Disclaimer: How many disclaimers do you think you've read by now? I won't insult you by repeating it, and if you don't know it by now, you never will.

Pairings: 2x5, 2x3, 4x3, 4x5, 1x2
Rating: NC-17
Category: AU
Warnings: OOC, yaoi, language, lime, lemon-scented/tinted/flavored *grin*, blood, gore and a decidedly UN-pacifist-like Relena.
Spoilers: Unless you're referring to your appetite, no.

Note: This is getting weirder, I know. But it's fun, too. I wanna mess around with some supernatural power stuff! I'll try to refrain from zapping people into piles of dust. No promises though. ^_~

Dance with the Demons: Imitations of Immortality
Part Eight
by Blue Soaring

"Duo . . . ." Heero's voice was quiet, soft. Seductive. It rolled over Duo's skin hotly, bringing with it promises. Promises of something dark, something decadent.

Duo shivered in the bath, the water suddenly cold against his fevered skin. His grip tightened around the cross, and the points dug into his hand. Opening his eyes, he saw Heero standing at the base of the dais. Caught between amusement and lust, Duo saw that Heero, true to his apparent obsession , wore only a pair of black leather pants. Even his feet were bare on the white carpet. Light from the wall candles danced across his bare chest, highlighting the sharp lines. Heero's skin reflected the golden flames, making it seem as if his skin was causing the glow.

"Duo," Heero repeated.

Immediately Duo's eyes snapped up when he realized he was staring. Damn. Not supposed to stare. He focused instead on Heero's face, and realized too late his mistake. Heero's eyes were on fire. It washed over Duo in even stronger waves, stealing his breath. Then, Heero was standing on the top stair, holding him with his eyes. Duo thought belatedly that he really screwed up on that one, but he found he didn't really care. The cross fell, forgotten, from his hand.

Taking a deep breath, Duo finally found his voice. "Welcome back, Erus." Now why had he said that? He had never used Heero's title before. Duo shook his head a little, trying to clear his mind.

Heero laughed, and Duo's efforts were in vain. His laugh, like his voice, invaded his mind and body. It was like something tangible. Duo felt it play along his skin, touching him in a way that was almost intimate. His breath hitched in his throat as his eyes were inexorably drawn back to Heero's.

Heero stood painfully still, watching Duo with eyes of blue fire. Then he sat on the rim of the bath, all grace and no bones. Fluid, like water. He dipped his hand into bath, cupping the soapy water and lifting it to let it slide slowly over Duo's exposed skin. A low moan escaped from Duo's parted lips.

"Is this . . ." Heero said, dripping more water over Duo's chest, " . . . my welcome home present?"

Duo's eyes slid almost shut, unable to close that last little bit which would hide Heero's eyes from his gaze. Taking a deep breath, Duo drew in the scent of Heero's skin. Warm and inviting, yet somehow dark and rich at the same time. He breathed deeply again, letting it wrap around him both inside and out. It was merely another layer of Heero's power that Duo felt cover him.

Feeling a hand on his cheek, Duo opened his eyes a little wider. Heero was impossibly close, leaning over him. Duo let his eyes drop, focusing now on the lips that were so close to his. He parted his lips, drawing in another breath. The whisper in his mind changed to a surge. He felt himself move, getting slowly to his knees. The water lapped against his hips, unnoticed. All Duo could see and feel was Heero. He tilted his head to the side a little. Heero moved forward, his breath mingling with Duo's as he brought his hand behind Duo's head, weaving his fingers through the damp hair.

"Animi motus meus . . ." Heero whispered, and Duo heard the word with both his ears and inside his mind.

A loud bang accompanied several shouts, and Hilde rushed into the room, shouting for the Erus. Duo blinked a few times, then gasped when he felt Heero's lips brush his for a split second before the Erus pulled back. His eyes burned with a different fire now. Heero stood faster than Duo's eyes could follow, lips curled back into a savage snarl and fangs glinting in the firelight.

"WHAT!?" Heero growled, snarling at the intruder. His rage filled the room, forcing itself down Duo's throat until he could hardly breathe.

Hilde dropped to her knees, spine bowed and head lowered. "Forgive me, Erus," her voice dripped with fear, if it was from angering Heero or her urgent news, Duo couldn't tell. "Sally and her clan, along with Catherine, are demanding to know what you have done with Lucrezia." She bent lower to the floor when Heero let lose another vicious growl. "They stormed the main floor and killed several humans, and still toy with a few. Dorothy, Treize and Une are down. Relena and Zechs hold the stage door, Quatre, Trowa and Wufei are on the offense. Your presence is required, Master."

