Part Two – Fang and Claw
Disclaimer: I own neither Mai HiME nor any concepts used in Underworld.
Warning: This is rated T for violence and sexual references.
Notes: This part is long overdue, I realise, but I have been awfully busy so I hope you can forgive me for that. This story will only have these two parts.
Dedication: For my girlfriend. She was the one who gave me the idea that evolved into this story. She might not read this, but she's my muse nonetheless. :D
She blinked, the gloominess of the tunnel obscuring Natsuki's view of any possible threats. Her breaths came in short, ragged spurts and her muscles were beginning to feel the strain of prolonged exertion. She leant over, resting her hands on her knees and taking in deep breaths to steady herself. Natsuki was unaware of how long she'd been running for and even where she was. The tunnels all looked the same in the darkness, even with her heightened senses. Damn, there's so many of them, she cursed internally.
Once her pulse had returned to a somewhat normal speed, Natsuki straightened her posture, feeling each of her muscles cry out in complaint as she did so. She rolled her shoulders to work out the knots that were beginning to amass there. That encounter in the subway had obviously taken more out of her than she had, at first, realised. Natsuki frowned at the thought, disliking that this vampire elder could affect her so much. Where had she gotten to anyway?
She glanced up and down the tunnel but could pick up no signs of movement, visually or aurally. She tilted her head back a little and sniffed the air, taking in the many scents that filled the old tunnels. Within the haze of mildew, iron and dust was a hint of something she immediately honed in on. Blood. Any young werewolf might mistake its metallic scent for the rusting girders that lined the walls of this place but she could easily pick out the differences. Moreover, she could tell it wasn't human blood. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck bristle as she narrowed her eyes. There was a vampire nearby. A wounded vampire.
Natsuki instinctively pressed herself up against the nearest wall, making sure she wouldn't be any easier a target than she already was. She could feel the damp stone behind her, the rough texture coated with something that felt worryingly slimy and she found herself cursing the vampire elder for the umpteenth time for damaging her clothing. That thought brought back the chain of events that followed. She still couldn't fathom Shizuru's reasoning for blocking those bullets. Her words had been echoing in her mind since she had said them but Natsuki couldn't believe that was the motivation. There had to be something else. Was she trying to mess with her head? That seemed like something she would do; elders tended to be subtler with their plotting.
The werewolf let out a frustrated breath, annoyed that she was thinking about that vampire yet again. What was it about her? She should be worrying about getting herself out of this maze, not about the inner workings of a vampire's mind. Shaking her head, she cleared her mind as best she could and looked up and down the tunnel once more. It was hard to tell which direction the scent of blood came from and she wasn't entirely sure if she wanted to be heading toward it or away from it.
This particular tunnel appeared to curve off to the east at one end, whilst the other seemed to go on straight for quite a way. The inky darkness didn't aid in making the decision any easier either. There was a small hatch nearby which led back into the tunnel from which she had emerged but she certainly wasn't going to retrace her steps now. She didn't want to risk running into those gunmen nor did she think she'd be able to recognise the route she had come.
Deciding that she had always preferred curves anyway, she took a step towards the northern end of the tunnel. At least, she believed it was north; she had always had a good sense for that kind of thing. Her booted foot hit a small puddle of water and the resulting noise echoed down the length of the tunnel, causing Natsuki to cringe. It seemed unbearably loud to her but was probably only a slight sound that would have been hard to pick up by anyone other than a werewolf or vampire. She hoped so anyway. Besides, if her previous running hadn't garnered any attention, walking carefully through puddles wasn't likely to.
Natsuki pressed onwards, eyeing the ground warily with each step, her other senses on full alert for any signs that she wasn't alone. She made her way around the bend in the tunnel and looked up to see a long stretch of darkness. A crease marred her brow as she frowned, knowing that if an ambush awaited her, it'd be too late by the time she realised it. Alcoves in the walls, obstacles in the passageways and low visibility made it perfect conditions for a surprise attack.
She was no coward though. She had decided on this route so this way she would go. Perhaps that just makes me stubborn, she pondered. Shrugging, she moved forwards, her eyes darting from stone to floor to barrel. No object was left untouched by her emerald gaze. After several minutes of slow progress, her muscles began to relax a little and the prospect of an ambush began to fade, at least in this part of the tunnel. She debated the idea of allowing the transformation to occur down here so she might be able to use her senses to better effect but she was still reticent about it. That form gave many benefits but she also believed it took a little of her humanity from her in return and she didn't like that at all.
Natsuki rolled her eyes and shook her head again. She was probably over-thinking it and she found it quite annoying when those moments of deep thought came along. Her right hand moved to one of the holsters at her ribs as she continued to edge along the passage, the fingers brushing against the cool metal of her pistol. Her fingers twitched as faint noises resounded off the walls of the tunnel, making it difficult to place where they had come from. She wondered if it was merely this old network of passageways that made those noises or if there was a more animated cause.
After a few moments, she spotted a recess in the stone and, as she neared, she saw a metal door set into it. She paused in front of it and looked it over, noting that there was no handle, only a lock. She leaned in to inspect the lock further, pressing her palm flat against the door. She almost stumbled forwards as the door swung open with a slight creak. Natsuki straightened herself and peered past the metal, squinting into the darkness. It appeared to lead into some sort of room and not another tunnel such as the one she stood in. That seemed fairly promising to her.
Without further thought, she slipped past the door and into the room, blinking several times as her eyes adjusted to the even darker light level. Something caught her attention across the other side of the room though and she took a few steps forwards. There was a faint glow of light coming from a crack in the opposite wall. She guessed there was a door there but she couldn't see it. She waited several more minutes until she could make out the slightest outline of a doorframe.
She took careful steps forwards until she reached the door. Now that she was closer, she could make out the surrounding objects fairly well. There was a small table off to her left and what looked like a notice board against the wall to her right. She ignored those though and focused her attention on the door in front of her. The glow of light seeped under the door and illuminated only an inch or so of the floor. She placed a hand against the door and leaned in towards it, turning her head to the side so she could listen more efficiently.
No sounds came from the room beyond as far as she could tell. She sniffed a few times, taking in the scents of the room she stood in and there was that faint odour of blood again. The same as she'd smelt before. It seemed stronger now though and she wondered if she'd chosen the right direction after all. Her fingers brushed against the metallic doorknob as she dropped her hand a little and she paused, some instinct prickling at the back of her mind. Something told her opening this door might not be a particularly good idea.
