I groggily became aware that I was laying down in a bed as feeling slowly returned to my limbs. My body didn't really ache except for one spot down on my stomach; rather I just felt tired, and a little ill. I probably didn't have the cross on anymore... With that thought, a sudden awareness jolted through me.
Kawakami-san...is she still here...? I glanced around and saw that I was in my room, which was characterized by being rather empty save for a bed, a desk, and a few other miscellaneous things. It's not like I used it for sleeping, after all; this room was just for appearances. Then I suddenly became aware of something else that I should have noticed immediately.
Seira was still here. In my room. Asleep. On me. Seira was sitting next to the bed in a small chair, leaning forward onto me. Her arms were crossed, supporting her head as she dozed quietly.
Just the realization caused me to blush. It was embarrassing, to say the least, but I'll admit, there was a part of me shouting, 'Lucky!'
As I looked at her sleeping form, I couldn't help but reach out and brush a few strands of her hair aside affectionately. She was undeniably very cute, if nothing else, in this position. I felt her stir, and immediately pulled my hand feeling my cheeks burn. I quickly lay my head back down on the pillow and pretended to be just waking up as well.
I made on obvious groan and slowly opened my eyes after I felt Seira hurriedly sit up, and was amused and secretly happy to see her blushing. Along with this, the annoying ache I had been feeling faded as well. Of course; she had to still be wearing her cross.
"Oh...M-Murasame-san, you're awake..." Seira's voice was rather quiet, but there was no other ambient noise so I had no problem hearing it..
"Wha...what...? K-Kawakami-san...?" I added some forced grogginess into my voice. I then widened my eyes slightly in surprise. "You're still here?" I realized a bit too late that my question sounded a bit accusing, so I quickly added, "Sorry to trouble you..." I sat up in bed and was relieved to not feel light-headed at all.
"Oh, no..." she replied, shaking her head. "Are you all right now? No fever or anything?"
"Yeah, of course," I said, giving her a smile...which was promptly replaced with surprise when she leaned over and felt my forehead with the back of her hand. Naturally, this put our faces rather close together...
"K-Kawakami-san...!" I started, feeling a blush creeping onto my cheeks and an unease at the nearness of the cross on her chest of which I was acutely aware. At that rate, she was going to think I did have a fever. I stared into her eyes, unable to really do anything as I was caught between her and the wall behind the bed.
I felt my heart race as her gaze shifted from my forehead to my own eyes, where it remained as a similar blush began to grow on her face.
"S...Seira..." I said slowly. I don't know what prompted me to use her given name then; it just felt right. Unfortunately, what happened next was...not so much.
There was a creak as the door opened and Morgan stepped in asking, "Young Master, are you awake now? I heard–"
Neither Seira nor I had been expecting someone to walk in at that moment. She let out a rather high-pitched squeak of surprise and the hand she had been supporting herself with slipped, causing her to fall forward onto me. I felt my blush deepen but I had no chance to enjoy the position as she quickly recovered and pushed herself back into the chair.
I turned to the door to see Morgan standing beside the open doorway with a smile on his face that I found rather annoying at this moment. Before I could say anything, however, Seira quickly stood.
"I'm sorry...! Thank you for having me, goodbye...!" she said, bowing hurriedly to each of us, and rushing out of the room.
"Kawakami-san, wait!" I started, but she had already gone. I could only assume she had left out of embarrassment.
There was a short pause before Morgan asked, "Did I interrupt something?" The smile was still on his face, so it was pretty clear to me he knew exactly what had happened.
"Ugh, don't tease me about this, Morgan..." I said as I slid out of the bed and moved for the door.
"Young Master?" Morgan started to ask, but I didn't answer as I passed by him, simply wanting to stop Seira from leaving. Why? I didn't really know, exactly. I just felt like I shouldn't let her go like that.
I went into the entrance area but saw no one. Could she have left already? I put on a bit more speed and went quickly for the main door, pulling it open with my right hand. I jerked to a stop, however, as I noticed that Seira was standing down the steps at the side of the street. Then I saw the person next to her.
"Jinguji?" I exclaimed in shock. "What are you doing here?" Now, of all times? I added to myself.
