I don't own Vampire Hunter D, except for the Bloodlust DVD and the novels 1-11. If I actually did have D, he would be doing my chores and looking awesome while he did them.
Title: Following His Footsteps
Rating: T, for teen.
Summary: Traveling with the dhampir who may (or may not) be his brother, Dualarc learns that, with D, actions are louder than words.
There was music in the night.
Not the music of the night, which was to say the orchestra of howls, roars, snarls and yelps that were emitted from the various mutants and beasts that infested the frontier. While hardly a lullaby, there was a strangely invigorating element to their racket. It stirred a part of the human mind that had watched for danger since mankind first emerged from the trees and caves, a part that stood vigilant to this day. Those noises were constant reminders that there was always something seeking the flesh, the blood, the life of something else. The noises reminded anyone who listened to them that precious life was capable of being torn away at any moment. Whether consciously or not, the people who traveled the frontier all incorporated those noises into their awareness. A change in them was a change in the environment, and that could be a dangerous thing.
Not that the young man on the mechanical horse's back appeared to fear the monsters of the forest or their sounds.
Or anything, for that matter.
The only color on him was the pale, pale white of his hands and face. A dark, wide-brimmed hat topped his long black hair and a black scarf was wound around his neck. A dark coat covered him from the shoulders down and a long sword, gently curved, was slung over his back.
But it was his face that would have drawn the most attention for it was sculpted with the kind of beauty that would drive the artist mad. There was no trace of femininity, of weakness, within his face, but it held a masculine beauty that would make even men blush. It was the kind of face a girl would see and then become lost to the world, choosing instead to dream forever of that one moment. Dark eyes, pale skin and a forehead of grace. Dazzling. Striking.
Yeah, that was him all right.
Vampire Hunter D. Inhuman was the word, for sure.
Fuck, who else could you hear the capitals in the title with? Vampire Hunter D - no lowercase letters, because he is just that amazing.
Mom was right.
I wonder if he remembers her.
Maybe I'll ask him.
…Or maybe not, since he just rode right past me without even a glance as to what some bum teenager is doing in the middle of the forest, in the middle of the night, playing his flute.
She was right about that too, I guess.
I stopped playing and shove the instrument back into my bag. Picking it up, I swung it onto my shoulders and started after him. The horse would have left me behind sooner or later if I was a normal kid, but I'm not exactly normal anymore. As it was, I kept a steady twenty feet behind him the entire time. He never once looked back, although there was no way he didn't know I was there.
So, I'm beneath your notice Mr. Hunter? Well, we'll see.
He didn't quit riding until four in the morning. I kid you not.
I was walking and keeping an eye open for any hungry monsters and wondering how I was going to talk to him and wondering what the hell I was going to do for food if there wasn't a town nearby that catered to my special needs, because I only had enough plasma capsules left for maybe a week and then I was in trouble.
As it was, I nearly got a face full of horse butt before I realized he had stopped.
I not-quite-skidded to a halt, maybe four feet away from D and his mount. He was unpacking something from his saddlebags and, again, not giving me the slightest bit of attention. As far as he was concerned, I could have been another tree.
Well, I tell you, I had had enough of being scenery to that guy. I'd spent three months looking for him; the least he could do was acknowledge me. Then again, he didn't exactly know that. And I didn't plan on telling him if I could help it.
Still, as I was saying, I needed to talk to him.
First thing's first, though. I was pretty sure this was the guy my mother had told me about, but there isn't just one dhampir in the world and after three months of searching I didn't want to settle for pretty sure.
"Excuse me?" I called.
He turned his head away from the saddlebag and looked at me for the first time. In that instant two very important things struck me like a pair of bricks to the head.
One – this was not a guy I ever, ever wanted to piss off. He was giving me the kind of bored, unimpressed look I saw on my cat right before she gutted a rat that had the gall to squeak at her. If even half the stories I had heard about D were true, not only could he gut me in the time it took me to blink, but also he would not get even a drop of blood on him when he did it and my lifeless corpse hit the ground.
Two – he looked like me.
Sometime in-between stopping his horse and me calling out to him, he had taken off his hat. It had hidden a great deal more than I thought. Like how his nose came to a rather sharp point, same as mine. Like how his hair had a bit of a wave to it, same as mine. Like how I could look in a mirror and see his face, D's own face, staring back at me. There were differences – my eye color, my ears, my overall expression (which did not read 'uncaring frigid bastard') – but they were small things.
I looked like D.
D looked like me.