Natsuki sighed softly, deciding that she was becoming paranoid. Many years of being hunted could do that to a girl. She found it rather ironic how often she found herself the prey when she was supposedly a born hunter. If it wasn't vampires after her hide, then it was self-styled monster hunters or some ancient organisation. She couldn't quite decide which was worse.
She turned her attention back to the door and the room beyond. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she gripped the doorknob and turned it, hearing the door open with a soft click. She pushed it open slowly, her heartbeat quickening slightly with anticipation. Light spilled out across the floor of the room she stood in, touching her boots before spreading up across her legs. She pressed her back against the door as she continued to open it and peered into the other room.
Natsuki could make out yet another table in the corner nearest her. It held a few pieces of paper and a pen but nothing else that she could see. The tiled floor was dusty and it had been recently disturbed so she knew someone had been through here. Whether it had been in the last few minutes or hours, it was hard to tell. She edged into the room slightly and peeked around the door, noting several filing cabinets along the far wall and an overturned chair.
Her gaze slid along the width of the room until it met something that was moving. Barely. Natsuki felt her brow furrow as she noted the black leather splayed out across the floor. A trickle of perspiration slid down her back, causing her to involuntarily shiver and she hadn't even realised how stuffy it was in this area. She stepped further into the room, quickly closing the door behind her as her right hand gripped her pistol but she didn't withdraw it from its holster.
She could now see that the leather-clad figure was slumped against the wall in one corner of the room; the only view of their head was a mass of chestnut hair. Recognition had already struck her and she found her mouth unusually dry all of a sudden. Shizuru. From the small shudders that shook the other woman's shoulders, Natsuki reasoned that she was in a lot of pain. Those bullets had done more damage than she'd let on. Yet, Natsuki couldn't fathom why that bothered her.
She glanced around the room quickly and ascertained that no one else was in it before quickly moving forwards towards the vampire. She paused a few feet in front of her, the prospect that this was a ploy entering her mind. She quickly discarded that thought though. Although Shizuru seemed to like playing with her prey, she was more than capable of attacking Natsuki head-on even in her injured condition. As hard to admit as that was for the werewolf.
Natsuki lowered herself to her knees and tried to assess Shizuru's situation as best she could from her distance. She quickly noted the red blade lying beside the vampire. I don't remember seeing her pick that up… She edged forwards and reached out towards Shizuru's knee with one hand but hesitated before she could touch it. Did she even want to help the elder? They were mortal enemies after all and her whole purpose for being here was to kill her. She frowned at the thought. The vampire had saved her life though, at risk to her own. Or unlife, whatever.
She gripped one of her pistols tightly with her right hand once more and released it from its holster. She glanced down at it for a moment, indecision clouding her mind. Finally, she raised it, bringing the barrel level with Shizuru's head. Natsuki clenched her teeth, the idea of shooting her whilst she was helpless leaving a bad taste in her mouth. Her pack may not have had a problem with killing this elder whilst she was in this state but Natsuki certainly did; there was no honour in it.
"Damn it…" she breathed, unable to hold the curse in as her hand shook slightly. Why can't I just pull the trigger?
She inhaled sharply and her eyes widened as she felt something clamp around her wrist. Cool fingers gripped her arm firmly and moved it so the gun was pointed away from Shizuru's head. Natsuki's eyes flicked between her wrist and the vampire's hair. She felt a shiver creep down her spine as red eyes peered back at her through a curtain of chestnut. Her muscles weakened under that intense gaze and she thought she might drop her weapon altogether but she managed to hang onto it.
"Natsuki…" came a low whisper that sent a shudder through her. She swallowed hard, expecting some form of attack to come. Shizuru had toyed with her previously but she didn't expect the elder to be so playful when a gun was pointed at her so closely.
When no such attack came, she yanked her arm out of Shizuru's grip, the cold sensation of her fingers lingering on Natsuki's skin. Scrambling backwards a few feet, she pointed the gun at Shizuru once more, her senses on full alert. Why hadn't she attacked? Surely she knows I mean to kill her. Perhaps the vampire was more affected by her injuries than Natsuki had first thought.
Moments passed as Natsuki was frozen in that position, a crimson gaze holding her captive, her resolve wavering. Instincts battled within her for dominance. The wolf inside her told her to kill this vampire and be done with it, fulfilling her duty to the pack, but every ounce of her humanity screamed at her to lower the weapon. A part of her felt she owed Shizuru at least a half-decent chance to defend herself when the final blow came, for saving her back in the subway.
The intensity in Shizuru's eyes faded and she dropped her gaze suddenly, a small sound escaping the elder's throat as she lurched forwards in pain. Thoughts of assassinating her immediately fled Natsuki's mind and she lowered her gun, shifting closer to the other woman in order to assist her. Placing a hand on a leather clad shoulder, Natsuki pushed Shizuru back against the wall so she could get a better look at her face.
Shizuru leant back awkwardly, resting her head against the wall as her features returned to normal, hiding any hints of pain. Natsuki could tell that it was taking quite some effort to do and wondered if it was pride that forced her to do that or the need to hide any form of weakness from her enemies. She watched as the elder's lips parted ever so slightly, as if she was about to speak. Shizuru paused before looking Natsuki directly in the eye.
"Natsuki is rather torn, it seems," she murmured quietly, her voice somewhat strained.
"I told you to…" Natsuki trailed off, her ire losing its steam very quickly as she noted the pain in Shizuru's eyes. That was one place she couldn't keep some degree of emotion from showing. The werewolf let out a resigned sigh as she glanced towards the only exit from the room. "We'd better get moving."
"We?" the elder questioned, an eyebrow quirked.
Natsuki forced herself not to react to the question, her immediate instinct to angrily deflect it. "You heard right."
The small smile that tugged at one corner of Shizuru's lips only made the task of remaining stoic all the harder. "I need a little longer before I can move."
Natsuki eyed the vampire for several moments, trying to gauge the true extent of her injuries. She would have thought that Shizuru could still move, albeit painfully, as she managed to get here fairly quickly. "Really..?" she asked doubtfully.
Shizuru nodded once but didn't say another word. Instead, her eyes shifted to the door, her body stiffening. The action caused Natsuki's senses to bristle and she instinctually knew danger was close, her own gaze falling upon the door. She listened carefully, attempting to discern what had caused this reaction in them both. Her heightened sense of hearing picked up the slightest movement from outside the room; possibly in the tunnel she had travelled through previously. She couldn't be sure what the sound was though, as the echoes of this place distorted it.
