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Bad Karma

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There was something incredibly freeing about travel. Daisuke had always enjoyed the chance to go outside the city, to see trees, mountains and tropical islands… although attempted murder by various mechanical assassins tended to take some of the shine off.

The long causeway that took him away from Judoh stretched into the distance like a gleaming promise, white and shining against the darkness of the water. The further he drove, wind whipping against the bike as he sped along, the cleaner the air became and the sound of the sea and the birds slowly swelled to drown out the hum of the giant city he’d left behind.

There was something almost cleansing about the passing of the miles. The further he went the easier it was to think about what and whom he’d left behind. For the most part, he thought of freedom and wondered if this was the feeling that had brought his mother to Judoh… and then taken her away. It was a bittersweet feeling, and one that he did not care for.

Eventually, he stopped for quiet dinner by the side of the causeway, perched atop his bike. Daisuke watched the sunset and thought, for a moment, he could see one of the giant ships of the Celestials cruising along in the distance. He didn’t let it put him off his food, however, watching until the faint glint of white was out of sight.

By the time he reached his destination, he’d spent four days on the causeway, sleeping under a blaze of stars that had never been visible through the light pollution caused by Judoh’s high-tech population. Light meals and hours of solitude, broken by the occasional far-away ship ,left Daisuke with a feeling of peace – of severance. This was the beginning of a new life, far away from the chaos and discontent of Judoh.

Of course, all of this serenity and peace wasn’t to last, but if Daisuke had been given to gambling, he would have bet on mysteriously appearing Wolfmen or an accidental involvement in some motor accident or mugging or perhaps (as was par for the course) murderous androids bent on his utter destruction. As it happened, he would’ve lost all of his money – still more or less par for the course, unfortunately.

Fifteen minutes after gaining a relatively secure place to leave his bike and meager luggage, Daisuke found himself wandering the streets, wanting to see the sights before finding a place to spend the night. It gave him a chance to stretch cramped muscles after days of driving. He wanted to walk some of the stiffness out. Five minutes after that fateful decision, he found himself staring at a very familiar chest and re-acquainting himself with the unpleasant feel of a gun muzzle pressed against the small of his back.

“Giobanni,” he greeted the chest politely, all he could see of the taller man without craning his neck. The tie was familiar, as was the height and the scruff of beard – which was really all he could see from this angle. The tight press of the crowd in the elevator prevented his stepping back to get a better view… as did the pressure of the gun. “Vampire.”

His guess proved correct as a familiar, slightly breathless laugh returned his greeting. “What a pleasant surprise.” The gun slid slowly up Daisuke’s spine to catch in the hem of his short jacket. “What brings you to this fair city, so far from home?”

“Me?” Daisuke blinked, tipping his head just enough to take in Giobanni’s deliberately blank expression. He lowered his voice just enough to be hard to hear beneath the murmur of their fellow elevator-riders. “It’s forbidden by Celestial law to travel, Vampire. What are you doing here?”

Giobanni’s expression twitched and Daisuke smiled up at him wryly, correctly reading the twitch as a moment of amused discomfort. The scenery, what he could see of it around the Vampire's bodyguard, was breathtaking. Glass elevators were a mainstay, apparently, in more places than Judoh.

The gun paused, twisting in Daisuke’s shirt as the site caught in the dark fabric. “As I’m known for my slavish devotion to the rules and regulations it is, of course, a shock to find me where I’m not supposed to be.”

“More a realization of bad karma,” Daisuke offered cheerfully. “You’re not going to shoot me in a crowded elevator, are you?”

“No,” Giobanni told them both, looking over Daisuke’s shoulder at his employer. “He is not.”

An arm snaked around Daisuke’s neck from behind and a chin rested on his shoulder. A sideways glance bought him a glimpse of dyed hair, purple against black, and the hint of silver above a wicked smile. The gun muzzle, however, didn’t move so much as a millimeter. “I wouldn’t shoot you in a crowded elevator, Daisuke,”

“What, you’d wait until it was empty?” Daisuke rolled his eyes at Giobanni, who didn’t seem to see the humor in the situation. Few would. The slightly unhinged teen who controlled not only Company Vita but also all of the organized crime in Judoh, wasn’t known for his dislike of violence.

A certain story was still circulating about the hand grenade he’d shoved into the mouth of one of the less… obedient of his underlings, just before pulling out the pin. Daisuke knew it wasn’t merely a story, having been privy to actual footage of that incident – not to mention certain very personal memories of having been tied to a chair more or less at Clair’s complete and non-existent mercy.

