Warnings : Supernatural AU, 1+2 with mention of past Solox2 and Solox5,
OOC, angst, Duo POV, character death, but not Heero or Duo. Apologies for
all butchering of the supernatural genre.
This is a gift fic for Kitana Bradford, for this fantastic picture :
Taste of Memory
The undead should smell… well; dead. But they don’t,
and I don’t like it. I’m a ‘shifter, and we live by our
sense of smell. I don’t like it when it betrays me.
When you see a guy so damn hot you could use him to light fires, you shouldn’t
find out later that he’s actually as cold as… not to mince words,
but… a corpse.
So I was a little pissed off when I wasted almost fifteen minutes flirting
across the room with the best looking guy I’d seen in The Warren in
ages, only to have him finally walk over to my table and flash me some fang.
Don’t get me wrong, I have fangs too, when I’m in the right…
frame of mind, but there’s a world of difference between the fangs
of a ‘shifter and the fangs of a vamp. I knew what I was looking at.
I do not cross the ‘species’ line when it comes to my love life.
Or any other aspect of my life if I can help it.
So I was less than thrilled to discover Mr. Walking-Wet-Dream was not the
right kind of dream.
I had to wonder what a vamp was doing in The Warren in the first damn place,
but didn’t have time to dwell on it, as I had to deal with the whole
I was trying to think of a turn-down line that didn’t sound lame,
because I wasn’t stupid enough to piss off one of the undead no matter
how I felt about them. But I didn’t get the chance.
‘Surprise,’ he murmured, and the voice was as liquid-sex as
the rest of him… damn it.
I blinked at him, not sure just what the surprise was supposed to be. ‘Pardon?’
I asked, ever mindful of a long… uh… lope home. Alone. And just
how many hours it was until dawn.
‘You’re not happy to see me,’ he informed me, that smile
he’d given me earlier faded to a kind of sardonic smirk.
‘Uh… I don’t even know who you are,’ I replied,
glad I wasn’t in wolf form or my hackles would have been standing
on end. I hate that.
‘No,’ he said coolly. ‘But you just figured out what I
am, and you aren’t happy about it.’
Well. I suppose if he’d figured that part out, I could forget about
the whole not offending thing. ‘We don’t get a lot of vamps
here,’ I said. ‘Sorry to waste your time.’ And mine.
‘Who says I wasted it?’ he asked pleasantly. ‘I found
what I came in for.’
That… didn’t exactly make my night, and I didn’t reply,
just staring at him and hoping he’d go away. You don’t out stare
a vampire. Especially not one with eyes as blue as a damn Kansas summer
‘May I sit down?’ he asked even as he was doing so, and I sighed,
wishing that I hadn’t decided to come out tonight. Wishing…
for a lot of things, if the truth be told, but we shan’t get into
that just now, oh no we shan’t.
‘Go ahead,’ I smiled. ‘It’s a free country.’
And I stood up almost the exact moment his ass hit the chair.
I didn’t have to look back to know he was following me. Well shit;
only I could be lucky enough to pick up an undead… admirer. Well,
me and a couple dozen Hollywood horror starlets, but you know what I mean.
I sighed and had to resist the urge to leave the bar and head for the dubious
safety of my apartment. I knew damn well just how dubious that safety was…
it was all a psychological illusion best left in my own mind. I would not
let him spook me into leaving the slightly less dubious safety of numbers.
I picked a bar stool that had occupants on either side and parked there.
I should not have been surprised when he was able to ‘convince’
the guy on my left to vacate.
‘If I didn’t know better,’ he said as he sat down beside
me. ‘I’d think you didn’t like me.’
‘If I didn’t know better,’ I growled. ‘I’d
think you were a stalker.’
He chuckled and watched me while I ordered a drink; one of those too sweet
wine cooler things. I’d heard once that blood-drinkers don’t
like them. I only wished the place served garlic cocktails… I’d
have ordered one in a heartbeat. Maybe two.
Mr. Too-Sexy-To-Be-Undead leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, ‘that’s
‘Maybe I like them,’ I countered and hoped the look of distaste
wasn’t actually on my face.
‘Maybe I know better,’ he said, and it was almost a purr. He
straightened again before I had a chance to look at him. That rather left
me blinking. Did it imply what I thought it was supposed to imply? Was the
guy claiming to know me well enough to know what I drank on a regular basis?
Did I really have some kind of psycho, undead stalker on my hands? Oh happy
My drink arrived and I reached for it. Fingers like ice brushed over the
back of my hand. ‘There’s no reason to be afraid, Duo.’
Well, maybe there hadn’t been, but the… pardon the pun, sucker
had just used my name. How in the hell did he know my fucking name? I was
hard pressed to maintain my shape and not shift right into a form that would
have allowed for those raised hackles.
Ok… this was bad. I had somehow managed to catch the attention…
the unwanted attention… of one of the undead. There was no way in
hell that he could possibly want anything that was going to be remotely
considered ‘good for me’.
And me without a pack for support; nobody was going to show up and get my
back. It was up to me to get myself out of this particular situation and
the sooner the better. The Warren was not open all damn night.
And with no more pre-planning than that, I tossed that white wine spritzer
right in his face and shouted, ‘Hands off, buddy! I don’t fuck
with leopards!’ and then I shoved him off the stool and into the guy
Uhm… for the uninitiated, the last thing you want to be in a den full
of shape-shifting wolves… is a cat.
I did not hang around to make sure things went exactly as almost planned.
The initial growls and shouts were enough to tell me I was at least in the
ball park. I ran. I ran like I have never fucking run before. Faster than
I’d run the night the church had been burned. The night the pack turned
me out. The night it had all gone to hell.
I ducked and dodged and shifted and fought my way to the back of the club,
doing my best to take the unexpected route. One of the girls was in the
back and she looked startled as I hurtled past, but the look on my face
made her just step aside, and I tore through the back door and into the
I suppose I looked pretty damn pathetic, scared spitless and running like
a whipped dog. That’s pretty much how I felt though, so I guess that’s
what she saw.
As soon as I hit the night air, I full-shifted and ran like a mother, straight
as an arrow and pushing for all possible speed. I wanted some distance first
and foremost and I ran full-tilt for a good four blocks before doing a part-shift
and starting to think about evasions. I tried not to think like a wolf.
Tried not to take the predictable course.
But… right from the starting stride there was a sense that he was
on my heels.
Panicked? You bet your ass.
I was already second guessing the decision to run. Already not sure there
wouldn’t have been another choice. That something with more of a possibility
of actually saving my ass wouldn’t have presented itself if I’d
just bided my time.
But… he could have out-waited me. I’d have had to leave when
the bar closed, and there had been no one there I could have turned to that
would have given enough of a damn to help me. And no possibility in hell
that anyone in that category would have shown up.
No possibility, because there wasn’t anyone in that category any more.
That lone wolf thing? Not nearly as romantic as it sounds.
There was no one to count on and nothing to trust but my own speed and agility.
Which I’ve been told are impressive, but somehow… I doubted
they were going to save me this time.
I didn’t worry about keeping to the shadows; they would be as meaningless
to him as they were to me. I just did my best to find hard routes and tight
spaces. Using my shifting abilities to the suicidal limit, twisting my body
into whatever hybrid phase would afford me what I needed the most at any
I took full wolf form and ran on the flats, went human when I needed hands
to open things, half and half when I needed hands but also the tougher hide
of the wolf body. Alleys. Basements. Roofs. Underbrush. I took what cover
the city had to offer and just… ran. Throwing myself at every vantage
with no thought of not making the leap… of not managing the shift
in time… of falling. I was cut and bruised in a dozen places and air
was a thing of memory. I couldn’t have heard the vamp over the sound
of my own panting breath if I’d tried. Not that they make any noise,
damn the things.
But somehow… the more I ran, the more I felt positive that he was
right on my heels. Not that I ever dared the lost second to look. It’s
like when you’re a kid playing Little League and trying for that single,
and the coach is screaming at you to not look, but just run.
But every once in a damn while, I would have sworn on a stack of flaming
bibles that I heard that voice whispering my name on the wind.
Panicked… did I mention that? That’s the only excuse I have
for what happened next, because it was my own damn fault.
Some part of my over-loaded, oxygen-deprived brain had been left to fend
for itself while the rest of my higher thought processes had been occupied
with breathing and sheer terror. It had decided that we needed to get to
a safe place. Too bad the last one of those I’d ever had was the one
place on Earth that I should never go.
Seeing the remains of the burned out church, still there after all those
months, was enough of a shock that I just fucking stopped dead in my tracks;
vampire, pain, fear, and the rest of my sucky night just flat forgotten.
This was not a safe place, no matter what that errant brain cell had thought.