A hand gripping her forearm almost startled her and she glanced down at Shizuru's hand once before looking her in the eye. The vampire answered the silent question in a hushed tone. "I'm afraid I cannot assist you this time."
Natsuki swallowed her pride, fighting against the urge to tell the elder that she didn't need her assistance anyway. Instead, she pushed herself up into a crouching position and began to move towards the door. "Stay here, and stay quiet," she ordered, before sidling up to the door and closing her fingers around the handle.
She opened the door painfully slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible. Of course, if there was someone standing, watching on the other side of the door, all the precaution in the world wouldn't stop her action from going unnoticed. She hoped her luck wasn't quite that bad. Once the slightest gap was made between the door and its frame, she peered into the other room, the dim light not assisting her view of it very much. From the angle, she couldn't see if someone was there or not, but she could pick up the faintest scent of human.
Her muscles tensed automatically as her mind sped through a list of possible threats, Searrs being at the top of that long flow of names. Steeling herself, she clenched her jaw as she pushed the door open further, relief filling her as she saw the room was empty. Whoever was around, hadn't discovered this area yet. But she couldn't relax, there was every chance they were standing right outside in the tunnel.
She took one last glance behind her at the slumped frame of Shizuru before slipping into the next room, moving quickly to the other door. Natsuki pressed herself up against the hard, cold stone of the wall to the right of the door, forcing herself to be as still as possible. Then, she merely waited and listened. She knew Searrs were thorough, determined, and relentless in their fanaticism and they wouldn't leave any room untouched down here. It would be only a matter of time before confrontation found her once more.
The slightest scuffle from the tunnel reached her ears and she stiffened, pressing herself closer to that wall as if she could merge into it. Another scuffle. And then another. Someone was coming closer. The sound stopped for several moments and she found herself holding her breath. The clicking of the door as someone gripped the handle sounded unbearably loud and Natsuki's pulse quickened in anticipation. She readied herself, preparing to ambush anyone stepping through that door.
She watched as the door handle turned, in a similar manner to how she'd opened the previous door. There was a soft click as the door was released from the frame and it was pushed open. The door continued to swing on its own momentum but no one appeared and Natsuki could feel a trickle of perspiration slide down her neck. Whoever was there was being incredibly cautious. Damn them, where did they get good training?
When several more moments passed without as much as a sound, she grew impatient. She strained to try and hear something, the background noise of this place obscuring most signs of life. She could just make out the quick rhythm of her opponent's breathing. Whilst it wasn't quite fast enough to denote fear, she could tell they were in a fairly excited state. Whether that was from nerves or anticipation, she didn't know.
She inwardly debated edging towards the door to confront her opponent, but the fear of losing the advantage of surprise stopped her. She decided that patience was her best ally at that moment. She slowly brought up the hand that gripped her pistol, levelling the tip of the barrel with where she expected her foe's head to be when they eventually entered the room.
Her forefinger twitched slightly over the pistol's trigger as she detected the sound of movement only feet away. She narrowed her eyes, focusing her senses on that doorway. She could just make out the outline of a man as he stepped slowly into the room, a handgun held in front of him. His posture showed he was fairly experienced with his weapon but he hadn't seemed to have detected her presence yet. All the training in the world was useless if you didn't see your enemy coming.
Natsuki waited for the suited man to clear the doorframe before she made her move. Her muscles tensed as she prepared to lunge rather than put a bullet in his head. The last thing she needed was to be attracting more of his friends with unnecessary noise. It appeared she had waited too long, however, as she saw him flinch and his breathing stick in his chest. He had sensed her.
Before he had the chance to whirl around and start blindly firing his weapon, she pounced, covering the short distance quickly. She gripped his right wrist with her free hand as her body collided with his, sending them both to the ground. A burst of air was expelled harshly from his lungs, keeping him from calling out for help. She reacted with blinding speed, forcing her forearm over his windpipe, as she increased the pressure on his wrist drastically. His gun fell to the stone floor with a slight clatter as he struggled to draw in a breath.
She couldn't make out his face very well but she imagined it would be turning a deep shade of purple at that moment. She didn't relent, even when quiet gurgling noises rose up from the back of his throat and the fight began to drain from his body. One last spasm of desperation marked his end and he went completely limp. She stayed there, motionless, as she listened to his heartbeat fade and felt the heat rise from his body. That, too, would soon be gone.
Letting out a sigh, she lifted herself slowly and brushed herself off. She slipped her own pistol back into its holster and glanced back towards the door to the tunnel. She couldn't sense any of his comrades. That didn't mean there weren't more, of course, but it gave her some reprieve at least.
Turning her attention back to the dead Searrs agent, she decided it would be best if she moved the body. Grasping his hands, she dragged him easily across the floor to the opposite side of the table, where she hoped he'd be harder to spot. She gave him one last look before returning to the doorway. Peeking her head out, she glanced up and down the tunnel but could pick up no movement. Satisfied with that, she retreated back into the room and closed the door.
Natsuki paused as she looked back towards the connecting room, her mind coming back to the vampire elder. What was she going to do about her? This was getting far too complicated for her liking. She frowned as she bent down to pick up the Searrs pistol. It felt unusually heavy in her hand and the idea that the contents of the bullets could be the end of her left a large knot in her stomach. It wouldn't be wise to leave a werewolf killer lying around though.
Tucking the pistol into the waistband of her jeans, she made her way back to the room that held Shizuru. If she were given a choice between facing Searrs who were out to exterminate her kind, and having to deal with a vampire who enjoyed toying with her, she probably would have chosen the former. It was just her luck that she was forced to deal with both.
She quietly slipped back into the room, closing the door behind her, her gaze finding Shizuru. As she moved closer, it became apparent that Shizuru wasn't holding up too well. She had slumped further against the wall, her frame lolling to one side and her head hanging limply. The knot that had formed in Natsuki's stomach grew larger. Could those bullets kill a vampire too? She'd never heard of any testing being performed on vampires.
Natsuki knelt down beside Shizuru carefully, concern etching itself into her brow. It was a little disconcerting being this close to her and not feeling the heat from her body. For a split second Natsuki's instincts told her Shizuru was dead but it didn't take her mind long to correct that mistake. She was a vampire; there would never be any heat under that skin again.
She leaned in a little, reaching out with one hand to grasp the vampire's chin lightly, tilting her head back. Shizuru's refined features were relaxed and her eyes closed. The furrow in Natsuki's brow deepened as she wondered how she was meant to tell if a vampire was alive or not. That thought was brought to an end when Shizuru's mouth twitched ever so slightly.
