Disclaimers: I guess see the first Part. But for a brief summary…blood and sex do lie ahead-and yes, sometimes in that order and at the same time. A few of these chapters are not for the squeamish, but I don't think you've made it this far without being tough.

Grovelling Pit: To Mikee, to Jennis (sorry I never wrote you back last time, I know I'm an ass), to Jain for giving me some landscaping tips and to the countless others who kept loading my inbox…massive love to you all.

Survey Says: As always feel free to bitch-constructively of course. Tell me you loved it, tell me you hated it, tell me you think I'm a sappy sucka'-just tell me something. Catch me if you can at: catwoman59@hotmail.com

Peace and soul grease.




Falling through the dark isn't always dangerous--most times it's down right fun, as long as you know where the rocks are. In this case the biggest rock of all was seven-foot sword that had the potential to kill both Hunter and Vampire, with impunity. The drop barely lasted two seconds and carried them only ten feet. Clarion was hoping to hear the sound of metal meeting the floor first, but they all met the floor simultaneously. There were two distinct thuds, a few cracks, and after a moment of prayer-filled silence, there were no lacerations, cuts, or impalements.

Clarion coughed and shook her hair of dust as she called into the dark. "Yoshi?" No answer. There was no light for her eyes to adjust to as she sat up slowly and began to reach out with her hand. "Yoshima." Her voice was louder this time and hinted at worry. Clarion managed to get to her knees and was about to begin a hesitant crawl around the area.

"There's a sword on your right." Yoshi's voice was monotone as it surged with hurt and disappointment.

Clarion wanted to jump for joy, but decided to celebrate further to left and with little to no movement as possible. "Where are you?"

"Dead ahead."

Clarion swore she heard a chuckle, but before she could comment, the room was bathed in a red light as a small flare was lit and tossed to the corner. The red light grew brighter as two more flares were lit and tossed in opposite directions. Clarion sat back on her heels as she took in the form of the prone Hunter who lay in front of her awkwardly propped against large boulders. She was not concerned about the jagged cut across her forehead. Nor was her worry the bloody nose or the hundreds of nicks and bruises that Clarion could see and practically feel without even having to touch the Hunter. She may not have been impaled on a sword, but the dull blue eyes cast down at the floor cut through her worse than any steel. She knew the words that would spill unsolicited from Yoshi's lips, by only having to catch a glimpse of the failure in her eyes.

Clarion spoke in a soft voice as she made her way towards the dark woman. "Yoshi?" She spoke her name as if she wasn't there, if only because she may have been there physically, but the Hunter was clearly gone. "Hey in there." A small hand cupped a bruised cheek as Clarion raised Yoshi's head. Normally, vibrant blue eyes seemed gray with cataracts and the swell of tears. Clarion managed a crooked smile as she witnessed what probably no other person alive had witnessed. "Yoshi?" Clarion had hoped by starting a sentence she could complete one, but even in all her gregariousness she could not find the words to ebb the flow of the Hunter's tears. Clarion fished futilely for words as she cupped Yoshi's face in her hands and willed herself not to cry.

"I-," Yoshi's words spilled out with a sob. "I fa-" she stumbled over the letters until they formed fully in her mouth. "I failed." When she finally got the words out she repeated them over and over, swatting away Clarion's hands and hanging her head. Her own self-disgust filled her to the brim and she could do nothing but bubble over with disappointment. The dark woman drew her legs into her chest, wrapping her arms around her knees and bending her head so that her chin was supported on her fists. She refused to make eye contact with Clarion as she mumbled incoherently to herself.

Clarion ran a hand through her hair and just watched the woman before her-or what was left of her for the time being. She let out a small breath and once again reached a hand out to touch Yoshi. When she wasn't pushed away, she laid a stronger claim to the Hunter by absently combing through the sable locks that fell haphazardly about her face and shoulders. "Yoshi, I need you to look at me." Blue eyes remained downcast at Clarion's request. "Yoshi, please-I want you here and I need you here."

A heartbeat passed between them both before the disconsolate tenor of Yoshi's voice broke the quiet hum. "There's nothing left for me to do."

Clarion bit down on her lip to hold back the smile of relief. Instead she placed a warm hand on Yoshi's cheek and took her time as she raised Yoshi's head. Green eyes sought out dour blue and hoped she could keep her attention long enough to make a connection. "Sugar, there's so much left for you to do, but you gotta come back for me." Clarion managed a grin as blue eyes met hers for a split second.

"I'm of no use to you Larieux." She grabbed the hand on her cheek and attempted to push it away. "Leave me be."

Clarion twisted her wrist out of Yoshi's grasp and ended up entwining their fingers. She spoke with a smirk. "Oh come now chér, we back to using last names." She chuckled. "And here I thought bathroom love counted for something."

Yoshi shook her head and then she met Clarion's eyes for a moment as she furrowed her brow. "What?"

Clarion hoped her grin wasn't too large. "Bathroom love: you know, you use the to-to while I brush my teeth. We carry on conversations while the toilet's flushing." Clarion didn't stop the wide grin that came to her lips as she watched Yoshi's left eyebrow twitch in the faintest hint of an arch. "Hey in there, you want to come out to play?" Clarion released their hands as she combed dark hair away from the Hunter's face and looked at the fresh cuts on her forehead and cheeks.

"How can you-" Yoshi's words trailed off as she shrugged.

Clarion tore off a piece of her shirtsleeve and wiped away the blood on Yoshi's forehead and nose. "How can I be so cheery? C'mon pahtna' we can get out of this."

Clarion was forced back on her heels as Yoshi sat up straight. Her brow creased deeply as life returned to her eyes. "Get out?" She continued to lean forward. "We're dead. Dead. Dead." She punctuated her words by invading Clarion's personal space.

The redhead held her ground and touched a hand to Yoshi's chest. "Ease off, Yoshi, ease off." She pushed gently.

The Hunter exhaled through her nose and sat back, once again slumping against the jagged rock. She closed her eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry." She ran both hands through her hair. "So sorry." She sighed again, heavily. "I just-I'm sorry, so sorry." She avoided eye contact with the woman in front of her.

"Hey," she reached out to touch Yoshi, but the Hunter avoided the outstretched hand. "Stop saying you're sorry."

Blue eyes met green. "Clarion it's over. I failed. Stolov…. it's done."

She shrugged. "Stolov what? So he's got a few extra tricks up his sleeve." Yoshi began to protest, but an arched eyebrow silenced her. "It's not done. Colin has the baby and he got out. You know as well as I do that that counts for everything."

"Does it really matter?"

Clarion slapped her thighs, showing frustrating for the first time. "Damn it Yoshima! If this is the way you're going to be then I don't want to be stuck down here for the rest of our lives."

