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About Varied / Professional Karlie LucasFemale/United States Recent Activity
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Chapter Twelve: Back We Go

It had taken some convincing, but Jiro had finally agreed to lay aside his usual attire for this last evening of their vacation. Instead, he wore a rented tuxedo of jet black. His usual gloves had been replaced with gentleman's gloves of white. Beside him, Kotaro wore similar attire, only much smaller.

Zelman grinned. Everyone was wearing a jet black suit with various accents. The main difference was that his was the only one without full length tails. Everything was going according to plan. He was very glad he'd found out what Jiro had had in mind and had decided to hijack this last day. After all, the Old Blood's plans had been boring and plain. This was showing them just what life was really about.

All eyes turned to the elevator as it chimed its arrival. The doors slid open and Jiro's mouth almost dropped open as the four ladies left its confines, all dressed in very fine evening wear. Damien, James, and Scott's mouths did drop open. Matt was too busy on his phone to notice.

Kotaro's eyes shown with amazement. "Wow. Mimi, you look like a movie star!"

The girl blushed furiously, head bowed so that she was looking at the floor, hands clasped in front of her. But even though she wasn't looking up, she could feel about three pairs of eyes on her.

Jiro found himself almost unconsciously walking to her side and taking her hand, then kissing it gently. "Mimiko, you look amazing," he finally managed to say.

Zelman smirked in a self-satisfied way as everyone paired up. There was no mistake who stood out the most out of the girls though. It was just as he'd planned. He checked his watch. "Well, it looks like it's time. Everyone ready?"

The girls nodded, not sure what the plan was, but they had a good guess. Their partners also nodded, smiling like they were entranced by their partners and didn't care where they went so long as they went together.

Zelman led them out of the hotel where a white stretch limo was waiting for them. A valet held the door for them as they all swept into the posh confines of leather upholstered seats and silk decor. The vampire tapped on the window that separated them from the driver. When the window was halfway down, he gave their destination, then leaned back against his seat, totally relaxed.

Mimiko smoothed her gown with one gloved hand, stealing glances at Jiro in his black tux. She tried not to blush any more, but seeing him so attired made her stomach do funny flips inside and she couldn't help herself so she tried to distract herself. "Do you know where we're going?" she whispered into his ear, more embarrassed when she noticed that the other couples seemed to be snuggling.

"I have no idea," Jiro replied softly. "But I'm sure that we will not be jumping out of another plane," he tried to joke.

While they had been talking softly, their driver had moved out onto the Vegas Strip and was driving surely towards their destination. A few turns later brought them to a more modern looking building with large glass windows in front. A name was scrawled across the top of the building in fancy script, lit with low intensity lights. Whatever the name was, it wasn't in English or Japanese.

Lucienne and Karri's eyes went up in surprise when they saw the name. "Amazing," they seemed to breath at the same time.

The limo pulled to a stop and another valet opened the door for them, holding it as they all disembarked from inside, the girls standing a bit self-consciously as they waited for Zelman, who was the last to leave the limo's confines.

A doorman in a tailored uniform held the door to the fancy restaurant open for them, his hat tipped as they brushed by in silk and satin. Just past the front, a matre de waited for them, seemed to be expecting them. He didn't even ask for their party's name but had them led to two tables near the dance floor.

Zelman settled into his seat, uniformed men helping the ladies into their chairs. "Order whatever you like," he said in a carefree tone.

Almost everyone's mouths dropped open at that offer. A few of the boys started to protest but he waved them aside. "Consider this an apology for earlier," he suggested, as if treating the girls to the spa, and sending the boys off to play hadn't been compensation enough. His winnings had been large, after all.

Kotaro's eyes sparkled as he looked at the menu a waiter placed in front of him. "Wow! They have so many different choices!"

Music began to play from a live band on a stage at the back of the dance floor. Various couples were converging to dance to the slightly upbeat tune. Chandeliers sparkled, shedding rainbow colored light across the dancers and diners alike.

Mimiko wasn't sure what she ordered from the menu, but it sounded good. Her mind was in a whirl at the finery around her and she didn't realize, until she was already on the dance floor, that someone had asked her to dance.

"I hope you're enjoying yourself," Zelman said in her ear as they performed an almost flawless waltz. Mimiko's feet were not quite up to the dancing, especially not in the shoes she was wearing, but the red-head was a very skillful dancer. The girl nodded mutely. "And, are you willing to forgive me of my little pranks?"

The compromiser wasn't sure how to answer that. She gulped slightly, trying to compose herself. "You did pull a few nasty tricks," she finally said, remembering the terror of free-fall when he'd thrown them out of the airplane earlier that day. "The girls think you're trying to woo me."

Zelman laughed lightly. "Woo you," he said in amusement. "That's such an old-fashioned term. But," he paused thoughtfully, "I suppose there is some truth to that." He grinned suddenly. "Someone had to give that stick in the mud a push."

Mimiko stopped abruptly, eyes filled with surprise. "What?" The other dancers swirled around them, their own elegant eveningwear shimmering in the half-light.

Zelman lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it, making a show of it. "For a beautiful women, who wouldn't want to move heaven and earth?"

She shifted uncomfortably in place, not sure what she should do. Her high heels would not make running easy at all. She was more likely to fall and twist an ankle. The weird thing was that part of her was enjoying every minute of the attention he was showing her, while another part was clamoring for her to make a hasty retreat to the safe confines of Jiro's arms. It was very confusing.

Zelman glanced over at Jiro as he held his lips to Mimiko's hand, his eyes twinkling in an almost challenge that made the other Black Blood clench a fist under the table. He smirked as he lowered the girl's hand and began to dance again. "The Silver Blade doesn't like my attention being so focused on you," he commented with idle amusement. "I wonder if he'll try something."

Mimiko tried to look at Jiro with every turn they made; almost wild-eyed in her anxiety that Zelman's words might prove true that the Old Blood would try something. They did not need to be kicked out because of a disagreement between two vampires over one human woman.

The Crimson-Eyed Butcher paused in his dancing. "I believe our food is ready," he announced and took her hand to lead her back to their table.

Jiro glanced at Mimiko, almost as if he were asking if she were okay. Her expression was one of shock. He knew exactly what the other vampire had said to her though, having heard it all, despite the music.

Mimiko mentally shook herself and looked at the plate of pasta a server had placed in front of her. To try and avoid, or at least delay, any further comments about the situation, she picked up a fork and began eating, signaling the others that they should do the same. She tried to ignore Zelman's smirks from across the table.


The evening continued on and dessert was brought out between more dancing. Jiro had not been allowed to dance with Mimiko, through some design agreed upon by the other men in the party, but she had no lack of partners, from their tables and from others.

Her head felt like and airy, like she was floating through the evening without touching ground. It came as almost a jolt when she realized that her current partner was Jiro. She was so surprised that she, once again, stopped dancing in the middle of the floor.

Jiro lifted a brow. "Is my dancing that bad? I know I haven't had nearly as much practice as others in this room." His tone held a hint of bitterness in it as he looked away from her lovely face.

Mimiko blinked rapidly and touched his cheek. "No. I was just surprised. It felt like they were purposely keeping us apart," she admitted. "I was just startled."

He gave a slight scowl. He'd come to the same conclusion, and wondered what kind of game Zelman was playing. He would not let it ruin her last evening though. He would not. "I hope you've enjoyed yourself despite that."

She smiled at him, and then quickly looked down in embarrassment. "Yes." She didn't dare say more as they were swept back up into the dancing. She tried to hide her blushing by not looking at him, heart pounding. Finally, she couldn't take it any longer and looked up. "Jiro…"

The Silver Blade wasn't sure what she was going to say as they were suddenly signaled that it was time to leave. He glanced over at an ornate clock that indicated it was well past midnight. They still had to go back to that hotel and change out of their borrowed clothes, then travel back to their hosts' apartment to gather their things. Their plane would be leaving in less than eight hours. It was with great reluctance that he announced what she already knew. "We should go."

Weariness stole over her as he led her back across the dance floor to the rest of their party. She only half acknowledged everyone else as they talked about how wonderful the evening had been as they re-entered the limo.


In a haze, she found herself changing back into her own clothes, taking down the elaborate hairdo, washing makeup off her face, and returning the silly stiletto heels. Her mind refused to tell her what she was going to ask Jiro before they'd been interrupted on the dance floor.

