Geist Grace had a knife against Will Graham's throat.
It didn't make him feel much better about the current situation of Hannibal Lecter having a knife to Nobutsuna Kamiizumi's neck.
The Exorcist and the cannibal stared at each other, both men silent. Geist saw Kamiizumi swallow, slowly, as if he feared the action might make him slit his own throat on the knife in Hannibal's hands.
"If you kill Tsuna," Geist stated, daring to stare into Hannibal's eyes, "I won't hesitate to kill Will."
"I was about to tell you vice versa." Hannibal stated. Any calm he had from earlier tonight vanished, replaced by a look of a killer—or perhaps, more correctly, an enraged vengeful lover.
How did this all happen again? Kamiizumi thought furiously, trying not to move lest he cut himself on Hannibal's knife. Kamiizumi knew it was technically better that he got killed, because Geist could bring him back then. But if Geist himself was dead, there was no way he'd come back by himself unless the Swordmaster had a Phoenix Down on him, and even then Kamiizumi wasn't sure if they still had any at the moment in this house, given the living room and kitchen's smashed up states.
He thought back to before this fight.
What do we do...?
Today was normal. Or at least, it seemed so.
The Swordmaster was walking back home, carrying a bag of groceries with him when he noticed two men arguing with each other. The younger of the two was much more pissed and vocal-sounding, while the older one attempted to remain calm and tried to calm the other.
"This is all your fault, Hannibal!"
"You told me our room was soundproofed!"
"I admit it was a bad idea."
"Yeah, but…" The younger man sighed, shaking his head. Kamiizumi noted brown hair, a bit of facial hair but not a lot, compared to the clean-shaven, pale-haired older man. "We need to find a place to stay, at least for the night. We were supposed to have at least one more night here, Hannibal."
"Now, Will, I'm sure there's another place to stay in the city." The older man attempted to calm the other, resting a hand on his shoulder. "I believe there's also an inn we can stay at for the night at least."
Ohhh no there wasn't. The Swordmaster knew that at this time of year, tourism around Gathelatio and Eternia itself was much higher than it was, due to it being less cold than it would be in the actual winter. Though there was snow in Eternia, the days were a bit milder right now, and therefore ideal for travel.
Which meant that the hotels and inns would be full at this point.
Of course, one could not just sleep outside in Eternia so easily. These two men did not look like they were ready to camp outside, even if they were dressed for the weather. He couldn't help but feel bad for them, honestly—three years of travelling alone made Kamiizumi understand how bad it could get to sleep outdoors.
And honestly, he didn't want them to freeze to death, because Eternia could get that cold. So…
"Excuse me?" Kamiizumi took a deep breath, approaching the two men. "I apologize for overhearing you both, but I heard you mention not having a place to stay."
Both men looked to the Swordmaster, the younger man more surprised than the older one, but it was the older one that spoke first.
"The hotel kicked us out this morning." He stated. "To be fair, it was more my fault than his."
The younger man almost rolled his eyes. "It was definitely his fault."
"Well," The Swordmaster swallowed, deciding it really was best not to comment on that part, "I should warn you now that the inn nearby is already full. I passed by it earlier and they were already turning away patrons. Tourism is pretty busy at this time of year."
"Is that so?" The younger man looked to him, swallowing. "Well...thanks for saving us the trip."
"And I doubt either of you are ready for camping." Kamiizumi pointed out. "Perhaps you'd like to stay the night at my house? I have a guest room you two can use."
"Really?" The older man was intrigued. "You'd let us stay the night?"
"Of course. I don't think I could bear the thought of you two out in the cold...let me just check with my husband for a moment, alright?"
Kamiizumi used his pendant shard to get in contact with Geist, an image of him appearing in the crystal immediately.
"Tsuna?" Geist blinked, looking to him. He'd just put down a few empty vials, most likely emptied Potions. "Where are you? Is there something you need?"
"On the way home. I found this nice couple, and they just got kicked out of their hotel and they need a place to stay for the night. I would direct them to the inn, but I already know it's full, so…"
"I'm guessing you're wondering if I'm okay with them staying over."
"Yeah. If you don't mind, that is."
"Well, one night wouldn't hurt. I'll be home from work soon, and Minette and Rev are at Gathelatio with Aimee and Angelo, so it should be fine. Did you catch their names?"
"Hannibal Lecter." The older man offered.
The younger man followed suit. "Will Graham."
Kamiizumi repeated their names to Geist.
"…Who the hell names their kid Hannibal?"
Kamiizumi tried not to audibly groan. "Geist, they are literally a foot away from me."
"Sorry." A sheepish chuckle escaped the Exorcirst at that. "Well, when I get back from work, I'll prepare a guest room for them both."
