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Disclaimer: Nightwalker and its characters do not belong to me. I'm borrowing them for my and (I hope) my readers' amusement only and have no intention of trying to make money off of them in any way, shape or form.

Warnings: References to past m/m sex, vampirism, murder and other nastiness. Also, Cain thinks of himself as a sympathetic character even though he isn't.

Rating: PG-13

Author: The RCK
Last updated: 17 January 2005

I wrote this for the New Year Resolutions 2005 challenge at The Obscure Fandom Secret Santa Project to meet Aithine's unfilled request for a Cain/Shido fic.

Thanks to Amy the Evitable, Hope of Dawn and Olna Jenn for beta reading and other assistance with writing this story.


Shido shifted restlessly, finding both peace and physical comfort elusive. The chair's hard edges dug into his legs and butt. Even a nightwalker can't defeat utilitarian discomfort. The hospital's rooms were not designed to encourage visitors to linger. Though if the nurses liked me, they'd probably bring a different chair and maybe a blanket. He stared at the privacy curtain that screened Yayoi's bed from the rest of the room. Would she rather I was in there with her, holding her hand?

Giving up on the seat, he stood and walked over to the curtain. He pulled it back and peered through. He was too wary of disturbing the various bits of equipment monitoring and sustaining her to go any nearer. It'd be different if she were awake. He glanced back over his shoulder, half expecting to see a disapproving nurse bearing down on him. But it's after hours, and I'm not her husband or even her brother.

"I'm sorry, you know." He turned back to Yayoi. Cracked ribs. Broken leg. Nasty gash on the hip. All on top of the 'breed trying to possess you. "I should have moved faster." But it's a risk we both take each time we go out. That's why you let me stand in front. I'm more... durable and easier to repair. He pushed the curtain a little further open. It's not yet, but... On that final day, when you're broken and really dying-- I know what you want, but will I be able to let you go?

She looked somehow diminished, lying there alone. They'd cleaned her hair but hadn't put much effort into untangling it. I'll ask Riho to come by and braid it. Assuming the nurses don't get around to it or Yayoi feel up to doing it herself... He tried to remember what cracked ribs felt like, to imagine living with an injury that took weeks to heal. Was I ever hurt like that? He shook his head. Will I ever remember?

In the dim light and without her personality to animate it, Yayoi's face seemed less hers and more other. More dead. I can tell that it's not hers. When she's awake, it's easy to forget. Shido's fingers twitched as he resisted the impulse to touch the tiny scars left by the surgery. Those are the reminders of why. She can't turn away from this fight any more than I can, and we both use each other to keep going.

The sounds of the nighttime hospital faded as he focused his attention on the unconscious body of his friend. You'll recover this time, and I'll make sure nothing disturbs you while you rest. He sighed. I don't have to find a new... sponsor yet. Not yet. Though it will be a lean few weeks for me. He shrugged. No matter. I'm used to being hungry.

Cain watched Shido keeping his vigil. I'm always watching you, Shido. He frowned. Even months of observation hadn't quite dulled his resentment toward the human woman who had such a hold over Shido. He flicked his fingers dismissively. He'll leave her when I call. When I really call. "I've given you your head so far. When will you run this madness out of your system?" he murmured as his lover pushed aside the curtain. My lover. Not former lover. No matter what words he says.

Feeling that the moment was right, he pulled shadows from the minds around them and wrapped them around the room where Shido waited. As he walked to the doorway, Cain very deliberately let his footsteps echo, the only sounds in the realm he now shared with Shido and his comatose policewoman. He paused, backlit, in the doorway waiting for the pleasure of seeing Shido's recognition.

"I thought I'd find you here." Cain kept his tone carefully neutral, then let it deepen to reflect the intimacy of shared history. I don't even have to follow you. "You have a certain predictability about you, Shido. Your... choices have a shape that's as much you as the angle of your jaw or the way the muscles move under your skin when you-- I remember." He moved his hand in the air as if stroking something with the back of his fingers. Oh, yes. I remember. He felt heat in his throat. I've never had a better match.

