by Shadowy Star
Later on, neither would be able to say for exactly how long they'd stood there, looking at each other.
"Ahmm, Mers, are you intending to buy something?" the shop assistant asked, sounding very sleepy and very annoyed.
Gerald turned his head, fully intending to scowl at the poor boy but stopped when Damien burst out laughing.
"He's right, you know," the other man said then, still chuckling softly. "We probably should buy something."
Gerald smiled. He said 'we', didn't he? Oh, Damien… he thought lovingly and something of it must have showed in his eyes because Damien gave him the softest smile he'd ever seen on the other man's face. Or it was just that new, breathtakingly beautiful body. Not that the former body hadn't been beautiful. The Damien he was used to had been tall, too, but his strength had been much more obvious, much more massive back then, very attractive in its own way. Now, there was strength again – a strength wiry, streamlined and concealed, hidden beneath smooth skin, lurking behind green eyes. Those eyes… For a moment, Gerald felt a disorienting sensation as hazel brown overlaid jade green in his memory, and he blinked it away, looking into again green eyes. Those eyes, different and yet the same, so unmistakably Damien's beneath a thin layer of this beautiful stranger…
"You alright?" the not-stranger asked gently, his voice no longer deep like velvet caress but lighter, clearer, different again but just as strong, just as expressive, just as familiar.
Gerald smiled. Now, now he understood perfectly how the other man had felt back then at the Black Ridge Pass when confronted with Gerald's own new face.
"Yes, I am," he said though he really felt like singing. Damn it all to all Hells ‒and he usually didn't swear, at least not like that‒ only Damien could make him feel like this, and he smiled again, brighter yet. Only Damien could make him feel…
He looked at the other again, straightening. This time, he wasn't going to let him go. Not now, not ever.
"I must apologize for my lack of manners. I completely forgot to introduce myself. My name is Gerald da Silva."
Jade green eyes revealed a bit of shocked surprise and of answering pleasure.
"Nice to meet you and no apology needed. After all, I didn't introduce myself either. So, I'm Damien di Venari."
Gerald couldn't help smiling. It seemed both of them had retained as much from their pasts as was safe. "Pleased to meet you, too."
They left the shop after Damien –having examined intensively nearly every sword,– finally bought a fitting one, a lean blade with a decorative writing in one of old Terran languages even Gerald didn't recognize curving and flowing along its silvery surface.
Walking through the district's narrow streets side by side, Gerald couldn't help let his shoulder sometimes touch that of the other man, a tangible reminder that Damien was real, was here… Each time it prompted a smile from those lips and sometimes a casual touch for answer.
"Do you know a restaurant here where two hungry people can get more to eat than sandwiches at that early hour?" Damien asked finally with an easiness as if there was nothing extraordinary at the fact of him being here, at his, Gerald's side. As if they were nothing but two strangers with nothing in common, having met by accident as many strangers met and parted every single day. It couldn't have been that easy for the other man, he knew it first hand and again, Gerald had to acknowledge Damien's exceptional self-control. Even a Iezu had refused to play poker with him, after all.
"Yes," Gerald said, glad to change the topic, and stopped in his step. "I can truly recommend it."
The silence lengthened between them while he desperately tried not to stare at the other man.
"Shall we talk about weather?" Damien suggested dryly.
Gerald looked up at the skies. "Hmm… It isn't raining," he said then, trying not to sound like the love sick fool he was feeling he did.
At that Damien broke into laughter. "But it will, tonight," he stated softly and Gerald wondered for a second but forgot it again as Damien continued. "Maybe we should find a place to stay at until it stops?"
So simple a question, so easily spoken but oh so not simple at all…
Gerald gasped at the implications. "Do you mean that?" he answered with a question of his own.
Jade green eyes softened. He was obviously about to answer as an alien sound intruded the space around them. A scream, cut off sharply and followed by the horrible, nasty noise of something heavy hitting the ground.
Damien's posture shifted almost imperceptibly and Gerald adjusted his own. This, too, was familiar after all the time spent together, and his body remembered instantly. He felt a rush of adrenaline surging in his veins. Oh, yes, he had missed this.
Taking one swift step, Damien brought them back to back, drawing his weapons in the process. Gerald relaxed, involuntary, feeling safe somehow. Which was absurd, they were most probably outnumbered, if the scene manifesting before them was anything to go by. A few yards away, the street they'd been following crossed another. Two men were lying on the ground close to each other, blood pooling from beneath a head and a stomach respectively. A third corpse was lying a bit away, an undoubtedly knife wound to the neck. One other man, knife still in his hand, was bending over the stomach-wounded corpse. The other, sword at the ready, was already turning around to face them. Seeing as two of the dead had been city guards, easily recognized by their uniforms and well-made swords, Gerald knew there had to be more of the bandits somewhere close.