In fact… this was probably the least safe place, for me at least,
in the known universe. Never mind that it had been the heart of my security
for 99.9% of my life.
I’d fled right straight into the territory of my former pack. The
one that had cast me out and declared me dead in name, and dead in body
as soon as they managed to catch me again.
I was somewhat amazed to feel adrenaline hit my heart so solidly that it
hurt all through my chest and up into my throat. I wouldn’t have thought
I had any of that particular chemical that hadn’t been used already.
I very distinctly remember breathing, ‘oh fuck’, and would probably
have turned around and run back the way I’d come, but there was enough
of my rational brain left to remember that in that direction lie something
a little bit worse than death. In front of me just lay death… albeit,
it would not be an easy one.
Excuse me a moment while I introduce the rock to the hard place.
I can only forgive myself that stone cold moment of indecision because it
wasn’t any more than that. It didn’t take three heart beats;
even at the rate mine was pounding, for the Maxwell pack to begin appearing
around me. And despite the fact that I’d spent my whole life running,
eating, living and loving with the ‘shifters descending on me…
there wasn’t an eye in the bunch that held any compassion.
You don’t betray the pack and get nothing more than a smack on the
wrist. You generally get death, and I’d only been living on borrowed
time because of that vaunted speed of mine.
Too bad I’d spent it and then some already… it would have come
in handy at about that point.
Most of my former pack-mates slipped out of the shadows on little wolf feet,
growling low and sniffing the air as if verifying that fortune had indeed
brought them what they thought it had. My own ass delivered up on a nice,
shiny silver platter.
Solo, of course, walked on two legs… I think he liked the look it
gave him. Liked the image of the leader surrounded by his beasts. He really
didn’t need the cheap tricks. With that fall of stark, white hair
and those piercing eyes of blue ice… he sure as hell didn’t
need the cheap ass tricks.
He was… as impressive as he’d ever been.
And though it pains me to admit it, and damned if I’ll ever admit
it out loud, that bastard Chang looked just as impressive at his right hand.
Probably better than I’d looked when I’d stood in that spot.
That was almost more insult than I could take… that the son of a bitch
who was really responsible for the destruction of that place we’d
all called home, the one that had framed me and thrown me down from my place
at Solo’s side… had so obviously stepped in and taken that place.
While Solo stared at me… Chang only smiled.
I think, in that moment, I would have thrown myself into the thick of the
pack if I thought I could have taken the bastard with me, but I knew I was
done. Knowing that I couldn’t fight a vampire, I’d gambled it
all on just getting away, spending all my energy on fleeing. I was barely
on my feet after the mad run through half the city, shifting a hundred damn
times… I wouldn’t get within a foot of him.
Not that it mattered much… I was pretty well done one way or the other.
I spared a moment to regret deciding to come out looking for a drink, and
took a stance that was meant to be firm, but was probably… pretty
‘Forget you don’t live here anymore, dog?’ Solo snarled
and I watched Chang’s smile grow a little wider.
I didn’t bother to answer… he wouldn’t hear anything I
tried to tell him anyway. I’d already seen that when I’d screamed
my innocence in front of the lot of them. Not a one had believed me, and
now I was dead in their eyes… sentence already passed.
‘Perhaps the pup found his balls and came back to face his just punishment,’
Chang suggested, his voice matching that damned expression, and I wished
I could wipe it off his face for just one damn second. Wanted to see that
cocky mask slip just once. Just one damn time before I died. I really didn’t
want that to be the last thing I saw.
There was a growl to my right and I caught a glimpse of silver-tipped fur
and felt an advance.
Solo’s gaze never left mine, but he growled low. ‘Barton! Winner!
Back off… he’s mine.’
I had been… once. Not like he meant now, but I suppose there was some
serendipity in dying at his hand. And I suppose it was better than dying
at Chang’s. Infinitely better than falling to the bastard who had
taken my place.
And then Solo just seemed to tire of waiting and he came at me. Shifted
and sprang and I shifted to meet him, though I didn’t stand a chance.
As impressive as he is in his human form… it doesn’t hold a
candle to the White Ghost of local legend. He’s pack leader for a
And I was already shaky and panting and damn near dead on my feet, and as
he took me down to the concrete, jaws snapping at me… I had to laugh
thinking what I’d led to their doorstep. I wondered, even as I automatically
twisted and fought, if the vamp would pick somebody else to stalk.
Solo bit at my foreleg and I tore at his muzzle, managing to draw blood,
but only seeming to piss him off further. I couldn’t help remembering
other struggles between us… but those had been mock, and had led to
something that hadn’t involved blood and death.
When he delivered the death strike, it wasn’t even clean… he
tore into my abdomen and I knew even as he ripped me open that he meant
to let me lie on the pavement and die slowly. And he wouldn’t care
how long it took.
You don’t betray the pack. Not and live to tell the tale. Not unless
you can blame it on someone else. I knew that… but it didn’t
make the pain any less.
Somewhere, high above us, there was a… roar. A primal cry of pure
rage. It froze us all right where we were, and in the space of an indrawn
breath, Solo was gone. Ripped away from me so suddenly I couldn’t
even tell where he ended up. I probably should have tried to get away then,
but… well… I was just too busy dying. So I just laid there and
bled, lungs sucking for air that didn’t seem to be available, and
sight playing tricks on me.
Something had Solo and I wasn’t even sure what it was. Is it…
sick that I had a moment’s instinct to try and help him? Is it sad
that having him believe Chang’s lies about me so damn easily, had
not been enough to completely erase what he’d meant to me?
Though it was only a fleeting moment; betrayal might not have been enough
to kill those feelings, but I guess having him rip my guts open had pretty
well done the job.
Didn’t stop me from smirking when I realized Chang had broken and
run without so much as thinking about going to his lover’s aid.
In fact… the entire pack broke and ran, the whole lot of them. Left
their leader screaming helplessly under… whatever in the hell had
fallen out of the sky.
And then the screams stopped with a rather sickening meaty sound. The thing
dropped the body and stood… resolving itself into something more human
shaped. Well… except for the wings.
I shivered in a cold that was my body’s own making and thought about
avenging angels, as strange as that thought was. But then the angel turned
my way and I thought more of devils.
It was the vampire, the blue-eyed vampire, and he was coming my way. I was
losing coherency and could feel myself shifting, not quite able to keep
wolf form… not quite able to obtain human. I knew I was almost done
and could only hope my body gave up the fight before he… did whatever
vamps do. Somehow… I just didn’t want to die at the hands of
‘You killed the wrong fucking one,’ I choked out as he knelt
beside me, not sure why I felt the need to tell him that.
‘I killed the one who harmed you,’ he growled, and he was damn
scary looking with those wings and those eyes and those God damn fangs.
I would have shivered again, but didn’t have the strength left.
‘W…what the hell are you?’ I breathed, the sight of him
dipping his head toward my stomach making me look away. Over his shoulder
I could see the hulking remains of the place that had been home until the
flames had taken it away. It seemed fitting, somehow, that I would end here.
‘Your stalker, remember?’ he murmured, and I felt his lips touch
the ragged edge of my wound. He was as cold as I had imagined, and I knew
it was all over. One way or the other… it was all over.
I threw back my head and gave voice to my own death howl, since I knew there
was no one who would come afterward and mourn my loss. It made the vamp
Nobody was as surprised as I was when I woke up again.
I had no idea where in the hell I was. I was cold, I was battered, I ached,
and was so damn weak I couldn’t even roll over when I heard the vamp’s
voice behind me.
‘Yeah,’ I managed and felt a moment’s fear, having to
touch my tongue to my canine teeth before I could manage more. ‘You
wanna tell me why that is?’
‘I healed you,’ he told me, voice sounding rather matter of
fact. I heard him move and knew he allowed it. He came around in front of
me where I could see him and it made me realize I was lying on something
and not just the ground.
‘You can do that?’ I asked, blinking at him in a manner that
must have looked pretty dumb.
He gave me a sardonic little smile. ‘Obviously, though you can check
for yourself, if you’d like.’
I thought about it. Thought about reaching down to touch my side to see
just what the story was there, but… I couldn’t so much as lift
my arm. ‘I’ll take your word for it,’ I murmured and debated
the notion of just going back to sleep.
He snorted softly and took hold of my hand, using his to smooth my fingers
over my own bare torso. It took me a moment to stop thinking about how he
felt to notice that I didn’t have a gaping hole in me. Granted, the
place was tender as screaming hell, but it should have been a whole lot
more than that.
‘You’re… not cold,’ was what I found myself telling
His eyes narrowed. ‘I’ve fed.’
I stared into those eyes that were even bluer up close, and knew just who
he’d fed on. I wanted to mourn… but somehow just couldn’t.
I heaved a sigh. ‘I’m not dessert, am I?’ I asked and
managed to win a laugh. He was… less scary when he laughed.