“Mmmm.” The gun moved, but only to twist in Daisuke’s shirt again. “No, I think an elevator lacks that personal touch.”

Giobanni’s jaw tightened, but he didn’t actually give voice to the heavy sigh that obviously wanted to break free. As the car stopped, the crowd shifted and Daisuke took the opportunity to turn, not terribly worried as his shirt snagged on the gun barrel. If Company Vita’s Vampire wasn’t going to shoot him out of hand, the safety would be on… and the gun might not even be loaded.

Saying that Clair liked to play games was an understatement of incredible proportions.

More people shoved into the elevator, understandable in a high building that was a local, public landmark and Daisuke found himself shoved up directly against Clair, who smiled maliciously up at him, the gun now pressed between them.

It would be hard to take Clair Leonelli seriously, if you had to judge him on appearance alone. A by-stander, taking in their posture and position - Clair pressed up against the back of the car with the taller Daisuke leaning over him - might be fooled into thinking that Daisuke was trying to take advantage of the crush and also of the slighter, younger man. On the other hand, the silk shirt open almost to his navel and the skin tight black pants that Clair was so fond of rather gave the lie to the ‘taking advantage’ bit.

Daisuke smiled down at Clair, the free, easy ‘I’m not intimidated by you’ smile that he knew drove Clair directly up the nearest wall. To his surprise, Clair simply smiled back, shifting his center of balance slightly so that his shoulders took his weight, leaving his hips pressed against Daisuke. That wasn’t the only thing pressed against him, as the pistol Clair still held in one hand moved slightly – a brief reminder that while the muzzle was no longer pointing at his midsection, Clair’s current grip had it pointed straight up, and a bullet though the jaw is even less entertaining than one in the gut.

“You said you wouldn’t shoot me in a crowded elevator,” Daisuke reminded him softly.

Clair’s smile sharpened, teeth catching on the ring through his lip for a brief moment. “Lack of consistency is part of my charm.”

Daisuke looked up to find that Giobanni had deliberately turned his back on the pair of them and was fulfilling his duty as bodyguard admirably, insofar as now that Clair and Daisuke were wedged into a corner and he was between them and the rest of the car, no one could actually see what Clair was up to.

…whatever that was.

Turning his attention back to Clair, Daisuke was surprised to find that the smile had vanished, replaced instead by a brooding look. “What are you doing here, Daisuke?” he asked. “Too surprised by my presence to be here to cause trouble for me….” He paused as the press shoved Giobanni back a few inches and ground the two of them even more closely together. The gun was now quite firmly wedged between them and just as likely to do damage to Clair as to Daisuke at this point.

“Just sightseeing,” Daisuke assured him, leaning further into Clair and resting both hands on the wall in an attempt to keep his balance. Daisuke didn’t rely on a weapon unless he had to, a bit of conditioning brought about by budget restraints and lack of bullets, and now that he had no gun, being able to defend himself without one was twice as valuable – and Clair knew it.

The smile was back, giving the impression that Clair’s teeth were far sharper than they should be for someone whose title of ‘Vampire’ was more a matter of ritual and prestige than anything literal. “Running away?” he purred, more or less into Daisuke’s ear.

Daisuke lost his smile, if only for a moment. "I should ask you for pointers?"

One of Clair's hands was suddenly fisted in Daisuke's hair, dragging his head back. They stared at each other for a long, smilingly hostile moment. The intimacy of their position was in no way lessened by the suddenly genuine frisson of anger between them.

"Clair." They didn't break their mutual stare even as Giobanni looked back over his shoulder at them. "Clair."

"What?" Clair demanded, hand sliding the gun slowly upward along Daisuke's stomach toward his throat.

"This is our floor."

"Do I look like I'm interested in which floor we're on?"

Giobanni bit back an exasperated sigh and squared his shoulders, scanning the sea of bodies that crowded the elevator and doing his best to look forbidding. It must have worked, because no one tried to get any closer.

"The gun?" Daisuke didn't bother to pry Clair's hand out of his hair, twisting his head sideways instead and snapping his teeth.

"I like the gun," was Clair's response. He let go of Daisuke's hair and dragged his hand around and down Daisuke's chest and stomach, jerking sharply at the thin fabric of his shirt and pulling it free.

"You would." The time for civilized conversation long past, Daisuke leaned forward, weight still resting on his hands, and snapped his teeth again - this time catching the ring through Clair's lip and tugging on it.

The response was immediate and almost instinctive, Clair hooking his arm around Daisuke's neck and dragging him down. The press of mouths was anything but gentle, the gun making its presence felt as Clair slid it upward again, this time against Daisuke's skin. Already warm from the previous pressure of their bodies, it was still hard metal and Daisuke found himself trying to pull away, only to have Clair's grip tighten.