Shido shook his head almost imperceptibly.

Cain doubted he even realized he'd done it. His lips twitched. Not the most convincing denial.

Shido stepped back, closer to the bed. He drew himself up to his full height and shifted his weight so that he could respond rapidly if Cain advanced. "You always did have a flair for the dramatic, Cain. Or perhaps I should call it the melodramatic."

Oh! A touch! Cain hide his amusement and moved closer, one step, two, each footfall echoing. He stopped when he was close enough that the light centered around the bed fell on his face. He smiled, knowing Shido would see the hidden edges. "Don't be a fool. If I'd wanted her dead, she'd be dead." He pushed his hair back over his shoulder and laughed. She is not a rival. "The beauty of this is-- I didn't do anything. I didn't have to." He shook his head and gave Shido a pitying look. "I'm not going to touch her. Not right now. I just wanted to see her... And to see you guarding her."

Shido gave ground as Cain advanced.

Yes. You're realizing that you couldn't stop me, whatever I wanted to do. I should have made that point sooner. We've wasted years. "I suppose she's pretty enough if you like the type." True to his word, Cain didn't actually touch the woman. He simply leaned in over the bed and looked. Then he straightened and shrugged. "She's mortal. A few years, decades at most, and she'll be gone. Why should I bother?" And she does matter to you. I can afford that time.

"It's time enough." Shido sounded defensive.

"Is it? You haven't always thought so." Cain arched an eyebrow, underscoring his disbelief. "And I doubt very much you'll think so when she dies and you have to find someone else to feed you."

Shido shrugged. "It happens. I'll find someone. I've always managed before." He set his jaw, looking obstinate.

Yes. They all die. All but me. "I'm sure you will. Someone else to feed you on pity and compassion." Cain sneered. You who've known so much better! "What a pathetic diet! You've become an ascetic, like a monk fasting and eating bread and water. No wonder the child's not thriving. How could she with such poor--"

"Enough!" Shido bit his finger to create his sword. "You've done what you came to do. Now go away!"

Touched a nerve, have I? "You never quite manage to mean that. If you did..." I'd kill you. Cain smiled slowly and reached out to caress Shido's cheek. I can taste you through my fingers. I still want you, and you... His smile widened. Somehow, he managed to pull his arm back, hand intact, before Shido could respond. You want, too. "Have you thought about what happens next? Oh, not tomorrow-- A mere moment." He waved a dismissive hand, the same hand Shido'd failed to cut, and chuckled. "You've lost your sense of scale, Shido. An interesting affectation for one who doesn't even remember mortality." He shook his head, less amused. "To live in the moment is an admirable policy for those who have only the moment, but you-- You-- and I-- have much, much more." And this chase is... interesting, but I can think of much better things to do with our time. In fact-- He turned his back on the bed and on Shido. "Take a walk with me. The woman won't notice you're gone."

It was a gamble, he knew. But he's not stupid. Killing me last time was so effective. He pushed aside the memory of how much being decapitated had hurt. It was temporary. And it wasn't indifference. Usually, when you kill... Only I can draw such passion from you. Only I. That should tell you something, Shido. You belong with me, to me.

"Put the damn sword away. We both know you're not going to use it." Cain looked back over his shoulder. "Or does carrying it somehow guard your 'human heart?' We both know it won't help you kill me." He used one hand to push his hair back. Not even a scar. You had no effect. None. Not beyond a few days' inconvenience, and I think you had something more permanent in mind. "Did you think I'd taught you all my tricks?"

"Very well." Shido shrugged, scowled and let the sword dissolve. "And I never thought you'd taught me everything."

So very like the adolescent he is... "I will. Someday. Once you remember what you are." Cain turned back and stepped in close, taking Shido's arm, enjoying the solidity of muscle under his fingers. How long since we truly touched? He felt Shido stiffen and start to pull away.

"What do I get out of it?"

"The pleasure of my company isn't enough?" Cain laughed, a low, intimate chuckle, and slipped his arm around Shido's waist. Yes, let's play a game. Remember all the things I can give you, the good times we had.