And while the first realization sent chills down my neck, down my spine, to make my knees tremble a little, the second realization made an alarming number of things that my mother had told me, that I had heard her say to others, that I had dug out of her diaries after her funeral and that I had pieced together myself click into place like a puzzle.
No wonder she had sent me to him.
I blinked and snapped out of my funk. D was looking at me, waiting for me to finish speaking. How long had I been staring at him? This was not starting out well. I didn't want him to think I was a stalker.
"I was wondering if your name is D?" I asked.
It was pointless. I was sure of his identity now.
I kind of sure on a few more things.
"Yes," D said, and then went right back to fiddling with his gear.
Oh well. I'd found him, at last. As it was, I'd been walking more or less without stop for three days and I was tired. D, finally finishing with his search and pulling loose a bottle of something, didn't seem to mind my presence. He was no longer looking at me, at any rate, and that made it easier to breathe.
I could talk to him more in the morning. Maybe. If he wasn't so creepy and cold under the sunlight. I doubted it though.
I picked a tree that looked comfortable, curled up under it with my bag as a pillow and went to sleep.
I woke up and D was gone.
There were no swear words strong enough for the situation, though I assure you I did my best.
I spent a good minute running frantically around the little area of trees that he had stopped in the night before. It took me a while, but I finally found his horse's tracks and started running after them. Don't ask me how he did it, because the sun's progress said I had only been asleep for six hours, but by the time I finally caught up with D he was out of the forest (which was thirty minutes of me going at a dead run) and a good hour up the little road (again, me running my legs off). All this, and his horse's tracks never once deviated from their pattern of a steady walk.
What. The. Frick?
Unless he just waited until I was asleep and then immediately started off again, how could he have done that? Though, now that I think about it that does sound like something he would do.
But enough about him. Let's talk about me.
I came upon D after what I have already told you was an hour and a half of sprinting (and I'm not slow, either. Being part vampire has some perks, I guess). The dick was just riding along, like he hadn't just ditched me. Okay, technically we weren't together to begin with and so it wasn't really ditching per se, but still – I had followed him and asked his name, and it was implied, damn it, that I wanted to be around him. And he had left without so much as a 'see ya!'
"You!" I shouted as I ran up to him from behind. He had the decency to stop his horse when I did. I came to a rough stop at his right side, glaring up at him. My heart-stopping encounter last night was forgotten. Screw the fact that I was in a prime position to be decapitated; this jerk irritated the hell out of me!
"What the hell was that about?!" I yelled.
"What?" D asked.
"You just left me there! I've been running after you for almost two hours!"
He nudged his horse back into a walk.
And I, debating the pros and cons of tackling and attempting to throttle someone who was older, stronger and deadlier than myself, followed after him fit to scream.
This was to become a reoccurring theme in my future.
Five whole days of me following him and he still had not asked why. I mean, I knew mom had always called him cold, but god damn. I might as well have been one of the insects buzzing around his mechanical horse.
After the first night I never got left behind again. This was not due to D being helpful and waking me up before he left, oh no. This was due to me not sleeping any more than two hours at a time without waking up and checking to make sure that he was still around.
D got to sleep for as long as he wanted, but me? I was in misery. I knew for a biological fact that I could go two weeks without a decent night of sleep before I started to hallucinate. It did not, however, take that long for me to become tired and grouchy and red-eyed every waking moment. I started to half-doze as I walked after D and, more than once, I snapped out of it only to find him a hundred yards ahead of me.
My body was starting to feel woozy, my eyelids were heavy and I was willing to sell my soul for a cup of coffee.
It occurred to me more than once that it would probably just be easier to tell D why I was following him, but each time that thought came up I crushed it down ruthlessly. Mother had told me about him, told me the best way to handle him so far as she knew, and from what I had seen over the past five days she was righter than she knew. Even if I somehow did manage to reach whatever crabbed, withered excuse for a heart D might have, he still wouldn't go easy on me. If anything, he'd probably make it harder. I would tell him, but not until I made it very clear that I was going to follow him even if he refused my request.
That was my opinion on the fifth day of following after D, staring up at his dark back as he rode that horse ahead of me.
I was feeling like death warmed over, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I had to.
On the eighth night, I was attacked.
It was my own stupid fault. Monsters seemed to be terrified of D. I couldn't really blame them. He'd never threatened me or even glared at me, but I was still scared of him. But unlike the monsters, I knew the only reason he would attack me was if I gave him a reason to, so I always made sure to sleep for however few hours I could as close to him as I could. The monsters never bothered me because they were all scared spitless of the great Vampire Hunter, even when he slept.
