Woohoo~ chapter 13! It's here already! And it's even longer than the last chap, I really hope I can write shorter ones next time :D

Please enjoy~

LoveLess
Chapter 13: Fire, on Fire

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The trek was drenched in silence that contrasted with the previous lively atmosphere the whole group exuded just steps before entering the choking thickness of the forest. It seemed that the forest's unsettling state of eerie quietness had infested upon the group of whose defense instincts automatically tried to mimic it in order to stay inconspicuous to whatever living creatures that might be lurking around them.

Rin flicked his eyes warily to his left and right, he knew that this forest which was strangely barren of the usual voices of nocturnal creatures was caused by something ill in nature, hiding somewhere. But the only thing he could do was to keep alert, and just be ready to jump in battle. The tall brunette also had a similar kind of growing apprehension which tickled his exorcist instinct, his knuckles clutched the handle of his little lantern tighter than what should be necessary.

Several minutes of skirting the depth of the forest had been spent on scanning meticulously for anything that was out of place, still, nothing other than the silence appeared before them as a sign of peculiarity. The worn-out trail wound up and stretched like an endless path that led them deeper into the heart of the forest, the circle of light advanced gradually on them litting it up as a necessary assistance for the humans' relatively poor night-vision.

Yukio frowned, he knew that when combat became an immediate obligation, the lantern would certainly hinder their movements, yet if they were stripped off it, their blind-spots would be immense and slow down their reaction time. At times like this, he couldn't help but curse the principle and his questionable demands that inconveniently handicapped his own exorcists.

Rin chuckled suddenly, causing Yukio to leer questioningly at the shorter male besides him, "This feels damn similar like the scene in a horror film before something bad happens doesn't it?"

Yukio reverted his gaze to the pillars of trees on which undulated shadows were dancing, "I just hope everything will still be manageable by our hands"

"So you do think something would happen eh?"

"It's hard not to.."

"Well don't worry", Rin wound his arm around his twin and flashed him a version of his smug grin, "In times of danger, your onii-chan will protect you with his mighty power so you should just rely on him a bit more. It's sad to see someone as young as you every time has this wrinkle on his forehead, it'll become permanent if you keep at it", Rin tapped a finger at his own forehead.

For a split second Yukio subconsciously relaxed his upper facial muscle but then, seemingly realized his compliance, hardened it once more, " I am not so much younger than you. Besides, I think most will find it fitting to associate the word reliability with the younger Okumura", the teacher allowed a rare teasing smile to adorn his lips, causing his fairly volatile-tempered sibling to bristle at record time.

"Hey! That's so not true! I'm ten times more awesome than you, period!"

"I fail to comprehend how awesomeness will be of assistance to fend off adversaries"

"You should relearn the meaning of comprehension then!"

"That particular piece of advice is rather unconvincing coming from someone who still hasn't even gotten the basic grasp on simple integrals"

"Urgh you!"

"Quiet!", a harsh throaty voice barked reprimandingly coming from a Touda-san. The middle-aged man was still trudging forward but managed to angle a sharp glare at both brothers, "Refrain from indulging in asinine activities and thus advertising our position to undesirable creatures. You should have understood it better than anyone Okumura-sensei"

A small giggle came from one of the second-row pair, a bespectacled petite girl with short ginger-hair. Rin glared at her and the girl gasped and turned forward once more.

Yukio had a vague blush riding in his cheekbones and fixed his glasses out of reflex, "Hai, Touda-san"

Rin stubbornly whispered at the brunette, although much quieter this time, "What the hell? How dare that snotty jii-san tell you off by shaming you in front of the lower ranking others like that! It's not like he's superior than you!"

A part of Yukio was touched at how furious Rin seemed about it, but he couldn't exactly wallow in the justification his brother dug for him, as it wasn't exactly true.

"Even if we are of the same rank, he is still more superior than me in age"

"That doesn't mean he could trample on your pride like that!"

"What he said was no less than the truth"

"... why are you defending the bastard?"

Yukio sighed and rid the assertiveness in his tone for his next sentence, "I am not nii-san, I just think it is best to not store up bad thoughts about Touda-san, he is quite an influential figure feared for his excellent exterminating skills among the exorcists"

"Even more so than you?"

"... yes"

"Ahha!", Rin pointed a victorious finger towards his twin's face, "you hesitated there!"

"Can we just let go of this topic?"

"You know, you know the answer already"

"... (sigh)"

Not long after that, the track had rapidly widened and the line of trees diminished quite considerably leading to a giant clearing in which a massive wooden structure stood a proud three-stories high. As expected, the design was quite classical with minimal amount of windows available and some parts of the paint were peeled or blemished by dark stains.

Rin whistled as his eyes traveled up the huge building in growing excitement, "Sweet~ think some kinda evil spirits are home?"

"It's only the research building", Yukio intercepted Rin's imagination to prevent it from going wild over nothing, "it's regularly used by teachers and students for over-night researches so there's no way it can be haunted"

Rin's face fell and he whined disappointedly, "Ooow... Now you've ruined my carefully-crafted master plan"

"What sort of plan are you blabbering now?"

"The plan where I hook up with some sexy maid ghost who yearns for a living sexy man~"

"..."

The group had gone up to the front porch of which floor wood-boards screeched in protest of the extra overbearing weight it now bore. Touda pressed a small rectangular button and the sound of bell rang resoundingly clear from the inside.

Rin frowned, "I thought the woods is currently off-limit?"

"There's one person who insists on staying despite the direct order from the principal. He's an expert horticulturist, Ikiyama Yuda", a male teen in front of him suddenly answered.

Rin cocked an eyebrow at the intervention but replied nonetheless, "Really? That's kinda not smart, going against the principal"

"Apparently he's a senior teacher and famous for his obstinacy. So I guess the school just let him go on a strict condition to not venture out into the woods after the sun goes down"

"Hope he really abides to that.."