Were they back at the apartment? Were Karri and Lucienne helping her to repack her things? Was she trying to catch a last minute hour of sleep? What time was it anyway?

Jiro stared absently at the suitcase he shared with Kotaro. What had Mimiko been about to say back in Vegas? He had a feeling he knew, but didn't want to admit it. He was tired. Kotaro had fallen asleep on the way back, and so had Mimiko. He didn't think she was really awake when they'd arrived back at the apartment. Would she even remember to tell him later?

Scott poked his head into his shared room. "Hey, we're ready to leave whenever you are. Matt's got the van downstairs at the front door."

With a sigh, Jiro picked up the suitcase and followed him out the door, Kotaro stumbling behind him.

Karri yawned as she greeting Mimiko and helped her put her bags inside the vehicle. She was sure her Japanese friend wasn't really awake, but that didn't matter too much as everyone else piled into the van, those who had been able to climb out of bed to join them, that was.

Matt put the car in gear and drove them back to the airport. They all paraded inside, half supporting each other to the terminal building.

Mimiko tried to not yawn as she swayed where she stood, plane tickets in hand in front of the security checkpoint. She absently hugged everyone, including Kotaro and Jiro. Zelman had disappeared sometime between getting back from Vegas and everyone packing.

"Come back sometime," Lucienne requested. "Any time you need another vacation. Can't promise it will be as eventful as this one was, but we can always try."

Mimiko hugged her again. "I'll try."

Jiro discreetly indicated that it was time to leave. Another round of hugs ensued before she finally made it through the security gate and to their terminal, half dragging her suitcase behind her.

After another period of waiting, where Mimiko dozed in one of the many chairs in the lounge, they boarded their plane.

Jiro smiled almost wistfully as he tucked a small blanket over the compromiser's lap. It would be a long flight back to Japan, plenty of time to contemplate just what Zelman had been up to, and what Mimiko had tried to say on the dance floor.


(I hope you enjoyed reading this story. I had fun writing it, but it is time to move onto my original writing)
Chapter Eleven: All Dressed Up And...

Mimiko settled down into the most divine substance she'd ever felt on her skin, mud. The person who had said that mud was good for nothing but to stay outdoors on the ground, or to make things dirty, obviously didn't know what they were missing out on. The smell wasn't the most pleasant in the world, but it felt oh so good on her skin. She was almost more than willing to forgive Zelman for his trick earlier. Almost.

Three sets of contented sighs followed her as her American friends sank into their mud baths. "This is what I was really looking forward to," Lucienne commented as a spa attendant placed cucumber slices over her eyes. "It's not every day someone offers to pay for a complete spa package. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Zelman guy has a thing for you."

Mimiko's cheeks flamed under her facial mask. "What? No! That's not possible. I mean, come on, guys! You can't be serious!"

Karri glanced over at the crimson girl, lifting one of her cucumbers to peek. "It's not impossible, you know. And there are some definite indicators that say he might."

The compromiser squirmed in her mud. "No. I mean, come on! He and my mother were friends. He couldn't possibly, even remotely have those kinds of feelings towards me!"

The two girls exchanged glances with each other while Sara ignored them all. "We'll see," they said almost in unison.


Zelman smirked as he watched the roulette wheel spin round and round, the small ball inside bouncing across the numbers as fate tried to decide which one it would finally land on. Roulette, one of the most up in the air ways to gamble. There was no way to tell exactly where the little marble would land, at least not if you were a Red Blood. As a Black Blood, however, especially one endowed with such things as Hide Hand, it was a much different matter. The dealers cheated, after all. Why couldn't he?

He snuck a furtive glance over at Jiro and the other boys who were not really participating. Kotaro was too young, and the American boys didn't seem to be interested in playing any games of chance. Instead, they walked around and watched, or, in Kotaro's case, stood at the edge of the casino because he wasn't old enough to actually enter. But Jiro stood not too far away so that was fine with the casino employees. After all, children should not be left unattended.

The ball came to a sudden halt, landing on a black thirteen space, just like he'd planned on happening. The stacks of chips on the corresponding square raised a brow from the dealer, but he shrugged and slid over the right number of chips for the win, more than tripling the ones already there. Some people just got lucky, then cocky, and then they lost it all. That was how it worked.

Zelman could tell what the dealer was thinking without having to Eye Raid him or anything. Red Bloods were sometimes so transparent it wasn't even funny. The corners of his lips went up a fraction of a centimeter more as he thought about Mimiko's reaction after having touched down from her little "jump". He was sure she, and possibly Jiro, had been about ready to pummel him. If it hadn't been for the help of those American boys, he might have been in need of some blood, but since they'd managed to call the enraged vampire down, that had not been necessary. Zelman had promised not to suck from any of the locals, after all.

The vampire pulled his winnings towards him. The chips amounted well into the high digits. They would more than pay for whatever he wanted. He could set them all up in the hotel for their last night if he'd wanted, in the executive suite, but that was probably not the best idea as the Company trio's plane left early in the morning and they'd have to drive back to the college to get their things, a couple hour drive, then to the airport there. Of course, he could go there, get their stuff, come back, and change their tickets to leave from the airport in town, but he figured he didn't need them to be any more mad at him than they were. Jiro was frowning at him in disapproval.

He smirked towards the other Black Blood and bet half of his winnings on number seven. The dealer spun the wheel.

This was definitely the life, Mimiko decided. She could get used to this. The mud bath had been amazing, and now she was getting the full manicure and pedicure treatment. Her feet had been buffed, the calluses removed by expert hands. Her cuticles had been treated and her skin was as soft as the day she'd been born. All she needed now was for all the little knots in her back to vanish and she'd feel like a completely different person.

The others were enjoying their own sessions on either side of her, hair wrapped in white towels, fluffy robes over their bodies, cucumbers still over their eyes. They were either silently enjoying this experience or had fallen asleep. They were no longer teasing her about Zelman.

Thinking about him, she couldn't help but give a little scrunch of her shoulders. Did he really like her that way? He was paying for the works for all of them. Of course he had money to burn, but still. Was there something up his sleeve? Zelman didn't do things just because he was being nice. There was usually an ulterior motive at play. Was he trying to apologize for giving her the scare of her life, or was he secretly trying to woo her.

The idea made her feel very uncomfortable. Sure she liked him, but only a very little. Her heart belonged to Jiro. And she did owe him a debt of gratitude for helping save her life all those months ago. So what was he doing? Was he trying to show up Jiro? Was he trying show her what he could give her if she chose him instead? She shook her head, trying not to dislodge the towel wrapped loosely around her head. Impossible! Right?

Kotaro grinned like a kid on crack. Now this was more like it! "Bang! Bang!" He fired the virtual gun at the video game's screen as his virtual persona fought through a combat scenario. Jiro probably would not approve of his choice of games, but everyone else had persuaded him to give a few games a try himself, and they were currently racing him in one of those multi-racer games. He didn't need to know.

"Bang! Bang!" He hit a few more targets before another character got his. He put the gun down and retrieved his playing card, heading over to see how his brother was doing.

Jiro was not one for modern gadgets, but after having had a brief explanation by Scott, he wasn't doing too bad, at least as far as steering his virtual car went. He still didn't know how to work the pedals and so was laps behind the others. But that was all right. He could sense that Kotaro was having fun so that made his frustration a bit more bearable. He just wished he knew how Mimiko was doing.

She'd been upset about the whole being pushed out of a plane incident. Who could blame her? Jiro wasn't too happy about it either. But he couldn't cause an international incident without causing a lot more trouble than was worth the effort. Besides, these Americans didn't really seem to know much about actual vampires and they didn't need to find out.

His thoughts kept going to Mimiko, wondering how she was doing, what she was doing. Only half off his attention was on the game. He was surprised to find it suddenly over, his car coming into last place. He blinked in surprised. "Ah, it would seem that I lost this time around."

Scott chortled slightly while the others rolled their eyes.

"You need to use the pedals," James offered helpfully.

Jiro glanced down at the pedals as he exited the playing area. "Ah, yes. I will have to try that next time." He saw Kotaro standing a few feet away, watching. "And what games have you been playing?" He smiled affectionately.

Kotaro jumped up. "I played this really awesome game called Dance Dance Revolution! It was so fun, brother! You try to do all these moves following the arrows as they scroll up the screen!"

Jiro blinked. The game sounded far too complicated to him. "I'm sure it's very fun," he said absently. He glanced at a clock on the wall. They'd been at this, either in the game room or watching Zelman rack up more chips, for almost three hours now. Surely the girls would be done by now.

