Ghost Rider II

Wind, Speed, and Flame

Chapter Four
Fire and Sleet and Candlelight
Part I



Blackheart sipped the steaming willow tea in the delicate China cup, watching Kaze Kumori move around her kitchen as gracefully as a ballet dancer.

Not surprising, he thought to himself, taking in with a casual glance the photographs of the beautiful girl in the gauzy costumes balanced on the points of her toes. He saw the blue Equestrian ribbons, the gold trophies and medals, the martial arts belts hung on the wall, the swords, the pair of white sparkling ice skates, the pink satin dancing slippers covered in glitter. No pictures of any family. All to the good, as far as the demon prince was concerned.

"So… what was your name again?" He asked, sipping the hot tea. It was really quite soothing, the warm liquid running down his throat. It burned away the ache that his strange pain-attack had settled into his limbs and belly. Flecks of cinnamon floated on the surface of the tea.

"My mother named me Kaze-Kumori – it means 'wind shadow' – because she wanted me to be quick, but silent. The perfect servant girl," she replied, her soft voice dripping with bitterness. Blackheart's dark eyes narrowed to black diamond sparks in his skull, and he allowed her sorrow and bitter emotion to soak into his skin, electrifying the tenebrous ichor that served as his blood. The Rider continued, "My biological mother's last name was Kale. I had it legally added to my original surname on my eighteenth birthday."

"I noticed all your trophies and ribbons. You're quite accomplished for one so young." His eyes caught the lines of strain around her mouth and eyes, lines of hurt, a pain that probably never left her body. Was she injured? Damaged somehow? He needed to know. The easiest way to find out was to know about her history as a dancer, a rider – the most obvious sources for potential injuries.

"I'm twenty-four. I'll be twenty-five in one month. But thank you."

The demon prince avidly studied her, watching how she moved, how delicate her face appeared and how slender her hands. Her hair moved like a shroud of darkness around her shoulders, falling like a curtain of silk down her back. She was really very beautiful, for a human. Probably very lonely, for all her timid beauty. Easily manipulated. Susceptible to his dark powers, most certainly/ Blackheart was certain that, with very little effort, he would have this mortal woman eating out of the palm of his hand.

"So, tell me about yourself," the girl said into the yawning silence, sitting down on the floor at the Japanese-style table by her fireplace across from him. Her thin fingers, tipped with pearlescent nails, cradled the teacup as she lifted it to her lips.

The demon prince noticed that one of her fingernails was black, blue, and purple – evidence of a blood blister beneath the nail itself. Perhaps she'd smashed it in a door or something. With the sighting of that injury, he started to notice others – the faint bruise on one cheek bone, the mottled blue and white around the swollen joints of the index finger of her left hand that made it obvious she'd jammed the digit, the split across her right eyebrow. Pitch dark eyes scanned her features, noticing the misshapen bump on the bridge of her nose, indicative of at least two breaks; the way the corner of her mouth turned down and dragged when she wasn't forcing it into a smile, bleeding into a scar that marred her right cheek. One eye was a different shade of blue than the other, and one ear was ragged at the lobe, as if an earring had been ripped out of it at one point.

Then the dark-haired prince focused on the question he'd been asked.

"Nothing much to tell," Blackheart replied, sipping the tea in between the pauses in his words. "My mother tried to murder my father." He had to fight not to smile at the way her jaw dropped. "My father abandoned me when I was young, but we contacted each other and got close again. I ride motorcycles. I'm trained to be a physical therapist. I like mint chocolate cookies – "

"Me, too!" The Rider girl cried. "I love-"

"Thin mints," he said, and grinned when she nodded happily. Of course, he was picking up the loudest of her thoughts. It was how he had discovered the name of those ridiculous cookies. Thin mints. What a foolish, human name for a foolish, human concoction. But the son of Mephistopheles would play his assigned part well. He continued, "I love thin mints. And I love this tea, it's really very good. Might I trouble you enough to have some more?"

"Oh, yes," she said, and reached for his cup.

Seizing his opportunity, Blackheart flicked out two fingers and the tips of them touched the scarred, mottled knuckles. The Rider girl immediately froze, the heated flesh where his fingertips touched suddenly burning with a cold, numbing fire that eased the pain of her jammed digits and zinged straight into her bloodstream. Mismatched blue eyes jumped to eyes the color of deep, starless space. His liquid obsidian gaze didn't hesitate to suck the unsuspecting girl in, and she couldn't tear her eyes away. In her chest, her heart began to hammer painfully, slamming a staccato rhythm against her ribs. Her breath hitched in her throat as heat suffused her body. Shivers ran up her spine like teasing, ice cold fingertips. Whips of lightning seemed to arc through her veins. Her skin buzzed with electricity.