"Sounds good. We'll be home soon."
"Love you, Tsuna." Geist's image vanished, and Kamiizumi looked to Will and Hannibal in return.
"I apologize for Geist's…bluntness."
"Apologies accepted. He himself also apologized." Hannibal reassured him. "We're grateful for your hospitality as is."
Kamiizumi didn't notice Hannibal and Will's shared expressions of recognition as he led them back home.
They made it to Kamiizumi and Geist's home soon enough, the Swordmaster letting Will and Hannibal in before getting their coats for them, shutting the front door behind them.
"Geist?" Kamiizumi called as he hung Will and Hannibal's coats on a coat rack. "We're here!"
"Tsuna!" Geist came out from around the corner of the hallway. "I just finished putting together the guest room."
"Oh, good..." Kamiizumi smiled, before looking to their two guests. "Mr. Lecter, Mr. Graham, this is my husband, Geist Grace."
"Hannibal is fine." Lecter supplied, with Will also adding that he preferred being addressed by his first name.
"I'll prepare dinner," Kamiizumi reassured Geist, leaning forwards to kiss his cheek. "How about you show them to their guest room?"
Geist smiled, gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Of course. It's been a while since we got visitors, isn't it?"
"Yes…it has been." The Swordmaster looked to said guests. "Please, follow me."
Hannibal and Will got their stuff dropped off in the guest room, before being led to the living room. While Geist prepared tea and Kamiizumi got started on dinner, both men looked around. Will noted the cat hairs on the ground (pets), and the lack of photos. The room itself would be pretty plain overall, if not for the lamp on the coffee table, the long vase of flowers in another corner, two makeshift catbeds in another corner of the room (one of them much larger than the other).
"Swordmaster Nobutsuna Kamiizumi and the Exorcist, Geist Grace." Hannibal sipped the tea Geist gave him earlier. "Married for nearly a year, now."
Will nodded, knowing too well that he saw the rings on their fingers earlier, as well as overhearing the whispered rumors of the Swordmaster and Exorcist during his and Hannibal's too-short stay at the hotel. The way Kamiizumi looked at Geist earlier, pupils dilating, as well as the cheek kiss. That didn't need any psychoanalyzing whatsoever.
"What do you think of them, Will?" Hannibal took another sip.
Will thought of what he saw of Kamiizumi, and then him and Geist together.
"They're hiding something." He managed, after a moment. "An illusion of calm perfection."
"What is the imperfection?"
Before Will could answer, Geist came in with tea, pouring them both cups of tea.
"I hope you don't mind green tea." Geist managed. "It's all we have right now."
"Thank you." Hannibal answered. He took a sip, before speaking. "It's well-brewed."
"Good to hear." Geist went quiet, sipping his own tea, before speaking. "So…why did you two come to Eternia?"
"We're on a vacation." Hannibal managed. "We haven't been to Luxendarc before, so we thought we'd have a tour of the entire area. We were just recently in Yunohana, in fact."
"Really? Tsuna and I went there for the honeymoon. It's a wonderful place, isn't it?"
The small talk continued, for some time, with Hannibal picking up details. A Yunohana honeymoon, Geist's obvious love for the Swordmaster. He also noticed tiny traces of cat hair on the floor, but decided not to comment on that. Pets, he guessed.
Hannibal eventually excused himself to use the washroom—out of the living room, down the hall, past the kitchen. Second door to the right. The smell of spices filled his nostrils as he passed the kitchen, and he grinned a bit.
It was a long time since he smelled anything akin to home cooking, given that he and Will were, well, travelling together. They'd went to restaurants, or ended up grabbing something from a food cart if in an absolute rush. Hannibal sometimes wished they could be a bit pickier about the food, though he knew that they couldn't always get something luxurious on the run.
After using the washroom, he still smelled those same spices, and decided to check on the Swordmaster.
What is the imperfection?
He knew what it was.
"That smells good."
The Swordmaster jolted, turning slightly to see none other than Hannibal.
"Crystals, Hannibal, you startled me…" A sheepish, guilty chuckle escaped him.
"My apologies, for startling you. I noticed that you chose good spices for what you're cooking." Hannibal managed. "I could smell them from down the hall."
"Thank you." Kamiizumi felt a bit of pride at that. Usually most people told him his cooking was mediocre at best (save for Geist, who usually loved it). To hear an outsider's opinion on his food meant that either he was being polite about it, or he genuinely meant it and that Kamiizumi was improving in his cooking. Hopefully the latter was true. "You walk like the Undead—sneaking up on unsuspecting travelers until it's too late."
"The Undead?" The other man asked. It was hard to tell if he was skeptical or curious.
