Badou reaches with a long finger, he's bonier than Haine is, his joints stick out in strange places. Haine's body is simply sleeker.

"Get the light, goddamn it, Haine," Badou complains, cradling one side of his face in his other hand, arm still stretched out pathetically, his knobby hands unable to reach the switch.

Haine curls up in his chair and stares at his partner with the curious eyes of a dog. "You can kill a man twenty different ways, but you can't turn off a light yourself?"

Badou's mouth sneers, his nicotine-stained teeth exposed in snarl and in smile. "Fifty different ways, but you double me. Now turn off the damn light, will you? Got a migraine here, that's what happens when I don't get my fucking smokes, which is what happens when you kill the guy we're meant to bring back."

Haine barks a little laugh. Badou amuses him. Maybe that's why he lets Badou keep him around.

"Unbunch your panties," he murmurs, unfolding his sleek muscles, pushing up out of his chair. He turns off the light and then crawls on top of Badou in the bed. He runs his sleek fingers through the knots in Badou's hair, splayed and uncombed on the pillow.

"What part of headache didn't you get?"

"Quit bitching."

Badou turns his face away. Haine takes his jaw in his sleek grip and smashes their mouths together.



Haine never calls, but he'll come if Badou will. Badou amuses him. Badou feeds him. Haine's cell phone chirrups like a dying cicada and he only picks it up when he feels like. He picks it up now, maybe because he suspects it's Badou; he can smell that on the wind.

"I'm at Buon Viaggio, I've ordered two coffees, and one is for you. It has whipped cream on it and everything," Badou drawls in his ear.

Haine likes his coffee to taste like cake. He hates the acrid taste of coffee—(grown in factories with hormones and genetic splicing, people always need their coffee)—and the acidity disagrees with him. He's just not like Badou. He doesn't need nicotine and caffeine to keep him going. He goes, whether he wants to or not.

Badou is a coffee purist who mocks him for his sugars and creams. Badou would just eat the grinds if they weren't so damn gritty.

Haine grins at his receiver. A man walking towards him goes pale and turns away. Sweet creamy coffee, he can't wait.



Badou tastes like acid and ash, his bones prickle up and down Haine's sides.

"I'm going down tomorrow," Haine murmurs against Badou's boney shoulder when their mouths break apart.

"You go down every day," Badou replies, nonplussed, rocking against his hip.

Haine's sleek claws touch his back, his teeth find his neck. "I'm going down for a few days."

"Have fun." Breath ghosting this side of breathless.

Haine closes his eyes, the ceiling isn't interesting enough. "You can't call me," he warns with a gasp.

He doesn't say, "I might come."

He's got no touch for double entendres and that's all Badou thinks in anyway. So, maybe, because he leaves that out, Badou understands and is laughing and touching, his mouth tastes sharp and horrible but if they were to kiss for long enough that taste would fade to nothing but saliva.

"Okay, I can't call," Badou agrees.



He wouldn't be a stray if he didn't leave sometimes, but what he's looking for on these excursions, Haine doesn't know.

Karma Chameleon Giovanni could be hiding anywhere in his memories, in the skins of other people, flicking his long pink tongue along the veins of his nightmares.

His sister is lolling in the whites of his eyes, dancing in a strew of offal and rust. He bends over and hacks up a bullet.

"Fuck," he curses, wagging his tongue in distaste, trying not to taste the steel in his throat. His spine gives a resounding shudder: a resonation, a mating call. It's a clean feeling, the steel in him, clean and numb. He wouldn't know the filth if it were there.

He makes himself straighten against the weakness (those steel rods in your spine, you wonder, you wonder, something inside of him chimes in a painful and high-pitched voice which trills ethereally.)

Giovanni doesn't come this time. Haine can't smell him in the scattering of the shadows.



He smells like a lizard, dry scaly skin and cold cold blood. Badou thinks the guy's domed glasses are idiotic and his black suit is tacky.

