|Seraph of the End: Triplecross
||[Nov. 7th, 2016|09:39 pm]
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: PG for fantasy vampire violence.
Characters: Yuichiro, Mikaela, the Hyakuya orphans, Ferid, Krul.
Setting: A reimagining of pre-canon events.
Summary: The orphans’ attempt to escape Sanguinem unfolds a little bit differently.
Disclaimer: They belong to Takaya Kagami. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for wildfireblossom in the 2016 trickortreatex exchange. See the end notes for details about the prompt in her author letter that inspired this work.
“Anything yet?” Yuichiro queried anxiously, as he and Akane met outside the front door of the Hyakuya orphans’ meager dwelling.
Looking equally worried, the girl sighed and shook her head. “No. None of the other kids I’ve asked have seen Mika since he left here the night before last.” Her eyes glistened as she raised them to her foster brother. “Yu, what if he—”
“Don’t say it!” Yu snapped. Unconsciously his hand fell upon her arm, squeezing tight. “You know Mika would never let that happen to him! …He’s just gone off by himself, like he’s done before. Maybe it has been longer this time, but he’s still gonna come back just fine, the way he always does. He’s smart… He’d never let one of the fangs get the better of him.”
Akane looked away without reply, somber and unconvinced; and Yu silently admitted to himself that his own confidence was slipping away as well.
The other orphans didn’t know the real reason why Mikaela regularly absented himself for several hours, only to be tired and shaky and paler than usual when he returned. They didn’t know where he got the meat and candy and fresh fruit he always brought home to share.
They didn’t know Mika bargained with one of their vampire keepers, trading an extra amount of his blood in return for the rare treats.
Yu knew. He had found out when he confronted Mika after such a rendezvous, and saw the fang-marks on the other boy’s neck. Even though they nearly came to blows over it more than once, he’d never been able to dissuade Mika from going out to make these dangerous transactions. Nor did he have the heart to tell their younger foster siblings the truth about it.
Mika insisted blithely that nothing bad would happen to him. The vampire he bargained with was a real noble, he said, and much more genteel than those of lower rank who guarded the captive human children. He claimed that this noble treated him well, even permitting him to rest and tend the bite wounds in his own mansion.
Those assertions were cold comfort when, almost every week, another child in the Livestock Quarter was found dead and bloodless on the dark streets. They were the victims of the same kind of blood trades gone awry, or simply of outright murder for sport.
But Mika was so unbreakably stubborn, he refused to listen to Yu’s warnings about those horrific cases.
Yu should have tried harder. He should have done whatever it took to keep Mika from going out to his illicit meetings. He should have knocked him out and tied him up before letting him step outside alone. He should have…
He should have gone with Mika—to protect him from himself, just as much as from the fangs.
A sick feeling roiled in Yu’s stomach. He closed his eyes. Maybe it really was too late now… and if Mika was lying alone in some alley with his life emptied from his body, the fault would belong entirely to Yu.
“We have to keep looking,” he muttered, grasping at the thought of action to distract his mind from going mad. He raised his eyes to Akane. “I don’t think we should split up and search alone, so listen. Would you go and ask the Namiki brothers if they’ll—?”
The boy’s words were cut off. Even as he was speaking, he saw Akane’s eyes widen, focusing on something over his shoulder. Her expression of surprise compelled him to turn, bracing for danger.
Instead, it was only a familiar blond-headed figure that he saw stepping out of the shadows.
Flooded instantly with an upwelling of both relief and righteous wrath, Yu started forward. Whether he was going to impulsively hug Mika out of gladness at seeing him safe, or deck him for worrying everyone for two days, he wasn’t sure; but his movement was halted when the other boy raised a hand, flinching away slightly.
Something was wrong. Mika’s voice was low and rough, a tone Yu had never heard from him before. There was no visible sign of harm on him, but he kept his face downturned, so that his bangs of fine pale-gold hair concealed his face.
Blinking in puzzled concern, Akane began to take a step forward, despite the admonishment. “Mika, what…?”
“Please. Don’t come any closer.” The words were softer this time, but they were accompanied by another harsh keep-away gesture. “There’s no time for me to explain right now—but I’m fine, so don’t worry about me. Just go wake up the others… and get them ready to leave.”