Rin seized the opportunity to take a good look at his conversing partner. He stood approximately at the same height as him and appeared to have wild mane-like hair that had been subdued properly. He looked like your average run-of-the-mill guy except for his shrewd hazel eyes and amiable smile.

The teen offered a polite hand, "The name's Uno Atsushi by the way"

"Okumura Rin"

Atsushi nodded in contemplation, "Hm hm Rin-kun ka? Well, it's very nice meeting ya, the famous half-demon with blue flame. I heard you can set your whole body in fire without being burned in any way?"

Rin chuckled, "Well yeah. Sounds kinda freaky?"

The teen gave him double thumbs-up and a wide grin that nearly splitted his face in half, "Hell yes! That's some freaking cool, erm I mean, hot ability you have there mate!"

Rin felt that he liked this teen already, he was one among the sparse bunch that didn't automatically categorize him as a contemptful demon. Moreover, his entire manner of speech made him felt at ease of not being judged unlike other exorcists.

Then came the scene where Touda-san forcefully knocked the wooden door impatiently, "Ikiyama-san! Open the door!" But there was no sound of pitter-patter of feet coming running for the door or any other that could indicate the presence of someone inside the building.

Yukio finally went forward to Touda and they engaged in a hushed conversation.

Atsushi leaned in to whisper near Rin's ear, "Oh my, it seems the situation has taken a rather worrying course"

Rin whispered back, "I just hope the old jiji's smart enough to remain in one piece"

Touda finally faced the mini crowd, "Listen! It seems like Ikiyama-san is either not in the premise or incapable of opening the door. Either way, we have to thoroughly check the building"

Yukio pulled out a set of different-sized keys inside his breast pocket and skimmed through them for a proper one. He then wordlessly inserted the selected one to the lock and a click was heard. The young teacher opened the door and the whole group went inside.

.-.

"Rin-kun, I'm going to the second floor alright?", Atsushi called out at the foot of the staircase.

Rin's hand was on one of the many rooms' door-knob and he paused briefly to answer, " 'K, good luck. Be sure to tell me if ya find something!"

Atsushi flashed a cheeky grin, "Ya too!". The ever-cheerful boy left to his second destination after giving a polite nod to the young bespectacled teacher at Rin's side.

The floor returned to its silence after Atsushi left, both brothers wordlessly slipped inside the room and began inspecting through every article which could possibly hide a human-sized body.

Yukio opened the closet, "Seems like you've made friend with Uno-san rather well eh niisan?"

Rin made an affirmative sound as he knelt down to inspect the bed's underside, "He's an okay guy, and looks pretty honest too. I still don't trust him though, the idea of an exorcist accepting me that easily leaves quite an itch after all"

Yukio frowned. Despite his detestation of Rin's way of demeaning his own self-worth regarding his demonic part, he couldn't exactly deny the truth that was rolling along the exorcist' echelons.

"Okumura-san!", Noel's voice which echoed suddenly from a surely higher floor caught the attention of the young teacher, "Touda-san asks you to come up to the third floor!"

Yukio seemed a little troubled, "Touda-san?", his green eyes subconsciously flicked towards his brother.

Rin gave a gentle shoo-like motion, a reassuring smile lit up his face as if to douse the conflict that seemed to brew in his twin's mind, "Go up ahead, I still want to check around this floor a lil more"

"But you'll be alone.."

"Don't worry, I can handle a bit of lonely time just fine. It's like you say right? No ghost or any other supernatural creature is here", Rin flashed a confident smile.

Although visibly hesitant, Yukio gave a little nod and a whisper of 'be careful' to his brother. Then with no time, it was Rin alone that remained in the vacant floor.

The research premise was indubitably humongous and excessively so considering it served only one purpose from a branch of a major. Hallways and numerous rooms littered all over the space that it seemed as if the architect purposefully intended to confuse the occupants, and making a half-demon frustrated beyond belief. He had stalked around and discovered more and more yet uninspected ground, thankfully with his more than decent navigation skill, he managed to do just fine, like he claimed, and avoided getting pitifully lost in an indoor compound.

After much wandering, he led himself to a narrow alleyway which end appeared to be a mere dead-end. Instead, he found a mini-sized inconspicuous door shrouded dimly with lacking illumination.

'Hm, looks too fishy to be a simple store-room' He decided to approach the door and pushed down the rusty handle.

Surprisingly, it wasn't barricaded with some prohibiting lock and swung open welcomingly for him. Contrary to what he expected to be a storeroom, it turned out to be a basement passage with cemented stairs stretched down to the maw of darkness below.

'Wow, this really starts to get creepy' Instead of defecting fear, the particular emotion that wound its way in him was anticipating excitement. Without hesitation, he proceeded down. The journey only took a while for him to arrive to what he assumed to be basement. The light donated from the first floor had succumbed completely in the encompassing darkness which certainly would inhibit the eyes belonging to humans.

Since Rin wasn't exactly one, his eyes eluded the possibility of visual incapacitation rather well and adapted remarkably with minimal light to enable him to view his surroundings.

It was a storeroom without a doubt, with rows of metal-barred shelves arranged in an orderly manner filled with transparent jars. The teen ran his hand through the jars, his eyes gliding over the labels plastered on each round lid. The content appeared to be a myriad of sprouts suspended in crystalline heavy-water, truly the house of obsessed plant-worshippers. In the innermost end, streams of bluish luminescent light filtered through broken-glass of narrow windows.

Ah, that's what assisted him to see.

A flurry of movements generating the subtlest sounds, a shift in the damp air, a warning tone playing whenever his most vulnerable appendage was exposed to an intended attack had Rin spun fluidly with an instinctive evasion of an intruding hand which graced his personal space rather irritatingly.

"Hey watch it!", Rin barked at the figure, his body was bent in a half-crouch defensive posture, "How can ya fucking attack a teammate like that!"