He knelt down beside whatever in the hell I was lying on to bring himself
closer to my eye level. ‘Duo… I never meant to harm you. I really
did approach you in that bar because I’d seen you around and found
you… attractive. It was some kind of twisted fate that led us both
back to that monster Chang Wufei.’
‘What?’ was all I could come up with on short notice and so
I asked him just that. Though I couldn’t have told you which part
of his statement I was questioning. Seen me? Attractive? Monster? Fate?
He glanced away from me then, something in his expression looking almost
frustrated. ‘I’m running out of time, I can’t explain
right now, but believe me… we both have reason to want revenge on
Chang. If you want to have it… live. Stay here, sleep… wait
for me. I’ll be back at nightfall.’
Sleep? I thought I could manage that easily enough. The rest of what he
said just whirled around in my head. He let go of my hand and rose then,
and I could feel what he already had; knew dawn was approaching. He turned
to leave with no more than that. It scared me a little to have him leave
me alone as incapacitated as I was. But that notion almost made me laugh,
so I just ignored it. ‘Wait,’ I called out and he hesitated,
glancing back at me. ‘What… what in the hell is your name?’
He smiled and seemed to be acknowledging something with a faint incline
of his head. I wondered if my curiosity had just committed me to a partnership
before I really had a chance to think about it.
‘Heero Yuy,’ he told me and then started moving again.
‘Pleased to meet you,’ I murmured to his back and I got another
one of those little laughs before he was out of sight.
Well this was just great; an outcast shape-shifter in league with the undead,
all because I’d gotten lonely and decided to go for a drink. Guess
that would teach me. Assuming I lived through the day to get the rest of
the story from Mr. Yuy when the aforementioned nightfall came.
‘Hey!’ I shouted after him on a sudden thought. ‘Bring
back a couple of damn cheeseburgers! I’m starving here!’
I swear to God I heard him laugh right next to my ear, then I closed my
eyes and went to sleep. Wasn’t so scary at all when he laughed. Maybe
I’d even find out what in the hell he was when he came back again.
I didn’t even find it odd that I had no doubts about his return.
I woke several times through the day, or at least… drifted up to consciousness.
My kind aren’t really meant to change form at the drop of a hat…
it’s not overly painful, but it takes a hell of a lot of energy. What
I’d put my body through in an effort to escape becoming an hors d'oeuvre
for the living dead, had alone been enough to have me down for the count
for awhile. Add to that the physical rearrangement that Solo had gifted
me with, and I couldn’t manage much more than opening my eyes, verifying
that I wasn’t dead yet, and then drifting back to sleep/unconsciousness.
I remember waking once and very distinctly thinking that I wished I’d
asked for fries and a shake with those cheeseburgers, because I was getting
I remember waking and worrying about rats, but there didn’t seem to
be any around, and it seemed kind of stupid for the big, bad wolf to be
freaked about a thing like rodents anyway.
I remember waking and thinking that the room I was in smelled warm, but
I still didn’t feel it. It made me really wonder just how close I’d
And the weirdest thing of all… I remember waking up in a bit of a
panic because I still couldn’t have stood up if my life had depended
on it… and wishing Heero would come back.
Ain’t that a total kick in the head? I had a panic dream because I
was so helpless, and I wanted a vampire to come and hold my hand. I drifted
off that time laughing hysterically. It made my side hurt like a mother.
When I woke after that, I could tell that darkness had come and damned if
I didn’t smell cheeseburgers.
‘Awake?’ that liquid-sex voice asked and I started, though I
couldn’t do much about it.
‘Seem to be,’ I croaked out, and blinked when he squatted down
in front of me with a bag from Burger Zippy. ‘You really brought it?’
He smiled faintly and sat the bag on the floor. ‘You need to build
your strength back up. Can you manage?’
I thought about it. Thought about him. Thought about the burgers and the
mind wandered off thinking about rabbits for a minute, before coming back
and trying to get back on track. I blinked some more. ‘I have no fucking
He gave out with one of those little chuckles, but then reached out toward
me and I found a reserve somewhere and flinched. He frowned, but hesitated,
taking the time to ask first. ‘I was going to help you sit up, if
‘Ok, sure,’ I muttered, feeling kind of stupid. If the guy had
really wanted to… do the icky vamp thing, he could do it any damn
time he pleased. Not like my lying there twitching was going to stop him.
He was surprisingly gentle for an undead guy, slipping his arms under me
and carefully lifting me up to recline against what I discovered to be the
arm of an old, battered couch. Some part of my mind registered that he felt
warm and I wondered if his last meal was… still with him, or if he’d
fed again. It was something of a relief either way, because quite frankly…
the cold corpse feel is really creepy.
I didn’t waste what little energy I had trying to hold my head up,
and just let it loll against the back of the couch. Instead, I saved it
to lift my dinner so I could eat without him hand feeding me, because that
would have been just weird as all hell.
I inhaled the first sandwich while he made noises that might have indicated
that I should slow down, and then I took a little nap. I was rather appalled
at myself when I blinked my eyes open to find him still sitting there next
to me, but he didn’t mention it, just handed me the next sandwich.
I have no idea how long it had been, but the burger was stone cold. Not
that I cared. I ate slower and tried to pay a little bit more attention
to him, but he seemed to have figured out that multi-tasking was beyond
me, and just let me eat. There were four burgers in that bag, an order of
fries and a nice syrupy soda. I put it all away and would have considered
licking the bag if he hadn’t wadded it up and tossed it aside when
it was empty.
I felt like one of those big ass snakes that eats a cow once a year. The
tiny little bit of energy my poor battered self had, went straight to my
stomach to handle the digestion process, and left the rest of me blinking
at him like a sloth.
‘I still don’t understand why I’m not vamp kibble,’
I mumbled, and he snorted in a manner that was very undignified and not
the sort of thing you expect the undead to do. They’re only supposed
to do that maniacal laugh thing.
‘It would just be such a waste,’ he said, smiling like I was
the most amusing damn thing in the city.
Focus was getting hard and I remember telling him, ‘Eyes that blue
shouldn’t be dead.’ Some small part of my brain thought that
had been a dumb thing to say.
He only whispered, ‘Sleep,’ like it was a command, and I did.
When I woke next, he was gone, and I could scent the sun’s heat in
the air. I had to pee something awful, and had little doubt that I would
have continued to sleep otherwise. I don’t make ka-ka in my own nest,
even when it’s a borrowed one, so I set about rolling off the couch
and ended up on my hands and knees watching little spots dance in front
of my eyes. I settled for crawling six or seven feet away from my bed and
peeing against a wall. Then I decided that taking a nap on the floor half
way back to the couch was a decent idea.
I woke up again when Heero picked me up off the floor. I flinched awake
at the touch, but relaxed when I realized it was him.
That thought struck me as seriously twisted.
‘Were you trying to run away?’ he asked me, and I was taken
by surprise by the faintly wistful tone to his voice.
I couldn’t help a snort of derision. ‘Trying to crawl to the…
He blinked at me and managed to look chagrined. ‘I’m sorry…
I forget things sometimes. I should have woken you up last night to take
care of that.’
Forget? I guess it would make sense that the undead wouldn’t exactly
have to deal with the niceties of things like bodily waste. It made me wonder
about a few other things, but nothing you asked about in polite company.
It was hard enough getting my head around the weird time lags without adding
in a course on vampire physiology. My brain was just not functioning on
all cylinders, I guess, but if I wouldn’t have looked like a total
moron, I’d have used my fingers to figure it out. He’d come
back twice now. That was two full days and going into the second night.
If you didn’t count that first one. It all made my head hurt, and
it was the odd desire to lay that head on his shoulder to rest my muscles,
that made me realize just how long he’d been standing there holding
I think I stiffened at the thought, and he went ahead then and put me back
down on the couch.
‘I don’t want to seem ungrateful,’ I told him when he’d
straightened away and I could see him again. ‘But why are you going
to so much trouble over me?’
He ducked his head and managed a look that spoke of guilt. ‘It was
my fault you got hurt to begin with, I shouldn’t have chased you.
I should have accepted that you didn’t… that you weren’t
I watched him stand there and look unaccountably… not happy, but I
couldn’t figure it out. He was catching me all kinds of off-guard.
I’d always been told that the living dead were not the most compassionate
things that walked the night. It was hard to look at him standing there
with his head ducked, seeming to almost hide behind the fall of his hair,
and think… ‘Vampire’. He sure as fuck did not look like
a damn vampire.
‘I don’t generally date dead people,’ I heard myself say
and wondered if it had been rude. God… I was worrying about the political
correctness of vamp labeling.