Yoshi didn't know if the redhead was serious or not, but the look on her face proved just that. "Buried alive?" Clarion gave a half shrug as they both took in their surroundings. In some areas there was at least ten or eleven feet of headroom, in others barely inches where the rock had caved in. The area itself was probably 12 feet across, with the red-orange light of the flares giving it an eerie yet somber glow.

"I wouldn't go for buried-more like, entombed."

"Great." Yoshi mumbled as she cracked her knuckles with a groan. "If the explosion doesn't kill us than we'll just sit here and rot until we kill each other."

Clarion shrugged and took inventory of her own injuries as she got to her feet. She rolled her eyes. "In a few months I'll be so hungry I'll want to eat my own arm so I guess you're right." She wiggled her eyebrows hoping to get a laugh from the now brooding woman.

Yoshi sucked her teeth as she stretched out her legs. "I guess if I can keep you alive then I won't feel like a complete and utter failure."

The redhead turned wide green eyes towards Yoshi as she let out a huff of air. "Are you finished?" She stood with her hands on her hips and dared the Hunter to say a word. "Brooding I can accept, being upset and confused I can deal with, momentary lapses in sanity I can tolerate, but this self-loathing-oh-woe-is-me-I'm-worthless is really grating on my nerves." She stood before the woman. "Now, I suggest you get up off your ass and pull it together so we can figure out if we're getting out of here. Cause if we're not, I have no intention of spending my last moments on this earth bickering with you about where it all went wrong-so put a sock in it and get up." Her comments probably would have been meant for humor in some other situation, but in that moment, only the fires of hell burning behind her would have been the appropriate lighting.

As it was, the light from the flares cast a strange glow in the room and for a moment the still seated Yoshi thought for sure some Demon was rising to take her. Surprisingly, in her still remained one last vestige of self-preservation so she scrambled to her feet a lot quicker than she thought possible. When she felt her knees began to buckle, Clarion was quickly at her side and helping her to lean against the wall.

"I didn't mean for you to break anything on the way up." Green eyes softened with concern, as she looked the taller woman over.

Yoshi mustered a weak grin. "Just a few things out of sockets that's all." With that the dark woman, gnashed her teeth and proceed to pop her knee back into place as well as her shoulder. She rolled her neck from side to side just to add to the hollow echo of bones snapping into place.

Clarion groaned. "Feel better." She touched a hand to Yoshi's chest plate. The dark woman nodded and let her head rest against the wall as she closed her eyes and sighed. "You're not going away on me again are you?" Clarion's tone was soft.

Yoshi took a moment, but she eventually opened her eyes as she looked down at the woman at her side. "Just short of our slightly possible yet imminent deaths, I've decided to stay here."

Clarion chuckled and hugged the taller woman, wrapping her arms around Yoshi's waist and squeezing, eliciting a hiss of pain. "That sounds like a broken bone." Yoshi nodded as Clarion let go and immediately began unbuckling the chest plate. "That a little better?" She asked as she dropped the body armor to the ground.

"It'll do." Yoshi rubbed a hand across her ribs. "It's not that bad, and nothing a little rest won't cure."

"I promise you we can take a 30-year vacation as soon as we get out of here."

Yoshi watched as Clarion moved away and began standing on some of the fallen rock and examining the new ceiling. "You telling me, you're strong enough to get through all this rock?"

Green eyes turned to Yoshi. She took her fingers away from a crack and shrugged. "If you help me, we could do it."

Yoshi smirked. "You think so?" She didn't wait for an answer from Clarion, as she turned to her right and slammed her fist into the stone wall. Yoshi's fist bounced off the wall as she let out a growl of pain.

Clarion was by her side in two quick strides. "What are you doing?" She tried to grab a hold of the Hunter's fist, but Yoshi seemed content on shaking away the pain. "I don't suppose you feel better?"

"That's the point." Yoshi leaned against the wall as she rubbed her now throbbing knuckles. "I'm about as weak as a school boy after making love for the first time."

Clarion couldn't fight the arch that crept into her eyebrow. "I 'spose you've been a school boy a time or two, no?" Her cheeks rose with a deep grin.

Yoshi opened her mouth to say something self-effacing, but she found herself lost in a lush comfort that was the green of Clarion's eyes and she lost her thought. She tilted her head as she regarded the woman who stood in front of her, still smiling, eyes bright and she too had her own epiphany as she smiled deeply.

"What are you smiling at?" She stepped on a piece of rock so that she and the Hunter were now the same height.

"You know, I've got no idea and I can't quite put my finger on it-but I'm positive it had something to do with you."

Even now, with all that had happened and all that had passed between them, Clarion still blushed like a school girl. A small shiver of nervous excitement moved down her spine as she held the strong gaze of the dark woman. "We're not going to die down here are we?" It was both a question and a statement that they both had the answer to.

Yoshi opened her arms, welcoming Clarion into her arms, as she stepped off the fallen rock.

"In a little less than an hour this is all going to be rubble-so it's not going to matter much." She buried her face in Clarion's hair as she kissed her head softly. "Neither of us is up to breaking rocks, so…" She shrugged as she trailed off.

"I would suggest some campfire stories, but I was never a good Girl Scout, or Boy Scout for that matter."

Both women laughed. "Why do I get the feeling you were trying to earn badges in things they shouldn't give out to little kids."

Clarion rolled her eyes and grinned rakishly. The redhead was in no rush as she drew a finger across Yoshi's dark eyebrows and traced her features. She stood on her tip-toes as she moved in to kiss the dark woman, stopping just short of their lips touching as Yoshi spoke in a voice deep with want. "Tell me again why we're not clawing at the walls and screaming for help?"

Clarion threaded small fingers through thick black hair and gently grasped Yoshi's neck. "Because I want you more than I need to get out," Clarion drew her tongue across Yoshi's top lip, garnering a quiet moan from the woman, "but mostly because-" she started to finish her sentence, but she saw the answer in the deep blue of Yoshi's eyes: Need.

Clarion began to kiss the taller women about her face and neck, stopping to linger and nibble on her lips with each pass. Large hands cupped the smaller woman's face as Yoshi took a moment to catch her breath. Clarion snaked out her tongue, reaching for Yoshi's lips as if she had never tasted anything so divine. Yoshi blushed at the obvious show of desire and felt herself curling the corner of her mouth into a half smile. Hooded eyes found their magnificent blue color and swirled with want as she caught her reflection in jade irises. Yoshi teased Clarion with a small kiss as she continued to keep them inches apart from one another.

"How is it that in my darkest hour, you still crave me?" The quiet husk of the Hunter's voice delighted Clarion's ears.