Kotaro noted his distracted glance. "You're thinking about Mimi, aren't you? But it's okay! Zelman said he paid for the whole works for everyone and that it'd take several hours. I know she's enjoying herself!"

Jiro gave him a wry look. "Oh?"

The boy nodded firmly. "With how stressed she's been at work and everything, having a chance to play in the mud and everything's got to be relaxing, right? I mean, I always liked playing in the mud."

Jiro smiled in confusion. He wasn't sure what his brother was talking about, exactly, but he was sure there was some kind of miscommunication somewhere. He decided it was best to just go along with him. "In that case, you're probably right."

Damien came over. "They're all probably getting a makeover right now." He saw the confused look on his Japanese friend's face. "You know. Putting on makeup and getting their hair done? That kind of thing."

The vampire nodded in sudden understanding. "Ah. Yes, that might not be a bad idea for her. She doesn't often dress up. Perhaps it is not a bad idea at all."


Mimiko looked into the mirror. She almost didn't recognize herself. She had designer makeup on her face and her hair had been done up in a series of soft curls that had been pinned up around her face, giving her an almost diva look.

She twirled in front of the mirror slowly. She wasn't used to wearing high heels. Her midnight blue dress swirled gracefully around her in a very form-flattering manner. She looked like a movie star or a billionaire's daughter, or wife. Thinking the word wife, she colored behind the makeup. Zelman had paid for the dress too.

A knock sounded at the door. "Mimiko, can we come in?" The door opened and Kari's head poked inside, hair done up in a sleek manner. She paused in the open doorway and stared. "Wow."

Behind her, Lucienne and Sarah also stared, their own evening style dresses shimmering softly in the light, hair down up, makeup making their faces practically glow like they were some kind of angels. "Wow is right. You look like a million dollars! Zelman must really think highly of you!"

That comment earned her a nudge in the back from one of her friends.

Mimiko blushed even more. "Stop it! There's just no way!" She looked down at the carpet and the black shoes she was wearing, designer brand with a lot of straps. They gave her an additional four inches to her height.

"If I didn't now any better," Sarah spoke up, "it would seem that he intends to take us either to some kind of club or formal event."

Mimiko gulped. "I was afraid of that." She turned back to the mirror, her nude painted nails reflecting the light from the lights over the mirror. "I just hope dancing isn't on the menu."

Lucienne glanced up at that comment. "Can't you dance?"

Mimiko turned in a bit of hurry and had to put out a steadying hand on the counter top. "Not in these shoes! They're death traps! I can't believe I'm wearing them!"

"But they look good on you," Kari spoke up. "Walking in heels isn't easy. There's a sort of trick to it. It's mostly balance though."

The compromiser groaned. "Great. Then I'll be falling left and right in these things!"

"I doubt either Jiro or Zelman will let you," Kari replied. "It's obvious they both like you."

Mimiko bit her lip. "Please stop with that, okay? I'm nervous enough wearing this thing." She indicated the dress with its sheer outer layer, the silk under layer falling like a cascade down her skin. It was a modest dress, longer in length, with little capped sleeves, but the neckline was lower than she was used to wearing, even if it didn't show off anything it shouldn't.

Lucienne agreed. "Okay. But we should hurry. Scott just called to say they were waiting for us down in the lobby."

A little thrill ran down Mimiko's back, whether of fear or anticipated, she couldn't tell. The masseuse had done a wonderful job getting all the knots out, and with everything else, it was almost hard to feel stressed, though anxious wasn't quite the same thing. "Let's go. I just want to get this over with." She pulled on her elbow length gloves, wondering how Jiro was going to be dressed.
Chapter Ten: Afraid of Heights?

Zelman smiled to himself as he stared up at the night sky. Thanks to some quick thinking, and a bit of string pulling, he had managed to ruin Jiro's plans for Mimiko's last day. In their stead, he had a lot of other things already bought and paid for. He just hoped that the other Black Blood wouldn't throw a fit when he found out just want he had in mind.

Of course, he wasn't going to tell them what was going on until it was too late to change anything. He'd already talked to the guys in the group, and they'd all agreed, pretty much, to the change in plans. At the very least, they were game, especially since Zelman had put in that everything was already paid for and they didn't have to spend a dime. The hardest part would be to trick Jiro and Mimiko. But that could wait until the morning. He grinned up at the waning moon. This would be fun.


"Rise and shine!" Matt pounded on the girls' apartment door at six in the morning, waking the entire place up. "Day light's wasting!"

Lucienne groaned and put a pillow over her head. "Day light hasn't even come up yet," she mumbled, but the pounding on the door continued.

"You have ten minutes to get ready before we leave you here!" With that, the pounding stopped.

"I think he means it," Kari said as she rolled out of bed, encouraging Lucienne to do the same. "Let's go see what they want. I'll go make sure Mimiko's awake."

Lucienne yawned as she got up and headed to the closet. What on earth had those boys planned for them today? She just hoped it wasn't anything too crazy.

Kari went to Mimiko's room and knocked. "You awake?"

Mimiko groaned. "How could I sleep with that racket?" She opened the door, dressed but with hair that obviously had not been brushed down yet. "Ugh. What's with waking up at the crack of dawn? I thought Jiro had something planned."

Kari shrugged. "Who knows? But we'd probably better go and see what they've got going on or be left behind. I have a feeling they're planning on dragging everyone they can with them, including your vampire friends."

Mimiko rolled her eyes. This was all crazy. She still didn't feel like she'd had enough sleep. They'd gotten to bed late, after all. Well, maybe not the others, but she had. Stupid vampires. Why did they have to be so difficult? She'd only wanted to give Jiro a little blood, and then with Zelman interjecting his usual annoying self into the situation… Ugh! She practically yanked the brush through her hair as she looked for her shoes.


Kotaro had to refrain from giggling when he'd been told what was going on by the Red Blood boys. He'd been sworn to secrecy, though, and couldn't tell Jiro or Mimiko what they were going to do, but he was excited. He couldn't wait for them to reach their destination and do what Zelman had decided they should do. He didn't care that the original plans had changed. Zelman's seemed much more awesome, after all.

His face was lit up with pent up energy and excitement as he waited for the girls to come out of their apartment, Jiro leaning tiredly against the wall, hat pulled low over his eyes. "This is going to be so much fun! I can't wait to see what all will happen!"

"Did we really have to get up this early," Jiro wondered, feeling more than half dead, his shoulders slumped, his umbrella held in one hand like a cane.

Zelman grinned as he walked over and thumped him on a shoulder. "Come now, you'll enjoy it! I promise!"

Jiro rolled his eyes as the door opposite them opened and the girls came out, Lucienne, Karri, Sarah, and Mimiko. He took a moment to glance critically at the compromiser, who was yawning hugely. She looked like she hadn't slept nearly long enough. He knew the feeling.

"All right!" James clapped his hands together, "It's time to head down to the van and make it down before we miss our time slot!" He pulled out the van keys and handed them to Matt, who would be driving this time around. "We'll get breakfast once we get there, so those of you who want to catnap on the way down are more than welcome to do so."

Mimiko stifled another yawn. "And where, exactly, are we going?"

Scott smiled. "We're not saying. It's a," he put his finger to his lip, "secret. You'll just have to wait and see."

Zelman chuckled at the expressions on his associates' faces. He carried a bag in one hand, though what was inside was anyone's guess. "This should be amusing," he commented. "Shall we be off then?"

At the vampire's suggestion, they all headed down to the van, eight Red Bloods and two vampires.


They drove south, and a bit West, which was probably a good thing, considering the sun was beginning to rise by the time they'd made it to what the locals called The Gorge, a massive area of mountains that had been split by the road, revealing intricate canyons and rivers. It also decreased their travel speed due to the windiness of the road.

Jiro had pulled his hat down over his face; his arms folded, and was snoozing in the back seat, Mimiko leaning against his side, also asleep. The boys exchanged smiles at this. The vampire continued to nap, even though his younger brother was bouncing up and down in anticipation in the seat in front of them.

Zelman made no comments about the arrangement, but seemed more than amused by it, the grin on his face revealing a hint of his fangs. How amusing would this be, having a bit of fun at the younger Black Blood's expense? He really wondered what the younger vampire would do, especially when he realized there was nothing he could do about it.