My blonde classmate narrowed his eyes slightly as he watched me approach. "Oh, its you." He returned his gaze to Seira, and continued speaking. "I was just about to offer to walk Kawakami-san home, if it is all right with her."
What? Who the hell do you think you are? I managed to avoid saying this out loud, for Seira's sake more than anything else. "What a coincidence," I said, fighting to keep my voice even. More like what a coincidence he happened to be outside my house right now. "She was just at my house and I was thinking it would be rude to let her go home alone at this hour." I couldn't resist the temptation to rub the small advantage I had in Jinguji's face.
"Please, don't fight," Seira intervened, clearly a little flustered. "I don't mind if you both come..." As much as I'm sure Jinguji and I would have both preferred a different arrangement, I wasn't going to let him have even the chance to spend time alone with Seira.
"That's fine with me," I said, smiling at Seira.
"It's decided then," she replied, smiling back before turning and starting to walk along the sidewalk. I smirked at Jinguji behind her back before following along; apparently his opinion on the arrangement wasn't that important.
It was rather silent on the way to her house, very likely because of Jinguji's presence. I glanced around as we walked, hoping my vampiric aura wouldn't attract any of the dark creatures I had encountered along these streets before.
Naturally, my thinking that caused it to occur. Damn it.
A cold wind blew down the road, causing the three of us to stop momentarily. Sensing the presence of unholy power, I looked around, trying to spot the source.
"Wait," Jinguji said before anyone could continue walking. "Do you hear something?" A perfect excuse.
"Yeah," I agreed, though 'hear' was not the right world for it.
"I feel uneasy..." Seira muttered, and I wondered if even a normal human would be affected the brazen aura of a monster. Perhaps it was because she possessed the Platinum Aura that she had some sensitivity to it. Seira gasped for a moment, and Jinguji and I turned to look in her direction. "What is that?"
It was a purple, semi-transparent ball of ectoplasm about the size of a car hovering a few feet off the ground. On it's surface strange contorted faces moved about, opening their mouths soundlessly as it slowly moved towards us. I had nicknamed the apparition a 'Nightmare.' It did not seem particularly threatening beyond it's appearance, though I knew from experience that allowing yourself to come into contact with it was not fun at all. I'll avoid the details and simply say you'd be cursing yourself if you got hit with it.
Under normal circumstances, I would simply reveal my true vampire form and make short work of it. But these weren't normal circumstances. As it were, I figured the best course of action would be to get Seira and I to safety...and Jinguji too, I suppose. Perhaps we could escape down an alleyway; if I could somehow separate myself from Seira, I could transform and deal with the creature.
I took half a second to scan the area. Where was Jinguji? The useless coward...I guess he had already run away.
I took Seira's arm, and said quickly, "Let's get out of here!" Thankfully, she didn't resist as I pulled her along. I glanced behind us and saw the apparition following us into the alleyway.
"Please, go that way!" I said hurriedly, indicating another alley branching off to the left. "I'll go this way and hopefully I can get it to follow me!"
I heard Seira's breath catch in surprise. "But what about you?"
"I'll be fine," I insisted. "I can run faster than you, so I'll be able to lose it easily." I tried a generic excuse.
Seira turned and looked at me directly, and I was surprised to see the fire of determination in her eyes. "No, I can't," she said. I was about to say something else, but she stopped me, taking her cross out from under her jacket.
I instinctively took a step back. "What are you...?" I could only guess she planned to attack the creature with the holy item. I wondered exactly how much she knew about the strength the cross she held in her hands; the only person I had met who I had thought would know how to use it is a weapon would be...Reo.
"O most insidious fiend!" A voice called out from above, and Seira and I turned to see a figure standing atop the fire escape of a nearby building. Who else could it be? "Your existence is but a fleeting moment before a vampire hunter such as me...behold!" He brandished the Aura Sword in a stupidly extravagant display.
For all his talking, Reo wasn't really helping, as the creature was still approaching Seira and me. And yet...
I suddenly had an idea; Seira wasn't paying attention to me, and I could quickly slip away without any trouble and transform. Sure, I might have some trouble with Reo but I could handle him easily in a fight, if it went that far. I ducked back around the corner quickly and focused for a moment before allowing my true form to reveal itself. In a flash of energy, I had my sword in my hand and was rounding the corner.