Clarion grinned as she traced her fingers along the warm hands that framed her face. "First, this is 'our' hour. Us. Together…and it's not dark Samurai, dawn is on its way." She gently pried Yoshi's hands away from her face and leaned in to kiss the dark woman, her tongue easily gaining entrance. She nipped at the still parted lips as she pulled away. "And besides, I know something you don't?" Yoshi raised her eyebrow in question. "You need this just as much as I do."

Yoshi chuckled and leaned in to kiss the smirking redhead only to be denied. "I do don't I?" As she voiced the question, deep down she realized it did make sense, and this wasn't just some last ditch effort at connecting before it all ended. She gazed at the woman before her openly and perhaps with real understanding for the first time. She wasn't with this woman out of some sense of duty or archaic obligation. It had gone beyond simple want and need and had become simply, what had to be.

What existed between them was not something so surreal that you searched for it in fairytales and myths, but it was tangible and visceral-like blood. Yoshima instantly felt the ache of not being near this woman and she could only name that pain as hunger. She had lost count of the times she had gone without food and she could easily recall the feeling of being empty, but standing amidst the rubble, a hairsbreadth from the woman who could quell her ache--she realized that this was the emptying of her soul. As she pulled the smaller woman to her, kissing her forcefully, she knew she could only be filled with what Clarion had to give.

In the waning red light, hands found themselves tangled up in clothing that had before been protective and was now merely cumbersome. Each woman seemed to be fighting the other for control, as they grappled with one another in between kisses. Clarion lost the upper hand as she found herself pinned between a wall and a ravenous Hunter. Strong hands clawed at the cotton of Clarion's black t-shirt and ripped it apart, leaving jagged edges down the center. Clarion grunted with approval as warm lips attached to the pulse point on her neck and sucked. It was all the redhead could do to grasp Yoshi's biceps and hold tight as she proceeded to divest her of her top and bra with only the use of her teeth.

For her part, Clarion attempted to undo the belt on Yoshi's waist, but her fingers betrayed her and became useless as shivers of pleasure passed through her compact frame. The sensations of ice and heat assailed her lithe frame as a warm mouth wrapped around her exposed nipple only to be cooled by a tongue. It was only the wall that held Clarion up as Yoshi lavished both breasts with much needed attention.

No words passed between them as grunts and groans and whimpers and moans served the process of communication. Clarion was none so gently lifted out of her sagging pants. A warm hand under her thigh guided her leg up so that it rested on the Hunter's hip. Between the wall and Yoshi, the redhead was practically suspended in the air and at the mercy of the woman standing between her legs. Clarion's underwear fell by the way side baring her skin to the cool air. It was a chill she never felt as tapered fingers covered her center and coursed a path through the warm wet flesh. Just as soon as Yoshi announced her presence with her fingers she dropped down to her knees and buried her face between Clarion's trembling thighs.

Clarion had no words to express what she was feeling. She was all at once trapped between pain and pleasure. The cool tongue that lapped at her center negated the rough cement at her back. The aches and pains that had once before left her dazed and confused now melted away as her body was aching for all the right reasons. She tangled small fingers in thick black hair as the dark woman drank of her as if she had been starving all her life. Clarion attempted to find her voice, but could only manage to moan or take in a sharp breath. She eventually tugged at Yoshi's shirt, bringing the taller woman from her nest. Their was nothing sweet or slow about their kisses-sloppy and rushed is what they were, as if each woman was hurrying to reach some other destination.

Yoshi once again lifted Clarion's leg at the thigh opening the smaller woman to her ministrations. The dark woman wasted no time with teasing, as she entered Clarion with two strong fingers that quickly became three at the redhead's insistence.

Green eyes that had once been squeezed shut opened wide as Clarion felt a familiar tug in her stomach. At first she assumed it to be simply the swell of her mounting orgasm, but the feel of her muscles bunching in her abdomen told her otherwise. Indeed there was a swell a feeling and indeed there was a mounting release growing inside the redhead, but this release was more than just the building of sensations.

The smaller woman felt as if she was on fire, smoldering from the inside, and being seared on the outside. Her climax was so near she could all ready hear her own screaming echoing in her ears as if the memory of the sound was reverberating off the walls. Clarion held fast to Yoshi's arm with one hand, her blunt nails digging into the muscle there. Her other hand could find no purchase anywhere, as she made a fist, then released it only to claw at the wall, only to bury her fingers in dark hair.

With each thrust Yoshi could feel Clarion nearing the edge. She easily slipped in a fourth finger allowing her thumb to have free reign over the redheads' most sensitive area. She was sure this would send Clarion over, or possibly herself. Small hands gripped her shoulders like talons, as Clarion arched her back and pressed her head hard against the wall. Yoshi looked up from the sweaty cocoon of Clarion's neck and saw what she had never noticed before: resistance.

Even white teeth were displayed as Clarion bared down on her lip almost to the point of drawing blood. Her body was taut and green eyes were wild as they rolled in her head. Her body pulsed with the want of release and she shook with fear. Yoshi knew what was happening and she would not stop. She slowed her ministrations only to surge again, making Clarion cry out. Suddenly she could feel the nails of Clarion's fingers where she knew they had not been there a moment before.

Clarion wanted to scream she wanted to come so bad. She could feel the Hunter everywhere and she knew she had nowhere to run this time. As excruciatingly good as she felt, she was still scared, and she couldn't help but panic. Somehow she managed to find her voice as she pushed against the broad shoulders. "Stop." It was barely rasped out and she tried again when Yoshi didn't acknowledge her. "Oh god, st-stop." She couldn't stop the moan that came to her as a cool tongue lapped at her earlobe. "Please, shit…stop."

Yoshi released the earlobe with a tug of teeth. "No."

Clarion groaned in pleasure and anger. She pushed her head up so Yoshi couldn't see her face. "You have to."

Yoshi kissed a hardened nipple eliciting a sweet hissing noise from the woman writhing both in attempt to get away and to prolong the sensation. "Not until you come."

Clarion pushed against her shoulders as she bit into her lip, drawing blood. "Fuck,"she growled out. "Please, Yoshi."

The Hunter slowed her onslaught a bit as she lifted head. "Let me see you." Clarion was so caught off guard she nearly looked down at the Hunter, knowing that would surely be her undoing. "Let me see you." Clarion could only shake her head. Yoshi did not ask again, opting to snake out her tongue and lap at the thin line of blood trickling from Clarion's lip. The action silenced Clarion's moans and garnered her full attention. Green eyes glassy with want found a home in Yoshi's cerulean gaze. Clarion wasn't sure what scared her most in that instant, the fact that Yoshi wanted to see her or her own understanding that she felt the same.