Shido flinched. He stepped sideways, out of Cain's grasp. "I need a real answer. I don't trust you. I can't trust you." His hands clenched into fists.

Cain tapped his chin with one finger and pretended to consider. "Perhaps... Perhaps. What is it you want, Shido? I don't mind a fair trade, but all I've requested is a walk. Are you offering more?" I'd like more, and I can give you... everything.

"All I want-- All I need from you is my memories." Shido's words were firm, but he didn't quite meet Cain's eyes.

Liar. "Is that all?" He smiled as he saw hope flower in Shido's eyes. "Since you value it so highly, I think that's worth more than a stroll."

Hope died. Shido looked away. Just for a second, his shoulders slumped, and he looked lost. Then he set his jaw and shrugged.

Yes. Sweet pain. I can still touch you. No matter what you say, no matter how hard you run. You surrendered to me once... "Still...  A little information wouldn't be hard. You don't make the most of what you are, you know."

Shido's snarl wasn't quite silent. "I won't let you make me less human!"

"Less human? You haven't been human for centuries." You were once, yes. I remember a pretty human desperate not to die. But more than that... Or I'd not have bothered. "You act like a human who wants to be frog." Cain stepped in close and hooked his fingers under Shido's chin. "Would you not label such a man crazy?" He pulled back at the same moment that Shido did. I took you and cherished you, made you mine. Always.

Shido turned away, taking a few steps toward the door and away from Cain.

Offer a taste... "There are ways to kill us, you know, permanent ways. You, for example, can kill the girl child if she ever proves so... ungrateful as you fear. The ritual's tedious but not really all that difficult. So long as you have the will." Cain smiled, confident that he now had Shido's full attention. "Walk with me." He extended his arm in invitation, urging Shido toward the door.

Shido hesitated then started walking. "This doesn't mean anything, you know."

"Of course not." Cain didn't bother to hide his amusement. He let Shido pass through the doorway first. I might as well enjoy the view.

Shido wasn't moving with his usual fluid grace. He held his back stiff, and his shoulders appeared tense. After they'd walked for about thirty seconds, Shido looked back at Cain. "Then why haven't you killed me? If it's that easy, I mean."

You trust me so little? Cain stepped in close again. "I haven't lost hope." He touched Shido's face. Shido's eyes widened, but he didn't move away. Cain gave him a gentle smile. "I have time, and so do you. You may still outgrow this... phase." This madness. He leaned in closer still and whispered, "I can kill you, but I cannot bring you back again." So I won't. Yet. He touched lips and tongue to Shido's neck, gently tasting. You crave my touch still, don't you?

Shido let his head roll to one side as he started to relax. Then, abruptly, he pulled away, putting almost a meter between himself and Cain.

When will he realize that the hospital corridor he remembers would not permit that? Cain drew amusement from that thought to cover his disappointment. You won't always reject me. I have time. Unlike some. Now that they were out of the policewoman's room, Cain released her from the world he'd built. She's no longer necessary. I don't think he even remembers she's there. Good.

Cain took a few steps down the hallway that was no longer part of the hospital. I think... Not a wild place. You're too skittish. We need beauty, just not... not human beauty. He listened carefully until he was sure Shido was following. "It's a matter of the blood," he said in a normal tone of voice. "No matter what, some of me is always in you, and some of you is always in her."

Shido made some small noise, and his footsteps stopped.

Cain looked back at him. You understand, don't you? "To the third generation. She is as much mine as you are." He waved a hand to show the limits of his interest in the child. A means to an end. "She's an infant. Perhaps she'll prove out, perhaps not." But she's good for you. You have to remember what you are in order to teach her what she is. Even when you lie to her. He let his expression sharpen into a threatening smile, and he took two steps toward Shido, intentionally invading his space. "Losing her would hurt you so much. So sweet... I'd savor that as I used to savor--"

Shido backed into the wall, almost tripping over his own feet.

