AN: I'm deeply sorry for the wait. I know it's been awhile, but life's been hectic. First, I'm simultaneously working on three chaptered stories (this and two others), just moved into the house at mid-month, and to be honest, I sat down and wrote about half the chapter and HATED it. So I rewrote it. .;
Disclaimer: Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro isn't mine. Such a pity.
The fear from the mortals within the hotel was delicious, potent, rather like the blood wines of hell. He fed upon that fear, lapped it up like a kitten with milk. His new servant was surprisingly adept at extracting his food. It had not taken him very long at all once entering the city to find someone evil enough to overtake easily. In fact, this new slave was already dark enough that it did not object to the powers that being possessed offered to him. In fact, it seemed the slave relished these new powers even more.
This was an odd mortal. It seemed to relish the pain of other mortals as much as he did, seemed to enjoy just as much, extracting that pain from them. Agon actually found the excitement that this mortal felt rather entertaining, especially now that he had full control over the human's body.
It amused him how when the detective and the demon walked past him, past even his servant, they hadn't even noticed his presence. It would appear that Neuro had grown cocky and over-confident in his time in the human realm. True, he'd managed to successfully extract the female detective from his control, but at what cost to the demon? Contracts were always risky. There was usually little gain to the demon, and with that constant drain on their powers from the mortal, the checks hardly measured up against the balances.
No, possession was a much better way to go. Then, the body, while still mortal, had powers significantly greater than any other mortal creature. He was certain that even Neuro would be hard pressed to defeat this new slave. After all, he'd had trouble with the fight with that fragile mortal female. He scoffed, glancing towards the laptop which was hooked into the cameras up in that room.
It had been easy enough hacking into the hotel's security cameras, disarming them. Now, he could watch those who stood in the hallway, as well as the detective and demon in the room. He'd felt a flicker of discontent when the female entered the room and didn't wretch, much like the men had. Her expression had tightened only briefly, before fading almost completely.
How had Neuro managed to soothe her so easily? Had the contract affected her mind, making her unable to feel fear to the fullest degree? Was Neuro utilizing a demon tool to block the fear from her mind? Were they trying to stop him from feeding on her delicious fear?
Yes...yes, that was most likely. Obviously, she trusted the demon well enough to permit the contract, or it would never have allowed Neuro to block him out completely. He closed his computer, pondering this.
For a human to trust a demon so deeply was unnatural. There should always be a healthy respect and fear on the part of the human. A demon should never view a human as their equal, simply because they were not. Even the lowliest demon was stronger than the strongest human. Yet these two...were going at odds with everything that was right. The mortal trusted the demon, and obviously, the demon viewed her as his equal, or he would have never formed a contract with her.
He inclined his head, sensing the presence of his slave on a nearby roof. These idiot people would have a impossible time locating his new slave. They would have no way of knowing that he currently had a rifle aimed at the young detective's fragile human brain.
Oh, how sweet it would taste, the pain of those closest to her, those who cared for her.
It was an unfortunate disappointment that her pain would be brief, if any at all, what with the likely instant imminent death she faced.
He stood, adjusting his hat, moving towards the elevators. It would be diluted with six floors between them. He wanted to get closer. He wanted to be able to watch the life drain from her face, to see up close the pain and anger on Neuro's when the contract was severed. He wanted to see the grief of the girl's detective friend, the fear on the faces of the police officers present.
He smiled in grim pleasure.
It would be delicious to hear them scream.
An odd shiver skirted up her spine and Yako looked out the hotel window in time to hear the glass shatter and something moved towards her. For some reason, she was able to focus on it and leaned her head to the side, hearing the object hit the wall with a dull thud. Again, there was a sound which reminded her of a firecracker going off and she was grabbed by the arm and hauled away from the window, moments before there was another dull thud against the wall.
She felt one of Neuro's arms around her stomach and she glanced up at him as he peered out the window. His eyes did something strange, she could only describe as acting like a camera, focusing on something and then he grabbed the cord attached to the blinds, pulling them shut. "Neuro?"
"Someone is firing projectiles at you. Interesting. Evidentially Agon has lost interest in a long, drawn out torture, and seems to be deciding to feed upon the pain and fear of those around you." He paused after a moment. "You sensed it didn't you. Before the first shot. I felt your unease, just moments before you looked out the window."