Ever so gently, Yoshi drew her thumb across Clarion's still pulsing clit and began to draw the length of her fingers out of Clarion's warmth only to push into the warm wetness. "I want to see you." She kissed Clarion's trembling lips softly, once again removing the blood as she pulled back. Clarion felt the woman shiver and knew she no longer had the want to fight. This time as Yoshi's fingers moved inside her, she did not strain against the power that gathered inside her. She felt the energy course through her fingertips down to her toes and fill her chest. Clarion let her head loll back as the tingling in her teeth faded with their growth. She closed her eyes to the sensation, as she rode the hand inside her.

Iridescent green eyes opened to meet Yoshi's open gaze. Yoshi gazed upon the creature before her and remembered the thought that came to her the first time she had seen her: beautiful. She whispered the word out in reverence. Clarion cried out at the start of her release falling forward and hugging Yoshi to her. Yoshi continued to thrust inside of Clarion; her body responding to the way her muscles gripped her fingers and drew them in. She could feel the small woman in her arms commence to tremble not so much in a need to climax, but with an entirely different need. With her lips against Clarion's ear, Yoshi spoke softly. "I've given you everything I am…I need the same from you."

Clarion held tight, still shaking with release. "I don't think I can."

"I need to be with you Clarion, on the inside."

Clarion was so quiet in her action that it was a wonder either one of them noticed. Two perfect points of white melted into the exposed span of flesh between the Hunter's collar bone and trapezius muscle. For a moment Yoshi felt nothing and then-it was everything. Suddenly the world exploded behind her eyes. She felt herself falling to the ground, feeling no pain, as if she were a leaf drifting soundlessly to the grass.

Images. Images-pictures-slices of life-moments in time. Every moment that Clarion ever had. The first time she opened her eyes, to the first time steps she took, to the last time she had been to church-Yoshi was there for all of them. In reality, she hadn't been privy to any of that, but now as she could feel the blood be drawn from her vein; her consciousness followed the path as well. Yoshima was like an exposed nerve, taut and sensitive to the touch. At the same time she was like porous rock, soaking up everything around her. What she absorbed was Clarion. What she gained was understanding.

The dark woman had always been taught that the Vampire drained its victims dry. Never once did she surmise that the Vampire gave as well. All the strength that Clarion had gathered in 200 plus years coursed through Yoshi as well. If she thought on it long enough she could recall the smells of Paris and the sounds of the Mississippi at night. But these were not her memories they were Clarion's. The images that moved through her mind were so fast that she could not focus on only one image, but she understood the meaning of their sum: Life.

Clarion had been apprehensive at first, but as her teeth sank into the flesh of Yoshi's neck, she knew all would be right in the end. In the end she knew she would pull back when she had had just enough. The redhead easily supported Yoshi's head and upper body as she cradled the woman to her. Clarion took her time as she drank from the Hunter, wasting not a drop of blood that was nearly a thousand years old. The Hunter's blood was just as warm as the blood of any human, but this blood carried with it the mysteries of warriors long dead. This blood brought with it the energy of the pyramids and the spirit of the Samurai. This blood brought with it the one thing all Vampires were forced to relinquish: Life.


The stone walls that once glowed red became as black as midnight as the last flare burnt out with a small whisper. This was the only sound made, but not the only one heard. Clarion lay still atop of Yoshi where she had collapsed moments before-a small ear lay pressed against the dark woman's bosom-listening. Two beats resounded sounding very much like a timpani being struck. A second pair and then a third that would continue infinitely followed the first two beats. Clarion became aware of her own pulse that beat out the same steady rhythm of the woman beneath her. It was then that she felt her ribcage expand as she let out a breath. Her body moved with Yoshi's as the Hunter took a breath of her own. They lay that way for many breaths, breathing in and out, becoming accustomed to the sounds of their own heartbeats as if neither had experienced the phenomenon before-perhaps in some ways it was just that.

Yoshi opened her eyes first, registering the dark and relaxing as her eyes adjusted to nothing. Long fingers found themselves tangled in Clarion's short hair as a smile came to her lips. The small woman breathed in the aroma of sweat, sex, and strength that clung to the Hunter and found herself on the verge of purring like a kitten as long fingers scratched her scalp. Clarion wriggled her body with the pleasant sensation causing the woman beneath her to laugh.

"You trying to go somewhere little girl?" Yoshi's voice was soft and low with just a hint of gravel to it as if she hadn't a chance to clear her throat. The sound made Clarion wiggle with delight.

"Just getting comfy that's all." Both women laughed.

"Comfy, eh?" Yoshi ran a hand up Clarion's bare back leaving a trail of goose bumps. "You got plans for sleeping?"

Clarion chuckled. "I don't really think I can move and I'm definitely not ready to do that again, wow."

"I can't persuade you to move?" The redhead lifted her head and arched her eyebrow as high as it could go even though she figured Yoshi couldn't see it. "Don't give me that look." Clarion huffed and put her head back down.

"Woman, why are you in such a hurry to move?"

Yoshi shrugged a shoulder. "I thought you might like to get out of here."

Without thought to the fingers still nestled inside her, Clarion sat up. "Ahh." She winced and chuckled. "Forgot about that." Yoshi could only smile as she slowly removed her fingers from the woman still straddling her. "What happened to wallowing in misery for all eternity?" Clarion could see Yoshi roll her eyes and stick out her tongue. "You know I can see you smartass."

Yoshi managed to keep a straight face and not show surprise at being caught. "And I thought you couldn't move?"

Clarion smirked. "I just like to say that to make you feel better."

Yoshi didn't need light to see the toothy grin that graced Clarion's features. The Hunter sat up quickly and hugged the smaller woman to her, causing her to squirm with laughter. "I got half a mind to make you eat those words." Her words sounded serious but the cocky grin she wore revealed her true feelings.

Small fingers buried themselves in dark hair. "I'm always up for a meal."

Yoshi sighed. "Normally I'd oblige but I got an idea and we might have just enough time to make it out of here before the ceiling collapses on top of us."

Clarion rolled her eyes as if she was annoyed but began to move, searching the floor with her eyes to find her clothes. As she pulled her pants up the room once again glowed red. She squinted at the bright light and focused on Yoshi who still sat on the floor. The redhead smiled at the Hunter and walked towards her with the remains of her shirt in her hand.

"This was a nice shirt before you." She smiled and crouched down.

"Sorry." Yoshi's eyes searched the floor for nothing in particular.

Clarion recognized it for the nervous action that it was touched her fingers to Yoshi's chin. "You okay?" Green eyes that had returned to their normal color tracked to the collar of Yohsi's shirt.

Yoshi's put a hand to the zippered opening. "I'm fine." She met Clarion's eyes and smiled. "Perfect. Fine, I promise." She rubbed her hands together. "In fact, I'm ready to go." The Hunter smiled with mischievous intent in her eyes.