"You're in my seat, buddy," Badou grumbles, gnawing on the paper filter of his cigarette. Haine has been gone for a week already and Badou is still the only one who denies it puts him in a bad mood.

Kiri glances up from washing the dishes and scowls at Mihai who dutifully looks up from his newspaper. His expression is the same way it always is, distantly unconcerned but resignedly exasperated.

"Don't mind him, friend," he apologizes on the redhead's behalf. "Badou, come sit by me and be quiet."

The stranger turns, a snide and obscene grin playing off his lips. He takes off his domed-lizard glasses with an elegant movement of his leather clad hands. His eyes are sharp, unexpectedly beautiful, and dangerous. Dragon eyes.

"I'm not the type for friends, friend," he laughs. His voice is reedy and his tongue flickers along his lips, a spasmodic motion he doesn't seem to quite be in control of.

Badou takes in look in the man's eyes. The equilibrium in his head shifts and before he knows what's what, his head has jerked to the side, his neck giving a long suffering crack.

"I am aching for a fight, friend," Badou smiles. "If you want to fight for that seat, I'll meet you outside."

The stranger gets up and gives a gracious bow, motioning after you.


She strokes Nil's hair. She knows how Haine feels, understands the calm feeling of acceptance that Nil exudes.

"As long as you forgive me, that's all that matters," Naoto murmurs against the girl's ear.

Nil smiles at her, takes Naoto's face in to her hands and kisses her on the lips.

Naoto's eyes fill with tears. It has been a long and lonely time, but Nil holds her, touches her and loves her. Later, she goes to visit Mihai later in the afternoon and Kiri gives her tea and cookies. They tell her about Badou's fight and she can't help but laugh. He's always itching for a fight with or without Haine around. It seems like… when the dog goes to ground, Badou is more interested in getting hurt than fighting though. It worries her. It worries her to worry.

She feels human. She hates it and it pulls her in, closer and closer; closer to weakness and to fear. So, she disappears that night, disappears down into the streets and always promises herself she won't come back up again.



It doesn't even occur to Badou to think he's betraying Haine when he takes the dragon home with him. When his stray dog is gone, it's Badou's life again and he has to live it like he's been abandoned, because he knows some day he will be.

The stranger's mouth is on him, sucking his dick with slurping pleasure. They'd barely made it inside Badou's apartment, the front door is still open slightly. He shuts it and then slumps back against the wall once more.

Badou's ribs ache from where the stranger had punched him outside of Buon Viaggio and the stranger is going to be sporting a black eye tomorrow. Their fight had been all hands at throats and knees in guts and—

"I want to fuck you," the stranger is purring, he's still stroking and teasing Badou with his long spindly fingers, watching Badou with his dragon eyes all hazy with lust. "I want you like a dog."

Badou smiles a snarl and drags the man up to him by his ugly tie. Badou grinds against his thigh and the stranger slams his body back against the wall hard enough to sting. The stranger gets him by his hair and reigns him in, pushes him down on to hands and knees and that's the end of it. Badou lets him. He fights the whole way, but if he didn't want it he would have gone for the eyes, for the neck, would have crushed his testicles or castrated him, but only if he didn't really wanted it.

The sunset comes through the uncovered windows of his apartment. The sunset bleeds over him as he's sprawled over the wooden floor of his sparse apartment. He lies with legs splayed and a heavy hand on the back of his neck and the brilliance of a blood-red sunset in his eyes. Badou just drowns in it, he drinks in the syrupy ligt and the ache blossoming throughout his body.

He only comes back to himself after he's come twice. He hasn't being paying attention to his partner, doesn't know if he's got his jollies or not and doesn't exactly care.

"What brought you down to Buon Viaggio anyway?" Badou wonders, his voice is hoarse. He pushes himself back up on to his hands. His arms tremble and his chest sticks to the floor a bit. He shirt is bunched up under his sweaty armpits.