Yet, the sensation of Damien's back, warm and solid against his, the overwhelming awareness of Damien's body caused again the feeling of safety Gerald had always felt in the other man's company.
He shifted slightly, his hand hovering inches above his own pistol.
"I wouldn't do that," a rough voice said, and the very next moment six bandits stepped out of the surrounding shadows, their pistols aiming at the both of them.
"Nice clothes," the owner of the voice continued, pointing a gun at them and grinning cruelly.
"Rich boys," another agreed. "Pretty."
"Just give us your money," the third added. "And we'll let you live."
"After having some fun, y'know," the last one added while they were encircling their victims.
Gerald sensed Damien's body tensing the slightest bit, preparing to fight. Somehow he'd managed to shove himself between Gerald and two of the attackers without Gerald even noticing.
"I hate to quote from an unknown source, but sadly, it seems I have to: I wouldn't do that." Gerald suppressed the urge to laugh. He could feel the other man's wild grin and silently congratulated his other on the clever distraction.
One of the culprits laughed out loud but was rendered silent by his leader's furious glare.
Disciplined, Gerald thought. Damn. With all that pistols aimed at them they probably would be dead long before they'd manage to fire their own. He considered to add something but didn't before turning his attention back to the outlaws. Anything he could say would only weaken Damien's precarious position.
"You're outnumbered," said the leader.
"So?" Gerald could hear an evil smirk in Damien's voice, and gave one of the bandits his trademark Hunter smile.
"Come near him and I'll kill you," Damien stated as calmly as if he was discussing weather.
"I can fight on my own," Gerald snapped icily while anger started to grow within his chest. But whatever he'd intended to add, died in his throat as the other man's words sank in.
"And who do you think you are? His bodyguard?" the leader spewed out on the ground.
"Find out," Damien suggested lightly but the undercurrents of danger were peaking through the calm surface.
Gerald's direct opponent didn't seem to like that. "Boss, maybe we should‒"
The leader turned his head a bit at the signs of disobedience, his pistol still aimed at Damien and that was when the Hell broke loose.
That brief moment had been enough for Damien to act and Gerald managed to draw his weapon before he was violently shoved aside as the other man shot the leader down, also drawing his sword. Then, the auburn-haired man whirled him around out of the way of a knife and fired again. More shots followed.
Damien shoved him against the wall of a nearby building ‒which was suspiciously silent, by the way, he noted angrily‒ and then the nearest culprit charged and he forgot all about that. He fought his opponent twice before he was able to reload his pistol and fire. Having to avoid another knife, he missed and found a blade pressed against his throat.
The next second the man broke down, Damien's sword piercing his chest from behind. Their eyes met for a split second, and memories of many moments like this flared between them. Damien's lips curved into the beginnings of a smile. Then they were moving, back to back again, Damien's sword singing through the air, giving Gerald enough time to reload his pistol.
The remaining bandits charged as one, and Damien killed one of them effortlessly, easily finding an opening in the man's defense. With a sharp cry the man fell. Now there were only two left. Gerald shot one down, missing for two times but taking aim better for the third shot. The last one drew a sizable knife and advanced straight at Damien, ignoring the other man's sword. Gerald's breath caught in his throat, there was no way Damien could parry this, not at this speed, and he was moving before the thought could form itself, twisting, turning them around, and thankfully, Damien'd understood and was moving with him. Gerald imbedded the hilt of his now useless pistol into the bandit's skull. The lifeless body dropped to the ground.
Gerald turned, and met his other's beautiful, concerned eyes.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yeah," Damien said, grinning.
Deep relief flooded through him, its suddenness throwing him forward, right into the other man's arms, his hands gripping the strong shoulders.
Damien's arms encircled him in return, and he might have melted right there and then. Which was completely unacceptable, Tarrants didn't melt. Gerald smiled and found himself unable to care. He reached out.
Jade green eyes met his straight on.
Then, Damien shook his head slightly and removed Gerald's hands from his shoulders.
"We should leave before their friends show up. Or the guards," he suggested, with an indicating nod.
Gerald frowned but had to agree. The currents were sharp as a knife with danger.
They crossed the intersection swiftly, leaving the scene of attack behind them and then breaking into a run. They didn't make half the street as the noise of a single shot cut through the air.
1) I'm fully aware that 'venatorius'/'venaticus' resp. is the correct Latin translation for 'of (or for) the chase/hunt'. But we could go and try comparative linguistics on Terran versus Ernan Latin… *grins*