Clarion stood and stepped back reaching a hand down to help Yoshi from the floor. If Yoshi was afraid that her legs would give out she didn't show it as she pulled her self to her feet in one move. "So what's the plan?"

"Put this on." Yoshi tossed Clarion her armor. Clarion caught the vest and looked down at her sports bra. Yoshi laughed at the redhead's reaction.

Clarion strapped the armor on her torso and watched as Yoshi went from wall to wall peering up into the ceiling, pressing against the cracks in some places. Finally the Hunter stopped her assessment and grabbed the large sword from off the floor. She adjusted the scabbard on her back and sheathed the sword. She stood with her hands on her hips and craned her neck up, looking at nothing in particular. "You got the time?"

Clarion felt the side of pants pocket and removed the plastic watch. The small watch was bumped and bruised but it was still ticking. "It's 5:17 a.m." Green eyes focused on the determined Hunter.

"Sunrise is at 5:30 a.m." Yoshi spoke the words more to herself than Clarion. "Less than fifteen minutes."

Clarion furrowed her brow in concern. "You think we can dig out that fast? I mean you're up and moving, but?"

Blue eyes full of color turned towards Clarion. Yoshi smiled with all the love she had in her heart and winked at the redhead. "You don't get it Clarion." She walked to the smaller woman and touched a hand to her cheek. "I know what you know, feel what you feel, I know how helpless you've been and I am very aware of h0w powerful you've become. I feel you in my veins as well as my soul."

Clarion could only turn her head to kiss the palm that cradled her face. "I wasn't sure you know. I thought, but I just didn't know."

"We can blame each other tomorrow." She smiled at the smaller woman and stepped away. "Stay there."

Clarion arched her brow as she watched the woman balance herself on a boulder and touch her hand to the stone above her. "Yoshi what the-

Clarion's words were cut off as she watched Yoshi draw back her fist and slam it into the ceiling. The redhead wasn't sure which gave her pause first, the crack she heard or the tremor she felt. The Hunter threw her fist into the ceiling two more times in a weird triangle of sorts and then leapt from the boulder as the ceiling started to collapse at the point. Clarion stood with her mouth agape as she watched a long arm reach through the dark and begin pulling down rock.

"It goes faster if you help."

Clarion snapped from her stupor at Yoshi's words and found herself standing on a boulder pulling at large slabs of rocks. In less than two minutes that had built themselves a stairway of stone that led up into the dark of the altar room. Yoshi wiped her brow and looked to her side. "When we get through I just want you to take off." Clarion started to protest, but quieted at Yoshi's look. "Just go, I won't be taking any time to jump for joy or discuss tactics. Just start running and I'll be behind you."

"What if he's not up there?"

"He's up there waiting." She looked up and sneered. "And I got him this time." Yoshi eased up into the dark with Clarion snug against her.

"Why now?"

"Stolov's pure in his evil…and between the both of us we've got just enough love and good to overpower him."

"And enough of a mean streak to chop him into little bits."

"Precisely." Full lips curled into a smirk.

"'The Houses of East and West must become one'." They spoke the words simultaneously and shared a smile. Yoshi put her hand in the small of Clarion's back as she guided the woman ahead of her. The Hunter held no doubt now, only confidence in her ability and the truth of what she felt for Clarion. Beyond that, there was nothing that mattered.

"I'll meet you guys at the top." Yoshi spoke the words to Clarion as she gave her a final push up into the altar room.

The inevitable had come.

* * *


Clarion burst forth from the rubble with one thought on her mind-she had had enough of the dark. She did not falter in her steps, as she felt the smoldering intensity of a Hunter on her heels. For the first time in a long time, the redhead actually found herself following orders, as she ran for the exit, neither looking back or around her. Stolov would not have stopped her anyway. At the entrance Clarion didn't waver as she turned her eyes to catch a glimpse, and it was enough for her to turn around and head for the exit wearing a smile of triumph.

Where Clarion was agile in her exit from below, Yoshima connected with every piece of falling stone she could, displacing the small and large chunks throughout the room. She tensed every muscle causing the dust and dirt to shake from her body and then she relaxed and stepped out of the debris. It took seconds for the dust to settle and then it was only Stolov that remained amid the waning light of the torches. However, he still glowed, he still shone bright like glass in the desert.

Deep blue eyes that coursed with life and energy focused on the silver spheres that were Stolov's eyes. She could not see fear in his eyes, but she could see herself reflected in the mirrors of his eyes and she could not help the smile that rose to her lips. All though his countenance did not show it Stolov was unnerved enough to strike first.

He waved his right hand through the air lifting Yoshi's katana from the floor where it had fallen, and sent it sailing through the air towards the Hunter. It was true that she had the time move. She was even quick enough to have drawn the sword at her back and shattered the katana if she wished. Instead, she made no attempt to move as the blade neared her heart. Steeling herself against the pain that she knew would not come, Yoshi reached out with her right hand and caught the blade. The force of Stolov's throw caused the blade to slice into the flesh of her palm as it continued to move, only stopping as Yoshi applied pressure stopping the blade inches from her chest.

Stolov smiled in his small victory. Yoshi tossed the blade to the floor and raised her hand, palm out, showing her wound to Stolov. For a moment the Master Vampire swore he saw the bone of her hand, but in the same instant it was gone as her flesh healed itself. Stolov gasped like a swooning woman. His eyes darted about the room looking for a quick sanctuary and finding no solace in the fact the Hunter moved without haste, removing her sword. He bared his teeth as he grew frustrated with himself and decided he would simply have to out maneuver her.

Stolov growled from deep within his gut as he raised his foot and once again drove it into the floor. The fissure was as wide as it was long as it moved quickly towards Yoshi. Yoshi brought her knees up to her chest as she leapt into the air avoiding the crack. If Stolov lived to tell this story he would swear that the Hunter hovered a moment before landing. She came down hard and fast landing with her feet apart. The ground beneath her buckled as two separate gashes cut across the stone floor. Stolov fell to the ground as the floor moved beneath him. He rolled to his right only to be stopped by the wide span of Yoshi's sword as she drove the blade into the ground. Stolov quickly rolled to his left in an attempt to get away, but met with the blade once again. The lanky man began to scurry backwards, glancing to his right and trying to grab hold of the katana that lay on the floor.

Just as his hand touched the pommel of the sword the steel of Magnus's sword sliced through the metal of Yoshi's katana. The movement was decisive, the break was clean. The Hunter took a step back giving Stolov room to move. He tossed the useless weapon away and scrambled to his feet. Iridescent silver eyes bored into Yoshi's face as Stolov seethed with frustration.

"I should have known you'd kill me when I was defenseless." Even in his obvious fear he still managed to sound casual.

