Draco: I know.  I know.  Finally.  I'm sick today, which is the only reason I found enough time in my work schedule to do any typing.  I'll try to get another chapter done ASAP, but I've got 3-4 stories other than this that need updating.  Enjoy!

* * *

~What are you doing with him, Krad?~

"Holding up my end of the bargain."

Satoshi felt a panic as he struggled to regain control.  Krad wasn't giving in, laughing at him.  The blonde grinned broadly and continued to bind the unconscious captive to a lusciously fit four poster bed.  It sat, black wood and sating, in the center of a blindingly white room, and Satoshi stared at it all in horror.

"Higashi should be here soon to take him," Krad smirked and walked over towards a wall, where he sat in a chair that Satoshi hadn't realized was there.  "The thief is mine."

With a groan of misery, Satoshi collapsed, hiding his face in his hands as he floated in the dark.

* * *

Dark chased With over rooftops until they came to an open window on the top floor of an abandoned office building.  Once inside, he stopped to catch his breath.  He couldn't stop long, he knew, and the fuzzball seemed upset that he'd stopped at all, but what good would he be to Daisuke if he showed up so winded?

"Daisuke," he sighed as he followed his impatient, little guide through the maze of cubicles and corridors.  "Just hang on, alright?  Hang on."

* * *

Daisuke groaned, blinking his eyes into focus on the startlingly colorless world around him.  Where was he?  What was going on?  Then it all came back and he shot up with a gasp, only to find that it was impossible to rise more than an inch off of the silky fabric beneath him.  Terrified, he struggled against his bonds, and laughter drew his attention to the corner, if there was a corner.

Everything was so white, illuminating itself.  Nothing had a shadow.  Then he saw Krad.  The man was a rather disconcerting sight, his clothes blending in with the room so that his head appeared to float, a cruelly pale complexion crowned in an aura of gold hair.

"Good morning," his captor grinned, approaching slowly.  "Sleep well?"  Then the grin was in Daisuke's face.  "Your fear is truly beautiful, you know?"

Daisuke squeaked and squirmed as Krad moved back and let his eyes roam the length of the pale, bound body the poor brunette had just realized lay naked.

"If the deal with Higashi hadn't been arranged, I may have been tempted to keep you myself."

::But the deal has been arranged, has it not?::

Even Krad jumped as the soft voice spoke, it seemed, within their very souls.  It brought a wave of cold over Daisuke's entire being and he started to cry.  Krad would be better than what he feared was coming.

::So this is the boy.  He is beautiful.::

Suddenly a dark figure appeared, dissolving from the air.  Black robes swallowed the light, a hood raised to hide the face as Daisuke stared in wide-eyed horror.  Then a bone-like, blue-ish gray hand rose from the midnight folds to stroke his hair.  The action was sickeningly tender, and chills rolled through Daisuke's flesh, diving deep.  He sobbed for air as he trembled under the creature's touch, desperate to escape the feeling of icy water that filled his lungs.  His bones felt frozen and his muscles were numb, as he clenched his eyes shut to close it all out.  All he wanted to do was scream, scream for it to…


The cold vanished so suddenly, Daisuke thought he had finally died.  But then he opened his eyes to the feeling of something warm and heavy on top of him.  On one side stood the beast, on the other stood a shocked and confused Krad, and over top of him, clutching him like a life line, lay a gasping and trembling Satoshi.

"Sa-sato-san," Daisuke choked.

Krad fell to his knees, dragging in air as if he had never breathed before.  "Satoshi…how…why…?"

::Valiant.::  Higashi hissed.  ::Valiant and stupid.::

As the hand reached forward again, however, it was Krad's turn to act.  He vaulted the bed, knocking the vampire back ,and stood between him and the bed.  A sort of wild desperation crept into the blonde's hoarse voice.

"Only the little one, Higashi!"  He croaked sharply.

::The other is in my way.  I shall take him as well.::

"That wasn't out agreement!"