"Fools!" Heero shouted, making Hilde cringe and Duo wince as he grabbed for a towel. The Erus leapt from the stone dais, roughly hauling Hilde to her feet. "Come with me, now!" he roared, storming through the room and out the door. The room still pulsed with his rage.

Duo dried himself hastily before hauling on a pair of faded jeans. Grabbing the Glock from his pile of dirty clothes, he rushed after Heero and Hilde. Be damned if he was just going to sit in the bath and prune.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The sounds of fighting assaulted Duo in a rush when he burst through the door by the stage. A quick look around showed several bodies, torn and bloodied, scattered like discarded toys. Only toys weren't usually covered in their own blood. Relena was chasing another woman across the second floor, her face twisted in an expression of pure hate. Note: never piss off Relena. Zechs was bent low over Une, and Duo could feel the heady rush that accompanied his healing. Dorothy and Treize were out of sight. Everyone else appeared to be involved in the bloody fight near the center of the room. Logical. More room there to kill someone. Or get yourself killed.

A few seconds more and Duo could make out Heero standing with his hand wrapped around a woman's throat; it wasn't Catherine or anyone Duo recognized. Wufei and Trowa had shifted, and were attacking a group of wolves, probably Catherine's. Quatre was unaccounted for until a ragged scream reached Duo's ears. A quick glance to the left revealed the blonde beating relentlessly on a man twice his size. Being larger didn't seem to be helping the man much; his face was just so much blood.

Indecision blossomed in Duo's mind. What was he supposed to do? Wade into the fray and become mush? That prospect didn't really thrill him. One of the wolves had broken away from the panthers and was running straight at Heero, bloody jaws snapping at the air. Duo drew himself up and aimed, pulling the trigger without a second thought. Probably wouldn't kill the wolf, but would slow him down a hell of a lot.

Heero whirled around and caught sight of the wolf as it was knocked off its feet by the force of the shot. He glanced toward Duo for a moment before throwing the woman at the downed wolf. She hit it just as it was struggling to get its legs under it, and they both fell in a heap. The woman was back up in a flash, and Duo sighted the Glock on her. The wolf stayed down. Even shape-shifters couldn't heal scatter rounds that quickly.

Duo fired again, hitting the woman square in the right leg. She stumbled with a startled scream, turning to face Duo. He features were distorted by a snarl of rage and what Duo hoped was pain. Her fangs and lips were stained with blood. Another vampire.

"What the FUCK is going on here!?" Duo shouted, keeping the gun trained on the woman. She looked to be blonde, but there was so much blood coating her hair and one part of her face he wasn't sure.

Quatre gave his unfortunate enemy a last, savage kick, sending him flying into a wall. He hit with a sick crunch and slid to the floor, dazed. Duo had an unpleasant flash of the intestines from earlier that day.

Just then Catherine came crashing to the floor, followed by a gleefully laughing Relena. "Yes, dear Cathy!" she cried, smashing the woman's body to the floor again. "What is going on here?"

"ENOUGH!" Heero shouted, his voice echoing off the walls. He walked almost calmly up to the woman Duo had shot and picked her up by the throat again, setting her down on her feet. "What is the meaning of this?" he asked, his voice gone deadly quiet. Duo preferred the shouting. It was less disturbing.

All movement in the bar ceased, save for the quiet murmurings of Zechs as he healed Une. Duo's arm was starting to cramp, but like hell he was putting the gun down.

"Where is Lucrezia!?" the woman shouted, ignoring Heero's question.

Bad move. The vampire's eyes went cold and flat. He wrapped his hand almost casually around her throat again, and flexed his fingers. Duo could see them dig into the skin, and the woman's next words gurgled in her throat.

"Insolent bitch!" Whoa, that was a new one on Duo. He'd never heard Heero resort to language so . . . well, to resort to language. Never mind that Duo did it as a habit. "Answer my question!"

"She can't talk if you rip her throat out, Heero," Duo said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

Heero didn't look like he had heard him, but his fingers loosened their grip just enough to allow the woman to speak.

"If you have harmed her in any . . . !" her sentence was cut short as Heero grimly tightened his grip again.

"You are in no position to make threats, Sally," Quatre said quietly. Duo shivered from the ice in his tone.