"Yes." Kamiizumi turned towards his cooking, wanting to make sure it didn't burn or anything, but kept talking. "The Undead. I don't know where you come from, but…during the night, the Undead like to roam, especially in areas such as Eisen. I didn't think you or Will would like to be caught off-guard by them." He shuddered, briefly. "I've had too many encounters. Thankfully, it's not as bad in Eternia."
"How do you know so much about these Undead? And you mentioned…too many encounters. You're seasoned in travelling, I take it?"
"Travelling helped hone my experiences in combat, but all my years as Swordmaster gave me this knowledge. Being in a war-torn place where the Undead often roam at night also forced me to retain that information." The Swordmaster wondered if he'd spoken too much, but he kept stirring the contents of the pot. "I know this isn't much, but uh—I'm just preparing a pretty simple stew. Also," He raised an eyebrow, "Were you smelling me, or the food?"
"Both." The other man's lips quirked into the faintest smile. "But mainly you. I notice you have cats in your home?"
"They're not in right now." Kamiizumi wondered how the man had such a good sense of smell, but figured that some people generally had more sensitive noses than others. "A lion named Bismarck, and a cat named Tsubaki. They're with me and Geist's kids. They're all out of the house tonight—we have friends looking after them. I hope you're not allergic."
"I have no allergies."
"Thank Crystals for that."
"How did you and Kamiizumi end up together?"
Geist could only chuckle, for a minute. He stopped, thinking back to the months before he and Nobutsuna got together. "It was…a surprise. I just showed up on his front step with Rev, because we weren't sure what else to do at the time. My son and I didn't have a place to live due to…special circumstances, and Tsuna let us live with him, Minette and Bismarck. We all earned our keep. It wasn't meant to last long, nor become romantic. And then, one night, it just…happened."
Kamiizumi and Geist in the sheets, kissing. Geist wrapping his arms around Kamiizumi's waist, a hand climbing over the Swordmaster's chest and to his shoulder as he kept kissing him, never ceasing.
"It was awkward in the morning," The Exorcist continued, "But we got together that afternoon officially. We got engaged last year, and we got married this year."
"Rev and Minette would usually be here, and same with Bismarck and Tsubaki, but they're staying the night at a friends' place."
"Does that explain the cat hair?"
"Tsubaki's a cat. Bismarck's a lion." Geist looked to the floors, lips twisting. "I really should've cleaned the floors before you and Hannibal got here, and I apologize. It's not usually that bad, I promise."
"Neither of us are allergic, and we did come in last minute." Will reassured him.
"What about you two?" Geist asked. "Why come to Eternia?"
"We…eloped, you could say."
Geist's eyebrow raise did not go unnoticed. "Eloped?"
"If we stayed back at home, it would've been complicated." Will managed, deciding to keep a vague response. No one needed to know how they survived the fall off the cliff. Back at home, most people would've assumed they were either dead, or on the run.
One of those two assumptions was correct. Hence their trip.
Geist didn't need to know that. Not now.
"You said you had a lion. Bismarck is the name, correct? Male or female?"
Dinner was ready, and all four sat in the kitchen/dining room, eating the meat and vegetable stew with rice. It was plain, but otherwise decent-tasting, and Hannibal was thankful that said food was good (not all the food he and Will had on their travels was up to his standards).
"I see." Hannibal closed his eyes, taking another bite of the food. "Males keep invaders out of their territories by patrolling, marking and roaring, and fight if they encounter a strange male within their territory. Do you think Bismarck might've considered me strange if he was here?"
"Definitely." The Swordmaster swallowed, before picking up his cup of water and taking a sip. "You're strange. You're new. He might be a bit suspicious. Then again, Tsubaki and Minette would've reacted the same way. As far as I know, though?" A faint chuckle escaped him. "Cats are unpredictable when they want to be."
"Perhaps unpredictable, but not entirely. For instance, females hunt in a broad front, to drive quarry into an ambush or block their prey's escape route."
Geist raised an eyebrow. "You know an awful lot of animal facts for a psychiatrist."
"Females will often fight back when new males attempt to come and kill their cubs. They also kill the young cubs of rival prides but never kill the cubs of other females within their own pride." Hannibal took a sip of water, then asked him, "Would you do that?"
He watched Kamiizumi blink, once. "Would I do what?"
"Kill the young cubs of the rival prides, if they attacked yours?"
The Swordmaster frowned, putting his cup down. "I'm not a lion, Hannibal."
Geist blanched, and Hannibal noticed the other's pained expression. "…I almost did that."
Will looked to the Exorcist, the faintest curiosity glinting in his gaze. "What stopped you?"