Another hour passed before the bright billboards and casinos began to come into sight. But before they actually reached Las Vegas, Matt turned off and headed towards a small airport, following some directions on a piece of paper. He pulled up next to a large hanger. "We're here! Should we wake those two?" He indicated the sleeping compromiser and vampire.

Zelman grinned. "No. Let's let them sleep a bit longer, shall we? Make the surprise more exciting."

Karri opened the van door and stepped out. "But aren't they required to attend the before class?"

The red-eyed vampire laughed. "Don't worry. I've already arranged everything. It shouldn't be a problem. Let them sleep. Maybe the Silver Blade will be less cranky, eh?" He winked.

Lucienne followed Karri out. "Let him have his fun," she advised. "I know Mimiko will have fun. She told me, once, that she wouldn't mind doing something like this just once."

Matt turned around in his seat. "Well, everyone out. Just call me when you're ready for them to go inside. I'm going to catch a few Z's myself."

Sarah glanced at Matt. "You're not coming?"

"Nope," Matt said from behind closed lids. "I'm just the driver for this round."

Zelman glanced at his phone for the time. "We should get inside. The class will start soon. I want to be sure the proper pairings occur."

With a bit of jostling, which, thankfully didn't wake the sleeping pair in the back seat, everyone but Matt exited the vehicle and headed towards the waiting hanger.


Mimiko woke groggily to the hum of machinery. She almost gasped as she realized she was no longer in the van, but strapped in on a metal bench in a cylinder shaped something with something lumpy strapped to her back. "Wha…? Where am I?"

Zelman's grinning face peered at her from the left. "Good morning, Sleeping Beauty," he greeted. "It's about time you woke up. I'd hold tight though, if I were you. We're just about to take off."

Mimiko's eyes went wide in panic. "What?" She looked out the only window across from her, past Scott's grinning face, as the landscape went whooshing by them. She averted her eyes to quickly glance around the interior.

Jiro was leaning against the plane's wall, on the other side of her, Kotaro sitting between them. He wasn't wearing the same clothing. Somehow, despite his still being asleep, he'd changed into completely black clothing, and had a ski mask over his head. If it weren't for the usual goggles, and the fact that she didn't know anyone quite so tall or lanky, she could have easily mistaken him for someone else.

Kotaro was hunched up in excitement, his face practically glowing with anticipation. "Can I wake him now? Can I! Can I?" He was practically bouncing in his seat.

Zelman's eyes sparkled in amusement as the plane left the ground, quickly picking up speed and greater altitude. "Sure. Why not?"

"Yay!" Kotaro turned in his seat and shook his companion. "Brother! Brother! Wake up! We're in a plane!"

Jiro almost jumped up, except he was strapped in. He immediately felt his head, then looked around. He noticed everyone sitting, staring at him. "Would someone please tell me just what is going on and why I'm wearing completely different clothing?" His tone was more than a little irritated.

Zelman unbuckled his safety belt and walked over, leaning towards the wall a bit as the plane banked. "Well, well. You finally woke up! And just in time! We're on our way up for an appointment with fate."

Behind his goggle's, Jiro's eyes went wide. "What did you say?"

Kotaro couldn't contain his excitement any longer. "We're going to jump out of a plane!"

"What?" Jiro almost broke his harness. "Zelman, you had better explain what exactly is going on, and you'd better explain now."

The other vampire shrugged. "This is my contribution to our little vacation. Sky jumping. We'll be going down in pairs." He paused a moment, almost thoughtfully. "By the way, according to the luck of the draw, you and Kotaro are partners, and I'll be teaming up with Mimiko." He grinned hugely as he inserted himself between Kotaro and the compromiser.

"What?" Jiro and Mimiko spoke in unison as they looked at him incredulously.

"That's the luck of the draw," Zelman grinned.

At that moment, a man came from the front of the plane. "Hey everyone! We've just about reached our altitude so I'm going to go over a few last minute items. Please make sure your chute buckles are secure." He tugged on his to show them how to check. "Take the carabineer attached to your pack and hook it onto this bar." He took his own and attached it to the bar that hung above everyone's head on the right side of the plane, where the window was.

"When you jump, this will pull at a cord on your pack," he continued, "which will break away once you are clear of the plane, deploying your chute. If this does not deploy your chute, pull on these cords here." He tugged gently on two cords along the straps of his pack. "This will release your chute, but don't pull them unless your chute doesn't release once you're clear of the plane."

Mimiko blinked rapidly. "Wait, you mean we're actually going to jump?"

The instructor nodded. "That's what everyone here has signed up for," he confirmed.

"But I didn't!"

Her words were silenced by Zelman's finger on her lip. "Trust me," he whispered in her ear, causing Jiro to scowl behind his ski mask. "This will be like nothing else you've experienced."

The instructor continued on as if he hadn't been interrupted. "Make sure you jump at the same time as your partner. Remember," he began to shout as he slid the large door open, the noise of the propellers filling the cabin, "you can direct your chute by pulling on the cords. When you are going in to land, keep your knees bent to lesson the jolt on impact with the ground, and run with the momentum. The chute should provide some braking power behind you."

Mimiko gulped. Did Zelman really expect her to do this? She quickly looked over at Jiro, whose expression she could not read. But she could feel the anger rolling off of him.

"I've been instructed to give you a nudge out the door if you hesitate," their instructor continued. "The only person who should remain in the plane is the pilot, who will take the plane home. As long as you follow our lead pair down, you shouldn't have any problem landing in the right zone for pick up. Beware cross winds and updrafts! We ready?"

Everyone unbuckled their belts and moved towards their designated partner, all but Mimiko, Kotaro, and Jiro. They clipped their carabineer to the rod, waiting.

Zelman offered Mimiko a hand. "We're the lead pair," he grinned. "Shall we?"

Her eyes went wide. "What?"

Before she could protest further, he had guided her to the front of the line and clipped her to the rod, ignoring Jiro's protests, knowing he wouldn't try anything, partly because he was too weak, and partly because he didn't want to risk pushing her out of the plane.

"We've reached altitude." The announcement came over a speaker from the pilot.

"Coming, Jiro?" Zelman offered a salute before grabbing Mimiko's hand and pulling her backward so that they essentially just fell out of the plane.

Jiro reached out a hand but it was too late. He stared in horror as the two were visible for a split second, then gone from view, their lead breaking. "Come on, Kotaro," he said with determination and controlled anger as he clipped his and his brother's lines, ready to follow the others and hoping he could keep up with the older Black Blood and the compromiser, just in case something went wrong.


Mimiko felt a rush of air around her body. It was so loud, but her heart pounded even more loudly. She was too surprised to scream out. The plane seemed to zoom away from them as they free fell, then, suddenly, her chute opened. It was like a giant hand had jerked her backwards.

Zelman was suddenly by her, grinning. "Thrilling! Isn't it?" He yelled at her as he pulled on his guide ropes to keep from crashing into her. He glanced behind them a bit to see Jiro and Kotaro jumping from the plane, their chutes opening less than a minute later. Other chutes opened up behind them as the others also jumped, clearing the plane and its propellers.


Matt watched the sky through a pair of binoculars, along with a second team of sky diving experts, waiting for the group to land. Matt suddenly jumped up and down in excitement. "I see them! I see them!" He pointed towards the sky at several small pin-sized dots of color that were rapidly heading their direction, growing larger as they came.

Above them, Mimiko was trying desperately to follow Zelman's shouted instructions, pulling on her guide lines to safely reach the large space that looked like a meadow with piled hay in it. "Whoah! I can't do this!"

Several yards from her, far enough away that his chute wouldn't tangle with hers, Zelman grinned like a maniac. "You're doing just fine! Pull both cords at the same time! If you feel like you can't reach that area the people below are lining, aim for the hay!"

"What?" But she didn't have time to retort as the ground came up even more quickly than she'd ever thought possible. "AH!" The next thing she knew, she was surrounded with dried hay up past the top of her head. It tickled her nose and stuck at the back of her throat as she thrashed around, trying to get out. Thankfully, she'd closed her eyes before impact.

Matt saw the compromiser plow into one of the piles of hay. He started running towards it, though it was going to take a while since it was a good hundred or more yards away from the nearest landing crew member. Zelman had landed a good halfway down their "landing strip" without so much as a hitch.