Yako leaned her head back against his chest, taking a deep breath. "Neuro, if he's planning on feeding on the emotions of those closest to me..."
"Very quick, Yako." His voice was filled with anticipation. "That means our culprit is inside the building. Now is not a good time to face him. Too many prospective victims. Personally, I prefer the idea of a bit of trickery on our own parts." He leaned around, turning her face to look at her face. "What say you? Will you play dead?"
She swallowed hard. This meant she would be intentionally emotionally harming several people she cared for. "Neuro, if I get shot, will I die?" She asked, feeling weak. There was no decision to make. This was something she had to do. Something she would do. To help catch this bastard she would do anything, even terrify and scare the hell out of those dearest to her.
He was quiet for a long moment. "I don't know." His voice was soft, almost contemplative. "If you feel it is worth the risk, I shall not object."
She glanced towards him. "You think I can catch it with my eyelid like you did?" She gave him a mischievous grin, trying to tell herself she wasn't absolutely petrified of getting shot. Trying to tell him that she wasn't afraid, that she was okay with this, even though every part of her was telling her that this was NOT a good idea.
"Unfasten your blouse."
She froze, stepping away from him and staring at him like he was nuts. "I beg your pardon?!"
Neuro gave her that patient look. That look he always gave her when she questioned his brain. He was planning something. She just didn't know what. After a long moment, she unbuttoned the blouse, blushing darkly. She didn't look at him, even as he pulled off a glove and sliced over a finger, pricking her skin lightly. That tingle she'd felt before began again. Then, his hand swiftly closed the buttons on her shirt and he jerked the cord on the curtains, leaving her alone, directly in front of the window.
She swallowed hard, stepping closer, seeing a black dot across the street. Trust Neuro. Trust him. He wont let me die, he'll try to keep me from being seriously hurt-
There was a popping sound again and pain tore through her. She crumpled to the floor and Neuro eased her drop, catching her with an arm. "Shit!" She gasped, stunned. "This hurts!"
He looked amused. "Being shot usually does..." He examined her shoulder briefly. "It should be non-fatal. Should I pretend to panic now?"
She giggled faintly at the idea of him panicking. "Sure, I'd love to see it. Make sure it's a good performance. Can't have that guy thinking that we're faking, can we?"
Neuro smiled wickedly. "To fool an enemy, one must first fool a friend." He put on his best assistant voice, calling out to those in the hallway. Sasazuka in particular. "Sasazuka-san! It's Yako! She's been shot! We need an ambulance, quickly!"
The door burst open and Sasazuka stared down at her in horror. "Yako-chan..." He breathed, his face twisted in upset. Then, he exploded from the room, shouting orders.
That pretend-panic left his face and he smiled maliciously down at her. "Now I get to look scary and intimidating?"
She grinned weakly. "It's what you do best. What should I do?"
He inclined his head. "He'll feel your emotions if they're faked. Simply sleep." He gripped a nerve in her shoulder.
She gasped, and darkness swarmed her and her consciousness left her quickly. The last thing she remembered was Neuro's arms around her and a strange, warm tingly sensation in her chest.
She passed it off as simply being a side-effect of his blood in her system.
Neuro had faked wounds and death before. He'd done it very well, or so he thought. Yet, he was in awe of the knowledge that Yako had allowed herself to become physically wounded in order to pretend she was dead or dying. Truly, the girl had evolved further than he'd thought. She'd even gone as far to shoot him a slightly wicked grin before consenting to play the victim. He stared down at her in curiosity. Her brow was furrowed in pain, even in her unconscious state. Her lips were twisted into a faint grimace.
What a strange creature he'd managed to locate, and so quickly. Almost as soon as he'd arrived in the Overworld, he'd found her steeping in the chaos of her father's murder. Instead of pulling away from the chaos, she'd developed an urge to actually participate in it, to be one of the first to stand in that, witness the pain of relatives, to learn about the motive of the criminal.