Ah, so that was Sally. Sally looked a trifle uncomfortable at the moment, not that Duo could blame her. This time, he did roll his eyes. He'd never find out anything if Heero kept crushing her voice box. Sighing, he finally lowered the gun and nodded to the panthers. He was surprised when the one he had thought was Wufei obediently trotted to his side. Maybe Duo was getting the hang of recognizing him in panther form.

Walking over to stand by Heero, Duo motioned for him to loosen his grip. Heero flicked his eyes at Duo for a moment before looking back to Sally and letting his fingers loosen. Duo resisted the urge to say 'good boy'.

"Now," Duo began, "what the hell is this all about? And don't say 'where is Lucrezia' again, because that tells me fuck all and I'm getting sick of hearing it."

Sally's eyes widened. "A HUMAN," she spat the word, "dares to order me about?"

Heero growled again. Frankly, Duo was getting sick of being picked on because he didn't have fangs or turn furry. He reached out and tapped the tip of the gun against her head twice. "Answer the fucking question, bitch, or I'll blow a neat little hole in your head, regardless of what you are."

She snorted. "You are growing weak, Heero, to let the human speak for you."

In reply to that, Heero smiled. It chilled Duo to the bone. "I believe you are the one who is growing weak, Sally. Do you not recognize Death when it comes calling?"

Amazingly enough, it looked like Sally’s eyes had gotten even wider. She stared at Duo. “YOU!?” she shrieked.

Hearing his nickname spoken by Heero gave Duo a little jolt of surprise. On Heero's lips, it seemed more than merely a name. But Duo's next thought was cut off by a another scream of rage, this time from the prone Catherine.

Heero ignored it, and Relena hit her square in the face, effectively silencing her from further outbursts. It's hard to talk when your jaw is crushed.

Duo tapped Sally's head with the gun again, just to make sure he had her attention. "You were about to say?" he prodded.

"Lucrezia is gone missing, and you," she looked at Wufei, who sat quietly at Duo's feet, "were the last to be seen at her home. You have done something to her, and revenge must be taken."

"You IDIOT!" Duo exploded. "All this, over THAT? If you had an ounce of intelligence in that pulp that's filling up your head, don't you think it might have been slightly more prudent to ASK?"

Sally stared at Duo blankly.

"This is not like you, Sally," Heero said, his voice still flat and emotionless. "You would not go so far over a missing priestess."

"What's she mean to you, anyway?" Duo put in, curiosity finally overcoming him. "Why would you go so far to either rescue her, or take revenge for her?"

"I . . ." Sally drifted off, puzzled. "We have to . . ." she stopped again. A look of pure rage crossed her face, followed swiftly by something that looked suspiciously like embarrassment. "It does not matter to you!"

"WHAT!?" Duo shouted, once again severely tempted to just shoot her. "WHAT," he paused, then continued again in a calmer voice, "kind of an answer is that?"

"Out," Heero said, releasing her completely. "Get out, Sally. Now. You are the one who has grown weak."

"You're just going to let them go!?" Duo asked, incredulous. What the fuck was Heero thinking? Check that, was Heero even thinking at ALL?

Heero ignored him. He was getting quite good at ignoring people. Sally gathered herself up, favoring her injured leg only slightly now. A quick glance said that it had already started to heal. Duo had the sneaking suspicion that it didn't hurt the woman at all. It merely wouldn't support her full weight. He really had to figure out what half these people were, although spotting vampires was becoming easier. Absently, he reached down and scratched Wufei's ears, more to comfort himself than the panther. Startled, he looked down at Wufei. Had he just said 'Duo'? Wufei looked back at him with silent eyes. It had to have been Duo's imagination. Wufei was unable to talk in panther form. A cat's mouth just wasn't suited to pronounce human speech.

The others were gathering themselves together too. Duo watched as Relena reluctantly let Catherine get to her feet. The Tamer looked at the wolves, who shot one last look at Trowa and then went to their master. The rest resentfully followed Sally to the exit, picking up various people along the way. The big man that Quatre had taken out was picked up by Sally as she walked past. Duo's eyes widened. Definitely a vampire. Had to be an old one too, to be able to take a scatter shot in the thigh and still carry a man that big over her shoulders.

"Quatre," Heero said shortly.

"Erus?" Quatre dropped to his knees in front of him.

"Take Relena, Hilde and Trowa, and get rid of this." He gestured at the carnage.