The stranger breathes deeply, his hands sliding along Badou's sweat-slick chest. He slips his cock free and sits back on the flooring. Badou turns and really takes a look at him. He'd lost the jacket of his suit, but had been in too much of a hurry for much else. The tie is on the floor by the door, the pants open and disheveled around his thighs. His pubic hair is a pale blond and neatly trimmed, his cock lies nestled against the curls, flaccid and messy.

It's a nice cock, Badou thinks hazily before he catches the other man smiling. He knows where Badou has been looking, knows what Badou was thinking and has no complaints.

"I was supposed to meet my brother there," he says jokingly. He shrugs off his white button-down shirt, exposing more of his pale skin and sleek, knife-like physique. "But I think he'll forgive me the imposition."

Badou smiles lazily. When he lights his cigarette, the other man snatches it from him with a dark grin and takes his time with the gray smoke.



Beautiful women make him queasy. Their cruel faces, their high mocking laughter. He just can't stand them, can't stand them with their kindly faces and their laughing eyes. Their warm inviting bodies.

Angelica had been beautiful. She had been the most beautiful woman in the entire world and she had been so sick and twisted. She'd had teeth like a she-wolf and eyes like a serpent. She'd been an angel, but Haine does not trust beauty and he sees her cruelty in his own features every time he looks in the mirror.

Perhaps that is why Badou's scarred face and crucified hand is so comforting to him when he wakes up sweating in the middle of the night. Perhaps that is why he lets Nil listen to his sins. He is tainted and unworthy still. There is no absolution.

"Kill it," Angelica had asked of him. "Kill it and I will love you."

Haine kills. In the sewers and in the streets, he create a network of violence. A network of fear and demands.

"Where are they?" he snarls as he claws through a man's throat. "Where are they hiding?"

Beneath Badou's mattress he'd found an envelope of pictures. Dead children, more experiments, an abandoned lair. As Haine had looked over the carnage, he'd thought to himself,

I love Badou's pictures…

The images are in his mind as he goes razing for answers. Dead children, experiments who suffered just like him, and an abandoned lair like a shed skin. If he can just get the scent… he'll find her. He'll find that bitch.



Giovanni doesn't know when it stopped being about Einstellsehn. He doesn't quite know when he grew out of needing her approval. Maybe it was the first time she called him up to her room and told him to lick her cunt.

"Ah, you young things, you strong young things," she had moaned.

And he had realized he was not human to her. He was a tongue, a phallus, and a tool of war. It was Haine she had such high expectations of. It was Haine she loved. It was Haine she obsessed over, and he would never (never ever) win her approval.

Giovanni does not remember what it was exactly that finally turned him away from his beautiful 'mother', but he does remember what made him certain he would destroy Haine. It was watching him dance in Lily's entrails. It was watching him laugh that same high hysterical laughter as Angelica.

Giovanni knows about Badou, knows that Haine trusts him, knows that Haine depends on him for his humanity. It is true that Giovanni had gone to Buon Viaggio for Haine, but he'd found something so much better instead.

He goes back and sees Badou again. He goes right back to Badou's apartment and knocks on the door. Badou comes to answer, dressed in his jeans and undershirt like a regular nine-to-fiver, but the absentminded sneer that crosses his lips would tell anyone with half a brain he's so much more dangerous than that. He's a hunter, and he refuses to regret the things he does, and oh that will be his downfall.

"I don't make a habit of letting strangers in," he says, drags off his cigarette and blows out irony. "I already have too many bad habits."

Giovanni smiles. He can play this game. It's amusing that Haine hasn't told his precious partner to watch out for him yet. Giovanni will teach his older brother what happens when you keep secrets.

"We had such a nice time together and you still consider me a stranger?" he wonders, his tongue flickers—serpent like—across his lips. Badou looks… like he's itching for it. "Or do you just want to know whose name to curse?"

Badou steps back and lets the bad man in.