“What are you talking about?” Yu rapped out.
For answer, Mika reached beneath his shirt, withdrawing a rectangle of folded paper that was yellow with age. He tossed it at Yu’s feet.
With an agitated frown, Yu bent to pick up the paper. Unfolding it roughly, he passed his eyes over the faded lines and words inscribed on it: a glance that became a long, astonished stare, as he struggled to absorb the dawning enormity of what the document represented.
“Mika, this is—”
“A map. A map that shows the way to the surface—to the way out of Sanguinem.” Still Mika did not raise his head, but there was a quiver in his voice. “Do you understand what this means? We can escape from here, Yu. We can reach the world up above, and go someplace where the vampires will never find us. …Someplace where our family can live and be happy.”
“Where did you get it?” Akane gasped, and Yu wasn’t surprised that she was the first to ask that question. It was the practicality of the girl—now by all rights a young woman—who had effectively been a mother to the younger Hyakuya children for the last four years.
Mika’s head sank even lower, muffling his halfhearted reply. “…That’s not important right now.”
“I know where it came from,” Yu hissed. “You took it from the house of that bloodsucking noble, didn’t you?”
“What noble?” Akane demanded.
“The one he’s been selling his blood to on the side for our extra food.”
With that, the secret was out—at least to Akane. She uttered a small sound of horror, her gaze swinging back to Mika as her eyes brimmed.
“Oh, Mika… is this true?”
“It doesn’t matter now.” An unfamiliar edge crept back into Mika’s tone. “It didn’t hurt me, and it helped our family—and it gave me a chance to find that map in his house. Plus this.”
He reached under his shirt again. This time he produced a heavy, antique-looking pistol, which he carefully set down on the ground before him. It was not lost upon Yu that Mika’s hand was shaking as he withdrew it from the weapon.
A heavy, uncertain moment of silence passed; and then, uncharacteristically, Mika snapped at Akane again.
“What are you waiting for? We have to hurry—go get the others!”
Stunned speechless, Akane turned and hurried inside. Yu was left to stare at Mika across the several paces’ distance between them. Even now, he did not meet Yu’s eyes.
“What’s really going on, Mika?”
Huffing out a breath, Mika turned his back and folded his arms. Yu could just get a glimpse of the way he began rubbing his forearms with the flat of his palms: a restless, uneasy gesture.
“You really think some high-ranking fang would just leave that map lying around his house for you to find?” Yu pressed.
“…It’s gonna be okay, Yu. Please. You have to trust me for a little while longer.”
Something about the weight of those words, the urgency of Mika’s tone—even under such grave circumstances—was wrong too. Yu frowned and drew the breath for further argument, but somehow, it never came out.
It was ridiculous that Mika just wanted them to follow this scheme blindly, without even talking about it. A part of Yu wanted to step forward, to put a hand on his shoulder and turn him around. He wanted to make him look up, to meet his eyes and seek some clue to what was really in his mind… but the prickling tension that surrounded Mika instinctively warned Yu to keep his distance. The blond boy was still hovering at the edge of the shadows beyond the nearest streetlamp, but it felt as if other shadows were now twining around him, as well.
Mika had always been like a captured fragment of sunlight in this subterranean world of misery, but what he exuded now was…
Was something dark. Yu couldn’t see it, but he could feel it—and he was suddenly afraid to learn what it really was.
“Aren’t you going to go inside and pack anything?” Mika questioned rather tersely, after a time.
Yu scowled, wondering if Mika wanted him to go in—perhaps for a brief respite from his doubtful and disapproving stare in this awful silence. “Aren’t you?”
More than anything, the noise Mika made sounded like a bitter chuckle. “…I’ve got nothing worth taking.”
“Yeah. Same here.”
The stalemate continued until Akane stepped out a few minutes later, leading the younger children. Hanako clutched the ragged teddy bear she had somehow managed to hang onto since the fall of human society, and slung over Akane’s shoulder was a pack she had fashioned, which Yu assumed would contain any provisions she thought they might need. Otherwise, they all seemed to share his opinion that they wanted and needed no memento of their wretched life in the vampires’ capital.