The young woman had the nerve to smile in her version of innocence which contrasted profoundly with her appearance which must have breached numerous etiquette norms of an exorcist-in-duty. Her designated exorcist uniform had several of the upper buttons undone to reveal a teasing amount of cleavage, and the lower part was completely replaced with matching hot pants and dark stockings. She had an enviable lovely face but preferred to apply dark make-up on it and went for a sexy-look instead. Other than the most conspicuous feature, she wore a glittering nose piercing, had messy-styled clipped-up hair, and heel boots that didn't look very supportive in maintaining her balance during combat.

Rin frowned after his eyes finished down to her toe. 'Let's see.. She must be the other woman besides that ginger-head, is she here to act all high and mighty to me or sumthin?'

"Oh pardon me, I didn't mean to alarm you like so, I was merely enthralled with the sight of your intriguing behind", the lady apologized without sincerity in a smooth sexy undertone.

'Ck, what is it with people and my tail? Why can't they just leave it alone!' "Thank you, but I allow absolutely no one to touch it", Rin said in a hardened tone. He stepped forward, intending to slip past the female and get the hell away from her when an obtrusive sheathed sword stretched across his path, blocking him.

Rin leered down at the woman's cat-like green eyes which shone mischievously.

"What do you want?", Rin snapped rudely.

"Nothing, just a chance to converse with the famed half-demon prince of Gehenna, can't I just have that little chance?"

"Sorry, you're rather unqualified for a space in my schedule"

"Please reconsider", the woman approached closer to the half-demon in a suggestive manner. She touched his forearm in a slow feathery motion, "Ah forgive my rudeness, I am Uno Yariko. It is a pleasure indeed meeting a unique individual such as you", her palm stroked upwards and cupped his cheek, her eyes gazed scrutinizingly at the half-demon's facial feature, "Looking closer, you are also a fine specimen of man, absolutely my type", she purred salaciously as her eyelids drooped low casting her gaze playful in a quite indecent purpose.

Rin's gaze was nothing the sort of an enraptured man, instead, it radiated pure dislike, "You're starting to irritate me, just tell me what you want and get it over with"

Yariko adopted an expression of mock hurt as she sagged more of her independent posture to lean on Rin, "You wound me. My true intent is not far off from what I've said. I am curious about you, the only known half-demon conceived from the seed of the King of Gehenna, moreover with such background managed to climb your way up to be a licensed exorcist, you're also the little brother of the versatile and capable Okumura Yukio. All of those.. deliciously wrapped in a very alluring package of high-grade virility. My fascination of you, Rin-kun, has derived to an unimaginable..", she stroked his chest, and marveled at the hardness of adequate muscle adorning it, "..truly unimaginable level"

Rin made a move to edge away but since the shelf was on his back, Yariko had no problem in further trapping the young Okumura with her hour-glass figure, "Yukio's my little brother, not the other way around. And look here missy, we're in a mission so stop this fucking act and your annoying sweet-talks. Move outta my way", Rin stated in a level tone but the warning hint laced in his voice couldn't go unnoticed. He'd never met a woman who accosted him in such touchy-feely manner like this, so he didn't exactly know how to wave her off without resorting to violence.

Yariko pouted, jutting her lower lip which was painted seductive red to an inviting savory shape. Ever so slowly, she rubbed her body down the hard-plane of the stiff half-demon's body as to further accentuate the curve of her generous bosoms in full explicit display, "Playing hard to get aren't we?", her voice was honey and her gaze shone in wanton eagerness, "Don't worry Rin-kun, we're all alone here in this most secluded part of the house. I've never done it with a demon before but if it's with a handsome guy like you, I would be more than happy to. So how about it?", her fingers traced sinfully slow against Rin's cheek down to his collarbone, her gaze adopting lust with frontal boldness.

Rin stayed still, his stare was cold and never once did it stray to admire the perfect tits the woman expertly displayed. Yariko paused her ministration, detecting the passiveness and a lack of mandatory reaction. While his face was steeled, his sapphire eyes bore through hers like untamable strike of lightning, in the icy blueness of an ocean hints of desire was not even present in minuscule amount. Instead, the stillness of his gaze contagiously abated the ripples of confidence generating from her normally domineering heart.

Move..

Abiding by her instinct, Yariko found it in her best interest to back away.

Rin, finally unrestrained without having to lift a single finger, wordlessly walked past the still woman. Yariko saw as the back of the half-demon disappeared above. Finally the figurative choking bind eased as a feeling of relief washed over her.

Yariko frowned, it was the first time she felt this way towards a demon. No matter how gruesome and lethal, they never made her succumb to such level of shameful fear. Moreover, his outward appearance suggested nothing demonic, except his tail, which rather than a weapon, looked more like a cute additional decoration.

This man... She griped the material covering her front, now the part tingled with unwelcomed shudder from previous physical connection with the half-demon... is dangerous..

A smile slowly quirked the edge of her full lips.

Interesting..

.-.

"What the hell's wrong with that bitch", Rin stomped out of the basement and accordingly trudged away from the place that brought such bad memory, "How can the higher-ups admitted her to be an exorcist? She's worse than me in terms of responsibility! Asking for that sort of thing in a fucking basement! You must be kidding me.."

He ranted some more, trains of criticizing comments poured out from his lips. She ran on a parade of ostentations so much that it genuinely repulsed him, period.

"Such a waste.."

"A waste? Yeah, a fucking waste of time", Rin sneered, but instantly his face lost the tenseness it once carried, "Anyway, I think we're finished in this floor. Let's go find Yukio", the teen wandered off once more to find a staircase.

Shiki sighed, "What is it you see in him..?"

"Hm? You're saying sumthin'?"