That touched you. Delicious. Cain laughed softly and stepped back. "Never mind." He started walking again. Once he was sure Shido had begun to move again, he began to alter the dreamscape, making the hallway become more cavern so that they could emerge into a more natural setting. Twilight. Mountains. Not high enough for snow but high enough that people are rare. Red and yellow rocks. A canyon with the sun just setting on the other side. The sound of water rushing through below us. If we go far enough, a waterfall. It would be chilly, but... Temperate. Realism is overrated.

He paused just after he stepped out of the cavern and looked at Shido, trying to gauge his response. Stunned. I chose right. "The hospital seemed a poor setting for an intimate discussion, and I find the streets of Tokyo... dreary." I only stay for you. There's certainly nothing else there of interest.

"Where are we?" Shido's eyes were wide.

Cain studied Shido for a moment. I could tell him anything... "Nowhere real." He touched Shido's arm, just a brush of fingers near the shoulder. "Come. Let's see what we can find."

Shido hesitated, his suspicion obvious.

"Do you know how to get home from here?" Cain waited then smiled when Shido finally shook his head. "Then come with me and explore. It's not real." Except in our minds, where it counts.

"Not real..." Shido repeated, looking around.

"Exactly." Cain grasped Shido's hand and tugged him along. "Let's just follow the canyon. That'll have the best view." Not to mention that I've already planned that.

Shido's lips twitched a little, and he almost smiled. "Do you visit Not Reality often?"

Cain smiled with real pleasure. Playful's just a step from... more. "From time to time. It can be... intoxicating." Dull, actually, but for you...

Shido shook his head, more, it appeared, in bemusement than in denial. "I don't see it."

"Then you're not looking. Or perhaps you'd prefer a different landscape? I rather like this one-- Peace, privacy, nothing for us to fight over. Even a bit of... beauty." And you're not trying to pull away this time. "What else should I call it but intoxicating?"

Shido finally pulled free. "It seems too... harmless for your taste."

Cain closed his now empty hand, cradling the lingering feeling of Shido's skin against his even as he refused to acknowledge a flare of regret. It's a step. I'll have you come willingly. "I think you've forgotten my taste." He walked closer to the edge of the canyon and stood, looking at the sunset. "You're thinking like a human again." He looked back at Shido for just a second. You need me. You know you need me. "Have you been reading their vampire books? Trying to see how they expect you to behave? Looking for hints as to what you might be able to do?" A subtle shift in Shido's posture seemed to indicate that Cain had guessed correctly. He laughed. "Humans! Forget humans. They fixate."

"And you don't?"

Cain ignored Shido. "For example, humans writing about us continually compare blood to wine." He wrinkled his nose in distaste. "The simile... plays false. True, blood is fluid, rich, tempting, desirable... Our kind would die if we did not find our food... attractive." He saw Shido opening his mouth and went on, "Don't deny it. Don't bother. I won't believe it, and I doubt you'll convince yourself either. Settle for enjoying your self-denial, your mortification of the flesh. At least if you manage that you're getting something out of it."

"You're so in love with your own voice." Shido's words were full of contempt.

Cain simply looked at him.

Shido shrugged and walked away.

Cain noted that he stayed carefully within earshot. He turned away again to hide his smile. You're curious, aren't you? If I tread carefully, court you slowly, you won't even realize you're coming back to me. "I was talking about intoxication, wasn't I? That doesn't come from the blood, but rather... Do you remember? We spent days reveling in our power, a dangerous, heady indulgence. Wasn't there some mortal who called it an aphrodisiac? Not Machiavelli. He missed that part. A lack of imagination, I always thought."

He heard rocks rattle and then fall into the canyon. You don't like that because I'm right. "Yes. You do remember, don't you? You crave it still-- To have a human, any human you choose, surrender. A feast to your current famine. Bewilderment and pain. Passion. Despair. Ecstasy. Each one a new treat for the palate." He turned to face Shido again, perfectly conscious that the sunset made him a dark silhouette. "You can answer a question for me, if you choose-- Why would you wish to be a parasite rather than a predator?" And I really don't understand that. Why cheapen yourself that way?

"You don't understand. To be human is to-- To live in the light. I want that."