Unlike the humans, who were going into a state of panic regarding the injured investigator, he was quite adept at hiding his emotions. He buried them deeply, that anticipation and excitement, that knowledge that they were rapidly reaching the conclusion of this mystery. Agon would not sense them amongst his own jyaki as well as the panic of the mortals. Agon would be too busy feeding to notice.
He made something of a spectacle of the whole situation. He walked through the most crowded areas, causing alarm to raise as much through the building as was possible. He passed close enough by Agon that the demon could see the pale, bleeding body in his arms, taste her physical pain. It would be like luring an predator with tasty meat.
Once outside, he carried her to the waiting paramedics, releasing her into their care. "I'm going with her." He said calmly, even as he climbed into the bus. Yako was loaded in and Neuro leaned over her, bringing his lips close to her ear. "Well done."
The paramedics worked on her still, bleeding form. He knew that their efforts, while sufficient for a mortal, would not work on Yako. Her body was already healing, likely quickly, with the introduction of a drop more of his blood to her system. It is also likely all that prevented her from going into shock.
Such a short time under the contract, and already she was adapting. She'd embraced this new aspect of her life so completely, her mind was not having any problems with it. Her body as well, was already becoming faster, stronger. Soon, she'd be able to tap into his own strength, as he could already do with her own. For now, she needed blood to have access to his power, however...
Within a week, she'd be feeding on his strength as much as he fed on her energy. It would become a symbiotic relationship in the truest form, where they both needed the other to survive. If he should die before then, she would die as well, as he was still rapidly absorbing the negative jyaki from within her. However, as time went on, his dependence on her energy would grow as well, and at that point...
If she died at that point, he would suffer a great physical blow, be likely rendered incapacitated and have to return to Hell for quite awhile to replenish his energies.
As he'd pointed out to her, the contract was not without risk. He'd just neglected to mention the risks to himself. After all, it wasn't as though it were likely either of them would die from what was coming. He knew of Agon's abilities, and being able to tap into Yako's energy was quite useful in maintaining his own strength. He could cut off the drain before she was so weak that she'd be unable to defend herself against a possessed mortal.
"What the hell! The wound closed!"
"The bullet's still in there!"
Of course it is, you mortal fools, Neuro scoffed, looking down at his slave, who was pale and sweating. He pulled out a cell phone, dialing Godai's number. "Get three obento, a chirashi, and two tonkatsu donburi to Yako's office, or I'll tear off your face."
He listened with mild amusement as the ex-gangster swore loudly and repeatedly, then hung up the phone. He glanced down at Yako, his eyes burning from that inner fire. Folding the phone closed, he stuck it into his pocket.
He would have to reward Yako for her remarkably selfless behavior later.
The fear among the detectives had grown sharp, delicious, almost agonizing. He fed with gusto, lapping up the pain from the detective who was the female's friend. The territorial display as Neuro and the girl had entered spoke of something else, however. Closer than friends. Perhaps lovers? No, it was not quite that sensation. More like a family member.
Yes, this flavor was the same as the relations of the people he'd killed at the onsen.
Neuro's reaction had been the most delicious. Was it possible that living so long in the mortal realm among the humans had given the demon the ability to feel a more broad spectrum of emotions, or was it simply due to the contract?
Yes. That must be it. The contract had tainted the demon with humanity.
Agon smiled, still lapping up the emotions from the detectives. The girl wouldn't die from a simple shoulder wound, however, she would be weakened when the final battle began. His new pet would be able to destroy her quickly enough, leaving Neuro so wounded and in anguish from the contract being severed, that the demon would be an easy target.
This weakness for the human girl would be Neuro's downfall.
Yako winced as she woke, finding herself in her office, laying, once again, on the couch. Green eyes loomed above her. "What happened?" She mumbled. "I thought they were taking me to the hospital?"
"They did. I'm afraid I had to break you out. They were uselessly attempting to deduce how your wound closed not fifteen minutes after it was created."
She blinked. A wry smile turned up her lips. "Side effect, huh?" She rubbed where she was shot, wincing. "Ow, it still hurts..."
"It will until the bullet is removed. You don't possess the ability to push the bullet out on your own, so it must be extracted. You can be at nothing less than your full strength when Agon arrives." He must have seen the unease which passed through her. He watched her sit up, inclining his head. "You still fear him?"