The thought crossed her mind that the elder might be feigning unconsciousness but she couldn't think of a good reason why. It had become apparent that Natsuki wasn't about to finish her off, not while she was in this condition at any rate. Besides, Shizuru seemed to have a lot of fun playing with Natsuki and she needed to be awake to do that. That led the werewolf to believe that Shizuru had actually succumbed to her wounds. She wasn't sure if that was better than feigning though.
As she held her enemy's chin in one hand, she went over her options. It would have been easy to just leave her here but then she'd never be certain of the vampire's fate. She could finish her off and perhaps put it down to a mercy killing but she wasn't sure her sense of honour would allow it. Not if her earlier performance was anything to go by. Then there was the option of dragging Shizuru out of here. But that would likely be awkward and not at all stealthy. It would make her an easy target to those Searrs goons.
She let out a frustrated breath, not liking any of the options. How am I supposed to get her out of here? The question echoed in her mind, followed quickly by another. Why do I even want to? That was one she didn't want to face just yet. Natsuki's eyes fell to Shizuru's lips as they twitched again and an idea struck her. There was one way a vampire could regain her energy without having to recuperate for hours on end. A way that wasn't available to her werewolf foes.
Natsuki swallowed slowly, an unwanted pang of fear plucking at her chest. The mere idea of allowing any vampire to feed on her was enough to make her skin crawl. It was an easy way of having Shizuru regain her strength though. She had seen vampires feed before and had seen the effects of it. She had seen their insatiable hunger take hold and drain the life of their victims. The more she thought about it, the less she liked the idea. What was to stop Shizuru taking every drop of her blood?
She quickly pulled her hand away from the elder, watching as her head drooped suddenly without her support. Natsuki pressed her lips together firmly as she continued to weigh up her options. Whichever route she took, she was likely to lose out in the end. The threat of Searrs catching up to her wasn't making the decision any easier either; it just put her under pressure. And she hated being rushed into a decision.
Reaching out to the vampire once more, she laid a hand on a leather-clad shoulder, shaking her gently. "Wake up," she grunted, weakly hoping that would do the trick. When that didn't work, she shook a little harder, chestnut locks bouncing slightly with the effort. "Dammit, Shizuru, wake up!"
She let out an annoyed sigh, realising her options weren't opening up at all. She needed Shizuru awake and fighting ready if they were both going to make it out of the tunnels. Slight sounds from outside the room were making her a little jittery now as well, and she wasn't sure if it was merely water dripping in the tunnels or Searrs agents closing in on them. It seemed she would be forced into a decision, after all.
Once more, she grasped Shizuru's chin and tilted her head back. She gazed down at her peaceful features for several moments, wondering how to go about this. She didn't even know if offering her blood would cause some kind of feeding instinct to go off in the vampire. Although she'd seen vampires feed, she didn't know how they worked. The fact that Shizuru's body was limp didn't help matters either.
In order to get the two of them in a better position, Natsuki pulled Shizuru against her, resting the elder's head against her shoulder. The sudden coolness of Shizuru's body against her torso made her stiffen slightly, even though it was expected. With one arm around Shizuru's body to steady her, Natsuki raised her other hand to her face. She looked at the exposed wrist for a while, teetering on the edge of her decision. Shaking her head, she knew it was no time for doubts.
Pressing the warm skin of her wrist to her lips, she opened her mouth and bit down – gently at first. After testing the resistance, she increased the force of her bite, quickly breaking the skin. The metallic taste of blood reached her tongue and she hastily pulled her hand away, noting the contrasting red against flesh. Natsuki jostled Shizuru a little so her head was leaning back against her arm, before lifting her wrist level with the vampire's mouth.
With only inches between them, Natsuki could feel that pang of fear in her chest once more. Clenching her teeth and strengthening her resolve, she brushed her wounded wrist against Shizuru's slightly parted lips. The motion left a ruddy smear but didn't garner a reaction from the vampire. Natsuki's brow furrowed. She was so sure that would trigger something within Shizuru.
She eyed the parted lips carefully, noticing a slight twitch again. Her wrist had started to tingle now and she wondered if it was because of the wound or Shizuru's lips. Deciding not to linger on that thought, she lifted her wrist to Shizuru's mouth once more, this time pressing it against her lips. After several seconds of nothing, she felt movement against her skin.
Natsuki found herself holding her breath as she watched the elder's face, waiting for the reaction she both hoped for and feared. A tickle against her skin made her flinch slightly but she didn't pull away, instead pressing her wrist more firmly against Shizuru's lips. She felt the vampire's mouth open further and she realised what the tickle had been. Shizuru's tongue.
The sensation of that moist tongue sliding across her sensitive skin made her feel both embarrassed and sickened. She was allowing a vampire to drink from her, but it also caused a reaction within her she hadn't expected - something that stirred at the pit of her stomach. She decided to ignore it. The soft lapping continued as Natsuki watched the elder's strength slowly returning to her.
She tensed suddenly as she felt cold fingers grasp her forearm, holding her wrist in place. Shizuru's grip was fairly weak still but it at least showed Natsuki's plan was working. She let out a short gasp as she felt sharp teeth graze her skin and reflexively moved to pull her arm away but managed to stop herself in time. She expected to feel a stab of pain soon after but it never came.
She looked down at Shizuru's face as a small crease worked its way between her eyebrows and her eyelids began to flutter. Soon, she found herself staring into crimson eyes, her breath catching in her throat. Shizuru, however, looked confused.
Weakly pulling Natsuki's arm away with one hand, she wiped the blood from her lips hurriedly with her other. "What are you…?" she trailed off, her eyes shifting quickly to try and take in what was happening.
Natsuki opened her mouth to speak but couldn't summon the words to explain, the shame that had amassed in her gut keeping her silent. She looked away as she felt Shizuru try to push herself up off of Natsuki. She didn't quite have the strength to do that yet though. After several moments of silence, Natsuki managed to tear her gaze away from the stone cold floor and back to Shizuru.
The vampire was studying her. "Why did Natsuki do that?" she asked quietly, her words almost a whisper.
She had to concentrate hard to keep her gaze steady, to stop her shame from showing. It was likely Shizuru could see it in her eyes though. "I need you up and about. You were a liability as you were," she said as matter-of-factly as she could muster.
Shizuru's brow creased further. "I would have preferred you leave me be."
A pang of annoyance flared up within Natsuki at the vampire's words. "You think I wanted to do that!?" she spat.