Ah. The misconception. I never could break you of that one. "To be human is to be able to live in the light. Most of them don't. It's too much trouble." Cain turned and walked along the canyon. "If you were human, you'd be dust by now. Nothing more. And the girl child would be dead."

Shido shot Cain a look filled with desperate venom. "If it weren't for you, she'd--" He shook his head.

Cain lifted one shoulder and let it drop. "You wouldn't have been there to save her when her parents... died. Dead is dead." Let's not talk about her. She's not interesting except as a way to get to you.

Shido shook his head again, more as if trying to shake something off than in negation. "That's not-- It can't be--"

"Are we the center of the world, you and I? That people only die when we touch them?" Cain curled his upper lip in disdain. "I think not. Death has been in business for eons. Our personal... ventures are nothing to him."

"They matter to the people involved!"

"Everything matters to the people involved. Even if we stood here, forever, unmoving, there would be... repercussions." Cain sighed. And I wasn't going to argue his delusions, was I? I've never made any headway there, but I think I've made some progress on... other fronts.

"It would be better if we'd never--"

"If you really believe that, why are you still alive?" Cain let all of his contempt for Shido's delusions escape into the one question. "Or if you can't face letting the sun take you, why aren't you sitting in a cave somewhere, truly fasting? You could. It's been done." He turned to face Shido.


Cain paced toward Shido, taking slow but unwavering steps. The ground smoothed itself beneath his feet. "You'd rather live on the bread and water of pity and devotion. Doesn't it sicken you? Don't you ever want to sneak out for a little... indulgence? Don't you feel weaker? You are. Our confrontations prove that."

Shido moved one foot backward then stopped, visibly bracing himself. He met Cain's eyes and waited.

"And you'll be fasting for a while, now, won't you?" Cain pressed his body up against Shido's. "Your policewoman pet can't feed you as she is now, not if you want her to recover." I could feed you. I've blood to spare. I know you can smell it. "But do you? Asking her to feed two was cruel, you know. She's moving more slowly now, with a bone deep weakness that she'll never tell you about. It'll only get worse as she ages, as her body has less to give." He moved back slowly, just a step, and raised his chin. You could take it now. I wouldn't stop you.

Shido reached for Cain, just the slightest twitch as he started to raise a hand. Then he aborted the movement and looked away. He stepped to one side and walked around Cain, back toward the cavern.

Just a little more... "And you have the girl to think of. You might fast, but she cannot."

Shido stopped, hesitating. He didn't actually look back.

You know I'm right. "The day will come, eventually, maybe even soon, when she needs more." Cain worked to keep his tone reasonable, logical. I've pushed temptation as far as it can go right now. "You know it. We saw it in the depths of your fears." You do not love the girl as I love you, but... More than I like. But she is good for you. Very good. You'd not have listened so long before. "You know how to call me, Shido. I will come."

Shido turned back toward Cain. He nodded once, sharply, his face showing no emotion.

Cain suppressed a smile of triumph.

"It's time for me to go back." Shido started walking toward the cavern again.

But we've hardly begun! And we're making progress! Cain bit his lip against his automatic protest. Slow steps. "As you wish." He nodded. Pushing doesn't work. Remember that. A new approach. "The hospital is back the way we came. I didn't tangle the road." Yes, Shido, think about that. I could trap you, but I won't. Not unless I have to.

For just a second, Shido's posture seemed to soften. Then he nodded firmly and walked away.

No goodbye? For shame, Shido. I taught you better manners than that. Cain shook his head. He looked around the mountainside, trying to memorize the details. We'll come back here again, I think. Someday...

Moving at a leisurely pace, he headed back toward the policewoman's room. When he arrived, he found Shido standing just inside the curtain. Cain stopped on the threshold, careful not to make a sound and to cloud the minds of any witnesses so they'd not remember seeing him. And I'd rather not have you see me now.

Shido stared at the woman for several minutes. Then he pulled a chair over next to her bed. He pushed her hair back from her forehead then sat down beside her.

A few years and she'll be gone. Not long at all. She's not a rival.

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