"...nothing"

Soon, he found the entire squad at the foot of the staircase, a quiet grim atmosphere hang about them. Atsushi was whispering to the ginger-head girl in a discreet manner considering Yukio and Touda were engaged in a what he thought to be a discussion about the next move. Noel was just standing at the side, listening quietly at the leaders' conversation. Ikiyama Yuda was nowhere in sight.

Rin fastened his pace towards the group.

"So, you guys didn't find Ikiyama-san?", Rin asked Noel, he found it proper to ask the only one who wasn't in a conversation. Apparently, his appearance didn't go unnoticed.

Before Noel was able to answer, Touda intercepted rather coldly, "Okumura, what have you been doing?"

The reprimanding tone lacing the question hooked Rin's quick temper, but he impressively held his at-the-tip-of-tongue rude comeback, "I've been checking the first floor and the basement, unfortunately I couldn't find Ikiyama-san", he managed to answer without sounding rude.

Touda was silent, but his eyes seemed like he had several things to say.

Thankfully, Yukio swiftly swooped into the halted conversation, "We found that Ikiyama-san's phone and duffel bag are not in his personal chamber in the third floor, so it is plausible to say that he, for some reason, has left the research building willingly"

'Ck asshole', Rin felt the urge to pummel the guy for behaving out of the strict law and giving them trouble, 'I really wanna give him a piece of my fist'

.-.

Mai felt the shuddering rush of adrenaline washed past through her chilled veins, the previous grandiose forest seemed unsuspecting, dead, uninhabited, yet it was merely a faux. At the heat of the moment, the silence was confounded with darting agile figures weaving un-figurative patterns unperceived to their understanding with the darkness as a loyal ally to the demons.

Her braids were in disarray, a green rubber band was lost forever in the densely-packed woods rustling with the ill-mannered creatures it hosted. The lanterns, the source of security in the cunning darkness, was no longer alive in the possession of the leaders being predictably easy to knock out and all.

They had just left the vacant research building in a new-appointed mission of searching for a missing person. Everything was normal, none was out of place, yet it quickly debilitated like the might of a corrupting disease. Starting with gradual levitation of malicious demonic energy, then the rustles generated in random trees, finally the attack.

They matched with nothing in the book. Lithe body with out-of-proportion length covered with ebony scales, yellow wild eyes attached to skinny head with a mob of unruly hair, and lastly bat-like wings which enabled them swift flight. And they were highly compact killing machines in a flock.

Since they were of an unknown species, the slaying procedure was the basic one in hope the creatures' weaknesses would be revealed later during combat. Since they were of an unknown species, Atsushi didn't hesitate to shower them with a holy water bomb. Unfortunately it turned out to be a terribly wrong move. The demons shrieked and convulsed in mid air, before exploding in a rain of guts with an unforeseen addition of strong wind which propelled them away from the battle formation.

The situation had taken the worst turn.

Mai landed in a nearby bush with an 'oomph' thankfully without sporting any collateral damage on her body. She automatically realized the need to hide as she swiftly slipped into the bush, the reflex to scream when a bloody piece of organ was found splattered on her exorcist coat was quenched in time. She was separated from her teammates. And the one who was previously near her was blasted in the exact same location as her, unfortunately the one whom she was wary of the most.

Okumura Rin. Half-demon, son of Satan.

Crouching beneath the stiff crowding branches on all fours with alert sapphire eyes darting like a wild predator was the half-demon teen, even deceptively dressed in plain human outfit contrary to his true heritage. The vicinity was infested with buzzing activity, surely from wings slicing air, still visual clarity was not a supporting value she could enjoy so darting shadows were all her strained eyes could see.

"O-Okumura-kun", with trembling lips Mai managed to whisper. After all, in her anxiousness she wanted to know what was his assessment in the clearly disadvantageous situation.

Rin immediately responded, "It is... Yamada Mai right?"

Hearing her name from his lips shocked her, then she realized he probably knew from when Touda-san mention them before entering the forest, "Yes?"

"What's your rank?"

"Lower First Class"

A brief silence ensued. "What's your Meister?"

"I'm a Doctor, learning to be an Aria as well, but I'm still a beginner"

"Aria.. But since these demons are unknown, you can't really be sure what's its fatal verse right?"

"Yeah, I think so"

His tufty tail coiled round his thigh, probably a sign of vexation or thinking but since his demeanor didn't change, Mai couldn't be too sure.

"Um, how about you?"

"Lower First Class. Knight", he said simply.

Clearly, she wasn't a combat-type, so naturally she was a little relieved at having one near her. But the sword was still sheathed and also tightly bound in red garb.

"Ar-aren't you gonna.. pull your sword out?"

He leered at her for a while, "It's really not a good idea, considering it'll.. produce bright light that'll attract the demons. Since they are still unaware of our positions, I guess their sense of smell and hearing aren't that great"

"Night-sight, speed, coordination, they are also good with fighting in group"

'I know that'

Rin mulled over his situation. The forest was dark and quite quiet, no battle was going on, so it meant the other exorcists probably noticed the demons' weaknesses as well and chose to hide. Yamada wasn't a high ranking exorcist and her meister didn't accommodate her with adequate slaying skills so it was solely on his obligation to keep her safe. Truthfully, he was itching to appear out in the open and take on the demons with Kurikara, but hesitated in case the exorcists reacted negatively to his exposed satanic flame. Missions he had were always done with his exorcist friends who knew his fire well after all. For now, it was definitely best to reunite first with the others, although a little part of him longed for an awesome solo partake in ridding the world of detestable pests flying restlessly like nasty flies.

Rin started crawling, firm limbs pushed his body forward fluidly as he gestured Mai to do the same.

Mai obliged still she enquired confusedly, "Where are you going?"

"To get closer to the others of course. Keep low"

Mai was really confused now. It was taxing to even perceive several metres ahead yet he worded his sentence as if he had pinpointed others' locations clearly.

"Huh?"