Men make her vicious. Men with eyes like Magato make her vicious and Haine has eyes like Magato. Haine has speed like Magato, has a sharpness to him just like Magato. Haine could go mad at any moment and be exactly like Magato in every way. He could scar her, he could scar her heart and she won't let him.

She smells Haine everywhere she goes. They're follow the same trail but he's always one step ahead of her. She comes across his carnage and she smells the reek of gunpowder, blood and Badou (which smells of smoke and liquor and has been painstakingly kissed into Haine's skin, something she only suspects but has no proof of).

She can smell the steel in Haine's neck, in his spine. So, like a dog marking new territory, she slashes her katana through the air so that those with the noses for it will know she has been here too. She is a predator too.

She descends deeper, falls deeper, trying to beat Haine to the kill. The deeper she goes the more she smells him: Magato. In the shadows she sees him, in the water she tastes him. She wonders if this is his breeding ground, the cesspit which spat him up in to the world.

She hunts. She is hunted, she feels it in the eyes of the perverts and in hunger of the pimps, she hears it in the footsteps shadowing her. Four-legged footsteps that make her nervous, make her tense and wary and eager to be out of sight. So she ducks in to a restaurant and a figure follows not long behind. But she is ready.

"Haine…" she murmurs in surprise. Her blade is to his throat and his gun is pressed up beneath her small breasts. The other patrons are watching them in shock, the waiters are scurrying to find the owner or their own heat. This far down, everyone is packing.

"You're better at this than I gave you credit for," Haine replies, lowering the gun.

Naoto swallows. "You've been following me?"

Haine shrugs. "You followed me first. Are you hungry?"

This is not Magato. She tries to pin down the expression on his face. This is not Magato. Haine looks unsure, uncomfortable talking to someone else, uncomfortable talking to a woman. She knows his fear.

"I'm starving," she answers, against her better judgment.



"You know, Badou," Mimi observes as Badou stuffs his face on her dime. "You shouldn't ask me to get your photos developed if you don't want me to ask questions."

Badou pauses in eating to look up at her with noodles hanging from his mouth. He smiles and she winces at how disgusting he is.

"You know, Mimi," he says around his full mouth. "I wouldn't ask you to develop my photos if I cared what you saw."

"You're going to get yourself killed," she answers. She's more angry than she'd really expected, but she just can't believe Badou's learning curve is so low. Her eyes are searching his, looking for an answer, but ever since he started wearing that damn patch he's gotten so good at hiding from her. Sometimes… sometimes she doesn't know who he is anymore.

"You know something, Mimi?" Badou wonders. He sits back in his chair and lights another cigarette. He looks at the ceiling, at the curling of his smoke, and not at her. "Haine is un-killable and Haine wants it all stopped."

Mimi has seen the pictures. Mimi has heard the whispers. Children disappearing, people being massacred, underground mob wars that wipe out hundreds, if not thousands. She's heard about the tortured children, she's heard about the mutated survivors. But that's… that's just what people do in the dark, when they think no one can see beyond their own needs well enough to stop them.

"Haine… you, you and Haine and Fuyumine are making it worse, do you realize that?" she says finally. "You catch their bosses doing the nasty, you go nuts and shoot up the place, Haine goes even crazier and between the two of you you start ripping out throats and slicing people up like Fuyumine does."

Badou's eyebrow pinch together and he finally looks at her. Her teeth are grit and she's hissing like she really wishes she were shouting.

"Of course I know! Don't look at me that way, Badou! You asked me to investigate, did you think I wouldn't look in to you and your partner just because we're friends? Goddamn it, Badou!"

He sets his cigarette aside. He looks down at his food but he isn't hungry anymore. He stretches his shoulders out, listen to his back and his neck pop and complain.

"We're only doing… what God made us to do," he decides. "And we were made to kill."