But on the eighth night, I forgot that.
I was drop dead exhausted. Ordinarily, steep inclines don't give me any problems. Ever since I stopped taking the serum, I've got the strength and endurance to run up and down mountain trails with the best of the goats, but not without proper sleep before then. And I was running low on plasma capsules. I'd been stretching them out, trying to make them last as long as I could. D probably had some, but no way was I asking him to share. In short, I was hungry and tired. Those do not make a good combination for common sense.
When D stopped for the eighth night, I was lagging behind again. He was about twenty yards ahead of me. We had left the mountains behind us and were camping out on the plains below them. When D got off his horse, I just could not take another step. I collapsed to my knees, dragged my bag out to where I thought my head would land and then was asleep before I even hit it.
I don't know how long I slept. It couldn't have been for very long, because it was still dark when I woke up. As to what woke me up, it was not another D check-up. Those had been getting farther and farther apart as my body began ignoring me to get some more rest. What got me moving that night was the three hundred or so pounds of bone lion that jumped me.
You ever seen a bone lion? Probably not. Not unless you've got either a laser cannon or a lot of scars. They're nasty things, Noble pets that started going rogue when the fall of the Nobility occurred a few thousand years back. Big, skinless, and totally vicious. I don't have a very good idea of their biology (not like I ever dissected one, you know?) but just understand that they somehow reversed the order of their framework from muscle on bone to bone on muscle. In other words, they have very thick, very hard-to-break bones plating every inch of their bodies to protect their insides. If you have one of the aforementioned laser cannons, then you've got no problem. If not, then you will have a lot of scars. That's if you get to walk away afterwards, mind you.
So, yeah, not a great wake up call.
Thankfully, it was just one. They don't get along with each other (or anything), so packs of them are rare. As it was, I still had the joy of coming to consciousness with the sudden impact of a creature landing on my middle back. They do that to break their prey's spine and if I had been a human, that would have been it.
But I ain't human.
So instead I got the wind knocked out of me, felt something that was probably important go crack, and then spent half a second of my suddenly quite precious life thinking, pain what happened danger where on my back very heavy oh shit kill it. Then I bucked, slamming my hands into the ground hard enough to jolt the monster off of me before it could wrap its nasty teeth around my head and bite down. That would have killed me.
I rolled to my feet, adrenaline knocking away my weariness and bringing the nightlife to sharp focus. Three feet away – close enough for me to spit on – the bone lion was getting back to its feet. Tired and hungry, I was in no mood to deal with this crap. I moved and crashed into it, knocking it down to the earth again, but this time I was on top. Remember that bone plating I mentioned? Well, it's to prevent the lion from being overly harmed by just such a maneuver. I had gotten it on its back, but it was still totally capable and willing to take off my head. The damn thing was making this combination of a roar and a growl, and it was making my body rattle almost hard enough to dislodge me. The damn things are loud.
But I had it and I was going to end it. The bone armor doesn't cover certain areas and the bottom of the throat is one of them. I guess the engineers behind this creature's design had thought it was better for the lion to have a wider range of motion for its head than total protection. Directly in my line of sight was the thin barrier of skin and muscle that guarded the bone lion's larynx and esophagus. I made a fist and punched, throwing all of my shoulder into it. The sound it made was a wet, organic cross between crunch and sploosh.
That did it.
Almost immediately, the bone lion ceased its movements. The ripping paws fell from the air and the teeth stopped snapping. It twitched a few times and then stilled beneath my body.
Heaving for breath, I crawled off the corpse and went to collect my bag. The adrenaline was leaving me and I was starting to feel even worse than before. Death warmed over had become death warmed over and then dropped on the floor for the dog to lick up. Ick.
I dragged my pack over to D's camp, fell down well within range of his sword, and drifted off to sleep.
He never once acknowledged me, though I knew that he knew that I was there.
I woke up with the dawn, something I hadn't done in the shadow of the forest or of the mountains. The sunlight hit my face like fire and I hissed, curling into a ball to protect myself. In the struggle the night before, my jacket's hood and my sunglasses had both fallen off. Now I was getting the appropriate reward for my stupidity. Nothing like good old sunburn in the morning.
And shortly on the trail of that thought was, oh damn. D!
I reared up, one hand dragging my hood over my head to cut off some of the sun's glare and the other groping for my bag. If I ran, I could catch up to him in half an hour, maybe, if he hadn't gotten much of a…
"Is something wrong?"