“Mika!” Chisato bounced with delight, and may have run toward him, except that Akane dropped a restraining hand on her shoulder—perhaps conscious of the same tension Yu felt. “Is it really true? Are we really going to get away?”
“That’s right,” Mika murmured. Incredibly, he still didn’t even lift his gaze to her shining eyes, and his voice remained oddly strained. “In just a little while, you’ll never have to see this place again… but right now, on our way out, you have to be as quiet as you possibly can. All of you. Can you promise me that?”
Eager words of assent were returned to him. Mika appeared to nod slightly; and then he turned back to Yu.
“Give me the map, and I’ll lead the way. …I want you to have the gun, Yu.”
He picked up the gun, and Yu strode forward with the map. It was a quick and unaccountably awkward exchange. Mika immediately seemed to want to put distance between them again, and he was behaving so skittishly—so guiltily—that Yu almost felt the same way.
This was madness. How could they follow through with this plan Mika had devised, when he was so clearly hiding something? Everything in Yu felt an urge to put a stop to it, to dig in his heels and declare that they weren’t going anywhere until Mika looked him in the eye and told the truth… but he still couldn’t force that objection past his lips.
Mika would never want to see any of his family hurt. Regardless of all else, that was the one thing Yu was sure of.
“Follow me,” said Mika, and with the map in his hands, he turned to set out.
The others eagerly fell into line behind him, and Yu uneasily followed: still struggling to find the nerve to halt them, to demand answers before he would let them take another step.
For what seemed like a long time, the children walked, navigating the dingy streets and close-crowded hovels that were all they had known for four years. Eventually they passed beyond their small range and into less familiar territory. They risked being challenged by whatever group of children lived there; even fellow humans from outside one’s own circle could be trusted little in Sanguinem, as it was not unheard of for gangs of older and stronger children to raid the hoarded food and possessions of the weaker. Fortunately, the Hyakuya orphans met with no others in the darkened alleys. Most of the underground city’s captives still slept at that late hour, even without the cues of natural day and night.
Yuichiro tried his best to remain alert for trouble, but it was hard to focus on their surroundings. His mind was still consumed with uneasiness and uncertainty that was directed within his own group—at Mikaela, with his strange behavior and sudden wild scheme. Walking several paces behind the other boy, he searched for any new clue he could glimpse, but Mika’s tense shoulders and quick, purposeful stride told him nothing useful. Of course Mika would be tense now, in this attempt to escape from their deadly inhuman keepers.
Guided by the map, Mika led them to a secret passage that bypassed the guarded boundaries of the Livestock Quarter. A labyrinth of echoing tunnels followed, prompting him to turn briefly for the first time since they started out, and sternly remind the younger children to be silent.
In the close quarters of the tunnel, Yu moved closer to Mika—close enough to almost bump into him when he suddenly froze, throwing out one arm to halt the group.
“Shh,” Mika hissed, cutting into Yu’s own disgruntled noise. “I think…”
He spun abruptly, and pushed Yu toward a narrower side tunnel, sharply motioning for the other orphans to follow. Finding a grate with bars set wide enough apart for their small bodies to slip through, he herded them into the dank space beyond. A few of the youngest children began to whimper, but he hushed them with another warning gesture.
Several more seconds passed before Yu himself heard the footsteps that had apparently triggered Mika’s actions.
As the other children heard it, they clung together, eyes growing wide with fear; but to their credit, they didn’t make a sound. The steps came nearer, echoing from an intersecting tunnel that still lay ahead of them. Yu listened with his heart in his throat, recognizing the heavy tread of a vampire’s boots.
The footsteps paused, for a long moment… and then they continued, gradually receding.
Mika slumped against the wall with a heavy exhalation. After another minute or two, he cautiously peeked out beyond the bars of the grate, and directed the others to follow him once more.
From that point, their journey was not much farther. With Mika’s guidance, they arrived at a stone stairway, and followed it up to the threshold of an open space—a place that in itself looked like a different world than the crudeness and grime of the Livestock Quarter. In the periphery of the brighter light that issued from somewhere beyond the stairs, every surface was spotless and gleaming. The floors and walls were tiled with something like white marble, accented by gilded trim and fixtures of polished brass, or perhaps gold. Even before the human world fell, Yu had never encountered such opulence.