Not too far behind, wincing a bit from the intensity of the sun despite his skin being completely covered, Jiro saw what had happened. He twisted in his pack, pulling down hard on the guide ropes so that he could undo the straps. He fell a dozen or so feet from the sky, landing with a jolt, but quickly got up and was running towards the stack where Mimiko had landed. "Mimiko!"

Inside the haystack, Mimiko was trying to push her way out, without much success. She had to stop her activities to try and stifle a sneeze caused by the dust from the hay. The straws stuck into her clothing like dull needles, pricking her all over, but she had to admit that the experience of parachuting was indeed very exhilarating, even though it had been one of the most downright scary things she'd ever been forced into doing.

Jiro had reached the haystack by this point, a good half minute before anyone else, Kotaro coming down several dozen yards past it, with a much more gentle landing. The Black Blood began to almost frantically pull at the hay, making the straws shower down over him. He was panting heavily by the time he'd found one of her ankles and gave it a gentle tug.

Mimiko felt something grab her leg and almost went into panic mode. But then she felt herself being pulled backwards by that appendage and decided the best thing she could do was keep her eyes and mouth shut or risk getting more hay down her throat and straw dust in her eyes.

By the time Jiro had halfway extracted the compromiser from the stack of dried grasses, Zelman had landed and has run over to help out. "Let me give you a hand," he said, and grabbed her other ankle before Jiro could protest. He let out a mighty heave, which brought Mimiko completely free from the hay. She was in Jiro's arms before she could so much as fall to the ground from the semi-violent jerk.

Jiro brushed straw from her hair, caressing her face. "Mimiko, are you all right?" He noticed several small scratches from the sharp plant, wishing he dared remove the ridiculous ski mask from his face, but the sun was too bright to allow it.

The compromiser opened her eyes, blinking in surprise, and spat out hay. "Ugh. Whoever said haystacks make a nice landing place lied. I feel like I've been pricked all over."

Zelman chuckled behind them. "Only you would manage to land in one, Compromiser. But it's nice to see you didn't suffer any real damage from it."

Mimiko stood a bit shakily, more from the rush of adrenaline that was slowly fading, and from her fright, than from any injury. "Whoah!"

Jiro put out a steadying hand. "Careful."

Before anything else could be said or done, the others finally converged on them, chutes already removed and left behind.

Scott, James, and Damien were practically glowing with the rush they'd felt from the experience. The girls were also thrilled by the experience, but were definitely more worried about their friend's abrupt landing.

Mimiko finally pushed Jiro's helping hand away. "I'm okay, guys," she reassured. She took one wobbly step forward but managed to stay upright. "Just a little shaky from the landing," she amended.

Kotaro jumped up and down, realizing that rushing towards her in a bear hug was probably not the best idea. "Wasn't that just so awesome? I want to do it again! Brother, can we do it again?" He looked hopefully at Jiro.

Jiro let out his breath. "How about we don't," he replied. "I don't think Mimiko could handle another round." He wasn't sure if he could either. He would have to pay Zelman back for this rather… unsettling surprise.

Zelman checked the time on his phone. "Oops. Looks like it's time to go. If we don't hurry, we'll be late." He bowed to their jumping crew. "Thanks for the experience but we have to run. I hope the amount I left is sufficient to cover everything?"

The man nodded. They'd arranged previously for the company to also take care of the cleanup of the parachutes.

"Let's go," Zelman said, heading towards the van.

Seeing that their friend really was okay, the others followed after the older vampire. Jiro, however, stood his ground. "Zelman."

The crimson-eyed vampire turned slightly, pausing. "Silver Blade. Really, if we don't hurry, the rest of everything will be ruined, and I don't think Mimiko will appreciate it if it is. Trust me on this one, you will both enjoy it. Either that, or you can just stay here and miss your flight tomorrow because you're being stubborn. Your choice."

Jiro decided to follow, escorting Mimiko. Now was not the time to let the Crimson-Eyed Butcher feel his wrath.
Chapter Nine: Stupid Vampires!

Everyone had agreed that it was probably a good idea to relax for a while, especially after such a rending experience only a matter of hours ago. So, Scott had taken the interested parties for a bit of a tour of the somewhat abandoned movie site. And since Kotaro wanted to go and Mimiko didn't, Jiro went with him, partly to prove that he was more than fine. Mimiko kept giving him meaningful glances that he chose to ignore.

The compromiser found a convenient perch and settled down on it with a sigh. She was started to by Zelman coming up behind her and gently saying," boo." She blinked rapidly, one hand to her heart as she turned to scowl at him.

Zelman chuckled at her expression, enjoying every moment of it.

"Don't do that!" Mimiko admonished him sharply. "I've had enough drama for one day, what with the rain and everything else."

Zelman found an opposite perch to hers, only a few feet away, and sat down, more than amused. "Is that so." He glanced at her bandaged finger, then reached over to pick up the hand it was attached to, idly sliding velvet soft fingers across the makeshift bandage. "You know, if you really wanted to have your blood sucked that badly, you could have always asked me. I'd be more than willing to indulge you." His eyes crinkled with mirth, the corners of his lips turned up in a slightly unpleasant way that made her unsure of whether or not he was teasing her or not.

She snatched her hand back and held it with the uninjured one, her cheeks flaming. "It's nothing like that! You know I was only showing my concern for him! It's not like I… wanted…."

He raised his brows at her. "Oh really. Are you absolutely certain about that? After all, there are many vampires who wouldn't give you the chance to protest if you'd offered to one. It's as good as offering to another, after all. And I thought most humans enjoyed the experience."

Mimiko's cheeks flamed even more. "That's…! That's not the point! I was only trying to be nice to him! I didn't want him to be suffering needlessly!"

Zelman rolled his eyes. "Suffer needlessly? Perhaps. But you already know how stubborn that one can be. Once he sets his mind on something, there's little you or anyone else can do to change it." He smiled again. "For an Old Blood he is still so very young."

Mimiko wasn't sure how to respond to that, still trying to make her pounding heart come back under control. She glanced around to see where the others were but couldn't see them. They were likely behind one of the large set pieces left standing from an old western town setup, too far away to come quickly, though probably not too far that Jiro wouldn't hear her if she called out. But did she want to call out? She was torn. Zelman wasn't doing anything to her, well, minus a bit of potential harassment. It wasn't like he was forcing her to do something against her will. And she was an adult and should be able to handle whatever situation came up. She was a compromiser, after all.

"What an interesting expression you have on your face," Zelman commented conversationally. "I believe it to say something along the lines of, 'should I scream for my hero or leave off because he might not have enough strength to come save me if the evil vampire decides to do something to me,' or something along those lines. Am I right?"

She glanced quickly his way, shock showing on her face despite her trying very hard to control her emotions. It wasn't entirely correct, but close enough to cause her some alarm.

"Don't act so surprised," he laughed. "You're so transparent when it comes to the Silver Blade. You'd do anything for him, wouldn't you." He looked her straight in the eye, locking gazes with her.

Her voice only shook slightly as she tried to answer. "Almost anything." She quickly looked away. "Besides, you saw that he refused so your point is moot."

He chuckled again. "Is it, Compromiser? Of course, I have to applaud him for refusing. It takes a very strong vampire to resist that kind of temptation, especially after what he'd just been through. I personally don't know how he does it. But, of course, decorum dictates that he refuse, if only for the sake of his circumstances. We are not alone, after all. And he was raised to be a gentleman." He snorted slightly in amusement to his words.

Mimiko stood, hands on her hips. "And what's wrong with being a gentleman? I personally find it refreshing when compared to the less civilized company I sometimes find myself in!" With that remark, she stormed off in the direction she'd last seen the rest of the group.

Zelman shook his head in amusement, chuckling lightly as he watched her rapid progress away from him. So easy to tease. So easy to rattle when he chose. It made life all that much more enjoyable. Not that he'd intended to actually suck her blood, but he had wondered what she'd do if he'd brought it up, especially under such a scenario. He'd had no desire to resist the temptation when it had risen and had purposely stayed back just so he could bow to it.


Jiro caught sight of Mimiko stomping towards them from the corner of his eye. He paused, letting the group move on without him, waiting for her to catch up with him. Her expression was a mass of indignation, frustration, and, he thought, possibly some embarrassment, and wondered just what had happened to cause such a mix of emotion in her.

Mimiko trudged rapidly towards the red-coated man a dozen or so feet in front of her, hands balled into fists. "Stupid vampire! Like I'd stoop that low! I'd kick him if I thought it would do anything!"