He takes out his wallet and leaves enough to pay for what he's eaten. He gets up to leave. This time, Mimi does shout after him,

"You aren't invincible like he is!"

He waves to her without turning around, holds up a hand to her, exposing his scar.

"Yes," he mutters, only to himself once he's outside, "and we were all made to die."



Haine surfaces at the end of the week. He checks in with the bishop, has Nil fix his clothes and then his mind is focused. He sniffs Badou out and finds his partner hip deep in trouble as usual. Eyepatch has been foisting secrets again and their owners chase after his streaming hair like rowing down a river of fire.

When Badou catches sight of him, that big bad grin spreads across his face and he pivots to face his assaulters. He and Haine quickly go to work and then just as quickly they stumble off to bed. Mouths and are hands a frenzy of attack. When his ribs begin to ache again, Badou just laughs. It's the second time he's been hurt by that move. He doesn't care. He doesn't care, it's been too long since Haine was last here, the loss has been like drowning.

As soon as he can breath enough again, Badou reaches for a cigarette. He tilts back to blow his smoke half-heartedly towards the open window.

"So," Badou wonders, "how was the trip?"

Haine tries not to laugh, honestly. "It was hell."

They're both smiling.

"It's good to see you again partner."

"Did you bring back any new info?" Badou prompts. He never lays his peregrine nature to rest, he bares fang to anyone, a secret hunter, a thief. Everyone is prey.

Haine pauses with his teeth exposed, absentmindedly predatory, and then he pulls on his jeans. He buckles his belt and goes to work on getting his shirt back on. When his head peaks out, those rat-eyes of his are bemused.

"Nothing you don't already know," Haine replies. He continues accusingly, "Nothing you don't have hidden under the mattress. How childish, like I wouldn't look there."

Badou's green-eyed gaze glints and he shrugs. "Maybe I didn't care if you saw it."

His partner is silent for a moment, processing his words.

"It's like Christmas It's a gift, is what you're saying?" Haine reasons out, slowly. The revelation shocks him with its implications, implications that Badou's usual pride are not denying.

"It's a gift," Badou agrees. "A gift in the hopes that you'll keep me as your partner. That you'll stop leaving me on the homestead. Bring me into the loop." He sits up in the bed, demanding and answers, demanding acceptance.

"Shit," Haine mutters, startled.



Mihai remembers being so young. The pressure it took maintaining such a large network of business minded thugs. To be fair, some of the boys aren't all that bad, but they have no faith in the world so they've hardened their hearts and begun pretending they are just-that-bad.

Badou. Mihai doesn't know what to say about him. Badou doesn't trust anything that can die and has such a disregard for the value of his own life. He doesn't trust himself because he's far too aware of his own mortality every time he looks at the back of his own hand.

Badou had come in furious that morning. Haine had disappeared overnight, he'd said, and Kiri had tried to comfort him and tell him that Haine always disappeared, but Badou would have none of it.

"This is his answer. He doesn't want my help, he doesn't want me around. He's not coming back."

Mihai knows that feeling. Mihai knows Badou's pain.

"Well," Mihai notes in that slow, sad, whimsical tone of his, "you can either let him go, or you can descend into the pit of hell and see if you can find him."

Badou grits his teeth, hesitating to choose. It's not the pain he's afraid of, it's the ghosts.



Giovanni comes back to Badou with a box of lokum under his arm, but it's the cigarettes that he holds up for Badou to see.

Badou lets him in like a grinning fool. "My hero."

The apartment reeks of smoke, more so than usual, and Haine's scent is fairly fresh, not even a week old.

"Candy and cigarettes and I'm let right in," Giovanni laughs, boasting. Something changes in the redhead's expression.

Badou smiles that snarling jackal smile of his and grabs Giovanni by the tie. He pushes the knot up until Giovanni can't breath and that wipes the laughter from his lips. Badou takes off the domed sunglasses and crushes them underfoot. Splinters of tinted lens slice into his flesh under the pressure.