It didn’t help that he seemed to tense. ‘I suppose not,’
I was starting to feel really uncomfortable lying there flat on my back
with him standing over me, so I shifted to sit up a bit. It was disconcerting
to have his instant attention, but I let him help me and I was again surprised
by how gentle he could be.
His hands… lingered, and now that my brain had more than two cells
in gear, it struck me just how many opportunities he took to touch me. There
was something inside him that seemed almost… barely reined.
And this is going to make me sound like a total nut-bar, but I felt in that
moment that I could trust him. That I had nothing in the world to fear from
him. And that made me shiver.
I didn’t recall that my Momma raised a blithering idiot, but maybe
‘Stop… towering,’ I growled, feeling off-center. ‘Sit
the hell down.’
He graced me with a faint smile that relieved some of the weird tension,
and sat down at the other end of the couch.
‘Now tell me shit I don’t know,’ I commanded, pleased
with the tone I managed despite how ludicrous it probably sounded. Like
I had a perfect right to boss him around.
‘Like what?’ he asked, a little bit of that cockiness I recalled
from the bar coming back to his voice.
‘Like what in the hell are you?’ I asked, and almost mentioned
the wings, but then had a moment of doubt that I’d imagined the whole
thing, and left that part out.
He sighed and quirked a little grin. ‘Always with the hard questions
first,’ he murmured and ran a hand over his face. ‘I thought
you’d already figured out I’m a vampire.’
‘Not like any I’ve ever met before,’ I grumbled and his
little grin widened.
‘You’ve met so many.’
‘Ok,’ I amended. ‘Not like any I’ve ever heard of.’
He snorted, but the smile went away. ‘I was… a ‘shifter,
before I became what I am now.’
I just stared at him, not sure just how to take that news and fought to
keep my tongue from checking my own canines again. There was something in
his intent gaze that made me think the fact was important. ‘And that’s
why you’re… different?’
He nodded, still watching me. ‘Shape-shifters… almost never
turn. It takes a very powerful vampire, so… my kind are very rare.
And it makes us… different.’
I digested that, thinking it over and found that it was something of a relief.
I didn’t have much desire to become a walking corpse. Though I didn’t
ask him if he fell into that category of ‘powerful enough’.
‘And just where does Chang Wufei fit into all this?’
His eyes went dark and cold in an instant. I caught a glimpse of a hatred
that felt so wide and so deep that my own seemed childish in comparison.
‘He’s the bastard who turned me,’ he growled.
He might as well have jerked my entire world out from under me.
‘What!’ I snarled and threw myself to my feet… and almost
to my knees. Heero had to catch me to keep me from falling.
Chang Wufei was a… was a card-carrying member of the ranks of the
undead? No way. No fucking way. Except… it explained some things.
It maybe made sense out of why my family had turned on me so easily.
It was like watching somebody throw a handful of puzzle pieces into the
air and having them fall neatly into place all on their own.
I remembered a wound I’d found on Solo’s thigh that he’d
had no explanation for…
I remembered his sudden discomfort in the sunlight…
The way he’d seemed so fixated on Chang when he’d first shown
The way Chang would disappear on us after he was taken into the pack…
Chang Wufei had seduced his damn way into our home. Had obviously bitten
Solo and had been exerting some control over him. I didn’t know much
about vamps, but I knew that… that once you willingly gave yourself
to one… you didn’t entirely own yourself anymore.
Hell… Solo had probably gone into it with open arms. If the guy had
had a fear… it was of growing old and weak. Of losing his place as
master of the pack. Chang could have offered him an eternity at his peak.
Forever strong. Forever the leader.
Heero had kept me on my feet while my mind had gone off to introspection
land and we stood staring at each other, his hands holding me by the elbows
and my legs trembling under me.
He had that look again, something in his eyes that spoke of a hunger so
deep it took my breath away. I wondered when he’d fed last, but he
didn’t feel cold. Not warm exactly, but not cold yet. But… I
didn’t think it was that kind of hunger anyway.
‘You scare the holy shit out of me,’ I heard myself say. ‘I
don’t want to be like you.’
‘I don’t want you to be like me,’ he whispered, and it
was impossible to believe him. Impossible not to believe him.
He made a sound that felt frustrated and put me back on the couch. I curled
around my ache and my weakness and stared at the wall. He paced away.
‘So the son of a bitch is a vamp,’ I said, getting back on track.
‘What the fuck would he want with a pack of ‘shifters?’
‘I don’t really know what his game is,’ Heero said, sounding
oddly far away for all the ten feet of distance there was between us. ‘He
just likes to… play with us. With ‘shifters.’
‘Play?’ I snarled, looking away from the wall and only finding
Heero’s back. ‘Play?!’
‘It’s all about his damn amusement,’ he replied, voice
bitter and angry. ‘I think there’s some reason he hates us…
them, but he loves nothing more than to fuck with a pack. Fuck with families.
‘He... he screwed up my family because he’s… bored?’
I asked, wanting to sound angry and knowing I only sounded incredulous.
Heero turned and looked at me, his expression not able to maintain the anger
any more than mine. ‘I don’t know, Duo,’ he told me, doing
that trick where his voice sounded like it was right next to my ear. ‘I
don’t know any more of the why than you do. He took everything from
me. My… everything, and left me nothing but this… existence.’
Is it totally screwed up that I wanted to go put my arms around the guy?
As much as I hated Chang, as much as I’d lost it all too… at
least I could still walk in the sunshine. At least I wasn’t…
you know… dead.
‘Heero…’ I breathed, feeling so damn bad for him and not
really understanding why. He was a vampire, I had to keep reminding myself,
he didn’t have drinks with people over lunch… he drank people
I watched him close his eyes when I said his name, like I’d struck
him, and I just shut up.
‘I have to go,’ he said then, and all that emotion he’d
been showing me was back in some sort of box inside of him. I blinked at
him in some confusion, knowing that dawn was still some time off. ‘I…
must hunt,’ he said after a long moment, by way of explanation, and
turned away… just like that.
‘Am I in any danger from you?’ I had to ask, and it made him
‘Not from me,’ he said near my ear. ‘Never from me. But
stay hidden here… Chang won’t be happy that we spoiled his game.’
And then he was gone, leaving me with a whole hell of a lot to think about,
more questions than I’d gotten answers for, and a growing ache in
my belly that made me wish Heero had a better memory for the niceties of
Despite all that, I slept again… it might have just been talking,
but it had worn me out all the same. Kind of drew to my attention just how
pathetically bad my condition was.
When I woke next, I knew it was daylight and from the scent, nearing noon.
My poor stomach’s grumbling had roused me, finally getting too bad
to ignore. I was irritated with my attendant vampire for a bit, until I
really stopped to think about the absurdity of expecting a member of the
life-challenged to hand deliver my meals. What would you call that, ‘Vamps
on Wheels’? ‘Meals by Night’?
Though I was more than pleased that I actually still had a stomach and a
bladder, they were both conspiring to make me get the hell up and fend for
It made me wonder where in the hell I was. Made me wonder how close I was
to some source of food. Made me wonder if clothes were a possibility, because
I don’t care what you see in the movies… when I guy changes
into a wolf and back again… the clothes get abandoned. Kangaroos have
pouches. Possums do. Wolves do not.
I must have been healing or I don’t think my brain would be engaging
as much as it seemed to be. Not that I wasn’t pleased by the fact,
but I suppose there had been a strange kind of… peace in not really
being able to think.
Because there was a whole lot to think about there. From the smirk on Chang
Wufei’s face, to Solo’s dying scream.
A lot to wonder about too. Like what had befallen my family now that Solo
was gone. Was Chang leading the pack? Or was there still a pack to lead?
We won’t talk about the part where I had apparently thrown my lot
in with a vampire and how fucked up it was that I seemed to trust him. No…
we won’t be wondering about that.
I’m not sure if it was the hunger or the thinking that finally drove
me to it, but I decided that afternoon to take a stroll.
Ok, more like a stagger, but to be honest, I was kind of pleased with even
that much. Pleased that I could manage more than crawling the length of
the room. Pleased that the spots before my eyes weren’t so bad that
I couldn’t navigate around them. We don’t really have to talk
about the part where I was hanging off the walls just to make my way out
I appeared to be in some sort of abandoned building. Below ground, no less.
There was a hall and some stairs and when I crept up them, there was a room
decorated in early train wreck, though oddly devoid of anything that fell
into the realm of the living. No rats, no squatters, no bugs to speak of.
I wondered if the vampire had done something somehow. It was very disconcerting;
I felt like I shouldn’t so much as breathe too loud. There was definitely
something in the air that made me twitchy.
Unfortunately, there was nothing that would even begin to constitute clothing.
I might have managed a loin cloth if I’d had something to cut the
cover off a battered, destroyed old chair. But I didn’t have any scissors,
and I wasn’t desperate enough to wear a blue floral loin cloth anyway.