Geist looked him directly in the eyes, almost glaring. "Someone else stopped me. I…" His glare softened, gaze averting Will. "I don't even remember if I really did it, but the memory remains. It seems…too dreamlike."
Hannibal almost casually took another bite of food. "And if they hadn't stopped you from killing that child?"
Kamiizumi swallowed, biting his lower lip. "Geist, Hannibal, let's just—"
It was too late. Geist's gaze narrowed, and Hannibal knew that glare was short of murderous. "It would be a bloody mess. That's what would've happened."
Hannibal sipped his drink, before putting it down and asking, "Much like mass murder of Swordbearers in the Eisen Region outside Yunohana, several months ago?"
Kamiizumi and Geist both went silent.
Just as I thought. Hannibal smiled ever so lightly, sharing glances with Will. The younger man looked to him, giving him a brief nod to indicate he noticed.
"You…heard about that story?" Kamiizumi noted. He still sounded calm overall, had to maintain that calm. "I thought it died down. The Yunohana police concluded the Swordbearers were, while inebriated and therefore fully unable to defend themselves, torn apart by some of the wild creatures roaming the area, or even Undead. Unfortunate for them, to end up like that." He hastily took a sip of his drink, chasing away that memory for the moment.
"Some of the blood splashed at the scene was older that others. As if someone was murdered in the area prior to someone being murdered in that same place." Will noted.
"And that was from earlier kills in the night." Geist interjected, just a bit too fast to be calm. Kamiizumi, in his mind, wanted to snap at Geist for almost giving them away (if they hadn't given themselves away already).
Hannibal wiped his mouth with a napkin. "You're certainly up to date on the case. Why is that so, for two people that don't even live there?"
"We were having our honeymoon in Yunohana when it happened that night." Kamiizumi explained. "Geist and I heard from Heinkel and Kikyo ourselves the morning after the incident, and we kept in touch since. The Swordbearers formerly worked with Eternia's now-disbanded Black Blades, several years ago. We hadn't heard anything about them, given that they suddenly went into hiding at the end of Eisen's civil war until that case, so...it piqued our curiosity."
"And speaking of bloody messes," Geist suddenly spoke up, looking to Kamiizumi, "I do recall hearing something of some murders, a few years back."
Kamiizumi stared at him, silent. What was Geist getting at? What now?
"Other murders?" Will asked. There was a frown that almost appeared on his face. "In Luxendarc?"
"No. Elsewhere, a while back. They took out specific organs from each victim as a trophy. Some say the murderer might've..." Geist suddenly paled, staring right at Hannibal.
"Might have?" Hannibal prompted. There was something different in his gaze, an intrigue perhaps. Kamiizumi wasn't sure what it was.
"Eaten them." Geist finally stated, voice stilted. He still remained a bit pale, and not because he was sick. "The victims' organs, that is. They ate them."
"Geist?" Kamiizumi looked to him, eyes widening at the worried look on his husband's face. "What's wrong?"
"Tsuna," Geist swallowed, gripping his knife tightly, "Hannibal is a cannibal. He's the serial killer cannibal."
Kamiizumi felt himself freeze. He saw Will's eyes darken, but Hannibal barely gave any reaction at all.
"So you've heard of me." Hannibal put down his cup, looking him in the eye. "I've heard much about you in return, Geist the Bloody and Swordmaster Nobutsuna Kamiizumi."
Geist swallowed, slowly pushing back his chair. "You should be in prison."
Hannibal smirked. "We're on the run."
"I…" Kamiizumi faltered, staring right at Will as it all clicked together. Hannibal's sense of smell. The murders. Hannibal and Will previously being at a hotel and presumably travelling.
"I just invited a runaway cannibal and his lover to stay the night."
Will almost smirked, but instead calmly replied, "Yes, you did do that."
The Swordmaster snatched up his knife, but that was when Hannibal grabbed his own fork, throwing it at Kamiizumi's face. The Swordmaster sidestepped it, the fork pinning itself to the wall behind him instead.
Geist hissed and grabbed his own knife, throwing it at Will's head, but Will barely dodged in time, taking out his gun to shoot at him. It missed, the bullet hitting the wall, wood chips bursting from it.
It didn't need to be said aloud—they had a fight now, and Crystals knows which side might win.
"I'd rather not let our home get torn to pieces." Geist snarled, grabbing his fork, aiming at Will. "And I know, for a fact, that I'd rather not be dinner for two cannibals!"
"We've been called murder husbands where we come from, Geist." Will's eyes looked somewhere between dancing with amusement and pure seriousness, and the Exorcist wasn't sure which way he felt. Geist saw Will point his gun at him, and the following gunshot made Geist run to the living room, attempting to distance himself, and he barely avoided the bullet hitting the doorframe instead of him. He snatched up the rapier leaning against the living room wall, pointing it between himself and Will to give him further distance. Both men ended up circling each other around the coffee table, waiting to strike.