Without replying, Shizuru shakily pushed herself into a sitting position, hunching forwards slightly with her back facing Natsuki. "You took the choice from me all the same," she muttered.
Natsuki shook her head, confused. Choice? What the hell is she talking about? "You're a vampire, it's what you do!"
Shizuru edged away from her, still not turning to face Natsuki. "I suppose you're the expert now."
A low growl rose up from the back of Natsuki's throat. Here she was, utterly humiliated in allowing a vampire to drink from her and Shizuru wasn't even grateful. "I was just trying to help you! Would you prefer I leave you to die!?"
Shizuru didn't respond for some time, merely sitting a few feet from Natsuki. Eventually, though, she turned around, her features unreadable. "My apologies. You are right, of course. But, please… never do that again." There was something dark and final about her words.
Natsuki's lip twitched as she fought back a sneer. "Don't think I'm ever going to help you again. We're even."
Natsuki pushed herself to her feet, straightening a bit too quickly as a feeling of dizziness muddled her thoughts. She shook her head a little and it passed swiftly. She hoped that wouldn't affect her any further. Leaning back against the table, she watched as Shizuru attempted to stand as well, her movements shaky. This isn't going to work if she doesn't improve, she thought glumly. She should just have taken more…
She couldn't fathom why Shizuru had reacted so negatively towards her. Could she really taste that bad? She found that reason irked her more than it should have. Shizuru was a vampire, after all, and vampires lived for one thing – the feed. Their hunger drove them much in the same way as the hunt did for werewolves. However, they couldn't exist without it, whereas werewolves didn't need to kill prey in order to survive. She'd never come across a vampire that didn't fit into that idea. Until now.
That bothered her too. She didn't want to have to consider vampires as being anything but ruthless, bloodthirsty, killers. Shizuru was making an awful lot of things complicated for her. She would be relieved when she could walk away from all of this. She tapped her fingers against her thigh as she considered leaving Shizuru like this. She had repaid her debt after all. They were even, as she had said. So, why was she hanging around?
"Is something bothering Natsuki?" came Shizuru's soft, even tone.
Natsuki looked up at the vampire with a little surprise. She seemed to be standing on her own quite well now. "Yes." She pushed herself off the table and took a step forwards. "You."
Shizuru took a few, measured steps in her direction, any previous signs of weakness in her movements having vanished. Natsuki couldn't tell if that was because Shizuru was stronger now or she was hiding it. When Shizuru had come within a foot of her, she stopped abruptly. Natsuki felt uncomfortable being so close to the vampire when she was in a more capable condition.
"You seem to be doing better," Natsuki mumbled, trying not to give away her unease.
A smirk tugged at one corner of Shizuru's mouth. "Natsuki seems to have that affect on me."
Natsuki felt a heat rise to her cheeks involuntarily at Shizuru's teasing tone, although she wasn't sure why she was so embarrassed. "What the hell is that supposed to mean!?"
She regretted asking as soon as the words had left her lips as she watched the smirk widen. "Natsuki does taste rather good. Especially for a werewolf."
More blood rushed to her cheeks but embarrassment wasn't the only cause this time. Anger swelled up in her at Shizuru's last words. Had she drank from many werewolves? How many had she even killed in her lifetime? The questions made Natsuki even uneasier.
Obviously noticing Natsuki's rising ire, Shizuru leaned in closer. "But I would like to taste more of you," she whispered.
Natsuki opened her mouth to retort but she stopped herself as she tried to fathom what they meant. "You said you didn't want to…" she trailed off, confusion replacing her anger.
Shizuru paused before stepping back and turning away from Natsuki, smiling to herself. "I know," was all she said as she bent down to pick up her blade. Natsuki tried to decipher what she meant but she wasn't given any further time to as Shizuru turned around and motioned towards the door with her newly regained weapon. "Shall we go?"
Natsuki blinked blankly at her for a few moments before nodding and hastily moving to the door. Her mind was still going over the vampire's words but she had more important things to focus on at the moment. She opened the door in front of her and slipped into the other room, noting the exit to the tunnels was still closed. She paused for a moment, taking in the sounds around her, listening for any threats.
She became aware of Shizuru standing very closely behind her and she shot the vampire a glare over her shoulder. Shizuru would have almost been breathing down her neck had she been human. "What the hell are you doing?" Natsuki snarled angrily.
Shizuru smiled faintly and nodded to Natsuki's shoulder. She followed the crimson gaze, seeing her cut garments. "Natsuki really should take better care of her clothes," Shizuru uttered before deftly stepping around her and moving to the exit.
Natsuki felt the heat rise up in her as she growled at the elder. Perhaps killing her wouldn't have been such a bad idea after all.
Her temper at an almost normal level now, Natsuki found herself studying Shizuru closely as she followed behind her. They had made their way out into the tunnels and had been walking for some time now. There was no sign of Searrs but there was also no sign of a way out of this maze. Shizuru had taken the lead and Natsuki suspected she was used to it being that way. She seemed the type of leader to lead from the front.
She marvelled at the way Shizuru could move so silently through the damp corridors, without much effort at all. Natsuki wondered if she made it look so easy as well. Shizuru had seemingly recovered a lot of her strength as well now, as she didn't seem to give away any hints of injury. Natsuki's gaze lingered over the bullet holes in the back of Shizuru's leather coat. She decided not to go over the questions they raised once again. She'd just be thinking in circles.
Soon, they reached a fork in the tunnel. Yet another one. She was getting sick of this. She just wanted to see the moon again, to feel the freedom of the forest, to have a warm bath. Shizuru halted, her gaze moving from one corridor to the next. Natsuki glanced over her shoulder before sniffing the air. There was still no sign of company. On one hand that was a relief, but on the other, she was getting concerned for her pack members. They should have crossed paths by now, even if it was a cold trail.
"Which way?" Shizuru asked.
Natsuki shrugged. "Does it matter? This place is a damn labyrinth."
Shizuru lifted a hand and wagged a finger at her. "Of course it does. One way leads to the exit, one way doesn't."
Natsuki rolled her eyes at the vampire and motioned vaguely to the right-hand tunnel. "That way."
Shizuru turned to face her. "Is that your acute werewolf senses at work or are you just blindly guessing?" From her expression, Natsuki knew she didn't need an answer.
Instead of engaging in Shizuru's little game, Natsuki ignored the question and stomped past her, making more noise than she should have been. Her temper had a tendency to get in the way of her common sense, but that vampire just knew how to get under her skin it seemed.