They fight right there. Badou is unbelievably vicious and Giovanni lets him gain the upper hand; he grunts as he's hit across the face. The redhead growls as he digs his thumbs into the hollow of Giovanni's neck. He's furious, frustrated, and strung too tight and his guest has rubbed him just the right way; set him loose and hungry.

On his back now, Giovanni rolls, bucks with his hips and kicks with his legs. He sends the other man sprawling across the wooden floor. Free once more, he loosens his tie and licks the blood from the corner of his mouth. He'd bitten himself. Those narrow dragon eyes of his are laughing, laughing and inhuman.

"Yes, I heard you lost your pet. I heard the city swallowed him up again," Giovanni comments. He fetches the unopened pack of cigarettes he brought. He lights one for himself but keeps them from Badou.

He gives Badou the lokum, separates off a piece of the red, rose scented candy and pushes it into Badou's mouth. Badou lies there and breathes like a dog, letting the powdered sugar coating melt off onto his tongue. He doesn't seem satisfied with it, he wants the nicotine.

"I know where he's gone," Giovanni murmurs and in his own mind smiles slyly, wickedly. "I know where he's gone and I'll take you down to him."

Badou sits up slowly. He reaches back and pulls his hair to the back of his head in a high ponytail. He tugs off his eye patch. He looks at Giovanni that way, looks like a whole new beast full of determination and violence. He looks scarred and glutting for more punishment. He crawls closer, takes the cigarette from Giovanni and breathes deeply, tasting the dragon's saliva in the smoke.

It's pathetic, Giovanni thinks, that anyone should care for his cursed big brother so desperately. How sad is Badou if Haine is his white knight? How low is Haine if this cripple has been his partner in the battle for so long?

Smiling thinly, Giovanni grabs Badou's hair and presses their mouths together, his tongue is invasive and twining and winds deep down Badou's throat.


Nil stands above the town. She stands backlit by the sun, below her Granny's men shade their eyes, looking up at her in concern.

"Come on, Nil," they call. "Please come down, if you get hurt it's gonna be our necks."

Nil turns and smiles at them happily, her hair shines brightly and the ruffles of her dress stir in the slow afternoon breeze. She can breathe up here on the roof, above the exhaust and the cigarette smoke.

She feels content and peaceful as she lounges against the bricks in the sunlight. The world, she reflects, is an amazing place. She breathes in—she breathes in filth and sun and guilt, she breathes in pain and terror, she breathes in steel and concrete and acid—and her breath is cool and sharp as she exhales again.

"Nil?" the bishop asks her curiously. He's climbed up onto the roof to fetch her. She startles and goes to take his arm. She knows he can take care of himself, but she worries.

"Is anything the matter, Nil?" he asks.

She puts his hand to her cheek and smiles. No, nothing is wrong. She can feel the steel terror interlaced with his spine in the hardness of his hands, but she is not afraid of him. She is not afraid of Haine, or Badou, or Naoto.

She smiles and the bishop smiles back at her.

"It's nice up here, isn't it…" he considers.

She flexes her wings daintily as he runs his fingers along the silken edges of her feathers. Yes, it's lovely up here. She turns her face back towards the sun, watches the scurry of the people and waits for Haine to return.



There's a hole in the earth, Naoto realizes as she follows Haine into the darkness. He's very much like a ghost, a dream. He leads her in silence and winds his ways in and out of the slimy subterranean walkways. His colorless skin glows with a thin ethereal luster from pure contrast to their surroundings. It is a hole in the earth where the tar and oil that slips between the cracks of the upper world pools and copulates. The further away from the sun they fall, the more cruelty and evil they find.

"We're getting closer," Haine murmurs, nose to air.

He's right. Naoto can feel it in her fingertips, can feel it in the noise and the anger of her blade-steel.

A pair in pain, she and the ghost-dog slog through the scum of the earth to find the heart of their nightmares. Haine's Angelica and her Magato: following the ties that bind them.