Yoshi only rolled her eyes and passed the sword from her left hand to her right. In the moment it took her to take a breath she could have recalled all the battles that left her drained from victory. She could have remembered the glorious fights, the show of skills, and the tests of her ability. This was not to be an exhibition.

Stolov's words had not quite finished echoing throughout the large room before the first blow was struck. Yoshi drew the seven feet of steel across her body entering the flesh just above Stolov's pelvic bone. The cut was so smooth and fast that for a split second Yoshi thought that she had once again passed through air, but the stain of bone and cartilage on her sword upon its exit from his neck was proof enough. For the first time in her memory and perhaps even his, Yoshi saw Stolov's teeth recede from the pain. With her sword still raised high, the dark warrior wasted no time as she slashed back to the left-the steel passing cleanly through his neck. A heartbeat went by as Yoshi stood still, both hands gripping the sword where it rested on her left side. She waited and she watched.

Stolov made an odd looking fish out of water, as he stood there opening and closing his mouth hoping to catch the air that would serve him no purpose. The Vampire that for a moment had been a master, returned to the man that was once so long ago. His hands opened and closed in the same manner as his mouth, grasping the last remnants of life that had so long ago left him. Yoshi raised her sword once more and drove the length of the blade through his heart. There was no hissing, no melting, nor an explosion of any kind. No fire ignited behind his eyes and his insides did not ooze out.

Yoshi began to pull back and she watched as he silently fell away. To the stone floor Stolov careened backwards, meeting the hard surface and breaking apart like a discarded jigsaw puzzle. Blue eyes focused on the three body parts waiting to see if somehow they pieced themselves together. After a long minute Yoshi kicked at his torso and was satisfied that this dismembered carcass was all that remained of Stolov. A small shiver ran through her long frame as she released a breath she was unaware of holding. Yoshi sighed as she sheathed her blade and began to turn to leave, when she found herself stumbling. She looked down at her feet as if she had grown another leg. Instead of finding the offending appendage she felt the room around her shake. Immediately, blue eyes tracked to Stolov's body fearing the impossible. What she encountered was possibly worse.

To her great relief Stolov was still dead and moreover still in pieces, but he wasn't quite extinguished. The energy that had been contained in Stolov for nearly 1500 years was desperately searching for somewhere to go. The power that he had once brandished so well was erratic and volatile without him. Yoshima gathered herself as she realized she was going to find herself caught between two explosions very soon. She turned on her heels and took off, avoiding the falling rock and the rolling floor like a championship hurdler-she only hoped that she could find her way to the finish line in time.


It wasn't until she found herself sloshing through the mud that Clarion stopped running. Dawn was just beginning to seep into the bayou as she came to stand next to the large Magnolia tree, pressing her forehead against the bark and taking a deep breath. The redhead choked on her own breath when the 'tree' spoke.

"I was getting worried."

Green eyes tracked up and Clarion smiled as she saw Colin grinning down at her from the tree limbs. "You scared the crap out of me." She touched a hand to her chest. "Where are the others?"

"We all scattered when we heard movement."

She looked back towards the crumbling church. "A few not so friendly people come out of there this morning?"

"A couple." Colin jumped out of the tree and groaned. He rubbed his back and they both laughed.

"Don't worry I think weeks in a spa is in order."

"I'm asking for two months." Hamish appeared from nowhere holding the stump of his wrist.

Clarion turned warm green eyes towards the large man and smiled. "Got something for you." She held out the small bundle she had been carrying.

Hamish managed to grin as he accepted the mass of material. "You found it." He trapped the bundle between his forearm and stomach and then untied the knot with his remaining hand. He just chuckled. "Guess I'll have to bronze it now."

Colin laughed at the man and looked to Clarion. "Can't really do anything but that."

"It won't reattach?"

"We could do that but it won't be of any use. If had been cut with some random sword we could put it back on and it would heal, but not now, it was his axe."

Clarion frowned a bit. "Sorry Hamish."

He shrugged. "Bound to happen at some point. At least I didn't lose anything vital."

"I didn't realize you had anything vital to lose." All eyes found Tristan leaning against another tree. They all laughed. Hamish smiled at the lanky man and tossed him the hand. Tristan caught the hand on reflex and then let it go when he saw what it was. "That's gross Hamish."

"Hey don't throw it!" He picked it up and put it back in the tattered shirt that had been covering it.

Clarion watched the interaction with a smile and then furrowed her brow as she took in their surroundings. The clearing was empty except for them and the only sounds were their voices and the birds waking up. "Uh, does somebody want to tell me where the baby is?"

"Down there where I left her sleeping." Hamish pointed to a spot near a dead tree a few yards from the creek. Clarion rolled her eyes. "She was nice on comfy on the log so I left her."

Clarion wanted to give the Scotsman a lecture on infant care, but she decided she didn't have the energy to do even that. Clarion waved her hand through the air and walked the few feet towards the creek. She peered down at the sleeping baby, wrapped in Tristan's large coat nestled against a log. She couldn't help but grin at the small tuft of dark hair that stuck out. That kid didn't have a clue as to all that had transpired just to ensure her safety. Clarion chuckled to herself and bent to pick the baby up. She stopped her movement and focused on the large eye that was peering at her with great curiosity.

In life it is always the little things that matter. Regardless of the demons you slay or the mountains you topple, at the end of the day it can all be negated if you step off the curb and get hit by truck. Green eyes never left the yellow-brown eye as she touched her fingertips to the leather of Tristan's coat. Clarion had never moved so slowly in her life as she gripped the small baby and prayed her movements were slow enough not to disturb it or the Gator beneath her. If Clarion came out of this with both hands and the baby she was going to beat Hamish senseless the first second she got.

As if he could hear her words Hamish turned towards the redhead and watched with raised brow as she lifted the baby from the ground in an excruciatingly slow manner. "What the hell is she doing?" He covered the few yards to Clarion in three swift strides. "Didja' throw your back out lass?"

"Don't move and don't talk." Hamish huffed. "Take a look at your log."

Hamish was about to protest when he looked down at his feet and found the eye that held Clarion's rapt attention. "Well isn't this a pickle."

"Just ease back."

"We could just kill it."

Clarion nearly dropped the baby. "No!" She said in a harsh whisper. "You don't just walk into somebody's back yard and then shoot them cause they looked at you cock-eyed."

Hamish wanted to laugh, but he understood, so together they took small steps backwards to safety. Only when they were out from under the cover of trees and five feet away did Clarion breathe. She hugged the baby to her chest and glared at Hamish. The large man held up his one hand and grimaced. Colin and Tristan were stifling their laughter as they watched Clarion scold the large man with only her eyes for a moment. She ignored his silent plea and turned her attention to the baby now stretching in her arms.