In the shelter of the stairwell, Mika consulted the map one more time.
“We’re almost there,” he murmured, and this time he did not object when the younger children uttered soft cheers of excitement.
Yu frowned. The splendor they could glimpse waiting just above them… That could only be the vampires’ own realm. Was that the final stretch they had to face, in order to reach the promised exit to the surface world? Was Mika truly brazen enough to lead them through even a small part of the fangs’ own territory?
“Come on,” Mika interrupted, as if he hadn’t even heard Yu’s words.
So saying, the blond boy ascended the last few steps to the great marble hall. The other children hurried after him: wide-eyed with nerves and wonder, but also bouncing with eagerness. Yu grimaced and followed, still unable to pin down his vague sense that something about all of this was wrong.
In the open, with a surprisingly confident stride, Mika led them toward the light. At the other end of the vast, palatial chamber, a large doorway came into view—and it currently stood open, providing a glimpse of another dim tunnel beyond.
The escape route to the human world above…
It was real.
Yu’s breath shuddered in his chest. It was real—and now it was mere steps away.
Everything within Yu screamed that it was too good to be true… and his instinct was proven right when a glib chuckle resounded from behind a column on the far side of the great hall.
“Hello, little lambs.”
As one, the children halted with startled gasps, drawing closer together. Yu himself stepped between them and the unseen source of the words, his arms extended slightly in some paltry attempt at a shielding stance. Only Mika stood his ground, still in front of them all by a few paces. His back was turned, but Yu saw the way his fists clenched tight at his sides.
The familiar sound of boots echoed on the tiles, and a tall, elegant figure in a white uniform stepped into view. Yu recognized it as the noble he had seen more than once around their appointed blood-collection center: a blithe, bantering creature who Mika himself often paused to speak with.
Yu had always suspected that noble of being the vampire to whom Mika sold his blood—and now he was sure.
“I was beginning to wonder if you’d show up,” the noble purred. He sauntered closer, lips twisted in a smirk, scarlet eyes dancing as he took in the orphans’ shocked and terrified stares. “Aw, just look at those faces. I love the expression humans make when all of their hopes have been dashed. It’s so intoxicating that I can’t stop playing this game.”
Mika did not shy away from the noble’s air of slinking menace. Instead, he took one step closer… and the vampire responded by looking down at him with an indulgent, fanged smile.
“Ah, sweet Mikaela… You have my thanks for bringing me all of your succulent little companions.”
With those words, Yu felt his reality splinter, plunging an even heavier weight on top of his already crushing despair.
The noble was thanking Mika, for his guiding them to the very place where he lay in wait. Was he saying… Could he possibly mean that…
That Mika had deliberately led them all into a trap?
For one brutal moment, a horrified sense of betrayal rose up and threatened to overwhelm Yu; but no sooner was the feeling fully realized than Mika gave the lie to it, speaking to the noble in a soft clear voice that carried a tone of deathly stillness.
“Do you really think I didn’t expect this, Ferid?”
Evidently the noble was taken aback by that. His eyebrows arched and his head tilted, regarding Mika with amused surprise. “Oh really?”
“It was obvious you left that map on your desk for me to find. I knew from the beginning it could only be a trap.”
“And yet you still came here—with all of your little friends.” Ferid smiled viciously. “For a human, I must admit that you always have been a cunning little brat. If you’ve chosen to deliver them to me willingly, thinking I’d spare you out of admiration for your ruthlessness… Well, you may have a point there.”
“Of course not.” Mika’s body tensed, as if he was bracing for a fight. “I didn’t care what you did to me… but I’ll never let you touch my family, Ferid. Never.”
The vampire’s expression of airy tolerance twisted then. His red eyes flamed with anger, and his lips drew back farther, baring his fangs.
In the next instant, Yu was conscious of a sudden upheaval of violent movement—but it was too swift for his eyes to follow. All he knew was that Ferid Bathory was no longer where he had been standing. Instead, he was leaning over Mika… and his hand was protruding through the center of Mika’s back. Blood coated his fingers and dripped from his long sharp talons, splattering on the white tiles.
Behind Yu, the other children screamed at the sight of Mika’s impalement upon Ferid’s arm.