Allowing my vampiric power to lend me speed, I brushed past Seira and went directly at the Nightmare. Delivering a pair of powerful slashes to it as I slid by, the creature shuddered for a moment before fading into nothing, it's energy dissipating along with it.
Before I could do anything else, Reo leapt down from his perch and landed several feet in front of me.
"How dare you, vampire!" Reo shouted, clenching his fist in anger. "Who do you think you are?"
What an idiotic comment to make after what I just did! I thought to myself. "Well you didn't seem to be doing much so I thought I'd help," I replied, going for a deadpan criticism.
Before any more could be said, Seira spoke up, her words choked. "M-Murasame-san...J-Jinguji-san?"
I started and turned slightly as I heard her speak. I didn't expect her to be able to tell that it was me; my appearance was rather different from my normal human form, after all.
Suddenly turning to face the vampire hunter before me, the two of us stared at each other.
"Jinguji!" "Murasame!" Nothing else was said while we quickly considered our options.
"I knew I felt something off about you!" Reo spoke first. It made sense; as a vampire hunter I suppose he would be able to have at least some ability to detect dark power. "What are you doing here?"
"Funny," I remarked. "You didn't seem so keen to talk the first time we met."
"It's my duty to protect Seijo!" Reo said, pointing at me. "You evil creatures are a threat to the people here!"
"I think your grandstanding is more of a threat to the people here than anything I've ever done, or intended to do!" I replied. He has the nerve to assume I'm just here to attack people or something!
"Wait, both of you!" Seira said from behind me. I had almost forgotten about her. "Why do you need to fight?"
"I'm a vampire hunter. It is my duty," Reo said, much more calmly then before. "My duty to the people of Seijo." I thought about how to reply to that, but Seira started to speak, having moved up the alleyway somewhat and closer to the two of us.
"But..." she started, closing her eyes. "I don't think that Murasame-san is a bad person..." Seira paused for a moment, and turned to look at me. "You can't be here just to hurt people..."
"Of course not!" I insisted. "I haven't done anything to hurt anyone. And I wouldn't, besides." Except for that incident with Balse...but that wasn't really an injury, anyway.
"Hmph. But you must have some sort of motive..." Reo said, his eyes narrowed slightly with suspicion. I suppose I did; coming for the Platinum Aura. I couldn't just admit that, however, not with Reo wanting any excuse to attack and Seira standing right beside me.
"I'm just here to study and learn about humans..." I said. That much was true. "Do you think that just because I'm a vampire, I must be evil?" Reo said nothing to that, possibly realizing that responding could make him look like the aggressor in this situation.
"Jinguji-san, Murasame-san. I don't think there is any reason for you to fight. Please..." Seira started, looking at the two of us. Naturally, I had no intention of fighting if I could avoid it. It was Reo I was concerned about.
"...Fine then," the vampire hunter said finally, stepping back slightly. "But don't think you are free to do as you like now." With that statement, Reo turned, swinging his black mantle around in a dramatic gesture before running off to the street and out of view.
I couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief at his departure. I turned.
"Seira..." I started to say, but stopped for a moment when I saw her staring at the ground. "I...I'm sorry." She didn't reply, and I couldn't help but be concerned. "Are you...?"
"I had a feeling," she suddenly said. My eyebrows went up at this.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"That...that you weren't human," she clarified.
"I...I see..." I said, at a loss for how to respond.
"But that doesn't matter," she continued, looking up at me.
"You're still you, even if you aren't a human. I think that over the time I've known you...I can see that you are kind and helpful, and that won't change now." I could tell Seira was speaking from the heart as she said that.
"Thank you, Kawakami-san," I said, smiling. Suddenly feeling a bit awkward being in my vampire form around Seira, I closed my eyes and chanted a quick spell. "S-So..." I started, brushing my hair aside to try to push aside the feeling. "Do you still want me to walk you home...?"
"O-Oh..." Seira said, obviously surprised. I suppose she had forgotten about it. "Yes, please..."
I'm glad that she was so accepting of my...well, lying to her. Or at least not telling the entire story. I thought to myself as the two of us made our way back out onto the street. I'll have to tell her about why I really came here eventually...but for now, I suppose, this is fine...
Not sure if I'll write any more on this plotline. We'll see, I suppose...