I froze, still awkwardly half-crouching and turned my head to see D, pristine as ever, seated on the ground with a steaming kettle near a banked fire and a mug of something that smelled wonderfully like plasma tea in his hand.
Oh god, food!
My stomach growled.
But wait. Why was D still around? Usually he was moving right when the sun began to rise and that looked to have been twenty minutes ago.
I'm so eloquent.
Don't give me that look. I don't function well on sleep shortage.
After a few seconds of staring at him my brain finally came back to life.
"Nothing's… wrong. I'm just wonderin' why you're still around. Usually, you'd be a mile off by this time."
Or two, if it was a bad day.
"I thought you would appreciate a rest. There is more tea, if you wish," D said, like he wasn't suddenly acting nice-ish after more than a week of being an ice queen.
No, wait, this was good. This was very good. If he was the one to initiate conversation, he had to be curious. This was good. I thought. I hoped.
At that point, my stomach gave another rumble and all thoughts higher than food hungry eat left for the moment. He had a whole kettle full of plasma tea hot from the fire and I had not had more than a half a cup each day for the past five days. My stomach was beginning to eat itself.
I took the cup he offered me and quickly poured a cup of hot, steaming, delicious, nutritious, filling, wonderful plasma tea, oh god, how I have missed you, baby. Yum.
Screw D. Right now, it's all about the meal.
I got through three cups of that stuff, more than I'd ever had. The first one got tossed down like a shot, but I took my time with the other two. It wasn't out of any appreciation for the sensation of sustenance going into me (though I had plenty of it), but rather, I was pretty sure that I would throw up if I took down another cupful of tea like I had the first time.
After I'd finished glutting myself, I set the cup on the grass and looked at D look at me. That creepy, otherworldly look to him was still there, but it had… dimmed a little. I'm not sure if was the sunlight or just something he could do on command (which wouldn't surprise me), but he didn't seem quite so scary anymore.
"Why are you following me?" D finally asked.
And it had only taken him eight damn days to do it.
"I've been looking for you for a while," I said. I'd had a long time to figure out what I wanted to say to him. As I'd followed him for the past week or so, a lot of cursing had been added to the speech ("Who the fuck do you think you are?" "Am I that insignificant to you?" "Would it kill you to say something?" "How big is that stick up your ass?" etc.). I decided not to include any of it.
"When I finally caught up with you in that forest, I started following you because I wanted to see how you would react before I talked to you. That's because I'm going to follow you still, even if you say no," I announced.
D didn't so much as blink.
The cup on the grass next to me was suddenly very interesting and I picked it up, turning it over in my gloved hands and watching the sunlight's reflection on the dull metal.
"I'm from a town called Birch, about four hundred miles southwest of here. I doubt you've ever heard of it. It's a nice place, though. Real quiet. Good place to live, if you don't like trouble. I left it about three months ago, a week after I buried my mom."
I took a quick glance at D's eyes, what little I could see of them beneath his hat's shadow. They were as blank as ever.
"She was the one who told me about you."
"About how you crossed that big desert with her and some others. About how you saved her, and them, more times than she could remember. About how you helped her when she found out about me. She told me that the woman who was taking her home, Granny Viper, wanted you as an escort because you were a vampire Hunter. A really good one. Maybe even the best."
I tossed the cup into the air and caught it before it hit the ground.
"And she said that you were a dhampir, like me."
He wasn't moving. Did he remember my mother? Or was she just another in a long line of girls he had saved? Would it matter either way?
"That's why I've been after you. There are lots of vampire Hunters, but not all of them are dhampirs, and none of the dhampirs are better at hunting vampires than you. So, I think you'd be the best to learn from. That's why I'm here."
I set the cup down, looked D full in the face across the three feet of space between us, prayed to whatever god that may have been listening, and laid my proposition down.
"I want you to teach me how to hunt and kill vampires."
For twelve beats of my heart, there was no sound except the wind pushing against the short, green grass, and the light hiss and pop of the campfire.
And so begins the story.
And so begins the story.
Of course Dualarc won't be stopped by something as silly as D saying no. Silly Hunter.
For those of you wondering, Dualarc technically isn't an OC. He's Tae's baby from the sixth VHD novel, Pilgrimage of the Sacred and the Profane. It was my favorite novel, simply because I absolutely loved the idea of a mini-D running around somewhere in the world. Of course, then Dualarc was born.