"They're over there, by that giant tree" With wide branches dipping low, the place provided nice, umbriferous cover even in the midst of darkness from the demons which relied heavily on their sense of sight.

He probably had, she confirmed in amazement and hazel eyes stared at his retreating back in wonder at the display of a clearly superior inhuman trait.

Rin positioned himself in front of her to guide her through the maze of the obstructive bushes, "Hey, stay away from my tail got it?", he warned as the half-demon resumed crawling across the twig-covered ground. The flexible tail seemed to swing by her face temptingly but thankfully her common sense chose to refrain from igniting the enigma-like boy's anger. After like forever painstakingly keeping out of sight by advancing baby-style towards the nearest bunch near the massive trunk, Rin sneaked out and softly laid his head on a tough back.

The owner of the said back in reflex jerked and turned, well tried, since strong arms had slithered around and kept his torso immobile.

Bewildered green eyes fell upon amused blue ones, "Niisan?!"

From his low view point, Rin smirked, "Hi bro, how's the tour so far?"

Yukio lightly squeezed the arms encircling him, confirming the warmth, and relief washed over him at seeing his twin was safe and sound, "You're okay...", gently he pried himself off the arms.

Rin looked a little offended, "Of course! You think a little blast's enough to send me crying SOS and waving off white flags? Ha! Think again!"

Despite the grave situation, a soft chuckle still slipped out Yukio's lips. He strapped up his professional mode again and addressed the temporarily forgotten girl, "Are you okay Yamada?"

Mai gave a timid nod, "Yes Okumura-san", with an equally timid voice.

"Aren't you going to enquire my well-being, handsome?", liquid-feminine voice called out with an air of imperiousness, causing Rin's countenance to instantly adopt pure displeasure.

"Like I give a rat's ass", he snarkily remarked, inwardly cursing his bad luck at being reunited with such an infuriating woman. Uno Yariko stared at him in fake hurt.

"Ouch, such coldness to a lady"

Rin chose to ignore her as he turned towards his twin, "Where are Touda-san, Hariyama, and Atsushi?"

Yukio scanned his surrounding past the veil-like hanging leaves, not that such action assisted much, "I don't know. I can't even see the demons well in this darkness..."

Rin's eyebrows rose in genuine surprise, "Waddya mean you can't? It's pretty dark sure, but still bright enough to keep track on those little fuckers"

For the second time that day, people, in this case the girls, looked at him as if he had grown a second tail.

Yukio gazed at his brother in wonder, "It seems your demon blood enhances your night-vision.. Since none of us could see well, how about you.. light your fire?", he suggested, keeping attentive eyes to catch on his twin's reaction.

Rin paled slightly, leaning near to his brother to whisper in his ear, "You sure? Because they're probably not as acceptive as our friends you know. Aren't you like... in charge of keeping my demonic power in check?"

Won't you feel like neglecting your perception of duty?

Yukio seemed taken aback at the hesitance lacing his twin's words, and the slight sadness underneath it. He was taken back to Rin's first day in True Cross when he declared himself to be Rin's personal, in a simple word, warden. Now he realized that his sentence probably implied that he deemed his brother as if he was a dangerous animal that needed constant supervision and kept essentially fettered in case he ran 'rampant'. The thought bothered his heart, greatly bothered his heart.

Yukio's eyes set ablazed with zealousness. They firmly connected with his twin, "Listen nii-san, I want you to-" the rest of the words were whispered upon Rin's private ears.

Rin blanched, "Ha?! Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I heard you say-"

"Yes", Yukio interjected, "It is as you heard"

"...can't you carry it on a twig or something?"

"It'll hinder my movements, being a Dragoon requires absolute liberation of limbs to muster accurate aim"

"I'll fight alone then"

"There are too many of them, you know you can't win alone"

"Just make do with the fire on my body"

"Due to our different positions, it can be inconsistent and disadvantage me with blind spots"

"No fucking way"

"It is the only way"

"But", Rin's gaze radiated concern, and its meaning hit on Yukio's understanding all too well, "what if you got... hurt?"

Yukio was silent for several seconds, his eyes reflected a myriad of emotions but doubt was not one of them, "I won't get hurt", his voice was tender and soothed Rin's worry like a mother's hand, "I can trust you, I will trust you"

For the last time, Rin stared hard, trying to seek even any meager amount of fear in the pools of emerald. Found none, his shoulders slumped in defeat, "If you say so.."

Yariko and Mai alternately looked at both brothers, but failed to accumulate some ounce of proper understanding of the twins' conversation. Being the more outspoken of the two, Yariko questioned, "What? What's the plan?"

Yukio looked at the dark-haired woman, "Uno-san, your part is to guard Yamada and make sure you two remain hidden"

Yariko's expression transformed to one of incensement as she felt the sentence stabbed like a thorn to her pride, "Nonsense! I will not stand by an-"

"Uno-san!", Yukio snapped. Yariko was totally startled at seeing the gentle Okumura-sensei was capable of utilizing such a chilling glare, "This is an order", his eyes dared her to retaliate.

But of course, she dared not to. With a gulp, Yariko held her down in submission, "As you wish" This pair of brothers, contrary to their harmless impressions, were really not one to be messed with...

Yukio turned back to Rin, "Let us be off", he fell down, elegantly, on his hands and knees and crawled out the safety of the branches.

Rin sweatdropped, "Haha, you really are amazing, in a weird way", he mumbled half-heartedly then followed his brother's track.

It was not long before both girls lost sight of the brothers, engulfed in obscurity orchestrated by the woods affiliated by resounding wrothful shrieks. Truly frightening. Several minutes had agonizingly passed by.

Mai hugged her knees, "U-Uno-san, what do you think is going on now?"

Persisted with all her might, her visual organ still failed to provide her any lucid images, "How do you expect me to know any better than you?", Yariko answered in a testy tone.