Blackheart made his voice a whisper, breathy, hesitant. He was trying to play the shy but attracted human male, to woo her, draw her in. Once he had her under his sway, he could get her to join the side of the demons who served Mephistopheles. Carefully, he reached out and took one of her trembling hands in his. The black-haired demon knew that the rough-but-somehow-soft calluses on his palms brushing against her satin skin would send darts of sudden awareness shooting through her body. Feathering his thumb across the back of her hand, he watched the hair at the nape of her neck stand on end. He had to fight suppress a grin of triumph.

"Kaze," he repeated, voice as soft as a shadow.

"Call me Kumori," the mortal woman whispered, her breathy voice just as soft, a zephyr caressing the air around them. Blackheart could hear her pulse beating against her skin.

Kumori, he thought to himself, his mental voice tinged with just a hint of an abyssal growl. His eyes glittered like black beetles. Shadow. Interesting. "Wind is a shadow of both West and East... gives her soul to the light and her heart to the beast..."

The demon prince saw her pulse fluttering in her throat, a butterfly of red silk and blood trapped beneath her flesh. Teeth sprouted in his mouth, needle thin and razor sharp. Darkness like a thousand insect eyes filled his sockets, and he had to fight to hide his reaction from the woman in front of him. The demon's mouth began to water for the taste of life just before death – the gasping death rattle, the rich blood, the life fading away into icy death.

Swiftly, as if in the blink of an eye, he was beside her, looking down into her face, his lips merely an inch from hers. His breath warmed the softness of her mouth. He could feel the tremors shaking her body, the chill rising off of her skin. Those blue, blue eyes zeroed in on his face, raking over his countenance, as if searching for something. Suddenly, the woman's flesh began to flush, her face to darken with just the beginning tints of a blush, and heat poured off of her hand in Blackheart's grip.

Alecto was beginning to wake up. He had to distract her somehow.

Immediately, he thought of his... mother and father. Lillith and Mephistopheles. How did Lillith direct the Devil's attention elsewhere when she desired? Obvious – she used her feminine wiles. Even demons felt the urges and calls of lust. In fact, it was usually harder on demons than on mortals, for their blood, thick and dark and deathly as it was, still ran towards the pleasures of the flesh. The demon prince decided he would follow his mother's example.

He murmured, lips a scant breath from hers, "Kumori… Kumori…." The demon lord could taste the trepidation and excitement on the sweetness of her breath. Blackheart inhaled the toxic carbon dioxide greedily. His eyes burned in his skull. In his grip, her hand spasmed. Her pulse jumped and leapt beneath her skin.

Carefully, ever so very carefully, he moved closer. The heat of her body caressed the iciness of his own. He was deliberately drowning her in the cavernous void of his gaze, drawing her in, trapping her like the prey she was. The demon could practically taste her soul on his tongue. His own heart began to pound with anticipation.

He parted his lips, and leaned into her.


She barely even managed to breathe her single, futile protest. Anyone but a demon would not have even heard it, but he did. Her simple denial sent a shot of electric-shock thrill through his entire body. The rampant fear breathing off of her skin was an exquisite delicacy. It mingled with her natural scent until the prince had to fight not to drool over her. Oh, but that exquisite fear... that delicious fear... He reveled in it as his mouth came down on hers, softly caressing her warm, trembling lips. The Rider melted into Blackheart's graveyard cold embrace, and the demon inside of the synthetic human shell silently howled with triumph.

Outside, the wind began to shriek and scream, an icy rain began to pour, and the lights flickered off. The demon prince's arms went around her, Kumori's hands reached up to cradle his face, and the living darkness swirled around them both.




Author's Note: Definite beefing here. I tried to push the element of sensuality without getting graphic. Like... like in the Phantom of the Opera, during the scene for Music of the Night, the Phantom has his hand splayed against Christine's belly, and that's all, but the whole time you're like, "Oh, man... I can't take it. Oh, man. Argh!" That's what I was going for here – a serious sense of anticipation. Hope it worked. Reviews?