She looked up at him in surprise, then dropped her gaze. "It's silly, isn't it. I just keep remembering those nightmares...Sorry you had to have such a weak partner."
The demon was silent for a long minute, before he finally sat, grabbed the torn shirt which was half-haphazardly wrapped around her and gave it a jerk.
Yako turned ten shades of red, looking at the demon, then down at her now very exposed chest. "Ne-Neuro, what are you-"
"The bullet has to come out, you whiny creature. Save the drama for a time when it's called for." He pulled a glove off, revealing one of his dangerous-looking hands. That hand rested against the place where the bullet had gone in. "This will hurt, Yako." He warned, before thrusting his finger into the hole, cutting the skin fresh where it had already scarred over.
She barely had enough time to register his words when the action occurred. She threw her head back, crying out in pain, gripping the demon's coat sleeves. She felt him dig around a bit and then he seemed to pause. She opened her eyes slowly as she felt his hand change inside of her, and as he withdrew, he pulled something with him. She trembled, half-sobbing, unable to relax her grip.
Neuro watched her try to calm herself and cupped the back of her head, pulling it against his chest. He didn't speak, simply holding her against his chest with one hand while pondering the bullet. It was a forty-five millimeter, something big enough to damage, but unless hit in a vital spot, it would be non-fatal. How peculiar. That meant the sniper believed his aim good enough to one-hit kill this girl. Too bad neither Agon, nor his new pet, had anticipated the speed at which the contract would embrace her.
It took a little while before her breaths calmed and she could unlock her death grip on Neuro's coat. She pulled back slowly, looking up at the demon. "Now what?" She asked weakly. She blinked, looking back down when he used one hand to close her shirt again. She blushed darkly, holding it closed with her hands, unable to look at him.
Neuro gestured vaguely towards the desk and Yako looked towards it, finding it laid out with a nice spread of food.
Yako jumped up, moving towards it without another word. She pulled the first bowl towards her, not noticing Neuro watching her with mild amusement. Neuro leaned back on the couch, watching her through eyes narrowed to slits. Her responses were actually rather intriguing now that he'd grown used to some of them. The mere mention of food caused her to grow hungry.
While that amused him, what was more interesting were her responses to him. They were oddly similar to her physical responses to Agon, however her scent wasn't tainted by the fear it was when she encountered the other demon. He had no knowledge of what these strange responses were indicative of. They were strange and foreign and he found they were...rather pleasant.
Yako finished the food in record time, and leaned back, patting her stomach and looking pleased with herself. A moment later, she inclined her head, then looked towards the door. "Someone's coming." She said, her voice quiet.
Neuro smiled broadly, already salivating. "Our prey is nearby. He will not come to us. He would not put himself at a disadvantage by staging an attack on my turf." He slanted Yako with a look, his eyes bright with amusement. "Shall we give him a little time to prepare before we go meet him?" He felt a uneasy sensation that was not his own and glanced towards her. "Are you afraid?"
Her eyes sharpened with understanding and after a moment, that uneasy sensation died a sudden death. Then, she shook her head. "No. I trust you."
He smiled, baring his teeth at her. "For now, I will teach you a useful trick that will distract you, and will come in handy for the upcoming battle." He walked towards her and set his hands a fraction of an inch away from her own, leaning towards her, almost nose to nose. He drank in her response, smiling wickedly. "Close your eyes, Yako."
She swallowed hard and her eyes fell shut.
He pondered her face for a moment, watching as her lips parted as her breath sighed out of her. "Picture in your mind the energy from the contract. I know you can already feel it, now picture it. Give it form." As he watched her, she began trembling. "Your strength has never been physical, Yako. Your strengths lay in your humanity, your ability to understand others. Use this energy to strengthen that part of you." Her heart was fluttering wildly and he didn't even need the connection to feel that. He watched her pulse race in her temple. It bounced furiously, caused a vicious smile to curve his lips.
"How will this help in a fight?" She uttered, obviously nervous and unsettled by his nearness.
He smirked in amusement. "Your body is already stronger and faster than it was before, however, your best hope is catching this puppet of his off guard long enough to bring him down. Humans underestimate you, Yako, because you are small and young. Let them underestimate you. Use this brain which has evolved since you've met me." He watched her nod and his smirk broadened. He lowered his voice before continuing. "You seem nervous, Yako. Is something wrong?"