"Murder husbands?" Geist asked, panting as he caught his breath. "Is that what people call you two, whenever they recognize you?"
Will shrugged, the faintest grin coming to his face. "Well, we did run off to Europe together."
Geist hissed, taking out his rapier and trying to stab at Will across the coffee table, only for Will to dodge and point his gun. A gunshot echoed through the living room, and Geist blinked—only to look down and see blood dripping from his shoulder, a dull pain following that.
"Oh." Geist switched his rapier to his left hand, so his right one could come up and finger the wound. It stung, worse than the Exorcist thought it would. "You shot me. So that's what it feels like…"
Will pulled the trigger again—only for nothing to come out. The younger man's face contorted, jaw clenching as he pulled the trigger a second time, but nothing.
Geist smirked at the increasing frustration on the other's face. "Out of ammo, aren't you? What a fucking shame, Will. Undo!"
Geist couldn't help but give a bigger, shit-eating grin as the bullet in his shoulder clattered to the floor, his bloody wound closing by itself as if it never happened. Will looked startled, lowering his gun with one hand as he used the other to take out a knife.
"You didn't hear specifics about my power, I'm guessing." Geist continued, switching his rapier back to his right hand as he laughed. "Well, surprise~!"
Kamiizumi and Hannibal remained in the dining room after Geist and Will ran off, and Kamiizumi knew that Geist would, perhaps, be fine. Geist had his 'undo' ability, and the Swordmaster wasn't sure if Will or Hannibal knew about it, but at least Geist had a fast way of healing himself. Geist would definitely be fine.
Kamiizumi, however, had no magic.
Neither did Hannibal, even if he was a cannibal as Geist pointed out earlier.
The Swordmaster figured quickly that Hannibal had good reflexes, knew what he was doing, and was incredibly adaptive with his surroundings (how else would he have used the cutlery as weapons?). Given that, letting Hannibal get too close was not an option. Kamiizumi might not have a katana on him, but he had the advantage for the moment.
"Am I another pig to be slaughtered for your next meal?" Kamiizumi asked, grabbing another kitchen knife. "Chopped up, made into a sausage or pie?"
"Not a pig." Hannibal's lips twisted at that as he snagged two forks off the table. "More like a lion."
"And let me guess…" Kamiizumi twirled the knife in his hand. "Am I the female one?"
The cannibal slowly tilted his head. "Interesting, how you think yourself the female one. Comparing you and Geist based on what I told you earlier, you are certainly the male lion, keeping the enemy away. You and Geist killed the Swordbearers. I must admit, you did a good job to conceal it, just…not good enough."
Kamiizumi threw the knife at Hannibal's head, and it missed, the blade sinking into the wall as the man sidestepped it. Hannibal threw one fork, then another, aiming for the Swordmaster's eyes, but Kamiizumi ducked at the last second, hearing the forks hit the wall above him. He crawled quickly under the table and he sensed feet landing on the table's surface above him. He froze, looking around, listening for the other man.
Nothing, at first.
But then the creak of wood from above betrayed him, and Kamiizumi rolled out from under the table, just in time for the table to collapse inwards, snapping in half.
"Crystals!" The Swordmaster got up, but that was his mistake. The blade of a knife thrown at him grazed his cheek before it hit the wall right beside him, and he cursed, glaring right at Hannibal. The other man stood in the middle of the wrecked table, the one he broke in half with brute force, and Kamiizumi knew two things right then and there.
Firstly: Hannibal was more than just pure reflexes and adaptation.
Secondly: If Kamiizumi didn't get his katana and cut this man to pieces soon, he was screwed.
Will hadn't expected Geist to be so strong. Sure, he knew that the man was the Exorcist, known as Geist the Bloody, but the man was far faster on his feet than he thought.
Maybe even faster than Will himself.
It did not help that he was out of bullets.
It did not help that he could sense Geist's glee, feel it, want to be it…
"I ought to kill you," Geist whispered, with maddened eyes, "Again and again and again."
That was when Will sensed it all. It took him in, deeply, and for a moment he was Geist. Geist, trying to kill the child as mentioned earlier, Geist hearing the screams of Swordbearers as they begged for mercy, only for his laughter to ring through the air and bathe in the blood…
"You love the killing," Will breathed, he and Geist circled each other in the room. "The screams of the dying you can repeat, because of your ability. To undo it all, only to repeat it. The thrill—you loved it when you and Kamiizumi killed them all."