Giovanni takes him down deeper than he's ever gone. Through the windings of the darkness, the dragon leads the hunting peregrine deep into the catacombs of the city's underbelly. Some of the walkways are made of dirt, others are screeching aluminum shafts meant for functionality and not for beauty.

Their partnership is strange, flirting and disconnected in a way Badou is too furious and focused to find disturbing, like he very well should. He's being coaxed and tempted and manipulated, but there are guns at his hips and violence in every one of his thoughts and he feels as invincible as a berserker.

They spend days descending down into the unending depths of the hole. Giovanni moves with grace and comfort, Badou rips his way through the shadows with talons and razors.

"Are we closing in on him?" Badou asks as they crouch in the darkness to rest. A few rat-eyed slave traders dart in and out of their peripheral vision, gauging them, pricing them.

Giovanni smiles in the dark, his reptilian smile shining and luminescent in the black. He takes out a cigarette and gives another to Badou. Giovanni flicks his lighter and brings his partner's to life by touching the unlit end to his burning cherry.

"We're moving faster than he is," little brother promises, raking back his blond hair, gone lank from days of grime and travel. "Tomorrow. We'll have overtaken him by tomorrow."



I'm coming, big brother, Giovanni relishes. Angelica is looking for him, she's put Luki and Noki on his trail, but he doesn't care. I've almost got you, big brother, he thinks with delight as he glances at that desperate idiot who has followed him so far into this dark labyrinth beneath the earth.

Badou is grim and silent, his hair has been wound tightly behind his head since they left the apartment and he has not returned his eye patch. He is done with frivolities, he is done hiding, and his done playing games of courtship with Haine.

Giovanni grins. Yes, I've got you now, Haine, he thinks and finally slows the pace. He feels the walls slowly, finds the groove he's engrained into his mind and pushes his way down the newly opened tunnel, which opens into an arena that was once used for things much fouler than what Haine relives in his terrors.

Badou can smell this room's atrocities in the air, it makes the hair on the back of his neck prickle. It is a warning he perhaps should have headed.

"We're going to rest here for a little while," Giovanni instructs nonchalantly, he hands out cigarettes like candy. They smoke in silence with Giovanni counting heartbeats and footsteps and when the footsteps get close enough he silently stubs out his cigarette on Badou's arm, grabs his hair and threateningly thrusts that serrated kris of his into place across the redhead's throat as nonchalantly as a kiss.

Badou twists, feels the points digging into his throat and growls. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Hush," the chameleon replies smoothly, giving the hair in his fist a quick jerk. "The trap is laid, I don't technically need you alive anymore."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" But Badou falls silent of his own accord as Haine and Naoto emerge from the tunnel, pausing just inside the arena in surprise.

Both react with violence, the fair Fuyumine draws her killing blade, and Haine bares his fangs. It is an expression very reminiscent of one of Badou's own, Giovanni reflects.

"Hello, big brother," he greets with his cruel laughing mirth. "So glad to see you."

Haine hesitates like a wary wolf, but finally his anger overcomes him. "If you harm a hair on his head, I will rip yours from your neck."

Giovanni smirks and wraps the length of Badou's ponytail tighter around his fist.

"You misunderstand, big brother," he answers. "Badou and I are good friends. Very intimate friends. While the dog's been away, Badou and I have been at play. I've licked every inch of him, just like he asked me too."

Fury flashes across the redhead's face, but not embarrassment. Naoto, however, blushes deeply, disturbed by the violence and sex in the room. Men, violence, sex. She does not trust them, she fears them. She feels her hands begin to sweat from where they are clenched around the hilt of her sword.

Haine also seems affected, hurt and uncertain, but just as furious as his captive partner.

"Shut up," he decides, slinking closer. "Shut up, I don't care what you do to him, I'm still going to kill you."