Jiro blinked in surprise as he caught snatches of what she was murmuring to herself. Why on earth did she want to kick a vampire, he wondered. He schooled his expression to somewhat blank surprised inquiry as she stomped up to him. "Everything all right?"

Mimiko scowled fiercely and cast a somewhat angry glance back towards the van. Zelman had disappeared from sight; however, since she'd started out that way and she had no idea where he was. Instead, she turned back to Jiro and let out a bit of a growl. "Stupid vampire."

Jiro's eyes widened in surprise. "Stupid vampire? Mimiko. Did something happen?"

She glared up at him. "It's none of your business," she snapped. "But if you'd stop being so stubborn I wouldn't be so upset." She stomped off to join the rest of the group, leaving Jiro blinking in increased surprise and confusion behind her.

"What did I do?"


Mimiko avoided both older vampires for the rest of the afternoon, even though Zelman mysteriously rejoined the group once they'd finished their tour of the area, and Kotaro had insisted on playing cowboys and Indians for a while. The locals were more than willing to play along, though Mimi had opted to just sit back and watch, arms folded and glared if either Zelman or Jiro came too close to her.

"What on earth have you done to make our compromiser so irritable," Zelman asked in a tone heavy with irony. "Could it be that you spurned her advances earlier? Really now, Silver Blade. I do believe you've hurt her feelings."

Jiro gave a low growl as he watched with folded arms. "Better her feelings than something else," he returned with irritation. Inside, he wondered if that was why she was really upset. Despite having lived with her for so long, he still found he couldn't quite figure her out. Was it because she was a woman as well as human? Or was it just because she was that kind of woman? The kind that you couldn't figure out?

The red head rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me you thought you were doing a kindness by refusing her. Why, Silver Blade, I never imagined you were that naive."

Jiro felt for a blade that was not at his side, gloved hands clenching. "That's enough, Zelman."

Zelman put his hands up in a shrug. "I was only trying to help."

Jiro's reply was cut off as Kotaro ran over, laughing. "Guess what! Guess what! Lucienne says we're going to have Mexican food tonight! Just like in some of those old shows I like to watch! I'm so excited!" He twirled around in delight.

"Time to pack up," Matt called to the group as they started to head back to the van. "Mexican food is waiting!"


Mimiko claimed the front seat this time around, leaving the others to choose seats in the back as Matt took the driver's seat and pulled out of the parking lot, heading south once more, back to their dorms and the potential of food.

Jiro watched Mimiko closely for the rest of the night. She still refused to sit next to him, or Zelman, he noted. But she was more than willing to play around with Kotaro. The one time he'd tried to figure out what was wrong, she practically bit his head off and told him to mind his own business, something that had made Zelman laugh, despite her giving him a glare as well.

He sighed as he settled onto his borrowed bet, Kotaro already asleep in the one next to him. Was she really that nettled over his refusing to drink her blood? Or was it something else? Or, perhaps, it was just that time of the month, though he was fairly sure he'd know if that were the case, so maybe precursor to it.

Whatever the reason, he had to find a way to make their last day of vacation memorable, and in a good way. He'd discovered that his initial plans had somehow fallen through, and he was now at a loss as to what to do instead of them. He was fairly certain, as well, that all of the guys in their party knew that his plans hadn't worked out, and could only hope that they didn't try to come up with something to make up for it.

His bones creaked slightly as he rolled to one side to look out the open slit in the window covering. He would have to be more careful in the future, to not let himself get caught in any situation where he would be in danger of causing her more worry. If he did, he was fairly certain she'd find a way to force-feed him her blood. She was definitely that stubborn, but he would not allow that. And he would not ask anyone else to give him any, even if it was from a blood pack. At least, definitely not until they were back in the Special Zone. After that, he'd have to wait and see what happened. He'd gone longer without before.

Mimiko stared up at the ceiling of her room. Being mad at the both of them was probably not worth the effort anymore. They were both just showing their colors and she had to accept that. Jiro was, to the core, a gentleman. And Zelman, well, he was something else entirely. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to know exactly what he was, other than a complete sociopath, but for all of that, he was still at least sort of nice to her, probably because of her mom, but still.

She rolled over to her stomach and rested her head in her hands. "Why are boys, vampire and human, so stupid," she asked the air, then rolled back to her side. "I give up." She closed her eyes and went to sleep.
Chapter Eight: Rain and Temptation

The rain continued to pour down, pelting against the windows while the group waited. Out in the van, Jiro had taken off his coat in hopes of drying off faster, but the steam still continued to issue from his body despite his best efforts. He winced at the pain it caused him. He didn't dare try turning the van on, even though he knew there was a heater. He still wasn't very good with modern gadgets and was afraid he'd manage to break something and leave them stranded so he endured without.

He felt the desire to feed rising up in him as he fought against the pain, wrapping his arms around his chest, his heavy coat discarded on the floor. He hoped that would help his other clothes dry out faster, but in such cramped quarters, and rain thick outside, the chances were less than likely.

He grit his teeth, one fang grazing his lip. A small trail of blood trickled down his chin, but he didn't notice. He would not give in to the more base nature of the vampire; the desire to feed on anything living that could come near him. He had to get that part under control before the rain let up and the others rejoined him.


Inside the cabin, Mimiko and the others shivered, watching the rain on the glass windows while Dave listened to the radio for news of the storm.

"I hope he's okay," Kotaro said, his bottom lip trembling as he stared out towards where the van was, though the rain was coming down too hard to see it.

Zelman put a hand on the young Black Blood's shoulder. "Someone like the Kin Killer wouldn't be put out by a little rain storm. He's probably enjoying the time alone." He smiled, showing a slight hint of his fangs.

Mimiko rolled her eyes. From what she'd seen, he was probably actually not doing so well. She kind of wished she dared go out there to keep him company but no one seemed to have an umbrella handy, or if they did, they weren't bringing it out. But the older vampire's words did seem to calm Kotaro down so she was at least somewhat mollified.

Matt walked back over to Dave to listen into the weather report as well. The radio crackled with static as the announcer's voice came over the frequency. "Rain expected….. thunderstorms….continuing throughout…." The storm kept interfering with the signal, leaving a lot of static.

James sighed. "Sounds like we're going to be stuck here for a while," he commented and squeezed Sarah's hand.

Damian looked around at the rather bedraggled group. "I vote we head down as soon as it looks like it's lightening up. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not be caught up here at nightfall trying to go downhill in the rain, if you know what I mean."

Matt looked up at Dave. He was probably the most experienced here, having been a ranger far longer than Matt had been. "Think we could make it down in one piece?"

Dave scratched at the five o'clock shadow on his chin. "I wouldn't advise going back down towards the city, but if you have the gas, and don't mind going the long way, you'd probably have better luck that way. Road's aren't as steep and there are less drop offs."

Matt nodded. "True. And it'll actually bring us closer to our apartment than if we went back down the way we came up." He turned back to his group. "Let's put it to a vote. I'm more than willing to drive since I know this mountain better than anyone if that's what we decide."

"I'm all for going somewhere where we can all dry off," Mimiko said, thinking of Jiro. She wondered if he really was okay. Karri, Sarah and Lucienne nodded in agreement.

Damian nodded. "That's four, and I make five."

Kotaro turned away from the window. "I want to see brother," he announced.

Zelman smirked. "I believe that makes six. As for myself, frankly, I don't care either way."

Matt scratched at his cheek. "Looks like we have our answer. Question is should we head now or wait in the hopes there's at least a slight let up."

"I'll drive," Scott volunteered. "I think it might be best if we head out now." He glanced over at Mimiko who was practically chewing on her fingernails. "I'm the best driver for this kind of weather and I know the road."

Matt nodded. Even though he'd been a ranger, it was true that Scott knew the other route home best. He'd used it many times in the past. "Fine by me. Ladies?"

Sarah shrugged. Lucienne and Karri nodded. "Yeah." They both exchanged glances with each other though, thinking about Zelman's words. What had he called Jiro? Kin Killer? That sounded ominous.


Jiro's head went up as he heard the sound of a door opening. He looked towards the direction of the cabin, where light was now coming from the open doorway, the silhouette of several people in the line of light. He ground his teeth as his head went back down. He could not let them see him in this state, not the other Red Bloods. Mimiko had already seen him this way before, but there was no way he could let the others see him this way.

He was so distracted by this, and thoughts on controlling his increasing desire and need for blood, that he didn't notice the footsteps coming towards the van, only one set.