"Yes." The Exorcist spoke, perhaps too matter-of-factly. "That's exactly my point. Do you feel it? The love of the killing?"
Will didn't say anything. "I'm not you."
"Of course you're not me. But I've heard of you, and what you can do. What you have done."
Will remained silent, both men still facing each other, ready to strike, but not quite striking. Geist chuckled, faintly, before lunging forwards. Will managed to sidestep, but tripped, giving Geist the chance to slash him in the shoulder.
The younger man took that chance to use his gun to bash Geist in the side of the head, hard. A yowl escaped the Exorcist, but it didn't deter him from punching Will in the face. Will felt himself hit the ground, but before he could get up to do anything, he felt Geist twist his good arm behind his back after knocking the gun out of Will's hand. The younger man yelped this time, but then he felt the presence of a knife to his throat.
"Don't move," Geist hissed, "Or else you're done for."
Kamiizumi retreated out of the kitchen, flinging one knife at Hannibal for good measure. Rushing to where he last put down his katana, to his and Geist's room, he managed to open the bedroom door, take out the katana, and close the bedroom door as he held up said sword—
Just in time to block Hannibal trying to stab him in the face with a cleaver he must've grabbed from the kitchen.
Both men pushed against each other, but it was a kick from Kamiizumi to Hannibal's knee that made Hannibal stumble and lose grip. The Swordmaster used the momentum to push Hannibal against the wall, pointing the katana between him and the cannibal to keep balance. The hallway was narrow enough, barely fitting three people wide, and Kamiizumi knew there wasn't a lot of space. With the katana, though, he could keep distance.
"You ruined dinner." Kamiizumi uttered, glaring at him. "And I'm pretty sure you wasted my best cooking."
"You'd make a good replacement." Hannibal managed almost nonchantly. "I'm sure I could make something out of all of that muscle you have."
Kamiizumi shrugged. "I must be rather fit compared to most people you've eaten." If he could keep stalling, he knew he could keep backing out of the hallway, get back to the kitchen where there was slightly more space, maybe make it to the living room and see if Geist was okay—
And that was when Hannibal lunged at him. Kamiizumi flattened himself against the wall, causing the man to completely miss him and hit the ground, and Kamiizumi tried to run past him to get to the kitchen. He felt the other man's hand grab his ankle, forcing him into a fall, but he used his katana to pierce the ground underneath him. Tugging his ankle free, he got to his feet, turning around to slash at Hannibal, but Hannibal had stepped close enough to punch him in the face. Kamiizumi fell again, dropping his katana. He tried reaching for his sword, but Hannibal stepped around him and kicked it out of the way at the last second.
"Go ahead," He heard Hannibal utter above him. "Scream."
Geist turned his head at Kamiizumi's weak yelp, only to see Hannibal standing in the doorway, Kamiizumi on his knees as the man placed a knife to his throat. Hannibal's other hand was in the Swordmaster's hair, Kamiizumi clearly flinching.
"If you kill Tsuna," Geist stated, daring to stare into Hannibal's eyes, pressing the blade of his knife tighter against the younger man's throat, "I won't hesitate to kill Will." He didn't cut into Will's flesh yet, but he yearned to do so. "Do anything more with Tsuna, and your runaway lover is dead."
Hannibal narrowed his gaze. "I'd suggest the same for you, Geist." Any calm he had from earlier tonight vanished, replaced by a look of a killer—or perhaps, more correctly, an enraged vengeful lover.
And so here they were, knives to Geist and Will's throats, Hannibal and Kamiizumi responsible for each person respectively. If anyone moved, two people would be dead, and then the cannibal and the Swordmaster would have to duke it out themselves to see who truly won.
But of course, neither of them wanted to lose their respective significant other.
"I bet you two already know how we killed the Swordbearers." The Swordmaster stated. He coughed a little, but otherwise he sounded calm. Grey eyes tried looking up at Hannibal, then looked across the room towards Will. "Which one of you wants to explain?"
Hannibal and Will exchanged glances with each other, but then Will spoke.
"We heard word of the incident when we passed through Eisen, before coming here. We got curious. We learned more."
"There was a fascinating piece of information we uncovered." Hannibal noted. Despite the full knowledge of Will in danger, the knowledge that another predator had Will in his hands and he wasn't about to let Kamiizumi kill Will, he "Minette Napkatti and Revenant Grace. Your daughter and son. They encountered some Swordbearers the day before that night the Swordbearers were murdered. That was a key connection the Yunohana police completely missed. Nothing of that was mentioned when they noted your alibis."
"You assumed we killed the Swordbearers based on that?" Geist looked almost disbelieving, but Hannibal looked up from Kamiizumi's intrigued eyes to meet Geist's gaze.