Slowly, Mika’s lungs let out a ragged breath, but he did not collapse in a lifeless heap at Ferid’s feet. He barely even swayed. Instead, he raised his head, looking up into astonished crimson eyes… for it was Ferid’s face that suddenly reflected a look of shock.
“…Why do you think it took me so long to fall into your trap?” Mika ground out. Shaking hands rose from his sides, twining around Ferid’s forearm; and slowly, as the noble stared, he began to drag it out of his body. “I knew the chance to see my family escape was worth my life. But I also knew there was only one way I could be strong enough to keep you from hurting them. So after I found the map, I went behind your back. I made a deal with another vampire, and traded my blood to him… in exchange for just one swallow of his.”
Gasping, Ferid raised his left hand for a swipe at Mika’s throat. The movements of the two blurred once more. Somehow, in that moment, Mika was able to pull Ferid’s right arm from his torso the rest of the way and twist it—because a second later, Ferid was on his knees. His bloody arm was wrenched behind his back, and his expression was a picture of absolute disbelief.
Mika stood behind Ferid now. He was leaning down over Ferid’s shoulder, gripping him tightly, and his mouth was…
His mouth was fastened on the vampire’s own neck.
The blond boy’s eyes rolled upward, meeting Yu’s for the first time since his disappearance. They were still the brilliant blue they had always been, but their pupils were changed, narrowed to catlike slits. They were now a vampire’s eyes in all but their color.
Worse, as Mika’s jaws released Ferid’s throat, Yu saw the sharp fangs that slid out of the trickling punctures. He saw Mika lick the red from his lips and swallow.
“Go,” he whispered, or perhaps he only mouthed the word, but Yu heard it in the very depths of his soul.
Mika had not betrayed them. Instead, he had sacrificed his own humanity for his family’s chance at freedom. In order to become strong enough to hold off a vampire even briefly, he had somehow made a bargain to become a vampire himself.
Ferid’s free hand was moving, reaching for Mika… and in that moment, Yu remembered the gun he was carrying.
A cry of rage erupted from him as he threw himself forward, drawing the gun from the waistband of his pants. Its muzzle bumped the side of Ferid’s skull at the same moment he pulled the trigger, and blood sprayed as the bullet blew a sizable hole in the vampire’s head.
It wouldn’t be enough to kill him. Yuichiro knew that—but he knew it would at least buy them time enough to escape through the tunnel.
As Ferid’s limp body sagged out of his grasp and flopped to the ground, Mika stumbled back a few steps. He dragged his arm over his blood-smeared mouth, and it remained there, as if to conceal the monstrous shame of his new fangs.
Tears had welled up in his altered eyes.
Behind Yu, Akane’s trembling voice cried out his name. He glanced back to see her gaze shift between himself and Mika. The terror in her eyes was mirrored on the faces of the other children who clung around her—and it wasn’t only a fear of Ferid, or the violence they had just seen. It was also the visceral revulsion of seeing what one of their own “big brothers” had become.
Yu waved them away sharply. “Run! Through the tunnel—we don’t have much time!”
“But—!” Akane choked out.
“We’ll be right behind you! Just go!”
That assurance, it seemed, was just enough. Akane turned, pushing the smaller children ahead of her, and they fled toward the exit Mikaela had paid such a price to bring them to.
Once satisfied that the others were safely away, Yu turned back to Mika. The gun was still heavy in his hand, but he didn’t even consider the thought of pointing it at his no-longer-human foster brother. In that moment, Mika looked even more terrified and lost than Yu felt.
“Come on,” Yu snapped, and waved the gun at Ferid. “Before he gets up!”
Mika shook his head fiercely. With visible reluctance, his arm dropped away from his face. His lips were parted for panting breaths, leaving his fangs in full view.
“I can’t, Yu…”
“What are you talking about? Of course you can! Just get away with the rest of us, and—and we’ll—”
“No. It’s no use.” Mika’s breath rasped in and out of his lungs. “If you knew how it feels—how this whole time, it took everything in me not to just grab you all and drain every drop from your bodies…” He shut his eyes tightly. “If I went with you… I’d only kill you all.”