Constant sound, constant scene, heart filled with trepidation, it made her queasy and uneasy, Mai concluded. The silence in the company was eating at her, moreover, she was worried about how the brothers fared in the leeching darkness.

Suddenly, it was not so dark anymore, an unknown light sifted through the foliage of branches of their hiding place like the warm embrace of salvation for their starving eyes. Pumped with heightening curiosity, despite the danger, Yariko carefully spreaded the hindering branches for a good look at the source.

Mai covered her mouth with quivering fingers and Yariko's mouth hang open in fascination.

"Oh my...", the voluptuous woman whispered in delight, "so it's true"

Far away, in the nest of darkness, standing like a beacon of mesmerizing sapphire was a teen with fantasy-like elf ears and tail, his lean frame wholly engulfed in live flame like a surreal painting that had taken life before them. In front of him, his brother, Okumura Yukio stood, his eyes connected with his twin's in silence. The creatures screeched harder, seemingly distressed at the display of THE harrowing flame, their master's most prized weapon. The brothers seemed unconcerned. Both lifted their hands, the tip of their fingers erecting, reaching.

Mai gasped, "Wa-wait, Okumura-san will-!"

"Ah so that's the plan", Yariko mused, eager to see such rare spectacle unfolding in front of her hungry eyes.

"Nii-san, I want to you to set me up in your flame"

The thin digits connected, spreading across long sleeves at an alarming rate.. and the fiery element didn't hesitate to envelop the offering with its powerful blaze.

A sliver of discomfort washed over Yukio's expression before it steeled to wright nullity. A wayward creature swerved out its formation towards the still teacher but the flame scorched its wings as it shrieked in pain and fell to his death. Everything seemed to slow down before both brothers sprang to motion.

Twin knobs of blue flares seating among thick strands of unruly black swiveled and flickered as the proudly unsheathed demon sword sliced up the heinous creatures fluidly. Jagged pupils flicked about in a feral manner as to target what were next to be slain, it was with crude accuracy but it was sufficient in taking down large number of demons flying about haphazardly.

His brother, however, took a more fastidious approach. With assistance of the light from the blue flame, his eyes scrupulously pinpoint every target before his deft fingers pressed down the triggers of his twin guns. Even when such method took down the adversary in one by one principal, due to his repetitive triumphs, countless carcasses fell lifelessly around him like rain of death.

The sight really rendered them speechless, among tall trees at the dead of the night, twin figures clad with blue flame fabricated off from the wildest imaginations took on a staggeringly real appearance in front of them. Slaying demons, experts in flight, with beautiful polished moves, some of them were even combusted savagely like moths in flame.

At last the last creature's shriek died, gone from life for good. The brothers panted in exhaustion but proud smiles were seated in their lips.

Rin quickly trotted closer to his brother, a victorious smile on his face, "We (pant) did it! We fucking whacked off those creatures pansy flying asses!"

"Ye-yeah we did it", Yukio answered in a more subtle manner, "Congratulations to both of us"

Rin beamed and was reaching out to put out the fire before a lashing voice pierced their moment of celebratory exuberance.

"What atrocity in the name of heaven have you subjected your brother, Okumura?!"

The twins blinked and faced the source in mild surprise.

Touda was standing imposingly before them with such acidic eyes directed at the older Okumura. Behind him, there were Atsushi and Noel, each sporting a different expression. Noel, as always, had an indifferent look as if the whole ordeal didn't pique his slightest interest. While a rather battered Atsushi had eyes which were shining with pure reverence at them, a trail of coagulated blood was at one side of his face probably because he was the one standing closest to where he threw the holy-water bomb.

Rin managed to control his facial muscle from contorting to express what he really felt towards the old exorcist, and through gritted teeth forced out, "I was just about to put out the 'atrocity', Touda-san"

He ran his hand about Yukio's chest and the fire died down almost instantly. Then he sheathed Kurikara, his demonic flame and appearance disappeared accordingly, shrouding the area with darkness once again.

Touda was silent, he rummaged his trench coat and pulled out another mini-lantern available at his disposal. He lit it up and warm golden light illuminated the seven people standing in a crude circle.

Rin frowned, 'The heck? He still has another damn lantern but didn't bother to give any of us one?'

Now in the proper light, the acrimony in Touda's eyes were tangible in the night air, and drilled straight to Rin, "How dare you use your flame at Okumura-sensei? He could have been scorched to death!"

Rin inwardly flinched and words of solemn apology were at the tip of his tongue when Yukio stepped forward, shielding his brother from immediate exposure of Touda's judging eyes. With controlled repose, he said, "I deeply apologize, Rin was not at fault here, he just acted according to my orders... including lighting me up in his fire"

When such information reached the group's ears, the majority of them had disbelief and horror brewing in their eyes.

Touda's expression hardened even more, "And why, pray tell, could you surmise to such reckless decision which could profoundly endanger your life? Is this the creation of your acclaimed prudence young Okumura-sensei?"

"Although it is not the most scrupulous in nature, I believe it is the best course of action at that moment. In the darkness, I couldn't utilize my best ability as a Dragoon but with proper lighting, that shortcoming could easily be eliminated"

"Proper lighting? It is THE Satan's flame, the most nefarious of its kind, such condemned element should be eluded by humans at any cost, let alone letting it touch your skin! As an exorcist, you should be aware of it!", his voice was practically dripping with unparalleled hatred and repulsion in his sage eyes. Undeniably, his loathing wasn't baseless, it was caused from a grief-stricken experience occurring 16 years ago in the Blue Night that even such a reclusive individual could utter those heavily emotional words.

"It is an abomination", he added, spitting out the last word like it was rotten.

Yukio's gaze didn't falter as he was deluged by the full brunt of the accusatory remarks. He was fine, as long as none of it, even as much as a drip, fell on Rin's tiny frame. He drew his brother closer to his back, "My brother's flame...", his tone was drenched with calm audacity, with absolute certainty stitched to every word "...is not an abomination"

Rin's eyes widened, 'What? Before he was so against provoking the old-fart, now not only he is currently doing that, he also uses that kind of tone?' Frankly, he didn't like being protected behind someone's back like some weak damsel-in-distress, but with Yukio, it was actually a nice break. And the words he said..