"If I were a parent who knew of their child being harmed by their worst enemies, would they not go after the ones that hurt them in the first place? You're both fathers. It's natural you'd want to protect your young."
Geist went silent, but Hannibal knew the man meant to say yes.
Will had his own questions, and though he knew he risked getting his throat slit, he might as well ask.
"Konoe Kikyo, Private Investigator working in Yunohana—She's formerly part of the Black Blades, too. She would've worked with the Swordbearers like you, Kamiizumi. Did she help cover it up, that you two did it?"
"She did nothing of the sort." Kamiizumi stated, looking him in the eye. "We just covered our own tracks well enough that she and Heinkel didn't figure it out. It's better she didn't know. Besides, it was easy to track them down. I knew all their travel routes. Wasn't hard to remember, when you've worked with them closely for four years straight."
"So we tracked the Swordbearers that night." Geist smiled, faintly. "And we found them."
"You took advantage of the darkness and their inebriated state." Will stated. He could picture it all clearly in his mind's eye, now. "You blocked off all possible escape for them while attacking. You knew it was a perfect opportunity to kill them all, with no chance of suspicion. You knew the perfect timing."
"Correct." Kamiizumi dared to make eye contact with him. "We did know."
"Did you enjoy it?" Hannibal asked. "Killing them?"
"I did." Geist's smile widened to something toothy, if only for a second. "Their blood and screams were music to my ears."
"We had quite the kick out of it." Kamiizumi responded. His knees were getting sore from kneeling for so long, but he knew that he couldn't just move out of Hannibal's grasp as is. "I mean, Geist even used 'Undo' to bring them all back to life so we could kill them again. The encore was rather lovely."
So that's how it happened. Will had to admit it worked, at least for fooling the Yunohana police.
Of course, it didn't really fool Will and Hannibal who, unbeknownst to the Swordmaster and Exorcist, worked on more than just rumours being spoken of from people in Yunohana. Will recalled breaking into the police office, taking a look at the files surrounding the case. Took pictures so Hannibal could see them closely.
Both of them knew too well how to get in and out of places fast. You had to know when you were on the run.
"And for your information," Kamiizumi stated, "I assume, since you heard of me and my actions in the Eisen Civil War, as well as your information on Kikyo, that you know of all my Black Blades. Qada was officially pronounced dead due to being killed by the Vestal and her companions."
Will and Hannibal both exchanged raised eyebrows, then looked to Kamiizumi again.
"Was it something else?" Will asked.
The Swordmaster, despite everything, laughed. "I killed him. Qada, that is. It just took me one long slash across his body after he got tired from fighting former Vestal Agnes and her companions at the time. Either that, or he would've snuck away without the Vestal's knowledge and destroyed this world by now."
"Only so much room, for so many predators." Hannibal murmured. Kamiizumi felt the blade ghosting over his neck. "You didn't want the Salve Maker in the way."
"He was always in the way from the beginning." The Swordmaster responded, without second thought. "It was the former Grand Marshal's insistence that I work with him. Though Qada was…well, someone you'd probably consider a pig, he did have his uses in the Civil War. He became much less useful after he disobeyed me in the stupidest way possible."
Hannibal and Will exchanged glances. Both knew the men they were in stalemate with were rather tough, formidable even.
"What will you do now?" Kamiizumi asked. "Kill us? Get us out of the way?"
"Or get us arrested?" Geist asked, glaring down at Will. "I know you used to be a profiler before your shenanigans with Hannibal."
"Good research, knowing that." Will breathed back.
Kamiizumi thought Hannibal would end his life right then and there, or either himself or Will would break out of their current captors' grasp and end up starting a fight to the death.
However, Hannibal simply shook his head. "We will neither kill you, nor report you two."
Will's eyes widened just a bit. Hannibal noticed, giving him a faint look.
"If we alert them to the Yunohana police, they'll alert the police here of our presence. And that will be, as Geist so nicely put it earlier, messy. Besides, if we kill Kamiizumi and Geist now, their children will find their corpses in the morning. Wouldn't be helpful." Hannibal looked down at Kamiizumi in his grasp, then took a cursory glance towards Geist, and then looked to Will. "We're fellow predators. We all have something to hide, and someone to hunt."
"Are you suggesting a truce?" Geist asked, frowning.
The cannibal nodded. "You let us leave Eternia quietly tonight, and we won't report you two. It's easier for all us."
"And you won't ever try killing us again?" Kamiizumi asked.
Will looked him in the eyes. "No promises."
Kamiizumi looked up at Geist. Geist stared back at him, before slowly nodding, lowering his knife from Will's neck and letting go of him. Kamiizumi felt Hannibal let go of him, too, and he didn't hesitate to run into Geist's arms, relief sweeping through his mind.