"No," she managed, but her voice trembled a bit.
He brought his lips to her ear and chuckled. "Liar."
Her eyes snapped open and she jerked away from him, looking a bit like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. She reached up, scrubbing her ear, as if to remove the sensation of his lips against it. He merely continued staring at her as though he were a predator and she were his prey.
Swallowing hard once again, she sat back down in her small chair. "I...think I got the hang of it." She muttered softly.
He just smirked, walking back to the couches. "Keep practicing." He said calmly, feeling just a little smug.
"I don't see why we don't just go after them."
Agon sighed impatiently. It was once again dawning upon him why he had tortured his victims before having his next victim kill the one who had been bled nearly dry. He did not like being questioned by creatures of lower intelligence than he. "I have explained this."
"They're right there! We can see them through the blinds! Why don't you just let me off the girl and go munch on the other guys head?!" The man pushed a hand through his hair roughly.
"You are too impatient. Like any meal, food must be prepared correctly. That demon knows we are here. In time, he will come to us, and he will bring that child with him. You can take care of her how you see fit at that point."
The man smirked darkly. "Any way?"
"Draw out as much fear as you can. Prolong her suffering. I still haven't had a chance to dine on that one either-"
Another voice broke through. "Nor shall you."
Both Agon and his new puppet spun, staring stunned as Nougami Neuro stepped out of the shadows, Katsuragi Yako behind him. The demon had an amused smile on his face as he looked down his nose at them. "Neuro," Agon snarled, wondering how the other demon had managed to catch him off guard, or even more importantly, managed to move without him feeling it.
"I'm sure you're wondering if we're here, who is in the office..." Neuro put his phone to his ear. "Go ahead."
The window opened, revealing Sasauzka there, with Higuchi, who smiled and waved. From where Agon stood, he could see several other detectives as well as a pale-haired gangster towards the back, leaning on a wall, with an expression spelling murder.
"You would never have noticed I was not in that office. My jyaki has infused every cell of the building. Just by existing, that building shields my movements when one is trying to track me. This is how we were able to sneak up on you without your notice."
Agon snarled viciously, his eyes fixing on the girl and demon he had obviously grossly underestimated. It didn't matter. He would still win this fight. He would defeat Neuro and feed off of their emotions. While Neuro lay dying, he would torture and rape the girl, then let the human have her to finish destroying what was left in the shell. Unfortunately, he didn't feel even the faintest twinge of unease from the girl who stood behind Neuro. He gave a mental order to his servant and saw in his periphery the human obeying his orders.
Neuro's eyes flicked briefly in the man's direction, but disregarded him as a threat so obviously it actually wounded Agon's pride. "Shall we see, Agon? Which is stronger? Your possessed tool or the girl who shares a contract with me? Would you care to wager on it?"
The pale demon snarled, his red eyes flashing in anger. "I would wager my very soul-"
"It's not your soul I'm interested in." Neuro was salivating. "This mystery is on the tip of my tongue..." His eyes burned brilliant green, boring into his own. "When Yako obliterates your toy, I will consume your mystery."
"And when my tool has your pet down I will make you watch as she is tortured and raped before I give you the release of death!" Agon snarled, wanting to cause the demon to loose his amused smirk, the fear that he seemed to lack. He wanted to see fear in the girl's eyes.
Instead, Yako turned towards the possessed man and Neuro stepped back, eyes still lit with amusement. "Then let the battle begin..."
AN: Sorry about how late this update came around. It's been a hectic few months. Anyways, thanks to everyone for all the reviews and encouragement. We're finally in our new house, and things are 'sort of' settling down. Next month, my brother and sister in law are coming to 'visit', although my brother-in-law might be staying on a permanent basis. Shortly after they arrive, I should be starting work (I hope and pray), so work may or may not taper off yet again. Luckily, there's only one chapter remaining ^^; I might leave the ending a little open so there may someday be a sequel. Right now, I'm angsting over the events in the manga and such. Either way, we'll see how things go. With luck, the next chapter will be out within the next two weeks ^^;