck down. Pinned down by the large animal, there was nothing she could do. The dog took this opportunity to slobber all over her face, and then it quickly took off.

Getting back up onto her feet, Sion wiped the drool off her face. As she got up the dog began to bark at her, as if telling her that he wants her to follow him.

"At least I'm making progress," she muttered as she followed after the dog. However, she failed to notice something unusual. If Sion had looked at her leash she would have noticed that the Neko-Sion that was attached onto it had mysteriously vanished...


After walking for a few hours, Shiki and Arcueid decided to stop by a fast food restaurant. There was an awkward silence between the two as they started eating. Not that it wasn't a big deal; they had talked almost non-stop since they left the park anyways.

"Mama, can we go see Santa now?"

Shiki turned towards a child and his mother, both of which were now leaving the restaurant. Shiki found it kind of cute how the kid wanted to see Santa Claus. Arcueid, on the other hand, looked rather confused.

"Santa is here already?" she asked while looking out into the sky.

"Of course not, it's just some guy in a costume," Shiki explained. He then paused for a moment.

"Arcueid, do you...believe in Santa Claus?" Shiki asked, choosing his words carefully.

"What do you mean believe? He's exists." Arcueid said this, stating it as an absolute fact. Shiki decided not to crush any childhood dreams she may have and to play along.

"Ah, right! He lives in the north pole, right?"

"Yeah, he believes he cannot live too close to humans so he only gives gifts once a year."

...Wait...what? Shiki had no idea how she came to that conclusion.

"I'm surprised that kids don't fear him though...Do you know why, Shiki?" she asked. Now Shiki no idea what she was talking about.

"Why would kids be afraid of Santa?"

"Huh? You don't know? He's a vampire, of course."

A...vampire?

"He's a vampire?!" Shiki yelled. All the other people in the restaurant started to stare at him. Giving off an embarrassed laugh, he sat down.

"So, wait, Santa is a vampire?"

"You didn't know? I guess the Church must have come up with a different story for him."

"What are you talking about Arcueid?"

"I guess I should start from the beginning," Arcueid said with a big sigh. Taking one more deep breath, she began.

"It started a long, long time ago. In a rural village there was a kind toymaker named Santa. He would often make toys for kind children for free, just to see their happiness.

"One day, however, he met with an accident while in the nearby woods. He had fallen off a cliff and was slowly dying. At that time, the Dead Apostle happened to be nearby. Out of pure amusement, he saved the old man and he became a Dead Apostle himself. Unable to control his vampiric impulse, the toymaker killed many in his village. When he finally regained control of himself, the entire village was a member of The Dead. It did not take long for the Church to dispatch its troops. Once they got there, Santa came forth and begged forgiveness. Normally, the Church would execute him immediately, but he made a deal with them.

"He and his Dead would go to the northernmost region of the earth and make toys for the children of the earth. Once per year, he would give toys to the good children and drink a little blood from the naughty children. He promised that he would continue this for all of eternity."

"So why didn't the Church simply kill him?"

"He was pretty weak for a vampire and he was also still a believer of Christianity. They decided to give him a second chance because of those reasons."

"But he still drinks the blood of children..."

"Oh, that. Technically he only makes a small cut on the child and drains a small amount of blood. There are many children in this world and he only drinks enough to continue his existence."

"I see. So I assume he only drinks the blood of naughty children based on personal preference than."

"No, not really. The blood of good children is usually more pure than that of naughty children. Pretty much, he drinks the blood of a naughty child before its purity runs out. Occasionally, he may drink the blood of a good child if they have never been naughty since the purity of blood lowers after a certain age. Depending on the person, purity may lower around the ages of 10-13."

Something in the back of Shiki's head started to bother him about that age mark, but he decided to ignore it for now.

"Hmm...So let me get this straight, his 'elves' are actually The Dead and they make toys?"

"Yeah, that's right."

The mental image of dead people making toys for children didn't sit too well for Shiki.

"If that's true, then I guess the story about riding a sleigh and flying reindeer is true too?"

"...That's silly. Reindeer can't fly." Arcueid laughed as if it were the funniest thing in the world. She stopped soon afterwards and continued. "Santa's reindeer familiars are trained to run at high speeds and sense air currents. His sleigh has also been modified with wings so that he can glide on these currents. Pretty much, the reindeer run and jump into the air and Santa glides from area to area."