The Swordmaster and Exorcist watched the two grabbed their things and let themselves out, shutting the front door behind them. Geist let out a breath, wrapping an arm around Kamiizumi's waist.
"Yes." Kamiizumi took a deep breath, then exhaled as he looked his husband in the eyes. "They're gone. For our sakes, I hope we don't run into them again."
"Agreed." Geist looked around, grimacing at the wrecked living room, and knowledge that the dining room was probably smashed up, too. "You know, we could have asked them to help repair a few things before they fully left."
"True. Then again, they were in a rush to leave, and they did leave quietly." The Swordmaster picked up a lamp knocked over during the fighting, before placing it back on the coffee table. "Geist, do you have enough MP to fix this, or should I break out the Ethers?"
"I'll get started." Geist closed his eyes. "Though, I think we'll need some Ethers for the kitchen repairs, and repairing ourselves."
"I'll go get Potions and bandages for the both of us. If anyone asks tomorrow, say we had a really nasty rat problem."
Kamiizumi went to fetch Ethers from the kitchen, hoping none of them were broken from during the fighting. One of the bottles was cracked, leaking out some of its potion, but the rest were surprisingly intact (though the same definitely couldn't be said for the dining table). Geist cast an Undo, and the living room was back to normal in seconds.
Kamiizumi came back in, handing Geist an Ether to drink, but then swallowed.
"Geist, you...knew about Hannibal, didn't you?"
He saw Geist stiffen at the mention of the cannibal, but then the Exorcist nodded once.
"I couldn't remember the name at first." Geist admitted, before drinking. He chugged it all down in a gulp, before continuing to explain. "It did ring a bell when you told me through the crystal shard. As someone who kills others often, you...eventually start hearing of other types of predators. I'm sorry I didn't recognize them earlier. If I'd known…"
"I should be the one who's sorry." The Swordmaster lowered his gaze. Given his own and Geist's physical states, exhausted from the fight (and somewhat injured, but not close to fatal), he was surprised they were still standing, let alone…well, alive. "If I'd realized..."
"Better they fight with us than other, untrained souls." Geist gently gripped his chin, pushing it upwards so both men looked each other in the eye. "And you have no need to apologize. You were only doing what you thought was the right thing, letting two people that got kicked out of a hotel to stay over for the night."
Kamiizumi looked him right in the eyes, didn't dare look away. "If Minette and Rev were home tonight..."
"I know. We were very lucky they weren't here."
They didn't want to imagine what would happen if Minette and Revenant were here.
Kamiizumi pulled him into a close embrace, closing his eyes as he buried his face into the other man's shoulder. He felt Geist wrap his arms around his waist as he spoke.
"If we ever come across them again, Tsuna, I won't hesitate to kill them for you if we need to."
The Swordmaster swallowed. "Only if we need to?" He echoed.
Geist pulled back from him to look him in the eye again. He could see Kamiizumi trembling, and fear reflected itself in his eyes. Fear that they almost died tonight.
Fear that they could have lost each other.
Geist hugged him tight, again, to comfort him. "Of course. Just because they're fellow predators does not mean they'll always prey on us. And just because we are also predators, in our own ways, does not mean we need to prey on them. Only if we need to."
Kamiizumi kissed him—and Geist kissed him back, kissed him raw as they both near-collapsed on the couch at once and curled up against each other, unwilling to let go.
"They were quite fascinating, weren't they?"
"Agreed. They were—interesting."
Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham sat on an airship headed out of Eternia and to somewhere else, having bought last-minute tickets. Because it was such a late night, they would have the time to sleep, to rest on the airship, to be ready for the morning when they landed—heading straight for Florem. Airships might not always sail well in wintry weather such as this, but this airship was specifically geared for rough weather such as this.
Good for them. They knew they needed to leave as soon as they could, after their little scuffle with the Exorcist and Swordmaster.
"We'll see them again." It was Will that spoke up first this time. He looked out the airship window, and then towards "They're predators that have a lot to protect. And not just the kids, I suspect."
"Or perhaps not." Hannibal's hand rested overtop Will's hand, and the younger man turned his face towards him to see the faint, sure smile. "They have a lot to protect, as you said. As long as we don't cross paths, they won't be any trouble. And I doubt they'll go out of their way to cross ours, too soon."
"Perhaps not." Will agreed. "But I don't think we'll forget them."
Hannibal's fingers laced with Will's own, teasingly, slowly. A smirk rested over his lips.
"No. We won't."
Will's gaze met Hannibal's eyes, and both men knew, inside, that they wouldn't forget those two.
How could they forget fellow predators like them, after all?