“…It’s okay, Yu. I knew when I decided this that I could never leave here.” Devastatingly, a ghost of his old fragile smile appeared as he looked up. “Just take care of our family, and be happy. That’s all I want.”
Something like a sob choked in Yu’s throat, as despair and rage warred in his heart. It couldn’t end like this. Not for Mika. The one among them who had given his all for their escape could not be the only one who was left behind.
“I can’t leave you here, Mika! The fangs will—”
“Nothing they do to me can matter anymore,” Mika asserted steadily. Even so, Yu saw the shadow that passed through his semi-vampiric eyes, and knew he anticipated punishment for enabling the other Hyakuya orphans to escape—let alone for what he had done to himself.
“It does matter! How am I supposed to walk away and just let them have you? You’re still one of us, Mika… You’re family!”
For one moment, hearing that word from Yu’s lips brought an expression of joy over Mika’s face. Fresh tears flowed down his cheeks, but his smile grew brighter. Even marred by the protruding points of fangs, it still shone like sunlight.
“I’m glad I got to hear you say that, just once.”
The smile faded, and his eyelids flickered. His gaze dropped to the gun that was still in Yu’s hand.
“Then if you really feel that way… if I’m still family…” He took a faltering step forward. “Please, Yu. Please be the one to spare me from going on another moment like this.”
Shock rippled through Yu’s already strained heart. “What?”
“I’m not completely a vampire yet, because I haven’t drunk human blood… so maybe that means I can still die.” He scrubbed a hand across his face and gazed up at Yu, his eyes perversely filled with beseeching hope. “Please. Before they take me… Before I become anything worse.”
Somewhere in his head, Yu understood exactly what Mika was asking him—but his mind refused to accept it. The horror of it was even greater than the monstrousness of seeing Mika bury his new fangs in Ferid’s throat.
“…How can you ask me that?”
A few steps away, Ferid’s crumpled body twitched. One hand stretched out, bloody talons drawing red trails across the tiles.
Alarmed urgency flooded into Mika’s face. His eyes shot back to Yu’s, their expression now pleading. “Yu, I’m begging you. Hurry!”
“Just shut up and run away with us, idiot!”
“I already told you I can’t!”
Ferid’s head turned, and his eyelids began to flutter.
“There’s no other way!”
With the same speed he had displayed against Ferid, Mika lunged. His hands were suddenly wrapped around Yu’s on the gun. Choking back a gasp, Yu tried to pull the weapon away. He could feel the terrifying new strength in the hands that were clasped over his… but he also knew Mika was holding back much of that strength, afraid to hurt him.
They wrestled for control of the slippery, ornate pistol. Mika’s hand closed around its barrel, and he wrenched it back toward him.
Afterward, Yu never knew exactly how it happened. He was unsure of whether his own finger twitched, or whether Mika’s finger slipped in and squeezed against his own.
All he knew was that a shot exploded from the gun, and Mika fell back, with eyes blank and blood pouring from his head.
The gun dropped from Yu’s hand—mercifully not misfiring when it clattered to the floor. A moan began in his throat as he slowly backed away, his body shaking.
An arm’s length from Mika’s sprawled form, Ferid growled and made the first effort to push himself up.
Yu’s moan rose to a scream of anguish as he tore himself away, fleeing to the tunnel through which the other orphans had already escaped. He kept on screaming as he ran, stumbling over rocks and tree roots in the bare earth of the passageway beyond. He screamed until the moment he broke out beneath a starlit night sky, and fell sobbing into Akane’s waiting arms.
The boy was awakened by a kick to his side that briefly shattered several ribs.
Dull pain exploded through his flank, and he lolled over with a grunt. His head hurt even worse, his skull pounding heavily, and his entire body ached with something like hunger. When he moved to sit up—and did not quite succeed—he felt a sticky slickness coating the floor around him.
“Rest assured that you’re going to pay for this in full measure, Mikaela,” a silken voice hissed above him.
Was that his own name?
With an effort, he managed to crack his eyes open. The delicate-featured but very angry face looming over him made him regret it.
“Who…” he burbled, tasting a trace of something sharp and bitter-sweet on his lips. “Who…?”