Shiki tries to take all this in but it's far too...bizarre. Sure he can't call anything he has seen over his life as normal, but...this seemed more like a plot for a bad story. CoughCough

"Let's go someplace else, Shiki," Arcueid said while getting up. With a sigh she added, "I'm not interested in talking about vampires anymore. C'mon! C'mon!"

Arcueid started grabbing Shiki and soon, the two were gone. However, Shiki had a distinct feeling that he was forgetting something...


When Ren woke up the sun was already starting to set. Not wanting to be outside anymore, she started to climb down the tree. Once she hit the ground, she returned to her human form. There seemed to be no sight of Coulter anywhere...so much the better. All Ren had to do now was open the front door and--

Grrrrrooooooowl

Ah, speak of the devil. Ren turned around to come face to face the large black wolf. And, without a moment's notice, it charged at her. Ren decided that she was tired of running and gave the beast a mighty glare. Coulter soon stopped dead in its tracks. Gazing up into Ren's eyes, a battle of wills took place. However, it seemed that Ren was stronger and, not too soon after their eyes met, the wolf started to whimper and ran off. Needless to say Ren was satisfied with her victory and proceeded to open the main door.

"Welcome home, Shiki-sa...Correction, welcome home, Ren-sama," Hisui said with a bow. It appeared that she was still waiting for Shiki to come home.

"That reminds me, I still have the soup from earlier if you would--"

With a horrified look, Ren slowly started to back away, placing her hand on the door handle.

"Is there something wrong, Ren-sama?" Hisui started to edge closer. At this rate--

"Ah! There you are, Hisui-chan," Kohaku exclaimed, appearing at the right moment.

"Ne-san? What is it?" Kohaku took this moment to look over at Ren and then at the soupy mixture that Hisui now held. In that moment, she understood the entire situation.

"Hisui-chan, you can't make soup out of plums and vinegar. Shiki-san would probably fall ill after eating such a thing."

"Is that so?"

"Yes, yes. If you want to make a delicious soup for him, I can teach you right now if you want."

"Is that okay?"

"Of course! I'll be in the kitchen shortly. I'm sure Ren-san can greet Shiki-san when he comes by," Kohaku suggested, turning towards Ren. Ren immediately nodded.

"Alright then. Excuse me," with a bow, Hisui left towards the kitchen. Finally, Ren was able to breathe a little easier.

"Oh, Ren-saaan," Kohaku looked back over at Ren once again, "Since now you owe me a favor, come by my room later tonight." With a small giggle, Kohaku followed after her sister. Ren now felt as if she escaped one nightmare and drifted into another. She could only pray that Shiki would hurry home.


Setting aside her hardhat, Sion took her time card and punched out.

"Nice work, Eltnam-san. Here's your paycheck."

"Thank you, Takada-san."

"Ah, it's no big deal. Come back whenever you like. By the way, when can we expect--"

"By Monday at the latest," with this, Sion took off towards her next job. For the most part, she didn't do much. Sion would signal in traffic for the most part, plus periodically correct the workers when they were doing something wrong. As for the negotiations for her paycheck, she managed to make a bit extra when volunteering to have a quick replacement for their broken crane...nothing that Satsuki's monstrous strength couldn't handle.

At the moment, Sion was up to about 9,500 yen or so. Unless she was to get a lot of tips, she would have to work tomorrow as well. Hoping for the best, Sion entered the restaurant.

Unbeknownst to her, someone from afar was watching...and waiting.

Crackle

"Have you found it-nya?" a voice from radio the spoke.

Peering out from underneath a manhole, a purple haired cat watched as her prey escaped.

"Yeah, I found it. Nyow what do I do?"

"Well...you brought IT with you, right?"

"...Brought what-nya?"

"Y'know, the big gun."

"SHOCKU!!"

Suddenly, Neko-Sion was shocked, far too shocked to move.

"I, uh, left it at home again-nya." she answered slowly. For a moment there was silence until...

"BAAAAAAAAAKAAAAAAAAA!!" the voice yelled and thus the transmission ended.

"Uwaaa?! You're so mean Neko-Arc-san!"