Especially not stained with I didn’t want to know what. I do have
some fashion sense.
But I could smell things in the air that were making my mouth water and
it was going to be hours and hours before Heero could come back, with no
guarantee that he’d remember to feed me when he did.
Not knowing what else to do… I shifted. And then I had to take a little
rest. It was more than frightening how my energy reserves were more like…
unreserved. I was just grateful it was still early afternoon when I was
able to walk again.
The wonderful thing about the modern human is that they don’t question
what they see. I could walk the streets right out in the open and my biggest
danger was the dog catcher. People looked right at me and saw dog, not wolf.
Because wolves do not live in cities. Or even in this part of the country.
If it can not logically be so… man will find a reasonable explanation
I appeared to be in a not great neighborhood, but not the worst I’d
ever seen. I took a moment to mark the side of the building I’d come
out of, just to make absolutely sure I could find my way back, and then
I made my way down a grungy alley, following the scent of the tantalizing
thing that was calling my name. Or at least, calling my stomach.
I kept to cover in the mouth of the alley while I surveyed the street and
didn’t find anything overly alarming. No gangs of bored looking kids.
No stray dogs that might react badly to my scent. Nobody in a uniform who
might decide to object to my lack of owner.
I ventured onto the street, and when nobody screamed and pointed, was encouraged
to continue. I was very careful to go slowly, conserving my strength as
much as possible and hoping I wouldn’t have to go too far. Had I the
vocal cords for it in that form, I would have cursed Heero in all the languages
I spoke, for being such an absentminded asshole. I would have much preferred
to stay holed up in the dark where I could lick my wounds in private. But
I was never going to heal on the starvation rations I was being supplied
with; I needed food and I needed it now, not in a couple of days when it
was convenient for Heero.
The smell ended up being a street vender who didn’t seem to be doing
a lot of vending. I wondered about the woman’s choice of locations,
but realized she wasn’t all that far from a construction site and
maybe she did better business at the regular meal hours. She was perched
on a stool beside her cart reading a battered looking paperback book, but
noticed me pretty quickly. I guess a ‘dog’ my size is kinda
hard to miss.
She looked wary, not overly scared, which was a decent start, but not like
she was interested in adopting me and taking me home either.
I moved a bit closer and she stood, setting her book aside, glancing around
to see, I think, if there was anyone close who might help her if I turned
out to be a not nice doggy. I whimpered and wagged my tail.
Hey… I’m not stupid; I’ve freakin’ seen Lassie.
She stopped looking around, but still didn’t look like she thought
I was just the cutest thing, so I bumped up the suck-up job; sitting down
and raising one paw in that universal hand-shake gesture. She blinked. ‘Well
you sure belonged to somebody once upon a time, didn’t you?’
she muttered and I knew I had her.
I did the tongue loll thing. Then I did the waggle all over and stick the
butt in the air thing.
Hey… I was fucking starving to death, ok? I was utterly shameless
and I don’t give a damn. I’ve learned to fend for myself. By
the time I was done with my cute puppy act, the woman was feeding me hotdogs
right from her fingers and I was leaning against her leg looking up with
adoring eyes. If I’d had more time or the desire to do so, I’m
willing to bet money I could have ended up going home with the woman.
She even scratched me behind my ear and called me a ‘good boy’.
I almost felt bad for playing her so unrepentantly just for a meal.
Though I got to make up for it right after I ate my fifth hot dog, when
some geezer with a brown bagged bottle, and wearing a trench coat, came
up to the cart and made a rather rude comment about things that could be
done with hotdogs. Kind of made me lose my appetite for the things. The
vender lady told him to fuck off. He told her he’d be delighted. She
told him to go to hell and he made a grab for her arm.
That was where I stepped in and growled. One of those deep-throated rumbly
ones that makes you sound like you’re about the size of a Mack truck.
I’ve practiced it. It had the desired effect and the guy let go. I
was really damn relieved, because I couldn’t have managed anything
else if he’d decided to be pissy and push the point.
He eyed me nervously and then took a swig from his bottle before moving
off, muttering about dogs and hotdogs and bitchy women the whole way.
Got me another hotdog and a more vigorous scratch. And I was informed that
I was a very good boy.
I left not long after that. There wasn’t any protest from the vender
lady, but then I suppose she maybe figured out how much it would cost to
feed a beast like me. Though I had hopes that if it became necessary, I
might be able to beg another meal from her another day.
I was flagging miserably, but I wasn’t that interested in going straight
back to my bolt hole, just on the off chance that anybody was paying attention,
so I made my unobtrusive way around the block to come at the alley from
the other direction. Well… as unobtrusive as you can get when you’re
a two hundred pound wolf.
By the time I made the doorway of ‘my’ building again, I was
practically staggering. I’d have looked like a drunk if I hadn’t
been on four feet. I suppose I probably just looked diseased. Thankfully,
there was nobody around to see me.
I ended up lying in the doorway at the top of the basement stairs, too damn
done in to dare them. I remember thinking that I should probably shift back
to human form, and then I went to sleep.
There is something very disconcerting about being touched and held by hands
that are… slightly less than your average body temperature.
I did indeed wake in human form, and in retrospect, decided that I should
have stayed as I was… wolves have a better ability to sleep on stupid
shit and not wake up feeling like a pretzel. I also woke up being hauled
into the lap of a vampire. A very… upset vampire.
‘Oh God… not again,’ Heero was murmuring, cradling my
head against his shoulder and his hands stroking over my hair. ‘Please,
not again. Duo… wake up… please wake up…’
Very damn fucking freaky to feel a vampire tremble. I had not known it was
possible. It made me kind of want to get up and go sit quietly someplace
else. Made me kind of want to wrap him up tight in my arms and comfort him.
Made me long for a beer and an aspirin. Made me wonder why it felt like
the deep hours of the morning. Made me wonder where he’d been and
that almost made me laugh.
How quickly I’d come to expect him to be around.
‘I’m ok,’ I told him, finding my voice after a minute
and he stilled his strange rocking and looked at me.
‘Duo?’ he questioned, for all the world like he’d really
thought I was dead and that fact mattered to him somehow. ‘What…
what happened? Are you hurt?’
‘I uh… got hungry,’ I confessed, and tried to move away.
I didn’t get far.
He rose easily with me in his arms and took us down the stairs as though
he were afraid someone might see us. ‘Hungry?’ he said, almost
to himself. ‘I’m such a damn fool…’
I snorted. ‘Well… you don’t seem to be real up on the
care and feeding of your average shape-shifter.’
I didn’t get the chuckle, so I subsided while he took us down the
stairs, back into the room at the bottom. I hadn’t a damn clue what
his deal was, and decided that I wasn’t likely to figure it out. I
was relieved when he actually put me back on the couch. But then he perched
beside me, looking… like he couldn’t figure out what to say
to me first.
He finally settled on, ‘You… went out like this?’
I couldn’t resist grinning. ‘I took my hair down… did
the Lady Godiva thing.’
He looked kind of horrified for a moment and I laughed right out loud. A
prudish vampire… who would have thought?
‘I went out in the guise of a poor, stray doggie,’ I confessed,
because funny as the look on his face was, it was also oddly disconcerting.
It was suddenly making me very aware of my state of undress. ‘Shifters
in general are just not all that body-shy; clothes are just a pain in the
butt unless we’re spending much time in the human world. But there
was something about the way he suddenly seemed to be aware of it, when he
hadn’t before… that was making me uncomfortable.
‘You could have been seen…’ he began, frowning at me and
not so much as cracking a smile at my jokes.
I snorted. ‘I was sure to be under-cover before nightfall, man…
His frown just deepened. ‘Not all of Chang’s allies are limited
to the darkness, Duo. It isn’t safe for you here now.’
It made me feel defensive. Made me feel like I’d done something stupid,
when he was the one who kept forgetting I was just a poor, average, run
of the mill shape-shifter who’d had his ass handed to him on an ornate
silver platter. ‘Well if I hadn’t needed to go find some fucking
food…’ I growled and was surprised when he ducked his head.
‘I know,’ he said, sounding honestly pained. ‘I’m
sorry… it’s just been so damn long since I had to think of these
things. So long since…’ he let that trail off, but looked up
at me again. ‘It doesn’t matter now, but I need to get you out
of here. We can’t trust that this is still a secure place.’
‘Well I’m going to need some clothes then,’ I informed
him. ‘I can’t go much of anywhere like this.’
It made him struggle not to rake his eyes over me; I could see it in the
way he wouldn’t look away from my eyes. ‘Can’t you…
shift again?’ he asked, and I wondered about the hopeful tone.
