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Poised Like a Viper

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Fiery light blanketed over the crumbling buildings as the sun kissed the horizon, sinking deeper and deeper into the depths of the landscape. In the reach of its golden rays was a group of six exhausted humans, and their antsy vampire. They trudged along at a rate one would consider sluggish; if a Horseman of John or vampire stumbled upon them, they were completely at the mercy of Mikaela and whether or not he decided to help them. Their squad leader took a sharp turn towards one of the crumbling buildings—an old gas station. The rest of the group sighed with relief at the silent promise of a break.

The interior of the abandoned store was dark and uninviting, products scattered about the speckled flooring. Narumi found a spot against the wall and slid to the floor, soon followed by Kimizuki and Yoichi. Shinoa disappeared further into the shady aisles, dragging a protesting Mitsuba along with her. That left Yuuichiro and Mikaela hovering at the entrance, the vampire's keen cat-like eyes scanning the station for any immediate threats. He was shifting on his feet, almost as if he were restless.

"You okay, Mika?" Yuu inquired, tilting his head to emphasize his question.

Crimson eyes flickered to meet his emerald, the sight almost startling Yuu. It still felt strange to see his childhood friend with the eyes of the enemy, but he did his best to tamp down rampant thoughts. This was Mika, the one that welcomed him into a family when no one else would. The one he spent all those terrible days within the underground city, laughing and smiling like he hadn't a care in the world. It brought a small smile to Yuu's face, causing Mika to raise an eyebrow.

"I'm fine, just annoyed that we have to stop so often," Mika explained, looking at the three JIDA soldiers slumped against the wall. "I want to get as far as possible from the vampires and the army as quickly as we can."

Yuu nodded in understanding; while he was just as worn out as the others, he still felt the need to run, to flee as far as they could from the war while they still could. Even if he wasn't afraid of a fight and was strong enough to do so. "Yeah, I get that."

Mika stood for a moment longer before wandering farther into the gas station, no doubt to check for possible vampires. He was always thinking of things like that, unlike Shinoa, who sees something silly and decides to go after it without caution. She did her best, though, despite her tendency to be extremely obnoxious about most things. Yuu trailed behind him, scrutinizing the old food products and candies lining the shelves. A pack of strawberry gummies caught his eye, and he snatched it off the shelf, mouth watering at the thought of them.

When he glanced up, Mika had disappeared, engulfed by the eerie silence of the gas station. He decided to head back to the others; unlike his vampire companion, he couldn't see well in the dark. Searching for him would only lead to him stumbling and humiliating tripping. Shinoa and Mitsuba had joined the boys, packs of candy spilled over their laps while they talked and laughed. Yuu took the empty spot beside Yoichi, tearing into his own pack of gummies.

"Where's your vampire, Yuu? Lost him again?" Narumi jabbed, glancing at him with half-lidded eyes. Yuu wasn't surprised by the remark; the older squad member liked to push and prod at him about Mika, and while he couldn't say it didn't bother him, he could at least say he expected it.

"Mika's not my vampire," Yuuichiro shot back, popping some gummies into his mouth. "He's his own person."

"He might as well be yours. All he does is follow you around and snap at us. Like some sort of broody cat."

"Who's like a broody cat?".

They turned their heads to see Mikaela standing in one of the closer aisles, icy eyes gleaming in the shadows. He was staring directly at Narumi, something unreadable in his gaze; he knew who the soldier was talking about, and now he was challenging him. Whether or not Narumi was brave enough to talk shit to the vampire's face was yet to be known. Surprisingly, he rose to the challenge.

"Someone with pretty blond hair and pretty blue eyes," Narumi replied, chocolate eyes meeting cat-like azure evenly.

Mika let out a low hiss; the sound was a rattle in his throat, a sound that sent chills prickling down the spines of the Shinoa squad. He bared his teeth—which wouldn't normally be so frightening other than the fact that he opened his mouth so wide, like he truly intended to attack his offender. His top fangs unfolded, pearly white and hooked like a snake's. They were frightening to look at, especially up close, and they shut Narumi up quicker than anyone ever had. This seemed to satisfy the vampire, as the needles retracted back into their resting state. Everyone seemed to let out a breath they didn't realize they'd been holding.

"Sorry," Narumi mumbled, avoiding eye contact with . . . well, everyone. "I overstepped."

The predator huffed, going to hover by Yuu. He didn't sit; he always liked to be on guard, even if it was virtually safe. Yuu gave Narumi a glare before looking up at his first family, a huge grin spreading across his face.

"That was cool, Mika!" he gushed, "I've never seen that up close before."

This flustered Mikaela, who turned his head away in embarrassment, "It's weird, not cool."

"I beg to differ, I think it's pretty neat," Yoichi chimed in, "even if it is a little scary."

"I'm going to keep watch outside," Mika said suddenly, turning and walking off before anyone could see how abashed he was. Kimizuki was the first to say something after that.

"He really showed you, Narumi," the pink-haired teen snickered, reaching over to steal one of Yuu's gummies. He ignored the other's protest.

"Yeah, yeah," Narumi dismissed, looking up to meet his eyes. "Let's just move on."

The squad agreed, subject shifting to the strange stack of magazines Shinoa had pillaged. They talked and snacked until the sky grew dark outside; their cue to catch some rest while they could. Mika watched over them in the midnight, blue pinpricks cutting through the night.