“That is exactly my question. If I recover nothing else out of this fiasco, I intend to find out whose blood it was that turned you. And bear this in mind, Mikaela: your becoming a vampire only means I can torture you for eternity, if that’s what it takes.”
“I think not, Ferid,” a distinctly female voice cut in.
The boy—Mikaela—opened his eyes once more. Turning his head, he saw a black-clad girl with long pink hair striding across the spacious white hall. He couldn’t quite have explained why at that moment, but he knew she was a vampire—just as the one called Ferid was, and as Ferid had claimed Mikaela was himself.
Her gaze was fixed on Ferid, and she looked none too pleased.
“Explain yourself,” she commanded him.
Ferid put on a wan smirk. However, even Mikaela could see the glimmer of intimidation in his eyes.
“Ah, my dear Queen Krul, what an unexpected pleasure. I really do wish I could tell you the particulars of what’s happened, but as you can see, I’m still recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. I’m afraid my memory is just a tad bit hazy right—”
His ironic excuse was cut short by a roundhouse kick from Queen Krul that sent him flying twenty feet across the room.
“I’ll have my answers from you later,” she promised—and then her gaze dropped to Mikaela.
“Well, well… This is a surprising state to find one of my Seraphs in.” She muttered those words as if to herself, and her glance flicked back in Ferid’s direction. “If you had anything to do with this, Ferid…”
“Ah, that at least I can honestly proclaim my innocence of,” Ferid returned, blithely sauntering back across the room, as if Krul had never even touched him. “It seems he arranged this little surprise himself. I was just about to begin an investigation of exactly whose blood he used to turn himself when…”
Krul shot him a look that instantly silenced him. “I’ll take care of that matter myself. You’re dismissed… for now.”
Ferid half-chuckled, just a bit forcedly. He looked for a moment as if he would say something more; but then he seemed to think better of it, and merely shrugged, strolling away. His receding footsteps echoed through the hall.
Apparently satisfied that Ferid was removing himself from the scene, Krul bent down over Mikaela.
“Now, as for you,” she said. Although her tone was still somewhat clipped, it was decidedly more gentle. “Do you have anything to say about how exactly you got into this fix?”
The boy blinked up at her. She had red eyes, like Ferid.
If Mikaela was a vampire as well, he wondered if his eyes were also red.
“I… don’t know,” he answered, his voice little more than a whisper. “Don’t remember—anything.”
The Queen’s eyebrows arched. “Nothing at all? But surely you know what it was that brought you here.”
“No. I don’t even know…” Mikaela swallowed hard, as the first glimmer of confused fear penetrated his fog of pain and hunger. “Who I am.”
Krul’s expression softened into a troubled concern. Her eyes skimmed over him more intently. Then she reached down, and he winced in pain as her fingers brushed across the left side of his head.
“Please…” he murmured, not even knowing what he was asking her for.
The probing ceased. With sudden resolve, Krul raised her hand to slide a talon across the crook of her neck and shoulder. Bright blood welled up, and she lifted Mikaela in her arms, pulling him close to her.
The scent of her blood left him no more doubt of what he was—for he instinctively arched toward it, clutching at her needily. His mouth closed over the gash at the base of her neck, and he sucked the sweet redness with a ravenous thirst.
Some part of him thought he should be afraid. Yet it was hard to feel such a thing when the taste of her only filled him with a deep satisfaction and pleasure, while the pain of his wounds swiftly began to diminish.
He felt her stroking his hair, and heard her voice murmur softly in his ear.
“It’s alright now, Mika… I’m going to take you home.”
Author’s Note: the requester’s prompts included the suggestion that the Hyakuya orphans might turn the tables on Ferid somehow. That was intriguing to me, so I ran with it—along with the idea of Mika actually being as cunning as he insists he is—and this story is the result. It definitely got much, much longer than I expected!
Of course, the way events might unfold differently after this is open to interpretation. Perhaps Yu and the other orphans are found by Guren, and they all join the Japanese Imperial Demon Army together; or perhaps, believing Mika is dead, they really do escape to a place beyond the vampires’ reach and live out their lives in peace. As for Mika, perhaps a future encounter with Yu triggers his memories—or perhaps they never do return, and he spends the rest of his life fully accepting his identity as a vampire.
© 2016 Jordanna Morgan