It was my turn to duck my head, unable to meet that intense gaze. ‘I…
don’t have the strength. You’ll just end up carrying a wolf
out of here instead of a naked man.’
‘We may have to chance it, be…’ he said, stumbling over
his words for some reason. ‘I’m… afraid to leave you here
alone. We can’t risk that this place has been compromised.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I grumbled, feeling pretty damn lame about
the shape I was in. That I wasn’t pulling my own weight. That I was
even having to rely on him to begin with.
And yeah… a little bit confused about the easy way he fell into all
that ‘we’ stuff.
‘Don’t be,’ he soothed, that weird thread of… hunger,
back in his voice. ‘Nothing was ever your fault. You need the time
to rest and heal… and we don’t have it.’
I didn’t have an answer and we just ended up staring at each other.
I saw him open his mouth to speak, but was surprised when he didn’t.
He had that frustrated look again.
‘What the hell is it?’ I finally prodded, not liking that he
was obviously keeping something from me that might end up being important.
He hesitated, looking at me in that way that made me wish my hair really
was down so I had it to hide behind. ‘There’s something…’
he began, obviously hesitant, and just as obviously hopeful. ‘Something
I could do that would… speed the healing process.’
I eyed him suspiciously and had to fight the urge to move away from him.
Nowhere I had to go anyway, I was already leaning against the arm of the
dilapidated old couch. ‘What?’ I finally asked, knowing I wasn’t
going to like it.
It struck me again that eyes that damned beautiful should not belong to
a vampire, nor should a look as imploring as the one he gave me then. ‘If
you will… if you would drink of my blood…’ he began, and
I’m afraid I didn’t even have to voice my… distaste. He
saw it on my face and just shut up.
I shuddered and did find myself pressing against the couch, unconsciously
trying to move away. ‘The hell…?’ Was all I managed.
He lost the hopeful look and moved to give me a bit of space, reacting to
my reaction, I suppose. He stalked a couple of feet away and stood in silence
for a minute, before running a hand over his face and trying again. ‘It
won’t harm you. I’m not… contagious or anything. But there
are properties in… in me that would help you regain your strength.’
I noted his avoidance of the word, ‘blood’ this time and wasn’t
sure whether to give him points for sensitivity or not. ‘But, there
would be… consequences?’
He sighed, sounding resigned. Sounding as though he’d known all along
that I wouldn’t agree. Though, he got points for asking… didn’t
he? ‘There would be… some other affects, yes.’
‘Forget it, buddy,’ I snapped. ‘I just need some time.
I’ll heal the normal way.’
There was a sigh of frustration and he turned to look at me. ‘I don’t
know that we have that kind of time.’
I narrowed my eyes, wanting to balk at that ‘we’ crap, but having
to admit if only to myself, that I’d been relying on him just a little
too much. Maybe it was time to do something about that. ‘Look…
I have my own damn place. It’s not much, but I can just freakin’
go there if you’d get me some damn clothes.’
‘No!’ he snapped, not quite shouting, but then quickly backed
down, seeming to understand that commanding me was the wrong tact to take.
‘Please… I can’t keep you safe there. I can’t risk…’
I was getting a little tired of his weird… assumptions. His damned
implications. ‘I’m not yours to risk,’ I said, annoyed
that it came out almost gentle instead of the firm declaration I had meant
to make. I was more than surprised by the pain that flared in his eyes.
‘I… suppose not,’ he whispered, the sound much closer
Then we stared at each other for a long couple of minutes. I don’t
know what he was thinking about, but I was just trying to get my head around
the whole bizarreness of him treating me like… like there was something
‘None the less,’ he finally said, breaking and looking away
first. ‘It wouldn’t be wise for you to stay here.’
‘I’m open to suggestions,’ I replied, tired of fighting
his paranoia over it. Hell, maybe the new place would have a real bed instead
of a beat-up old couch. Or even a bathroom.
‘It’s dark,’ he said, coming back toward me. ‘I’ll
carry you. We’ll find something…’
I snorted and rolled my eyes. ‘Oh yeah… that’s going to
be real discreet. Just go get me some damn clothes and…’
‘I won’t leave you,’ he insisted. ‘If anyone saw
‘Then they saw a stray damn dog!’ I snapped. ‘I didn’t
go out and post a sign that said, ‘this way to the bat cave’,
for God’s sake!’
‘No,’ he growled. ‘You just marked the God forsaken place
with werewolf piss!’
I blinked at him for a second, and only managed a quiet little, ‘Oh
Oddly, it made him choke on a snicker and his irritation seemed to fade
away. The look he gave me was… fond, and he started to say something,
but thought better of it. ‘Please Duo, I know you think I’m
over-reacting, but you don’t know Chang the way I do. He won’t
rest until he has his revenge on us for spoiling his plans. I found a place
that’s more secure than this and we need to get out of here.’
I decided the stinking hell with it and gave in with a heavy sigh. ‘Ok…
ok… I give. Whatever you think is best.’ I think for a moment
he thought I was giving in on his weird-ass blood-sucking notion, and I
wasn’t entirely prepared for the look that came into his eyes, so
I quickly amended, ‘we’ll go wherever you say.’
He couldn’t quite cover the disappointment, but didn’t speak
of it, just came and caught me up in his arms again like I was a child.
Understanding that I might be in that position for a while, I facilitated
him as best I could by wrapping my arms around his neck. It somehow suddenly
made it… weird. His shoulders were… strong.
Not to belabor a point, but somebody that damn hot should really not be
I swallowed, and I’d be willing to bet you could have heard it in
the next room. We stared at each other and Heero whispered, ‘I’ve
got you,’ so softly I felt it as much as heard it.
I had this horribly expectant notion that he might be thinking about kissing
me, when the moment was shattered in the worst possible way.
‘Oh, this is just too delicious for words,’ Chang Wufei said,
his tone that insufferable cultured one. The one that made me want to rip
his throat out.
Heero actually… snarled. I found myself clutched against him so tightly
I despaired of breathing, and he retreated a half dozen steps, putting the
couch, the only thing in the room, between us and the figure we suddenly
found standing in the doorway.
There was a chuckle and I felt those dark eyes taking everything in. ‘Not
looking so good, Maxwell,’ he informed me, the smirk there to hear.
‘Your boyfriend doesn’t seem to be taking very good care of
I didn’t bother to respond, just keeping my eyes on him and wondering
if he was alone. There didn’t seem to be anyone with him, but then
I supposed if he were still with the pack by some chance, he wouldn’t
risk bringing them where they might find out what he really was. Heero didn’t
speak either, his attention focused on Chang the way a hawk watches something
it’s unsure of.
‘So remiss, dear Heero,’ Chang chided, taking a step into the
room. ‘To leave him like this. But then… I suppose he probably
hasn’t been too receptive to your… advances, has he?’
Heero almost unconsciously retreated another step, maintaining the distance
between us. He was so tense, I might have been in the arms of a stone statue.
‘I will kill you,’ he said, voice so damn cold, I shivered.
Chang chuckled and took a step to the side, moving so he wasn’t silhouetted
in the doorway any more. ‘I think not,’ he purred, inclining
his head at me. ‘Your oh so vaunted ethics have left him helpless.
You have too much to protect, pupil.’ Then he laughed. ‘There
will be death here tonight… but it won’t be mine.’
Heero growled deep in his chest, staring at our ‘guest’ as though
he could destroy him with just his gaze. I was about to become a huge encumbrance,
and we both seemed to realize that at the same moment, because Heero eased
the hold he had on my legs, putting me on my feet. Not that I was steady,
but at least if he had to let go, he wasn’t going to be dumping me
on my ass.
Chang chuckled again. ‘Oh, he’s in bad shape, isn’t he
Heero? How tragic.’
‘Shut the fuck up, you bastard,’ Heero snapped, and pulled me
in tighter to his side. Despite all his bluster and snapping, I could tell
he was scared. Damn scared.
‘You won’t be able to protect him you know,’ Chang said
conversationally. ‘Just like last time. This has worked out just too
perfect for words.’
Heero couldn’t seem to help pulling me in next to him as close as
he could manage, though we both knew he was going to have to let me go completely
to fight. He didn’t speak, just watching the other vamp intently.
I was surprised to find myself almost clinging to him.
‘Oh how sad,’ Chang sneered mockingly. ‘He turns unconsciously
to you for shelter but… he doesn’t trust you, does he?’
There was that dark laugh again, that made my blood boil. ‘I saw to
that, dear Heero. He remembers enough to know to fear our kind.’
I thought Heero would actually spit on the damn ground. ‘I am not
of your kind,’ he snarled and only got laughed at again.
‘I’m afraid you are, my pet,’ Chang said, all breathy
and smug. ‘I saw to that too. You didn’t stand a chance then…
and you don’t stand a chance now.’