As she headed off up the tunnel she'd pointed to, she heard Shizuru fall into step behind her. She imagined the vampire would be wearing a particularly smug grin at that moment and she didn't want to turn around and see it. Stalking through the darkness, she focused on the passage up ahead, trying not to allow her mind to wander. The tunnel appeared to be the same as many of the others she'd come across down here – gloomy, damp, and endless. It stank as well, and she found the stench had begun to irritate her sensitive nose.
A low grumble reached her ears and she glowered, realising how hungry she was now the pangs of hunger had hit her. Chuckling from behind her drew her attention and she glanced over her shoulder. "What?"
"Is Natsuki hungry?" Shizuru asked with amusement.
Natsuki's shoulders slumped a little. "Yeah, something else to add to the long list of why it sucks to be me. Anything else want to come alon—" She didn't get the chance to finish her sentence as Shizuru held a hand up suddenly, signalling her to be quiet.
She was just about to ask her what was wrong when she heard it too. Movement from the end of the tunnel. It was still fairly distant but it was coming closer steadily. Her pulse quickened as she attempted to discern who was in the tunnel, but the vague sound of footsteps wasn't enough to identify them. She glanced at Shizuru who bore a similarly concerned expression.
They looked at one another as they assessed what their next move should be but before Natsuki could make a decision, she picked up another source of noise. This time it came from where they had already been. Natsuki cursed her luck. Why couldn't she have some good luck for a change?
"Crap," she muttered under her breath.
She could see Shizuru straining to hear. "Searrs," she said simply.
"How do you know?" Natsuki asked in surprise. Even she hadn't picked up specifics.
"I could tell the click of their polished shoes miles away." Shizuru shot a look from one end of the tunnel to the other.
Shizuru moved closer to Natsuki, her voice dropping. "You move on up ahead. I'm better off facing Searrs than you. Let's just hope they don't have us surrounded."
Natsuki felt the urge to back off away from Shizuru but she focused on the situation at hand, taking in what the vampire had said. "Fine."
Shizuru quirked an eyebrow at her. "No protests? I didn't figure Natsuki for the subservient type," she quipped with a smirk.
Natsuki narrowed her eyes in response. "This isn't the time," she said simply, the urgency of their predicament tempering her anger.
Shizuru merely shrugged and turned, walking rather idly back the way they had come. Natsuki shook her head before moving in the opposite direction, her senses bristling. She could still make out the movements from up ahead and she wondered why anyone would be so noisy. Either they were extremely careless or extremely confident. Or arrogant.
As the sound of Shizuru's footsteps faded, she focused her senses completely on the threat ahead. She couldn't pick up any particular scents, nothing new anyway. There was still the rusting grating, the stagnant pools of water, and the scent of Shizuru that seemed to cling to Natsuki. None of it told her anything about what she was about to face though.
All of a sudden, she heard a yelp from the end of the tunnel ahead of her. Her breath caught in her throat and she lowered herself into a crouch, her eyes on the gloominess of the corridor. As she squinted, she could just make out a figure scrambling through the darkness. Soon, that multiple others joined the figure and she realised they were all running towards her.
Her eyes widened in shock as she recognised the swiftly approaching form at the head of the pack of runners. Nao. She could now pick up the scent of fear in the air. It was thick and heavy. The look of terror on the young werewolf's face was enough to cause the fear within her to stir. Who was chasing her?
It didn't take her long to figure that out as the chasers came into view. Vampires. They were fast, and they were catching up to Nao. Natsuki swallowed down the lump that had formed in her throat. She'd never make it to them in time before they caught her. She gritted her teeth, knowing there was only one thing she could do. One thing she hated doing.
She had to let the beast out of its cage.
Without another thought, she braced herself, releasing all the mental blocks she'd built up over the years. Her initial transformation had hurt like hell and it had gotten easier since then, but there was still that searing pain. The same pain that was coursing through her skull right then. She screwed her eyes shut as she swallowed down the cry that attempted to rip from her throat. A burning heat built under her skin and it felt as though she were being jabbed with thousands of needles.
Her head jerked back as she felt the change consume her. Every breath she took in burned her throat and lungs, each movement she made caused her muscles to scream out in pain. Her body changed, allowing the beast that she had forced deep down within her, to fit into it, to take control.
When she opened her eyes again, they were no longer Natsuki's eyes; they were the beast's. Her smooth skin was now covered in a blue-black fur, and her figure had been twisted into that of a large wolf. Her senses were even more heightened now, and she had one thought on her mind – hunting down her prey.
Surging forwards, Natsuki's lupine muscles contracted to propel her into a blinding run. She soon covered the distance between her and her prey. Leaping clearly over Nao's head, she piled into the lead vampire, her teeth finding his neck within an instant. The sickening sound of tearing muscle and sinew filled her ears as her teeth ripped clean through his neck. He might have screamed but she didn't leave him with any means to.
Within seconds she had launched herself onto the next vampire before they had even realised what was upon them. She clamped her jaws down mercilessly on the shocked vampire's face, ending his miserable life quickly. She could feel a cool liquid drip from her fangs but she paid it no heed, instead lifting her head to find her next target.
Her advantage came to end, however, when she felt a thud against her ribcage and a shooting pain across her chest. She howled out as she tumbled across the stone floor. She scrambled to get her footing once more before her attacker reached her again, her claws scratching across the solid surface beneath them. She could sense someone bearing down on her and she growled, hoping to warn him or her off.
Apparently it didn't work, as she had to dodge the incoming kick. She lunged to the side, gaining a fair amount of distance between her and her opponent. She looked over, taking in the form of a lanky male vampire, clad in a chic black suit. She might have thought he was a Searrs agent but his suit was too stylish and expensive for them.
He looked at her with a placid expression but she could see the ire in his eyes. She snarled back at him, baring her teeth menacingly. He didn't appear to have any weapon on him, which was unusual but he seemed quit adept at using his body to cause harm. She couldn't afford to underestimate him. The beast wanted desperately to pounce and she was having problems holding back.
She glanced around quickly, her eyes shifting between her foes. There appeared to be four vampires remaining, including her current opponent and they all eyes her warily. Nao was cowering against one wall and the vampires had apparently forgotten about her. At least her plan had paid off this time.
The group of vampires began to close in on her now, moving as one as they edged forwards. She back up slowly, her piercing gaze shifting from one to the next. Their apparent leader, the suited male, hung back slightly. It seemed as though he was going to let the others do the work. Typical vampire.