Quatre simply nodded, and the others named immediately joined him.

"Zechs, Wufei," Heero paused, looking at Une. She was now standing, looking none the worse for the fight. "Une. Retrieve Treize and Dorothy. See what you can do for them for now. A days rest should be enough to completely heal them."

Wufei looked up at Duo before he moved from his side. Duo nodded once, and the panther picked its way across the bloodstained floor, shimmering slightly as it went. Suddenly, the panther was gone and Wufei continued to walk towards the others. Duo let out an explosive breath when the backlash of Wufei's power hit him. It was quickly followed by another wave as Trowa shifted. Duo was left gasping from the rush. Fuck. Out of breath and half aroused. He seriously considered grabbing Wufei and saying the hell with clean up. Heero, however, had other ideas.


Duo looked at the vampire, and immediately regretted it. Heero's eyes were no longer cold, but burning once more. 'Give yourself to me' echoed in Duo's mind, and he felt the kiss of Heero's power sweep through him. This was getting to be a habit. Duo still held the Glock loosely in his hand, but its usually comforting weight didn't help him. How were you supposed to fight something if you didn't recognize the danger until you just didn't care anymore?

"Come with me, Duo," Heero said, briefly touching Duo's face before heading towards the side door, not looking to see if Duo was following.

The double meaning of that command didn't escape Duo's notice. Had Heero intended it? A corner of Duo's mind resented the fact that Heero assumed he would follow like a good little pet. It was still resenting it as Duo made his way across the room, following the same path Heero had just taken.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Duo scowled. "What do you want?" he asked Heero, biting off his words.

"What happened to Lucrezia?"

Shit. Heero didn't know. Well, that explained why he had been so surprised by Sally's actions. "Lucrezia skipped town, at least that's what her decapitated butler said."

Heero's brows knitted. Was it just Duo or was Heero becoming more expressive? That had to be the third different expression Duo had seen on his face.

"Haven't you been talking to Quatre?" Duo asked when Heero still had said nothing.

"No. I returned here," - 'here' meaning Heero's rooms, in which he and Duo were now seated - "and found you as soon as I got back."

"Ahh . . . ." Duo really didn't want to think about that just now. Damn. His bath had been cut short. And now his exhaustion was setting back in. Nothing like an adrenaline crash to remind you just how tired you really were.


Well, Jesus, Heero had to stop using his name. Duo was already partly hard and more than a little antsy because of the shifters energy. And every time Heero said his name, it sounded more and more like 'fuck me'.

"Yeah?" Duo asked, struggling to control his rebellious body.

"Run the bath again." Heero stood and walked, no, more like flowed, towards the bed chamber.

What the . . . !? Run the bath? Duo snorted. Like hell. If Heero wanted a bath, let him run it himself. Duo looked up to tell Heero just that when he caught sight of the mess that was Heero's back.

"Holy fuck, Heero, what happened to you?" Duo hissed, standing.

"Shifter wounds," he replied simply. "Harder to heal."

"Christ . . . ." Duo stood, running his fingers through his still damp hair. Heero could still run his own fucking bath . . . but . . . . Sighing, Duo followed Heero once again, this time through the curtains. He did use it before without asking, what harm was it to run a bit of water for the vampire?

Duo laid the gun on the currently deep red sheets of Heero's bed – he seemed to alternate between black and red, then climbed the few steps up to the bath. Draining the now cold water from his bath, Duo ran fresh water to replace it. He even got a clean towel out of the cabinet for Heero before he sat on the tub's rim.

"Hey, Heero," Duo said, idly running his hand through the water. "Why'd you let her go? You should have killed the bitch."

Heero laughed, sending little ripples along Duo's skin. "What point would there be to that? Her death would give me nothing, her life . . . perhaps we’ll discover why a human priestess is so important to her."

"It seemed like she didn’t even know that herself."

"Then maybe we will find out who Lucrezia is important to. Important enough to deceive or spell a vampire into attacking a room full of humans and another vampire's home."

Duo's brain must have been operating on empty. He hadn't even considered that possibility.

"You are tired."

Duo looked sharply at Heero. The other's back was turned to him. Heero was laying the Glock on a table near one side of the bed. Then he pulled back the silken sheets in one smooth movement. He didn't expect Duo to SLEEP with him, did he? Forget the fact that he had spent three days or more in the room with him, Duo was damn well conscious now, and he could speak for himself.

"Is there enough water?" Heero's voice cut through Duo's inner rant.