Mimiko opened the van door. She had to stifle the urge to take a quick step back, water running down her face with the heavy rain. "Jiro?" Her question came out almost as a half fearful quaver. She recoiled slightly as she saw the muscles in his face exposed, then her professional side kicked in. "We need to get you covered."

She entered the van and closed the door to keep out the sheeting rain, and then leaned over the back seat, searching for one of the blankets she remembered being stowed there. "Just bear with it for a bit longer," she said with a slightly trembling voice. As soon as I have you situated, we plan on leaving, heading down the other side of the mountain.

Jiro put one gloved hand out and grabbed her arm. "Mimiko."

She smiled to hide the emotional pain she felt for his physical pain. "It's okay. Once we got off the mountain, we can go back to the apartment and you can dry out without any worry. Or, we can find a place where no one will see you. Then, after that, if you need it, I can," she hesitated for a moment, "give you some blood. But only if you need it." Her cheeks flamed.

Jiro gently touched her face, holding back as much of his pain as possible. "Mimiko, I'll be fine." He winced slightly, even more tightly reigning in his suffering so that he would not make her suffer. He clearly saw the pain in her eyes at seeing him like this. There was no way he could ask her for blood, not when she was still only so recently recovered from her own injuries.

Mimiko bunched up the blanket she'd found in her hands, a little surprised at his gesture, not sure if she should buy his assurances or not. It was hard to look at his skinless face. She thrust the blanket at him. "Here. You might want to make sure your face is shrouded. The others will be coming out soon and I don't think you, or I, want to explain why you suddenly don't have any skin and are almost, really, a skeleton under your clothes."

Jiro sighed as he took the blanket, fumbling with weak limbs to pull it around his shoulders. She had to help him wrap it around him, pulling it up and over his head.

At that moment, Zelman came striding over from the ranger's cabin, leading the others. He seemed unconcerned by the water sluicing off of him as the others ran towards the vehicle and shelter.

Kotaro tried to shake off as much water as he could as Matt opened the side door and shoved in a bunch of plastic bags for them to sit on in an attempt to try and keep as much water off the seats as possible.

Mimiko settled herself next to Jiro, securing his seatbelt, even if he probably wouldn't need it. In his weakened state, she wasn't willing to take any chances. Kotaro slid in next to her on the back seat.

"Hey, Mr. Vampire, you okay back there," Damian called from the middle seat, looking back at the shrouded figure.

Zelman grinned as he took his seat, the others climbing in around him, Scott taking the driver's seat, with Karri taking shotgun. "How much fun this will be," he jibbed, noting that there was still steam coming from under the bundle of blankets that was Jiro's hunched form.

Mimiko rolled her eyes as Scott put the van into gear. The tires crunched over the gravel as they backed up, then turned around to find the road. The windshield wipers were going like mad, making a steady metronome beat as the college student concentrated on getting back to the main road.

"This is going to be rough," he announced as he clicked on the turn signal, waiting for a pair of headlights to move out of the way so he could turn. "Hopefully there won't be too many idiots on the road, what with the rain and everything. We should be lucky."

The van turned onto the main road, heading slightly uphill to reach the crest of the mountain road before heading back down. At twenty miles an hour, their progress was slow, the rain pouring over the van so that the view out the windows was warped.

Mimiko kept glancing anxiously at Jiro's hunched shoulders. He head was hidden in the blankets, but his back was bent so that the top was closer to the seat in front of him, possibly in an attempt to hide his disfigured appearance as much as possible. It reminded her of that morning, almost a year ago now, when she'd first met him on the beach.

He'd been nothing but a skeleton at that point, regenerating right in front of her eyes after having survived a bout in the ocean thanks to circumstances beyond his control. Their relationship had changed greatly since then, especially since he'd saved her from Kanaye.

She tried to remember the last time he'd had blood but couldn't think of any beyond when he'd bitten her that one night she'd been stuck in nightmares from the past. Unless he'd been using blood packs, which she doubted, he hadn't had any since then. Nor had he brought up the subject at all. If he had indeed not had any blood since then, he must be starving for the nourishment it brought him.

"Jiro?" She tapped him lightly on what she hoped was his shoulder.

Kotaro leaned far forward, peering up under the blanket over his brother. "I think he's asleep," he half whispered. The sight of a skinless, only half muscled skeleton did not faze him in the slightest. He knew what the water did to his brother.

Mimiko sighed, then looked out the window at the slowly passing dark masses that she assumed were trees. Everyone was pretty quiet as Scott concentrated on the curves of the road, taking them back down to the valleys, and, hopefully, away from the rain.


Almost an hour later, Scott pulled up in a small town that was, thankfully, not under a deluge of rain. Only a light drizzle filled the air, though it didn't look like it would last long. The clouds were breaking up, heading more north, back towards the mountains.

The college student released his grip on the wheel, knuckles a bit light, the car engine now off as they sat in a parking lot. "Whew!" He wiped figuratively at his brow. "That was fun, but let's not do that again."

Zelman smiled in mild amusement, resisting the urge to chuckle. Red Bloods still managed to amuse him, even after so many years. Perhaps that was why he liked living in the Special Zone. He glanced back at Jiro and Mimiko. "He still out?"

Mimiko leaned forward to check on her companion, moving the blanket aside to look. She was glad to find that his skin had regenerated, at least on his face. She wasn't sure about the other parts of him. His clothes were still damp. "It looks like it," she replied.

The red haired vampire let out a smirk, shaking his head. "Children."

Lucienne turned back as well, glancing at both vampires, then looking pointedly at Mimiko. "That guy said something odd back up on the mountain," she said, pointing at the Crimson Eyed Butcher. "He called Jiro the Kin Killer."

Mimiko sighed, knowing what would come next. "Yes," she said before her friend could actually ask. "That's one of the names he goes by back in Japan."

Zelman chuckled. "Yes, the Kin Killer," he interrupted Mimiko before she could continue. "It's just as the name says. He killed his own kind."

One of the seat belts slid back into its unused position with a loud zip as Damian turned to stare at the Black Blood. "What? You're saying that guy there killed vampires? So, what exactly is he, a vampire hunting vampire or something?" Thoughts of Van Hellsing entered his head at the idea, a Van Hellsing with fangs.

Mimiko let out a mild huff of impatience. "Not exactly. You see, about ten or fifteen years ago, a strand of Black Blood was created that is more like the vampires you see in movies, who just have to bite someone to turn them into a vampire like themselves. To the other Black Bloods, they were considered a scourge and a threat to their existence because they could turn anyone, be they vampire or human, into what they were, a parasite living off of humanity.

"If these vampires, these Kowloon Children as they were called, were allowed to exist, they would overrun the world, exposing the vampires to the rest of humanity, which was something they definitely didn't want. Another major problem with this new bloodline was that they not only turned others to their bloodline, but, more often than not, they killed the people they turned."

Sarah shuddered as the story unfolded. She didn't particularly care for ghost stories, especially not true ones. And she was the least comfortable with the idea of being in the presence of a vampire, but Jiro had been so gentlemanly that she couldn't find much room for protest.

"Jiro," Mimiko continued, "sided with the Company and helped to eradicate a good majority of that bloodline, an effort that was known as the Hong Kong Crusade. Then, just this last year, a few survivors of the Kowloon bloodline were able to infiltrate our home and tried to revive their founder, who Jiro had killed all those years ago. The losses were devastating, but, with the help of everyone, we were able to drive them off and cut them back down. The unfortunate thing is that some of them still survived and will probably, eventually, try again."

James blinked, putting an arm around Sarah's shoulders. "Wow. I had no idea he was that kind of person. I mean, sure the idea of him being a vampire's pretty cool, but hearing there are actually vampires out there actually like the ones in the movies…. That can turn you into mindless zombies… ugh."

Zelman's lips frowned slightly. "That's exactly what they do," he agreed, "turn their victims into mindless zombies that they can control, then easily throw away. I may not agree with some of the things you Red Bloods do, but I definitely don't agree with their way of living. Like the compromiser said, they are a parasite that don't deserve to exist."

Kotaro, who had been sitting quietly, listening to their talk, suddenly popped up from his seat. "Say, can we find some food? I'm getting kinda hungry." His stomach rumbled, emphasizing his point.

Karri looked at her watch. "Huh, kid's got a point. It's been a while since we last ate anything. What do you think? Wait the extra hour until we get back home or stop by a drive-thru and get something?"