Neko-Sion was shocked once again, too shocked to notice the bus coming up onto the manhole. With one quick motion, the manhole was forcibly shut, causing Neko-Sion to lose balance.

"NYOOOOOOOOO!!" she shouted as she fell into the dark sewers below.


"Thanks for coming, Ciel-sempai. I'm sorry to call you out at this time."

"No, no. It was no problem at all."

It had not been more than a half-hour that he parted with Arcueid. Shortly afterwards, he realized something important. Arcueid wasn't interested in answering anymore questions on the Santa Claus subject, but he did know someone else who might. At first, Ciel was a bit reluctant on skipping out on her studies, but after mentioning the words 'date' and 'Messiaen'; she said something along the lines of "I guess it can't be helped." Shiki still felt kind of guilty though. He'd be in trouble if Arcueid found out that he went out on a date with Ciel right after her's. Plus there was Akiha when he got home...Shiki decided that he would figure out a way out of her lectures when he got back. But for now, all that was not important at the moment. Soon after the two had ordered their meals, Ciel decided to get to the point.

"You look troubled, Tohno-kun. What was it that you wanted to talk about?"

"It may sound a bit weird but...I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about Santa Claus."

Ciel's eyes opened wide with surprise and started giggling. Pretty much what any other person might have done after hearing such a thing.

"What's wrong Tohno-kun? Have you been a naughty boy this year?"

...Shiki figured that Ciel would play dumb if he didn't explain the situation.

"Earlier, Arcueid explained to me that he was a vampire."

As soon as Shiki said 'vampire' Ciel fell silent. She looked over at him with a serious glance.

"So, you know that much, huh?" she said regrettably. Shiki kind of guessed that this wasn't a subject that should be brought up, but he had to know the truth.

"So, it's true then?"

"Yes, although he is a vampire, he is currently not a threat. Because of that, he is often ignored by the Church."

"What do you mean that he's not a threat?"

"All of his actions are for helping children. He makes them toys and promotes people to act kind to one another. Even if he does drink blood, he takes very little of it and does not create any Dead. In fact, he is no stronger than one of The Dead himself. He also lacks any special abilities. He also acts more like a human than he does as a Dead Apostle."

Shiki had already heard most of this before. None of that information was what he was looking for.

"I also heard that he sometimes drinks the blood of good children when they reach a certain age. I was wondering..."

"I have heard of this before. Like other vampires, he prefers blood at its purist. However, finding such good-natured children is very rare and--Tohno-kun? Are you okay?"

"I thought so...That means that she may be in danger then," Shiki said while looking down at the table.

"Huh? Who might be in danger?" Ciel asked, obviously having no idea who Shiki was referring to.

"Ah, that's right. Ciel-sempai wouldn't know. It's my little sister from when I lived with the Arimas. I hadn't talked to her much until recently. Now that I know that Santa my come for her, I--"

"You want to protect her in her time of need," Ciel concluded with a smile, "You really are a good person, Tohno-kun."

"Thanks for understanding, Ciel-sempai."

But now came the tough part, how exactly was he going to defend Miyako from Santa? Stopping by the Arima's house and stating that he was going to stay the night to protect her from Santa Claus was only going to result in strange looks. As if reading Shiki's mind, Ciel answered, "I'm sure Santa-san would understand if you talk to him about it."

"You think so?"

"But just in case, I'll come with you. I'm sure he'll change his mind if an agent of the Church steps in. We could wait outside until he arrives until then."

"Ah, thank you, Ciel-sempai!"

"Don't worry about it. Now, that that's settled, shall we start eating?"

Shiki hadn't noticed that the food had already been placed on the table. Ciel had ordered some vegetable curry, a rice set and some special bread while Shiki only ordered some chicken curry. He had almost forgotten that he had volunteered to pay for the meal as well as...

"Um, Sempai, I know I said you could order as much as you wanted but I'm a bit low on money and..."

"Don't worry, I promise to be gentle. Just think o this as an early Christmas present," Ciel said with a smile. With a heavy sigh, Shiki started in on his meal. It looks like he would have to take responsibility for taking Ciel out for curry.


With a breath of relief, Sion was free at last. Surprisingly, she had gained more than enough through tips at her witnessing job. She really didn't understand it, but all the guys wanted to see the 'Foreign Beauty'. Well...whatever. The point was that she was just a block away from the store. Another turn and...