::Without your counterpart, Krad, you are hollow.  There is nothing in you for me.  Move, or I shall shatter your shell and take them all the same.::

Daisuke watched, petrified.  There was an anger in the cold voice now, and he was still trapped.  Satoshi's breath was ragged and hot on Daisuke's throat, his heartbeat wild.  Was Satoshi still conscious?  He hadn't spoken, hadn't moved.  Fear began to crush the confusion in Daisuke's mind.  What was going on?  What was going to happen now?  Where was Dark?

* * *

"I'm coming, Daisuke," Dark muttered as he sprinted after With.  "Hang on.  Just hand on."

Then there was a door.  He didn't see it in time to stop.  Bracing himself, he slammed into it with his shoulder, but there was nothing to hit.  Suddenly he hit the floor and rolled back up to his feet in a blinding, white room.  His eyes burned as he stared at the sight that appeared before him, confusing and unbelievable:  Krad facing down a man in what looked like an attempt to protect Daisuke and Satoshi, who lay in a pile of bare flesh on a huge, black bed.


Daisuke's voice brought him back to earth.

"Dai-chan.  What…?"

::This is the one you were after, Krad?  Go after him, then.  Leave the boys to me.::

Krad growled.  "I told you, Satoshi wasn't part of our deal!  You can't have him!"

::You owe me more than you seem prepared to pay after all that I have done for you.::

"I'm not giving you Sato!"

And the oddest though struck Dark as he listened, frozen to the spot:  Krad sounded like he was crying.  But why?  What would the madman have to cry about?  Or was it possible that Satoshi meant as much to Krad as Daisuke meant to him.

The shouting match continued as he looked around, still confused.  Where had With gone?  There was not sign of the furball.  Gritting his teeth, Dark struggled to move.  Whoever the cloaked one was, he voice had left Dark's bones as ice.  Every achingly slow step was torture.

::I shall kill you all if I must, Krad.  I have no attachments to you.::

"A deal is a deal, Higashi!  You can have the little one, but I take Sato when I go!"

::You are such a fool.::

Then something passed Dark's ear and crashed into Higashi's head.  Suddenly Dark could move again, and he sprinted for the bed.  With a howl, the vampire vanished, leaving Krad to his own devices.  The blonde spun to face Dark, and they stared at each other over their separated counterparts.  There, in the man's eyes, Dark saw the confirmation to his questions.  After a moment, Krad curled his lip up in a snarl, but Dark could swear there really were tears in those eyes before he and Daisuke were left alone in the little room.

"Kyu?"  With hopped up onto the bed and sat on Daisuke's chest, looking very proud of himself.

Dark laughed softly.  "Good boy."

Appeased, the furball bounced away, and Dark was left to stare in slight embarrassment at a blushing Daisuke.  He couldn't help letting his eyes travel the boy's helpless, nervous form before he truly realized that Daisuke was still scared, and there was only one person left to be scared of.  Swallowing hard, Dark fumbled to undo Krad's knots while blinking back tears of his own.

"You okay?" he asked gruffly.

Daisuke opened his mouth to answer, but closed it again and just nodded, face burning.

"Good.  That's good," Dark sighed.

When he was finally untied, Daisuke sat up and hugged his knees to his chest.  Neither of them spoke for a long while.  They just stared in different direction and waited.

"Thank you," Daisuke finally whispered, staring at his toes.

Dark nodded slightly.  "No problem."

Then, still trembling, Daisuke leaned over and kissed the thief's cheek.

Dark spun his head to stare at the boy.  The red of Daisuke's cheeks brightened, and he ducked his head down like a turtle.  Astonished, Dark continued to stare at him for a long moment.  Finally, he stood and tossed something at the nervous, little brunette.  Blinking, Daisuke picked up the shirt that had just hit him, then slowly turned his head to see the now half-naked phantom watching him.

"Put it on," Dark said, forcing on his old cocky smirk.  "You can't go home looking like that.  Someone'd be bound to notice."