I’m not at all sure what made me do what I did then. Heero had me
so wrapped up in his arms, pressed against him and his hands holding my
head as though he could spare me the sight of death hovering over us. When
he told Chang, again, ‘I will kill you,’ I knew the entertainment
portion of our show was waning. My face was against Heero’s chest,
My hands fisted in his shirt, his hands trying to cover me…
There was this sudden feeling of… this is it. Our hatred for the vampire
across the room would not save us. We were about to die. I didn’t
understand the banter, I didn’t understand the history, but I did
understand death when it stared me in the face.
Before I could think about what I was doing, I slid a hand up Heero’s
chest and under the guise of holding on to him; I raked him with a nail.
I was a little surprised to find that vampires bleed pretty much like anybody
else. I’m not sure what I expected… for smoke to rise? For the
blood to be thick and coagulated? For it to be some odd color? I don’t
know, but I made myself lick at the scratch before I had a chance to ask
myself what in the hell I thought I was doing.
Heero’s only reaction was to stroke a hand over the side of my face,
helping me to hide what I was doing. It gave me hope that I wasn’t
going to need a pint of his damn blood to work whatever magic he had offered
Somewhere in there I spared a brain cell to offer up a tiny little prayer
that I wasn’t going to regret the whole damn thing. But I was pretty
sure if I didn’t do something I wasn’t going to live long enough
to regret much of anything. Maybe Heero scared me… but that didn’t
hold a candle to the hatred I felt for the monster across the room.
I suckled carefully at the little scratch on Heero’s skin and was
just starting to wonder what to expect when… I thought my blood was
There had been another few verbal barbs thrown, and I’d missed most
of them, but I caught the tone in Chang’s voice that told me we weren’t
amusing him any longer. Heero kissed my brow, telling me I’d drunk
enough, and then he let me go, let me slid down to the ground behind the
couch. He was moving away; moving to close with Chang, but his voice was
a caress against my ear. ‘Run. I’ll keep him back as long as
I can, just… run.’
And then I really don’t know what the fuck happened. There were some
shouts, the sounds of a fight, some more taunts on both sides, but I was
sort of busy trying to decide if I was going to catch on fire or not.
Guess I was about to learn what ‘other affects’ Heero’d
been talking about.
Something, somewhere around my heart seemed to be heating up and spreading
through me like fire running over a spider’s web. I could feel every
vein, every artery as whatever in the hell I had done mapped it in fire.
I think I might have moaned, though I tried to keep quiet. Tried to make
sure that Chang didn’t have a clue what I’d done. Pathetic as
it probably seemed at that point, while I panted and trembled… I was
sort of thinking of me as our ace in the hole.
Of course, when that whole ‘two against one’ plan had erupted
in my head, I hadn’t counted on the cure leaving me writhing on the
And then the fire hit my brain and… the whole world got turned upside
There was a spider in my head, fleeing the flames that licked his web, and
he ran through my mind, throwing open the doors that had left me blind…
What the hell?
What the bleeding, bloody, fucking damn hell?
Memories came out of those doors and I remembered things that had never
happened. I knew things I couldn’t. I understood my fear… understood
Heero’s hate… understood why Chang Wufei had to die.
It was piecemeal and disjointed and I wondered if I would ever be able to
sort it all out. Things came flying at me faster than I could assimilate.
Faster than I could react.
I saw Heero in his wolf form, all chocolate and smoke and power. Had he
ever gone against Solo, I had no doubt he’d have won.
I knew how it felt to have his human form pressed against my back.
I could hear his voice whispering soft words to me of sunshine and forever,
but then I heard his voice telling me to run.
I knew just what he tasted like; his skin, his lips, his essence. Knew the
bitter and the sweet and remembered how it could always overwhelm me.
His scent filled me up, making me think of old forests and jasmine, though
I knew that wasn’t how he smelled now, and that seemed a horrible
Seemed… a… horrible…
And I remembered when he died. I remembered because I had died too. Only
I… I had stayed dead. Only I hadn’t… but…
I saw Chang Wufei draining my lover, knew what he was doing to him, but
I wasn’t able to stop him, because I’d been… not altogether
I could see the grief in Heero’s eyes as he watched me slowly fade,
as he felt himself slowly fade… but we’d each gone in different
ways. I to my grave, Heero to an existence he had to have hated with every
ounce of his soul.
And all the while, there was that bastard Chang’s face with that so
amused smile. That damned… that infuriating… that soulless bastard
And he was doing it again. That was what brought me back out of my head
and made me remember where I was. The sound of Chang Wufei laughing that
laugh that had chased me into oblivion.
‘Looks like you lose again, my sweet Heero,’ I heard him say.
‘It took you so long to find him… so very long. Shall I kill
him again? Let you chase him through another dozen generations? Or should
I kill you this time and see if he’ll hunt you?’
‘Run,’ Heero’s voice echoed in my head, then and now and
all through my soul. ‘Run… hide…’
But I was done with that. I still wasn’t sure just what the fuck was
going on… but I’d be damned if I ran again.
I pushed to my feet, and let the fire do as it would, there were still things
flashing behind my eyes, but I didn’t have the time to watch anymore.
Didn’t have the time to understand. The only thing that needed understanding
was that the nightmare of my life… lives… of forever, had my
Heero on the ground and was about to win. Again. And I would not have it.
There was strength in my legs and strength in my arms and I used it, used
what Heero had given me… what I had taken from him, and I leapt silent
as I could be across the room and flung myself on Chang Wufei’s back.
Battle cries are for idiots. You don’t warn the enemy you’re
coming. Especially not if the enemy out-classes you six ways to Sunday.
I was pleased that I took them both by surprise. Chang hissed in irritation
and Heero cried out, I could hear it now… and understand it…
He had thought he was buying my escape with his life. My attacking an older
than Methuselah vampire had not been in his game plan.
But I had my own damn plan.
Chang stood up, trying to throw me off, but I’m nothing if not tenacious.
He’d have better luck getting a tick off his ass. I rode him like
you ride those damn bar-room mechanical bulls, while he clawed and twisted
and pulled at me.
But… I had this strength like I’d never felt before and I knew
he wasn’t going to manage to get free any time soon. His irritation
gave way to real anger and he began to smash me against the wall, snarling
like an insane thing and cursing me in languages even I didn’t know.
I thought Heero was never going to get his shit together.
When he came after us to try and help, he was staggering hard and I was
surprised that a thread of fear got past my hatred. I was still trying to
get my head around the fact that I was looking at my lover. It was harder
to look at him and see the damage Chang had done, knowing that. It was harder…
while it only fueled the fire in my veins.
Heero latched onto one of Chang’s arms, trying to keep the vamp from
tearing at me, with his weight added to mine, I let go with my legs, daring
to find purchase on the ground to take control of our twisted little dance.
‘We have to drive him out of here!’ I screamed, and though Heero
looked confused, he didn’t argue with me. Chang stopped trying to
rip me free long enough to make a grab for Heero and almost succeeded.
Chang was… strong. Damn strong. And I knew if he got free of me, we
were dead. I’d managed by luck to get him in the only hold that I
stood a chance of maintaining, and I was determined to endure his clawing,
determined to endure whatever I had to, to keep that advantage.
Heero wasn’t in the best shape, and I didn’t know how long my
own borrowed strength was going to last. I hadn’t been given the opportunity
to read the game rules.
I part-shifted, and snapped my jaws tight on the back of Chang’s neck,
praying to those Gods who usually didn’t listen to me, that tasting
his blood wasn’t going to do something to me that would turn out to
be a Big Mistake.
He screamed, and for the first time there was a hint of fear in it. I wanted
to laugh with that tiny victory. If nothing else, if we lost the damn fight
in the end, at least I’d finally managed to wipe that damn smugness
out of the asshole.
Heero lunged back in and helped me go where I wanted. God knows what he
thought… maybe he’d figured it out. Maybe he just trusted me.
Maybe he was so far gone he was just doing what I told him. I don’t
know, but we were working together and our blood waltz was taking us toward
the door where I wanted to go.
Chang didn’t get it until we were there. Had been too wrapped up in
his petty entertainment to notice. Neither of them had scented or sensed
or remembered what I had finally smelled.
I don’t know shit much about vampires, but I do know that.
He howled like a banshee when he figured it out and began to fight us like
a mad man. I thought I was going to lose him, but my jaws were grinding
on bone and Heero was helping me and then we were crashing through the door
and it was my show because I lost Heero in the doorway. He stopped at the
edge of shadow and our eyes locked and I knew that he’d come after
us right the fuck into the sun if he had to, to save me, and I found that
extra bit of strength and made sure he didn’t have to.
One shot I had here; two tiny bits of surprise might mate into victory if
I could just hang the hell on, and I was hell-bent on not letting go.