She pulled back the leather and the covers and they all got a good look at Stolov's sire. A little pink tongue stuck out as she yawned and her eyelids fluttered open before shutting close and she drifted back into sleep. Colin ran a finger through the soft hair on her head and they all breathed a collective sigh of relief as the same thought passed between them all; she looked nothing like her father. Tristan touched her small nose and was about to say something when the ground shook beneath them.

"What the?" Clarion cradled the baby to her.

"What time is it?" Colin looked towards the church.


"Where's Yoshi?"

"She was behind me."

Colin looked from Clarion to the church and back. "She was behind you or she just said that."

"She was on her way out." Clarion was trying to be optimistic but the earth moved again and they found it hard to keep their feet.

"We need to move boyles. If she said she was behind you then she was. Let's go."

"She's still got two minutes, so what is that?" Tristan looked towards the church asking a silent question.

Clarion shook her head. "Who knows, but she's on her way, let's just get going." She held Tristan's gaze and hoped he trusted her and moreover trusted Yoshi.

He nodded and they all began to quickly walk away. The earth rumbled as they moved causing them to be careful of their steps. It was avoiding a tumble to the ground that Tristan got a glimpse of the church. He stopped moving. "Jesus Christ!" They all stopped moving and turned in Tristan's direction. To their complete horror they watched as the church sank deeper into the earth, seemingly collapsing into the ground. In fact the whole clearing appeared to be collapsing in on itself.

"We can't leave her." Green eyes frantically searched the landscape hoping to catch sight of Yoshi.

"We've no time, it's going to explode." Colin touched Clarion on the shoulder. Green eyes pleaded with him and Colin could only nod, knowing that he was going to have to come up with some way to find her in time. "You stay with the baby." Clarion nodded as Colin's hand fell away from her shoulder.

Colin had taken one full step when the sky shattered with sound.


Every turn the Hunter took turned out to be the wrong one only because it was no longer a way out. The church was sinking in on her and she was running out of room to run. Long legs carried Yoshi down what remained of a tunnel that was collapsing with every step. She stumbled on broken stone and could only raise her forearm to block the shower of dirt of stone. Yoshi spit dirt from her mouth as she began to crawl forward down the tunnel that was getting smaller and smaller with each labored movement she made. She shook the dirt from her hair and found herself with an idea. It was no longer an option of running out of here, but perhaps she could dig her way to the top. Yoshi shut her mouth and breathed through her nose as she used her sword and her hands to push out through the top. Her fingertips had yet to feel the morning sun when the clock reached 5:30.


Four bodies lay on the ground unmoving.

"Everybody got all their fingers and toes?" Colin asked through a cough. "Not counting Hamish."

"Fuck you runt." Hamish put a hand to his head and sat up.

"Watch your language." Clarion groaned and sat up, immediately checking the baby for bumps and bruises from the fall. She smiled when the baby didn't so much as yawn. "Wish I could sleep like that." She tousled her hair and looked around her. "Where's Tristan?"

Colin quickly got to his feet in search of the man. "There." He pointed off to the left ahead of them.

Clarion remained seated and looked off to the left. A large smile came to her lips. "Holy sh- I mean crap. Is that what I think it is?" Tristan was blocking most of her view but she swore she saw Magnus' sword protruding from the earth.

Colin didn't bother to answer as he ran off to help Tristan who was now on his hands and knees clawing at the earth. Clarion and Hamish quickly followed. Clarion fell to her knees in relief when Tristan pulled Yoshi's hand from the dirt. "Find her head man so we don't split her in two."

Clarion handed the one armed Hamish the baby and began digging in earnest. Piles of dirt surrounded them by the time the dark of Yoshi's head was revealed. "I've got her head." Clarion was all smiles as she removed the dirt around Yoshi's head, slowly revealing her forehead and the bridge of her nose.

"I got a shoulder." Tristan added.

"Claire, help me on this side." Colin gestured for Clarion to join him. She moved quickly and the three found themselves tugging the unconscious Hunter from the dirt.

Clarion dropped to her knees beside Yoshi's head and began to clear away the dirt trapped in her nostrils and smearing her face. "Come on baby open your eyes." Small hands cupped the Hunter's face as she waited for Yoshi to take a breath. Clarion leaned over the prone woman, her hands still cupping clammy cheeks, and their noses barely touching. "Come on Samurai, you owe me a vacation."

Eyelids heavy with dirt fluttered for a moment before opening. "I thought I was on it." Her voice was a dry whisper, but it was music to Clarion's ears.

The redhead touched her forehead to Yoshi's and chuckled. "In that case I can't believe you left without me."

Yoshi let out a cough and laugh. "I didn't say I was enjoying it." Clarion laughed out loud and hugged the taller woman to her. Yoshi did not mind the pain nor did she care who was watching them, as she hugged the smaller woman back content to indulge in the feel of her in her arms.

"I'm pretty sure this is a turn on for somebody, but I really want to take a long nap." Colin let out a sigh as he finished his statement, causing them all to laugh.

Clarion sat up and gave Yoshi some room to stretch. Yoshi was hesitant in her movements as she sat up and tested her limbs. When she was satisfied that everything worked she tousled her hair with both hands, shaking the dirt from her hair. Yoshi let out a well deserved sigh and drew her hands down the length of her face as if that could get rid of the exhaustion she felt, if even for a moment. When blue eyes were finally revealed she scanned the clearing.

"Are we all that remain?" Her voice was quiet from the stress.

Tristan's face was grave as he held out his hand and helped the tall woman to her feet. "All that remains, yes."

The Hunter nodded and turned in the direction of the warm presence to her right. She gazed upon the small redhead with relief and gratitude. She smiled warmly at Clarion and then focused her attention on the sunken rubble of the church. The others all looked back as well, each mourning what was lost under the earth and each thankful that some things were lost to the earth. Silence ascended around the remaining five as they watched the sun burn orange into the pale blue sky with a peaceful hiss. Fingertips of orange cut languid grooves through small patches of white, creating pinks and purples along the way.

"We've lost so much." Her words were almost spoken to herself.

"But we've gained much as well." Clarion ran the back of her hand across Yoshi's cheek as she spoke.

"Aye, we have." Hamish adjusted the baby in his arms.

For the first time blue eyes swept over the babe swaddled in cotton. Yoshi cocked her head to the side and squinted her eyes as she took in the unusual portrait the Scotsman made standing with a baby. "Is that?" Her question trailed off as she pointed a finger towards the baby. She took a step as if to touch the child but drew her hand back.

Clarion followed Yoshi's line of sight with mirth and reached out removing the baby from Hamish's arms. "Oh yeah, this is her." She smiled warmly at the still sleeping baby and then turned green eyes to Yoshi as she adjusted the small bundle comfortably in her arms. "Yoshima, I want you to meet, um," she looked from the baby to Yoshi and back to the baby as she searched for a name. "Well, a name would be good." Clarion furrowed her brow briefly and then her features brightened as she broke into a wide smile. "Yoshi, I want you to meet Gator." Bright white teeth were revealed as Clarion smiled at her accomplishment.