With half of Clair's weight and most of his own resting on his hands, there wasn't much Daisuke could do - at least not without attracting a great deal of attention. He bit at the mouth relentlessly exploring his own, and was rewarded with a silent shake of laughter and another shift as Clair wrapped one booted leg around his own and ground upward against him.

The breath was driven from Daisuke's lungs with the movement, a hard, deliberate slide of another body, with a twist of the hips at just the right angle, and he rocked his own hips in an effort to meet Clair, only to be denied at the last minute. The leather of Clair’s pants didn’t help, warmed to body temperature and giving the impression that there was nothing between them save the thin material of Daisuke’s pants.

Daisuke was dimly aware of the elevator reaching the top of it's run, as the sudden downward press of gravity did interesting things to the knot tightening in the pit of his stomach and the heat slowly growing at the base of his spine. Clair wasn't laughing any longer, the muzzle of the gun flicked almost carelessly against sensitive skin, causing a hardening of flesh in more than one area.

Clair could do things with his tongue that Daisuke knew were going to keep him awake long after this encounter was over and that thought was enough to break him away, breathing heavily as he stared down at Clair. For his part, Clair looked entirely disheveled, and in complete control of both himself and the situation. They stared at each other wordlessly, the corner of Clair's mouth quirked upward just far enough to scream his satisfaction with this state of affairs to the world.

"Clair." Giobanni's tone was far less patient this time. "Our floor. Again."

They remained locked together for a moment longer, each aroused and uncaring that the other knew it. It was Clair who broke the stalemate, leaning forward to press his mouth against Daisuke's ear. "I'll see you later." He bit down with the last word, pulling at Daisuke's ear before letting go.

Giobanni's height and unwillingness to take 'no' for an answer bought them an opening to the door and Clair let his hand slide reluctantly from Daisuke's skin as he followed Giobanni from the elevator. The gun, however, remained – shoved directly down the front of Daisuke’s pants and taking an already uncomfortable situation to an entirely new realm of interestingly erotic. Hunching forward slightly so that his shirt more or less concealed the front of his pants, Daisuke wondered exactly how he was supposed to remove the gun without an unfortunate and entirely unforeseen complication.

Daisuke waited until the doors closed behind them before hunching further into the corner and taking a slow breath. Warm, heavy metal pressed up against an almost painful arousal was not supposed to have quite this effect – no matter who shoved it down his pants. His ear stung slightly, though not as much as his pride, and he stared sightlessly out at the panoramic view of the city as the car moved slowly downward.

Once the gun had been carefully removed, finding a place to sleep didn't take a great deal of effort. He had money, and that was all that counted - no matter the city-state of origin. Despite the ban on personal travel there was trade, or at least trade enough to make money-changing possible. A long soak in a communal tub and a change of clothes left him feeling better than he had in days, although no less bruised in the area of his pride.

The gun was, indeed, loaded. No real surprise there, given Clair's penchant for live grenades. Daisuke did not take it with him when he left the cheap hotel, leaving it instead tucked neatly in the bottom of his duffel bag.

It took surprisingly little effort to discover Clair's lodgings - it wasn't as if Company Vita's Vampire was trying to hide his presence, after all. Even if he were, Clair was not the type to go unnoticed. Some four hours after their encounter in the elevator, Daisuke found himself staring thoughtfully at the discreetly numbered door of a suite situated in a hotel he probably couldn't actually afford to be standing in.

Staring... and thinking very hard.

It would not have consoled him to realize that Clair was standing on the other side of the door, frowning at a viewscreen that showed his visitor - motionless in the hallway.

After several minutes of earnest thought, Daisuke suddenly smiled. Lips curved in the careless, easy smile that always made Clair itch to slap the expression from his face, he turned away and headed down the lavishly appointed hallway.

"You're just going to let him go?" Despite his best efforts, Giobanni sounded surprised.

"Hmm?" Clair's fingers were tapping gently on the edge of the console as he watched Daisuke walk away, and it took him a moment to process the question. "I suppose you could call it that." He turned to look up at Giobanni, frown still in place. "He has to want it more than I do, Giobanni." The faintest flicker of a smile vanished as rapidly as it appeared. "... and he knows it, damn him."

Daisuke was smiling as he reached the street, sliding his sunglasses on and looking up at the last, fading streaks of color in the sky. "Not this time, Vampire."

Far above him, Clair echoed, "Not this time... but soon."