"...You're kidding me," was all that she could say. Right in front of her was a sign marked 'CLOSED'. She would have to wait until tomorrow to buy the kotatsu...if it was still there, that is.

"No! I worked too hard for this!"

Yes! It must be there! In the meantime, however, she'd have to ask Satsuki to find a few more newspapers to keep her warm for the night. Speaking of which...

"Ah! Sion!" Almost on cue, Sion turned to see Satsuki running straight towards her.

Satsuki Yumizuka, not only was she a research subject for the cure for vampirism, but she was also an important friend to Sion. At this moment, Satsuki seemed a lot like a puppy running towards her master. It was probably because she was really tired, but it seemed as if Satsuki was moving in slow-motion. Usually when something like this happens, something bad it about--

"Where were you Sion? You were gone all day," Satsuki asked while hugging Sion with all her might.

"Gah! Sat...suki! You're...choking...me!" Sion managed to choke out. Upon hearing this, she was immediately released.

"S-sorry Sion! Are you okay?"

"Don't worry, I'm okay."

"Whew! So, where were you Sion?"

"I was busy working to get more money for...research purposes."
Although not entirely a lie, Sion decided that she would like to surprise Satsuki instead.

"Shall we head back? I'm kind of tired."

And thus, the two started to head back to their cardboard house. Hoping for a brighter tomorrow, Sion looked up into the sky.

"This time...I will win!"

"Did you say something Sion?"

"N-no. Nothing at all."


At long last, Shiki was back at the mansion. At night, the mansion looked quite ominous. He could see that a few of the lights were still on, meaning that Akiha was probably waiting for him. Gathering up his strength, he reluctantly opened the door.

"I'm ho--" before he could finish, Shiki was glomped by Ren. The sheer force of the glomp almost made him fall over, but he was able to keep his balance.

"Did you miss me, Ren?" Shiki asked while patting her on the head. Ren responded with a simple nod, she seemed to be truly happy.

"Ah, welcome home Shiki-san."

Suddenly, Ren's grip got tighter and she started to shiver.

"W-what's wrong Ren?"

"Akiha-sama has been waiting for you. You best not keep her waiting."

"Ah, right. Sorry Ren, but I have to talk with Akiha now."

It took a bit of effort, but Shiki managed to pry Ren off of himself. As Ren stood next to Kohaku, she started to pathetically reach out towards him. Kohaku, on the other hand, just smiled and said, "Be strong."

Taking a deep breath, Shiki stepped through the door.

"Welcome home, ni-san. Please, sit down," Akiha greeted him. She was doing what she usually did during the evenings; she was sitting down calmly and drinking tea.

"Akiha, you're not angry, are you?"

"Of course not. I'm not one to get angry at every little thing. So long as you tell me what you were doing, everything will be fine. Now, please, sit down."

Although she tried to hide it, it was obvious to Shiki that she was angry. Slowly taking his seat, he began thinking of an excuse. After all, telling her that he was making plans to battle Santa Claus was not something to be mentioned.

"Well? I'm waiting..."

"I'm sorry, but I can't tell you," Shiki said, trying to buy himself some time. SLAM! Akiha's hands hit the table hard.

"Ni-san! You know I hate it when you hide things from me! Please, tell me that you're not in some strange incident again."

Suddenly, an idea came into Shiki's head. It was the only excuse he could come up with, but it was better than nothing.

"Alright, I'll tell you. I was...shopping for presents for you and..." he trailed off. Looking up at Akiha, he saw that his plan had worked. She was blushing furiously and was at a loss of words.

"Ah...I guess it...it couldn't be helped. Yes! You are free to go ni-san," she stammered. After all that had happened today, Shiki felt exhausted. He noticed that Ren was no where to be found, but concluded that she probably went to get something to eat. Falling flat on his bed, he began thinking of tomorrow. Not only was he to confront Santa Claus, but now he had to find affordable gifts for Akiha, Hisui and Kohaku. Possibly even find one for Ren as well. He felt like he was digging his own grave. Maybe Arihiko was right, maybe he was spending too much money on these women. Sighing deeply to himself, he prayed that he wouldn't have any weird nightmares tonight.