As he moves closer, Giovanni's hand presses closer to Badou's neck. His hostage hisses and Haine's movements stop out of fear.

"Ah, ah, ah," the dragon warns. "I know better than that, big brother. I know you would kill anyone to keep this idiot from harm. I know that's why you left him behind. You'll play my game, both of you, or I'll cut out his vocal chords."

"You bastard," Naoto whispers.

Giovanni smiles at her, wide and unhinged and uncaring, thirsty for blood like the Magato of her worst nightmares. It makes her tremble, it makes her feel like she's losing her mind.

"Now," Giovanni continues when they make no further moves. "I want you to throw down your weapons, both of you."

Neither does so immediately, but when the blade clatters from Naoto's numb hands, Haine also tosses his guns to the blood stained floor. He glances at the girl, and she looks back at him. They return their attention to Badou who is bleeding slowly from the pinking at his throat.

Giovanni congratulates them for their obedience with a smile and urges his captive to take a few steps forward with the knife still pressed kindly to his throat.

At the look in Badou's eye, Haine relaxes. Naoto senses his ease and the tension slowly ebbs from her. When the dragon goes to exchange the knife for one of the guns at Badou's hips, the three move in unison.

Naoto slices the rein of red hair with a knife from beneath her skirt. The cut is close to Badou's scalp and even closer to Giovanni's hand. Badou ducks down beneath Giovanni's arms and takes him out at the knees. Haine lunges, leaps over his partner and goes straight for his little brother's throat with clawing hands and snapping teeth.

"Kill it," Angelica had asked of him. "Kill it and I will love you."



The gore reeks, but Naoto stares at the ruins of the reptile's throat with morbid fascination. His mouth is still smiling, and he looks inhuman in those domed sunglasses with their bright orange frames still perched on his face.

Naoto hopes he's dead, considers dissecting him further to ensure he stays dead, but has no interest in further interaction with what she views as a corpse.

Haine is otherwise distracted, his hands running through the uneven cut of Badou's hair.

"You stupid asshole," he's cursing under his breath, mouth very close to the precarious wounds across his partner's throat. "I left you up there for your own safety, you stupid stupid asshole."

Badou looks down at him witheringly. "I told you what I thought when I gave you those photos. I'm not your damn woman. Shut up."

"Look at what stupid trouble you get yourself into…" Haine continues to complain quietly.

"Fuck you," the redhead rolls his eye.

Naoto scuffles back to her sword silently, feels shaken and yet satisfied. She looks to Haine who has been her partner these past few days, she looks at Badou who she has been afraid for.

"I guess this expedition is over," she murmurs. "The trail we were following was laid out for us by this bug. We'll have to start all over again."

Her voice seems to break Haine's trance. He looks at her and smiles tentatively, but there is a cold anger in his red eyes.

"But three heads are better than one," he promises


When Haine gets Badou back into the sunlight and to the apartment, he pushes him down on the couch and licks every inch of him. He says a few things, a few angry things.

Badou does not answer them with words. He moans and sighs and touches, his eyelashes fluttering when Haine licks the scars from his past.

They spend the day that way, ignoring when Bishop and Granny call, wondering what's happened to them.

Eventually, they stop so Badou can smoke a cigarette. He sits in the window, running his fingers through his ruined hair self-consciously.

"I like it," Haine says, coming to sit with him. They're both naked, neither cares. "I like you without the eyepatch too."

Badou scowls. "I only took it off because I was going underground. It's where the nightmares live, so I uncovered my nightmares and lived them."

"I like it," his partner repeats unconcerned.

The redhead pauses, looks at him suspiciously. Then he smiles, sharp and self-satisfied. He stubs out his cigarette, half smoked.

"Turn off the lights, Haine," he commands.

Haine barks an incredulous laugh and complies. When he returns, he takes Badou's jaw into his grip and smashes their mouths together, drawing smoke from Badou's lungs and blood from his lips.


Standard Disclaimers.