The flaring green eyes and defensive posture which indicated physical protection of the half-demon disconcerted Touda greatly, although he didn't show it. It wasn't in the conforming nature of the young teacher to attempt such daring attitude, from his demeanor, it was clear that Yukio indirectly implied that if he or any other attempted to approach the half-demon in negative intention, they had to face him first. Emerald eyes drilled austerely to each of them, it was a silent warning, addressed to all of them.

Noel, Atsushi, Mai, and even Yariko dropped their gazes.

Touda, however, didn't break eye-contact.

"Okumura-sensei", the whole group tensed, fearing that the verbal war was about to escalate, "We've found Ikiyama Yuda, please follow me"

He turned back and started striding to the other direction. The four exorcists released their held breaths and wordlessly followed the man.

Yukio's tensed form subsided as he released his grip at Rin. He looked down at his twin with a warm smile, "Come on nii-san"

Rin blinked and nodded awkwardly, "U-un"

.-.

The haphazard figure was nestled among inconspicuous thickets, with rotting stench permeating and corrupting the humid night-air.

"He was dead for at least a day", Touda stated, a handkerchief was pressed down his nose to diminish the offensive odor, "Judging from the quality of the damage, it was evidently a demon's doing"

Mai's had a visibly green face and a reverted gaze, Yariko only paled slightly, Atsushi supported a disgruntled expression, and Noel had a flat unperturbed countenance. Even if the world erupted in massive chaos, there's a good chance the teen would remain unresponsive.

Rin's keen nose didn't appreciate the putrid stench at all, although he was curious, he preferred to stay away.

Yukio went a bit closer. Whatever the perpetrator was, its cruel work was imminent at the state of the carcass. The most gruesome and the only sliced up part was the stomach, intestines and other guts-parts were sprawled out messily in the bloody and sickening handicraft of the demon. It was quite meticulous, despite the revolting torn-up stomach, the other parts remain intact with no slightest scratch on the skin.

Now that he was almost hovering above the body, his eyes caught on to some shiny objects littering around the still form. He bent down to retrieve one, frowning as he inspected it.

'Silver.. disk?' Many of the thin and tiny circular objects were splayed around the corpse, as if they were deliberately placed there by someone.

"What is it?", Touda came near.

"I don't know, there are many of these around Ikiyama-san's body" It was definitely a message, but still, from such vague depiction it was hard to figure anything out of it.

"Hm, strange...", Touda murmured and glanced at his watch, "It's late, let us leave here and call for assistance to retrieve the body first thing in the morning"

They made their way back to the research building. Touda inserted the special transportation key connecting straight towards the exorcists' temporary residence. All of them went inside, all but two.

"Rin-kun? Okumura-sensei?", Atsushi called out, seeing that both brothers were still rooted to their positions, "Are you guys coming?"

Yukio smiled subtly, "No, our living quarter is at a different place. So we'll be using a different key"

"Oh, okay then", then he turned a foxy smile towards Rin and gestured him two thumbs-up, "Stay awesome dude"

Rin cocked an eyebrow but waved him goodbye nonetheless.

"Ok-Okumura-kun", Mai squeaked timidly with half of her body hidden behind Yariko.

"Yeah?"

The ginger-haired girl blushed and in a higher-pitch tone than she intended forced out, "Ar-Arigato!", then dashed off and vanished into the door.

Rin sweatdropped, "Haha, I dunno what you're thanking me for but you're welcome anyway"

Yariko crossed her arms beneath her ample bust and smirked, "Next time, I will definitely get a good squeeze of your tail, handsome"

Rin scoffed, "Sorry, no first time, next time, nor last time tickets of feeling my tail up are available for anyone, miss elephant-racks"

"Even in exchange of feeling up my 'elephant racks'?"

"Keep dreaming"

Yariko's smirk grew and she sashayed away, but not before uttering some final words, "Till next time, demon-boy", her voice dipped into blatant seductiveness.

Noel stared at Rin with level eyes for a while then bent his waist in a polite bow, before disappearing behind the closing door.

Now that it had closed, Yukio went forward to insert their own specific key but Rin stopped him with an arm. Yukio gave him a questioning look.

"Come on now lazy-prince, what's the health-chart of always going home through some 'Anywhere Door'? Maybe that's why Doraemon piled up that much fat", Rin boo'ed earnestly for extra measure.

Yukio stared at him with his professional version of 'are ya serious' look in his face.

Rin rolled his eyes and tugged at his giant of a little brother's sleeves, and without much difficulty dragged the reluctant teen away from the porch.

"Wa-wait, where are we going?"

"Deeper, it's a waste to go out the woods anyway 'coz our apartment is near the cliff beside the Eastern forest. It's better to go inside till the cliff and go along it isn't it?", Rin reasoned, and it made sense actually. The Southern Woods is located at the edge of a cliff bordering at the low-land town and extending deep into the True Cross territory. So to exit the woods and skirted its outer area to get to their apartment was rather too punishing-on-the-legs for two tired individuals. Well, made that one, considering how hyped-up Rin was pulling at him probably he still had ample stamina in his reserves to bobble about.

The area was still agitatingly barren of light, with the pace they were going, Yukio was worried he might trip or run to some branches. But Rin's gait was so sure, leading his legs to flat area and even parted any obstructing branches in his path.

At last, the little walk reached an end as the twins reached the end of the cliff. The impervious canopy dispersed to nothingness and the star-filled expanse of the stunning sky unrolled before their eyes. Below the jutting line of the cliff where a vibrant town resided, thousands of similar stars spilled forth their kaleidoscopic glitz, befitting to be called the parallel entities of the celestial ones up above. Stroking their skins was the refreshing night-breeze which was initially blockaded by the crowding trees.