"Gator?" The name echoed throughout the small group assembled.

Yoshi shook her head and held out her hand to Colin who helped her to her feet. "Gator?" Yoshi pronounced the name flatly void of the Cajun inflection that Clarion gave to the name. She looked at the red head and frowned a bit. Clarion was too busy making faces at the baby, whose eyelids were open and closing in a flurry of motion, to notice the disdain in Yoshi's voice.

Colin rolled his eyes and stood next to Clarion peering at the baby over Clarion's shoulder. "Well I like it."

Yoshi raised a dark eyebrow. "You're a moron." She said dryly. "Clarion?"

The small woman looked up at the Hunter and shrugged. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with that name."

Dark brows met in the middle as Yoshi contemplated an argument, but she quickly relaxed her features knowing she didn't have the strength to argue with Clarion. She sighed and waved a hand through the air. "Later. We should leave this place."

They started to move forward, when Yoshi stopped, noticing that Tristan had not taken a step. The youngest Hunter showed his confusion visibly and Yoshi understood what he had yet to voice.

"Where do we go now? What is it that we're supposed to do?"

Colin smiled trying to lighten the somber mood. "Those are questions we can worry about tomorrow Tristan and the day after that as well."

He shook his head and creased his brow. "I want to worry now." His demand was a quiet one, but a demand nonetheless.

"I'll tell you what happens now," Yoshi waited for Tristan to look at her to continue. "We say our prayers. We give thanks to those who sacrificed for us and we waste not the memory of their lives. You ask me where are we to go." The Hunter grinned. "We go home is where."

Tristan nibbled at his bottom lip before speaking. "What home?"

All eyes turned to Yoshi awaiting her answer. "The one we make of course." Her words were confident. "Back to Athens I think, and start over." She glanced at the baby in Clarion's arms "There are things I still don't understand, things we still need to learn, for our sake and for the sake of this child." Yoshi drew her thumb softly across the baby's forehead. Blue eyes met Tristan's gaze. "You know I don't have every answer, but I do know that we have endured for one reason." She looked past his shoulder towards the ruins. "That this shall never come to pass again."

Tristan let his shoulders sag with an unseen burden. "I want to believe, I just can't feel it."

"I think we're all a bit numb. It'll just take a bit of time." Compassion and truth rang out in Colin's sentiments.

"Tristan you've followed me before without question, I'm asking you to follow me now--follow me home. Down there in the dirt and dark I found something I lost. Hell," she shook her head, "something I wasn't sure I even had, but it is something we've have all longed for in some form our fashion. We all have so much blood on our hands." She locked eyes with all of them. "The key to survival is protected by steel and the will to fight, but for us to survive, there must be within us the will to live and the want for life. And I don't know about you Tristan," she smiled and then turned soft blue eyes towards Clarion as she finished speaking. ", But I want to live." Blue eyes held fast to the warm green eyes of the woman who understood her inside and out.

Yoshi looked back to Tristan and smiled. "But first I want to take a long nap-- about 20 years."

Her comment elicited chuckles from the group and a smirk from the bewildered Tristan. "I hear you, you know, I just," He shrugged his slim shoulders and sighed. "So much is gone." He ran a hand through his hair and took a step towards the group.

Yoshi placed a warm hand on the young Hunter's shoulder as they all began walking again. "I can't disagree with you, but I have to believe this is our beginning." Yoshi grinned as she felt a small hand grasp her own and tangle their fingers.

He smiled at the dark woman. "I must say, you're not the Yoshima I grew up afraid of-and I'm happy to say that." He looked past the quizzical look on Yoshi's face and winked at the grinning woman at her side. "Thank you." Tristan laughed at Yoshi's look and picked up his pace so that he caught up with Colin and Hamish.

The Hunter looked down at the smirking woman with a baby fast asleep against her breast. She lifted their hands and kissed the back of Clarion's hand. "Thank you."

Clarion turned her head and grinned. "What are you thanking me for?"

"For saving my life."

"Ah, that. I didn't know I was saving your life, I thought I was just motivating you." She chuckled softly.

Yoshi laughed as well. "No that was just CPR, you saved my life a long time ago."

Clarion felt herself blush. "When was that?"

"Back when I realized that I didn't care what you were or had been, I just knew I needed to be with you."

Clarion gazed at the Hunter, her green eyes rimmed with tears and chuckled. "You have never stopped amazing me Samurai. It's a wonder I don't just explode from all that I feel. You make me so proud even when you piss me off." They both laughed. "And I want you to know that I always want you to look at me the way you're looking now. A deep indigo caught between insatiable want and unadulterated worship."

Yoshi blinked back her tears and pulled the smaller woman to her, wrapping her arm around her shoulders and feeling Clarion's arm wrap around her waist. "It's only because you leave me no choice," she paused to take a breath, "that and you'd probably kick my ass." Their bodies shuddered with laughter.

"I'd beat you from one end of the Americas to the other. Antarctica and every other continent to boot."

"Don't worry I'm never going anywhere that cold again."

"Again, huh?"

"Ugh. Broken leg, Siberia, all Colin's fault."

Clarion laughed out loud. "Hey Irishman, I hear you broke Yoshi's leg!"

Colin turned around laughing and walked backwards as he talked. "No such thing Claire, she did that all on her own. But I wish I had been the one to do it." He clapped his hands together. "This is a fine walking story." Yoshi groaned and they all laughed.

"It was some cold morning in the dead of winter when I received this frantic letter. No phones back then only slow ass mail………

The sound of his voice was lost in the distance as the March sun still rose in the sky. Warming the way as the small group walked through the clearing, away from the ruins of the church, away from the decay and death that had been left in their wake. They walked away from the sun, knowing they would meet its warm rays again, only on the other side of the earth. They left behind them their fears and their sadness, boldly walking out into a world with a sense of wonder at the things to come. Hunter and Vampire alike, neither knowing what lay just beyond the horizon, but all of them ready for whatever that was to come. They would wait without anxiousness and they would wait without worry. It would perhaps be decades or centuries before they would test their strength again. But as in this and all things, it is more than likely that they would endure.


**Peace and Blessings to my readers. Thanx so much for hanging in with me, I was fighting my own battles out in the real world, but much love to you for all the support and occasional kicks in the ass.

I don't want to say that I'm bringing the Vampire Hunter to a close, but I don't want to get anybody too excited right now. But no worries I'm far from done with these characters.

Ne who, thanx again and happy trails and all that. Keep hope alive and yada yada yada. >)


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