She tensed as she saw one of the vampires prepare to lunge, his stance giving his intentions away easily. He obviously wasn't an experienced fighter and she decided to take him down first. Before he could make his move, she leapt at him, her movements too fast for him to avoid. She downed him quickly. When she heard his head meet the stone floor with a crack, she decided to move on instead of finishing him. He would be out of the fight for some time, she guessed.
The next vampire was more experienced, and he dodged her first lunge. Retaliating with a swing of his knife, she yelped when blade met muscle, leaving a nasty cut across her shoulder. The fresh scent of blood reached her nose and she howled angrily at him. Not giving him the opportunity to strike again, she sunk her jaws into his mid-drift, causing him to scream out in pain.
Before she could do further damage, she felt a weight come down on her back, causing her to release her current prey. She snarled as she was taken down heavily and another weight added to her. She struggled against the two vampires holding her down but their combined strength overwhelmed her. A blow to her head forced her to quieten her struggling and her senses to cloud.
"Stop!" the voice broke through to her muddied mind and she felt the pressure on her lessen a little as the vampires turned to see whom it belonged.
She recognised that tone instantly. Shizuru. She could feel a tension fill the air then, and suddenly the weight upon her was lifted completely. She quickly scrambled to a more defendable position, her teeth bared once more. The vampires who had previously been attacking her all stood at a fairly safe distance away, their attention torn between Shizuru and herself. Nao was visibly shaking as Shizuru slowly neared the group.
Natsuki gave Shizuru a quick once over, noticing the blood coating her blade. She had obviously had no problems in taking care of the Searrs agents following them. Her eyes were on the suited vampire now and there seemed to be a silent conversation going on between them. That irked her slightly. She didn't like being left out of the loop. She wondered what that exchange of looks meant. Perhaps it was a sign of respect.
"Reito," Shizuru said finally, nodding once to the other vampire.
"Shizuru." He returned the gesture.
It was then that Natsuki realised this suited vampire was yet another elder. She let out a low growl. She'd gone her entire life without having to face one and now two attacked her in one day. Luckily for her, she was still breathing. Perhaps her luck hadn't run out after all.
"There's been enough bloodshed today." Shizuru spoke again but her words surprised Natsuki.
Reito tilted his head to one side slightly, confusion marring his features. "It killed three of my people," he said plainly.
"She is not to be harmed." The finality of that statement was clear to everyone present and Natsuki found herself wondering if the elders of each cadre were considered equal.
Reito paused for a moment before slowly nodding, the uncertainly clear in his movements. He took a step back, motioning for the other vampires to back off further. Natsuki found it surprising that he gave in so easily to Shizuru's demand. There had to be something more to that, but she didn't intend to find out.
She found herself relaxing a little, the exertion from the day's events taking its toll on her. Her muscles were aching and her shoulder had begun to throb. The pain in her head was beginning to irritate her as well. Moreover, the urge to continue the hunt was pulling at her and she wasn't sure how long she'd be able to keep it at bay. She wanted to cage the beast once more but she couldn't do that while she was vulnerable.
"I will explain later," Shizuru said to Reito before turning her attention to Natsuki. "I trust you know the way out, Reito?"
He nodded but she wasn't looking at him, her gaze had locked with the beast's. Something else was pulling at Natsuki now, some instinct she'd never felt before. She felt drawn to the vampire, something at a primal level, but there was no way she was giving into it. She had no idea what it meant and part of her didn't want to know.
"Go on ahead, I will catch up with you," she said again, the authority in her tone unmistakable.
"Shizuru, I do not think—"
"Please, do as I ask." Shizuru's eyes never left Natsuki, even with Reito's objections.
Natsuki watched as Reito and his vampires withdrew silently. She noticed that Reito was keeping a careful eye on Shizuru though, mirroring the focus that Shizuru seemed to have on her. When the group of vampires were far enough away, she lowered herself into a sitting position, the effort of standing becoming painful.
Shizuru walked towards her now, hefting her blade over her shoulder to rest there. When she reached the werewolf, she knelt down, placing her weapon on the ground beside them. Natsuki could see Nao watching them intently, both fear and curiosity in her eyes. She would rather the young werewolf didn't watch this exchange.
The elder reached out tentatively with one hand, pausing just before she touched Natsuki's head. "You're hurt."
Natsuki let out a slight whimper and lowered her head, now feeling embarrassed that she'd be harmed so easily. She stiffened suddenly as she felt Shizuru's cool fingers against her chin, pulling her gaze up to the vampire's face once more. A small smile pulled at her lips.
"Natsuki makes a cute wolf," she said quietly before placing her hand to the top of Natsuki's head, rubbing the fur there lightly.
If she'd been in human form, she was sure she'd be blushing deeply at that moment. There was something incredibly humiliating about getting petted and she felt more like a puppy than a werewolf. Annoyingly, it also felt rather good. She allowed herself to enjoy the strokes for a while before straightening and letting out a low growl.
Shizuru chuckled and withdrew her hand. "Oh I get it, you're a ferocious beast. My mistake." Her mirth faded when her gaze dropped to Natsuki's shoulder. "You really are hurt."
Natsuki shuffled backwards, trying to dismiss the vampire's concerned words. She wanted desperately to be rid of this form. Aside from the fact that she couldn't communicate very well like this, her heightened sense of smell was picking up Shizuru's scent a little too well. She glanced over at Nao who was still watching them.
"I think she's wanting you to leave," Nao said somewhat meekly.
Shizuru glanced at her, annoyance flickering across her face. "Does she now." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah," Nao's voice strengthened as her confidence seemed to rise. "She'll want to change back soon, I guess."
Shizuru regarded Natsuki and stood up, picking up her blade as she did so. "I see."
A part of Natsuki didn't want Shizuru to leave but it would be best for everyone if she did. Perhaps then she could go back to her nice, simple life. Shizuru gave Natsuki one last glance before walking around her and heading in the same direction the other vampires had gone. When she couldn't hear her footsteps anymore, Natsuki relaxed.
She prepared herself for the transformation once more, knowing it was a lot easier on her body to revert back to her human form. It took a lot out of her mentally though. She tensed and closed her eyes, focusing on her humanity as much as she could, willing the beast back into the cage she had released it from. It fought against her briefly before she felt her body change back to its usual form.
She let out a sigh of relief as she opened her eyes. Realising she was sitting there naked, she wrapped her arms around herself quickly. She shot Nao a look and expected some form of comment but the young werewolf was staring in shock behind Natsuki. A chill ran down her spine and she felt her body stiffen. She wasn't sure if it was the trepidation or the weariness that prevented her from turning.