Rin inhaled a full breathe of the calming air as twinkling eyes appraised the breath-taking view before them. He trotted right up to the edge and stretched off his arms eagerly, "Wooo~ What a sight to behold eh Yukio?"

Just steps behind his elder brother, Yukio scanned the scenic picture and found himself agreeing fully with him, "Yeah..", he breathed, mesmerized, "I can't believe we have this kind of panoramic view in the school area.."

Rin chuckled quietly and looked at him above his shoulders, "Now this is exactly what you've missed, for always being cooped up inside a rectangular room in an equally rectangular desk"

"You've been here before?"

"Yeah, it's easy to sneak in even though you aren't a Science university student 'cause the security is just laughable", Rin confessed sheepishly. He directed his gaze back front, uncharacteristic halcyon eyes were lost in wandering the enigmatic sky, "I go here if I've had things to think about... 'cos it's quiet. People rarely wander this far off, let alone at night"

Yukio was surprised at hearing the little piece of information, but strangely happy. Probably because his twin felt it's ok to share his special place with him, "What kind of things?"

He released a little laugh, it curiously sounded distant in his ears, "Nowadays, there are lots...", the half-demon sat down with his knees drawn close.

Yukio waited, thinking he was about to say more, but apparently it was left at there. His eyes turned solemn, when he thought about it, his brother had gone through a lot this past two years. Starting from the release of his demon-side, things had just went absolutely downhill for Rin, giving him countless nerve-wrecking trials as if the whole universe was working together to play the absolute-bitch-role to him. They couldn't see, behind the half-demon aspect, inside, he was still a seventeen-year-old human who yearned for acceptance and a sense of belonging. Unfortunately it was a non-existent right that could never belong to him.

Yukio's lips were parted, but Rin beat him to it, with an almost inaudible voice, "Did you.. really mean it? Back there?"

The normally boisterous voice was laced with uncertainty, buoyed with tethering fear.

"Of course", he stated firmly, without doubt.

"Even when...", his voice took on a sorrowful quality, "that fire was the same one which took our father's life?"

The question struck at him like a painful arrow through his guts. It shocked him to quite a degree as a certain revelation dawned upon him now. Was his brother's insecurity trailed back that far into the past? Was he carrying that kind of self-blaming burden, all along, alone? Buried deep beneath his cheerful exterior, how much more of his pain that I was unaware of?

Numerous words were strung in his throat like an abrupt flood, numerous, numerous, and numerous. Yet, he knew mere spoken words were next to ineffective of soothing his brother's tormenting worries which had been ingrained in him like persistent tumor. He needed something stronger.

With hesitant steps, Yukio brought himself closer to his brother, closer to that back which appeared to carry so much misery he didn't deserve. He sat next to him, a little behind him. With equally hesitant fingers, the digits wrapped upon a still appendage with the softest fur that had graced upon the skin of a not-animal-person like him.

Rin tensed as his sensory nerves tingled in warning, but soon went relaxed under the touch of his brother. Yukio felt a little happy when his brother didn't comment negatively on his daring approach contrary to his previous claim of never letting anyone feeling up his tail. He was an exception, it seemed.

The tail, it was the physical manifestation and obvious symbol of his frowned-upon status that became the root of all his afflictions. The very first thing that warped up people's attitudes towards an ordinary adolescent sporting a goofy yet caring smile to ugly unfeeling criticisms. The addition that was deep-inside probably despised by its own owner.

He brought such appendage, which despite its beauty carried so much misfortunes, to his lips, and placed a chaste kiss to its glistening black fur. With gentle hands, Yukio placed his brother's tail on his lap and stroked it lovingly like it was worth all the fortune ever known to man. He folded his fingers, all but one, filling up all of his feelings in that one unit and brought it to the surface of Rin's still tail.

Scritch, scritch, scritch. The deft digit danced fluidly on the thin obsidian canvas, curving up brushing down, arching left swerving right, engraving the precious far-reaching feeling of love a human was able to exercise in the fullest extent at the scorned length.

With each stroke, Rin's eyes took on the glint of disbelief, seemingly surprised at the act of sentimental affection endowed to him.

When it finished, Rin had eyes flourishing with heart-felt felicity directed at his twin's soft emerald ones.

"Thank you...", he whispered, putting his whole feeling to that simple phrase.

Yukio nodded, a smile graced his lips. He knew he wouldn't break his promise and would stand by it for eternity.

When everything is against you, I will always be by your side... I will not abandon you... I will support you with everything I have... I will be your strength... No matter what you are, no matter what you do, no matter how you become, I will always love you...

For a moment, everything fell to comfortable silence with both brothers soaking in the heart-warming atmosphere. But Rin stood up suddenly and walked further away from his twin.

"Nii-san?", Yukio tried to decipher the conflicted face his brother suddenly had.

"Yukio...", Rin began, hesitance seemed to be dragging down his sentence but he carried on, "I want to... introduce you to someone..."

When his brother turned around to completely face him, it wasn't the familiar expressive blue painting those eyes. They were replaced by crimson ones, the same ones that often played the lead role in his occasional nightmares.

'Rin' smirked at him with fangs that were more profound than normal.

"Hello little brother, long time no see"

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Mwahahaha cliffhanger! It's been a long time since I decided to be evil and gave you all one! *evil laughter*

Oh there will be smut, just not in this chapter

Hehe, there you go! 5 new OCs! I hope you like them and I'm sorry I didn't put in scenes displaying their skills, it'll be for later time :p

Anyway do you like them? Sorry if my writing's a bit rusty, it's been a long time since I last put up a chap.. Tell me what you think of this chap, please? Another thing, no matter how they behave, it'll be always Rin/Yukio :3

Review~

~Golden Mist Fox