"Drive-thru," Damian, Lucienne, Matt, and Scott said almost in unison. Mimiko and Kotaro just blinked.

"Drive-thru it is," Scott said and turned the engine back on, put the car in gear, and pulled back into traffic, heading for his favorite fast food place, thankful that the small town had one. "Any preferences?"

Everyone shook their head, just glad to be back in the valley, out of the majority of the rain, and having any kind of food. Kotaro's stomach growled again.

"Okay then, the usual it is." Scott drove up to the window and ordered everyone two hamburgers apiece, along with fries and something he called "fry sauce". Mimiko wasn't sure what this sauce was, but it sounded interesting.


It didn't take long for their food to be paid for and delivered, filling the van with the smell of hamburgers and golden fries made from a yellow potato, instead of the usual white that Mimiko associated with fast food places.

Scott then drove them to a place that looked like it was right out of a movie, a bit out of the way, which was fine by Mimiko. She was still worried about Jiro. Fake facades faced an open square right out of an old American movie she'd once seen on a random station years before.

"Welcome to Little Hollywood," Scott said as he parked the car and turned off the engine. "I used to play around here when I was a kid. They also used to actually film movies here back in the day. I don't think they've used it in a while though. Thought it would be best, especially if our friend over there," and he indicated Jiro, "is still steaming or something. Don't need to answer any more awkward questions than are necessary, right?"

Mimiko nodded silent agreement, glad that everyone was still being fairly normal after having learned a bit more about Jiro's past. How would they react if they found out that Kotaro was actually the reincarnated head of his bloodline, and that he was once a girl? That was definitely something she was sure neither she nor he would care to explain.

Damian opened the door, letting in warmer air and sunlight, the clouds breaking up above them as the upper winds blew them away. "All out!" He climbed down and stretched like he'd been stuck in the same seat for over eight hours. "Man! What a ride!" He fist bumped Scott as he walked around from the front. "Nice driving."

The others began leaving the van, carrying the bags of food with them. Mimiko nudged Jiro with an elbow and got a grunt for her efforts. "Jiro," she called, "time to wake up."

Kotaro blinked. "Brother sleeps like the dead. Maybe we should just leave him here."

Mimiko was tempted to roll her eyes, remembering that first night in her apartment with the Mochizuki brothers, and how she'd had to douse the sleeping vampire with water to get him up. She had no buckets, and pouring more water on him would only add insult to energy. There was another way to wake him up, if one of the guys would lend her a knife, since shaking him wasn't having much effect. But she knew he was still alive because she could faintly feel his breath on her skin, and Kotaro didn't seem to be overly worried. That was always a good sign.

She pushed past Kotaro as the youth exited the vehicle and went over to the impromptu picnic the others had set up. "Anyone have a knife I can borrow?" She didn't want to really think about what she was contemplating, but it was the only other way she knew to wake him without hurting him more. She could, of course, just let him sleep, but she was sure that it was better to eat the burgers now and not wait until later. Besides, there was always the chance that there wouldn't be any left, the way she'd seen those guys eat. She could also ask Zelman for help, but there was no way she was going to do that.

Matt glanced up from his burger, wondering why she suddenly needed a knife. The others also glanced up momentarily. Zelman gave her a wry glance, almost as if he could read what she intended to do. A smile perked at the corners of his lips. Would she actually do it, he wondered.

Matt finally pulled out his own pocketknife and reached across the food to hand it to her. "Here. You can borrow mine."

Mimiko took the knife with an almost sense of relief. "Thanks. I'll only need it for a minute." She turned and headed back to the van very purposely, the folded knife held tightly in one hand.

"What does she need a knife for," Karri asked, breaking the silence around the picnic.

Zelman started laughing. "You might want to make sure you have a band aide handy," he advised.

Lucienne blinked at him. "Why?"


Mimiko decided against closing the door once she'd returned to the vehicle. The back seat was far enough back that she hoped nothing scandalous would be seen, and far enough away that hopefully any noises she might make would be less than audible. It also allowed for a potentially fast get away if things didn't go quite as she planned.

She slid into the back seat where Jiro was still sleep, hunched over with the blanket still covering most of him. She tugged at the blanket, making it come off his head where settle down closer to his torso. She opened her hand and dropped the knife by accident, her heart pounding. It landed on the seat between them.

Mimiko quickly picked it back up and flicked it open, thankful that it wasn't one of those that required some locking mechanism to release the blade. She closed her eyes, steeling herself to just go ahead and do what she had decided on, took in a deep breath, then opened her eyes and moved her right index finger towards the blade.

"Ouch!" She hadn't been paying as much attention to where the blade was as she should have and had managed to gouge her finger on the tip, the blade going about a quarter of a centimeter into the flesh. Blood welled up as she quickly pulled her finger away, resisting the urge to suck on it. This was what she'd been trying for, more or less, after all, even if it was a bit more extravagant than she'd planned.

Jiro's rhythmic breathing changed slightly as the scent of blood filled his senses, like a shark that had lazily been sleeping in a deep pool tasting the barest hint of blood in the water. He sniffed at the air, saliva filling his mouth as his mind started to resurface from the dark void of sleep.

Instinct told him to grab hold of the creature bleeding, grab hold and feed. But the logical side of him held back such actions. He was not an animal, nor would he allow himself to act like one. Despite that resolve, his hand unconsciously sought out the bleeding flesh and grabbed hold of Mimiko's wrist, bringing it closer to his mouth, where his fangs had extended from his jaw, anticipating blood.

Mimiko flinched ever so slightly when he'd grabbed her. She hadn't exactly expected that reaction, though she also wasn't sure what kind of reaction she'd expected. With Jiro, it was hard to tell. Her pulse accelerated as her hand was drawn closer to the fanged mouth, her blood almost singing in her ears, whether in protest or expectation, she wasn't really sure.

Jiro stopped moving, her hand inches from his face as he opened his eyes. The scent was overwhelming in front of him, but it was Mimiko's scent, and he had promised himself that he would not ask for her blood, or even take it if offered, for at least another month, just to be sure she was fully recovered. He would not risk her health for his own needs.

Mimiko wasn't sure why he'd stopped moving her hand. She looked at him questioningly as he stared at the blood oozing from the cut on her finger. "It's all right," she said gently, trying to encourage him, pressing her hand a fraction of an inch closer to his mouth before he gently, but firmly kept her from moving it any closer.

"Mimiko." He held out his other hand for the knife, which she dropped into his gloved palm without thinking. He thought he recognized the blade as one that Matt had used earlier that day while on the trail. He would have to be sure to return it to him. He slipped it into his pants pocket with only a little difficulty. His clothing was still damp and he was still sitting.

He reached towards his other pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, which he then gently wrapped around her wounded finger, ignoring her protests. He would not drink so much as one drop of her blood until he was sure she was completely recovered. "You should probably have someone look at that once we get back into town," he commented. "It might require stitches."

Mimiko slowly pulled back her bandaged hand and looked at it with some small confusion. "Jiro," she started to protest but he put a finger to her lips.

With a smile, he unbuckled his seatbelt and slid to face her more fully. "It's all right. I'm fine. You don't need to worry. It was only a bit of rain and my clothes are already mostly dry again."

She bit her lip but didn't argue. He had ways of persuading her if he so chose to use them so she let it drop. Instead, she let out a sigh. "They bought hamburgers and fries. They also got something called "fry sauce" which I'm not really sure what is, but if you want to give it a try, we should probably go over and join everyone before they eat it all."
Mimiko's Vacation Chapter Eight
A continuation of Mimiko's Vacation. Sorry I forgot I hadn't finished posting it here!
Hey all. I just thought that I'd let you know that I have published some original novels that you can find on, and other places...

Or, you can visit my website at

So, if you like my writing, please give me a looksy for my original work!
  • Listening to: soft music


Gollumina's Profile Picture
Karlie Lucas
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
I am mainly a portrait/pencil artist but I also work in audio with a small production company I started called The Manga Project, where we are transforming beloved manga into radio drama for no profit, just the pure enjoyment of allowing the fans the ability to hear their beloved characters come to life in ways they may never otherwise.
I also do cake commissions, sewing commissions, paint, doodles, do photography, write poetrye, novels, short stories, fan fiction, etc.

Current Residence: TEXAS!!!
Favourite style of art: realism
Personal Quote: Our greatest trial is overcoming our own fears and doubts.

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