She sensed a presence behind her but before she could look, she felt something slip onto her shoulders. Her muscles tensed but she realised she wasn't under attack. The combined scent of leather and Shizuru filled the air around her as the leather coat was wrapped around her frame. She felt the coolness of Shizuru's skin slide briefly against her cheek as the elder leaned in, her head placed beside hers.
"If I'd known it was this easy to see Natsuki naked, I wouldn't have wasted all that effort toying with you earlier," she whispered into Natsuki's ear, causing her to shiver.
Natsuki swallowed, hard. She turned her head slowly leaning to the side a little so she could look Shizuru in the eye. She couldn't think of a response. She just didn't understand the vampire. What was it she wanted? Did she just enjoy playing with her? Was there something else behind all that? She felt a little sad at the fact that she'd probably never know.
Shizuru pulled back a little and stood, her eyes dulling a little as the smile faded from her face. "This is where we part ways."
Natsuki pushed herself to her feet, slipping her arms into the sleeves of the coat so she could fasten it, hiding her naked body from view. She turned to face Shizuru, her body complaining at the action. She'd need to get that wound on her shoulder attended to soon, before she lost too much blood. She wondered what the scent of blood was doing to Shizuru. It didn't seem to be affecting her at all.
"I have enjoyed our time together," Shizuru began, hoisting her weapon over her shoulder once more. "But all good things must come to an end, as they say."
Natsuki frowned. "Including vampires?"
Shizuru chuckled softly. "We're anything but good, Natsuki."
Natsuki let out a short snort. "Don't I know it."
Shizuru reached out and hooked a finger under the lapel of the leather coat. "I wish you could have…"
She let the words hang in the air and Natsuki wasn't sure how to take them. The elder always seemed to talk in riddles. She wondered if Shizuru ever said what she truly meant. Again, she was reminded that she'd probably never discover the answer to that. Letting her hand drop back to her side, Shizuru turned to leave, not saying another word.
Natsuki watched her for a few moments, the distance between them growing. A heavy feeling was growing in her chest and it was getting worse the further Shizuru got from her. She inwardly cursed herself. Why was she feeling like this? That woman was her enemy. Pure and simple. There could be no other way.
"Wait." The word had slipped past her lips before she'd even thought it.
Shizuru halted, but didn't turn. Acutely aware that Nao was nearby, Natsuki hurried forwards. When she was a few feet from Shizuru, she stopped. "Natsuki?" The way Shizuru said her name, as if saying it any louder would damage it, made her heart skip a beat.
"I…" she trailed off. She didn't even know what she wanted to say; she didn't even know what she felt.
Shizuru turned to face her once more, curiosity in those crimson eyes. That look made the words even more unattainable for Natsuki. "What is it?" she urged.
"I…" she continued to struggle. "We're not even. I have to make it even."
A chestnut eyebrow arched upwards. "Not even?"
"You… you saved me back there. So I owe you one again. I can't have myself being indebted to a vampire for the rest of my life." She felt somewhat pleased with herself that she was able to string that sentence together.
Shizuru shook her head, her hair dancing around her face as she did so. "So what do you suggest?"
That had Natsuki stumped. She hadn't thought her words through at all. "Um… You'll just have to hang around until I've made it up to you?" she answered weakly.
Shizuru stayed silent for a while, seemingly mulling her words over. She let out a quiet sigh before answering. "You know that won't work. I'm the elder of the Kyoto cadre, I am a vampire, and I am your sworn enemy. Consider yourself released from any such debt. We are even." Her words hung in the air, adding to the sensation in Natsuki's chest.
"It doesn't work like that, you can't just release me…" Natsuki's voice quietened as she neared the end of the sentence. She wasn't going to win this argument; she knew that. She was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to win any argument with this woman. And still, she couldn't figure out why she wanted to.
Shizuru stepped closer until they were almost touching. "I wish I didn't have to."
There she was speaking in riddles again. Natsuki wasn't one for cryptic puzzles; she liked things plain and easily digestible. "Why can't you just say what you mean?" she said a little more harshly than she'd intended.
Shizuru seemed taken aback by the straightforwardness of her words. She paused before responding. "I don't think that would be good for either of us, Natsuki." There was a sadness in her tone now.
"Why? Why the hell not!?" Natsuki found herself getting angrier by the second.
Shizuru reached up with one hand, her fingertips brushing Natsuki's cheek lightly. Natsuki was torn between flinching away and leaning into the touch. She did neither. "Would it help you if I told you how much I want you to myself? How much I want to taste you; not your blood, but your body. How much I want to show you how special you are, something you plainly cannot see. Does that make things easier for you?" There was a slight tremor in Shizuru's voice as she spoke.
Natsuki's breath caught as she heard those words and she felt her stomach flip. "I… You… I don't understand…"
Shizuru let her fingers trail across Natsuki's skin slowly, dropping to brush across the warm skin of her neck. Natsuki shuddered and closed her eyes momentarily. "I think you do. But… it does not matter. Natsuki will return to her life, and I shall return to mine."
Natsuki's brow furrowed. "Why?"
Shizuru smiled at Natsuki, but it was a sad smile. She stepped backwards, allowing her hand to fall back to her side. "I cannot abandon my cadre and you, dear Natsuki, you will not deny your duty to your pack. And so…"
With that, Shizuru turned and walked away. Her movements were stiffer than usual and Natsuki guessed she was forcing herself to go, forcing herself to keep something inside. She merely watched her go, wanting very much to stop her, but not having the courage to do so.
She brought her hands up to grip her upper arms, a sudden chill gripping her as she watched Shizuru disappear into the darkness. She parted her lips slightly, letting the words slip past them that she wished she'd said moments sooner.
"I would have…"
END OF FANG AND CLAW.
Author's Notes: Ah, it's finally done. I made this one longer than my usual chapters (even Giving In's) to help make up for the lack of updates over the past years. I hope everyone enjoyed it. I kind of didn't want to stop writing. As for the ending, I'd always planned on it working out in this kind of way. I probably would have given them a happier ending at the time I wrote the first part, but I think there's enough fluff out there for the time being. Halloween Special was never intended to be fluff, after all. Anyway, you can always imagine them getting together at a later date. Their story certainly isn't over, I'm just not going to write it. :P
Thanks to Eilara (Sammy) for betaing the first scene.
So, that's all from me. I hope everyone's doing well in the fandom (though I don't recognise a lot of the names anymore). ^^