It wasn’t one of those ethereal, glowing pools of light… not
like in the movies. But the sun was there, spilling through broken windows
and broken boards, spattering its way down the stairs and I took us into
that place where the dust danced in the sun…
And the vampire in my grasp began to… shriek.
Is it horribly stupid to confess that that was the place where I almost
lost the fight? Because I’d never heard anything scream in pain quite
like that, and I almost let him go. Almost had to stop that kind of suffering.
Almost… felt sorry for him.
But I could still see Heero’s eyes, glowing like fire at the edge
of the light, watching me for any hint that I needed him, poised to throw
himself into the inferno for me, and I wouldn’t let go. No matter
how the screaming… thing in my jaws twisted and fought and clawed
at me. No matter the pain, no matter the horror of it, no matter the stench
of… of burning undead.
It took… a while. Nothing in this damn situation had worked like it
does in the movies. Made me wonder about the writers; didn’t they
know there were sources out there they could ask about details like that?
Well… maybe not, and maybe that was just as well.
There was no strength left in the end, for him to fight me, and I opened
my jaws before I choked on the ash and the smell. I don’t know why
it didn’t really burn me, but it ended with me sprawled on the steps
like a puppet with my strings cut, Chang Wufei on top of me, slowly turning
to ash, with the sun shining merrily down on us… as innocent as the
rain. Innocent as a pup.
And maybe I’m crazy, maybe the exhaustion was finally getting to me,
but at the very end, when there wasn’t enough left to scream…
I’d swear there was a moment when the monster in my arms was gone
and all that was left was the man.
‘Thank you,’ I thought I heard whispered in my ear, but it wasn’t
a voice I knew and it might have just been the wind.
Then there was nothing but ashes, skirling up the stairwell in the early
It was… over. And I still hadn’t quite gotten the part where
‘it’ was a thing that had spanned generations. I closed my eyes,
all of Heero’s borrowed strength leaving me, and just lay in the sunshine.
‘Duo?’ he called out, voice tight and scared. ‘Please…
come down here to me. I can’t… can’t come up there. Please
‘God,’ I groaned. ‘Always so damn pushy. Gimme a minute,
He laughed at the sound of my voice and it was how it wound up until it
was bordering on hysteria that made me slither my tired ass back down the
steps to him. He barely waited until I’d crossed into shadow before
he snatched me up and staggered away from the door with me to the darkest
corner of our basement room. To a place where the sun couldn’t reach
no matter the time of day.
Once there, we just curled around each other and rested, too battered and
torn to care about anything There was too much to think about, much less
talk about. I was still trying to mate the past with the present. Was still
trying to reconcile knowing that I’d been with this man in intimate
ways that made a mockery of anything I’d ever shared with Solo. Still
having moments of bizarre double vision where I looked down at myself and
saw strange laced up boots and pants on my legs that I knew had never seen
‘How long have you been…’ searching for me, I thought
to ask, but the term didn’t seem right. How do you search for a soul?
How to you find the other half of yourself in a sea of millions of beings.
‘How long have you been alone?’
He shuddered and wrapped me close, his head thrown back and resting against
the wall. Vampires can’t cry, I learned that night. Though you can
see it when they try. ‘It doesn’t matter now. Nothing else matters
‘Heero?’ I asked, not sure where to start, but he shook his
head, suddenly seeming exhausted.
‘Later, beloved,’ he whispered. ‘I’m sorry…
but I must sleep.’
I blinked at him, unsure of the rules again. ‘Is it… safe for
He smiled gently, already fading into a sleep that would end up scaring
the shit out of me with its depth. ‘As long as you’re here with
‘No way in hell I’m going to be anywhere else for a very long
time,’ I told him, but I don’t think he heard. Not that it mattered…
I think he already knew.
Warnings : Supernatural AU, 13+6, mentions of 6+5, and 1+2,
OOC, angst, mention of character death. Epilogue of sorts to ‘Taste
Apologies for all butchering of the supernatural genre.
(Taste of Memory Epilogue)
It was a moonlit night, and the man sitting alone on the balcony
thought that didn’t seem right. Thought it improper and wished the
moon away. The moon, of course, did not heed, but only shone on, the clouds
not even making a token effort to cloak her face.
The mother moon, the man thought, looking down on her many children of the
‘Fitting; don’t you think?’ a voice said as another man
stepped out to join the first.
‘I do not,’ he was told, the tone dark. Angry.
‘You have heard then?’ asked the new-comer, though he hardly
‘Of course I know,’ the man at the table snapped, a twitch of
a shoulder dislodging a fall of white-blond hair. ‘I knew the moment
it happened. I know how and I know where and I know who.’
‘So angry, my dear Zechs,’ the other said, tone chiding.
There was a long moment before an answer came. ‘Please, Treize…
do not call me that tonight.’
‘I’m sorry. Milliardo, then. May I sit?’
There was a snort of derision and a sharp wave of a hand. ‘Like I
could forbid you.’
Treize pulled out the second chair and sat, placing a bottle and two glasses
on the table. ‘So it’s true; Chang Wufei finally fell. And fell
to the likes of Yuy… a veritable youngster.’
‘He didn’t manage it alone,’ Milliardo said, not looking
at his companion.
There was a grunt of surprise. ‘Yuy finally found his mate, after
all these years?’
‘Yes,’ the reply was a hiss of anger.
‘Milliardo,’ Treize scolded, his tone one of disappointment.
‘You can hardly blame them for defending themselves against…
the monster Wufei had become.’
When the arm lashed out, Treize was quick enough to save the bottle, but
not the glasses. Milliardo threw himself to his feet and stalked to the
railing. ‘The hell I can’t!’
There was silence then into which a servant dared insert himself. ‘Leave
the mess, but replace the glasses,’ Treize commanded and they were
silent a bit longer, waiting for the orders to be carried out.
‘Don’t call him that,’ Milliardo murmured, voice much
calmer, once the servant had come and gone.
‘The truth, was it not? By the end?’
Blue eyes didn’t look down from the moon. Broad shoulders tensed and
relaxed. ‘But he wasn’t… once.’
‘No,’ Treize agreed, voice gone gentle again. ‘He was
a man of great honor. A strong, and just man.’
Milliardo nodded and sighed. Was quiet a very long time. ‘It’s…
why I loved him.’
‘Yuy was a strong and honorable man once,’ Milliardo ventured
after a time. ‘Why…’
‘Because Yuy’s strength comes from his flexibility. His adaptability,’
Treize sighed. ‘Your Dragon’s honor was too rigid to bear…
what you brought him to.’
There was a sound almost like a moan, but not. ‘I couldn’t lose
‘But you did.’
‘Sit with me,’ Treize asked, opening the rescued bottle. ‘I’ve
brought blood-brandy for the occasion.’
There was a tired sigh as the last remaining Peacecraft turned and regarded
the bottle. ‘That, perhaps, is more fitting than the damn full moon.’
‘Very much so,’ the taller man smiled, pouring the rich amber-red
liquid into the waiting glasses. ‘Make a toast, my friend.’
Milliardo took the offered glass and held it up to gaze through, turning
the moon to a bloody red. Still disdained to sit. ‘I… can not.’
‘Then I shall,’ his companion said, raising his own glass to
play with the light. ‘To the peace of Chang Wufei… may he finally
find his rest.’
Milliardo cried out, arm falling, letting the glass fall with it. Treize
was there in an instant… catching the snifter before it could spill.
‘Yes, Zechs,’ he said firmly, standing close, holding the glass
near to pale lips. ‘Drink to an end to it.’
‘I don’t want it to end… not like this.’
The only response was the press of the glass. Milliardo swallowed reflexively,
his eyes widening. ‘This is…’
‘Dear God… how?’ Eyes squeezed tight to hold in only the
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Treize whispered. ‘Drink your
fill and let it go. Let him go.’
‘Are you asking me to forgive the ones who took my Dragon?’
‘I’m asking you to forgive yourself.’
Ice blue eyes opened and they stared at one another for a long moment. ‘I
‘You loved him for his honor,’ Treize breathed, brushing his
lips over Milliardo’s, sharing the taste of the blood and brandy.
‘That honor demands you let it end here. Leave them their peace; they
paid for it a thousand fold. Don’t blame them for what wasn’t
of their making. Don’t blame them for what you set in motion.’
There is a sound that vampires make when they remember what it was to weep.
Lips brushed again and Treize turned away. ‘Grieve for him,’
he said, taking his glass but leaving the bottle. ‘Then come and find
me. Let me forgive you.’
Treize was out of sight before Zechs murmured to the moon, ‘I only
wanted to keep him by my side.’
‘I know,’ a whisper near his ear soothed.
‘I am… sorry.’
Fiction : GW :