Jogged out of his thoughts, Duo glanced down at the bath. More than enough water. He reached out and shut off the tap, standing up in the process.

"Sit, Duo," Heero commanded.

And Duo was back on his ass on the rim before another thought crossed his mind. That was annoying. "Listen, Heero, I don't what the hell you've got set up here, but would you fuck off giving me orders? And get the hell out of my head. Your little whispers are getting more annoying than your voice." Well, that last part was a little bit of a lie. Heero's voice was annoying, but only because it made Duo want to jump him. Duo refused to believe that it was HIS mind coming up with those particular ideas. Heero was the one who kept talking about taking him.

Laughing again, Heero turned and moved towards Duo. "You, Duo, are the one who is in my mind."

Duo's brow creased in confusion. What the hell was the vampire talking about now?

"I hear your 'whispers' every time you think of me." A smile crossed Heero's face then. "I hear your whispers often."

Yeah, yeah. Heero-speak for 'you think of me A LOT'. Duo was about to refute that claim when he stopped himself. He did think of Heero quite a bit. But that was only because of Heero's mind tricks, wasn't it?

"No trick of mine, Duo, your tricks."

"What the FUCK!? What the hell do you mean, my tricks? You're the supernatural one here, you're fucking with my mind," Duo said, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at the vampire.

"No," Heero's eyes were burning into Duo again. "You are fucking with my head, and you have been ever since I met you. I know what I am. I am a vampire, whatever you want that word to mean. But you, Duo," he paused, closing his eyes slowly and then opening them again, as if to steady himself, "do you know what you are?"

Damn skippy Duo knew what he was. Confused, angry and fucking horny. Duo had to get away from this. Killing renegade monsters was one thing, getting cozy in their lives was another. Wanting to be cozy with them . . . Duo didn't know what that was. But it was confusing as hell.

Duo reached down and grabbed the towel, flinging it half-heartedly at Heero. "Get your goddamn bath, fang-face. And get the fuck out of my head." He stood, intent on finding Wufei and getting the hell out of there. He was halfway to the door when that last thought caught up with him. Wufei. Duo stopped short. What was he supposed to do about Wufei? He wanted to take him home, the thought of leaving him behind drove Duo crazy. Could he just pluck Wufei away from everyone like him and expect it to be alright?

"Animi motus . . . do not leave."

Duo turned around. "What?"

Heero had already shed his bloodied leather pants and stood on the marble dais with the crimson towel wrapped low on his hips. His face was unreadable.

"What did you say?" Duo tried again.

"I asked you not to leave."

That wasn't what Duo was referring to, and Heero knew it. Duo decided to let it drop for now. "No, you TOLD me not to leave."

Heero inclined his head in acknowledgement of that statement. "Now I'm asking you."

Talk about a rock and a hard place. Duo barely held back from laughing at the implications of that thought. Rock and a hard place, indeed. Maybe Duo could turn this to his advantage.

"Why do you let the others call you by your name, but to the rest you are only the Erus? When you're alone, anyway."

The question seemed to have startled Heero. Good. One point for Duo. Surprising vampires was always a hard thing to do. Live long enough and eventually, you'll see it all. It was the living part that was tricky.

"If I answer that question, will you stay?"

Duo mulled that over. Stay, yes. In the same bed, possibly. Fuck with Heero, no. "I'll stay here, but that's all I'll do."

That seemed to be enough for Heero. He turned around and dropped the towel in one fluid motion, then stepped lightly into the bath. Duo caught a glimpse of dark skin and a well formed thigh before Heero sank into the water. Was the Erus FLASHING him? Duo shook his head in disbelief and pointedly ignored the protests from his aching groin. Answers first, comfort later. Although willpower didn't seem to be helping Duo much at the moment.

"I trust them," Heero was saying. "Quatre I have known since before I can remember. Trowa arrived soon after that, I can't remember when, exactly. They bonded."

Duo was about to ask if 'bonded' had any special meaning, but he had a suspicion that it didn't. He knew what Heero was talking about. Duo had done the same with Wufei, he just hadn't known what to call it.

"Wufei was last." As Heero spoke, Duo climbed the stairs again, kneeling on the top step. He took a cloth and began bathing Heero's back, clearing away the dried blood. The wounds already had healed partly, but Duo could see it was taking much longer than normal. Heero had healed the knife wounds in less than half this time.

"We formed something. No, asking ‘what’ is no use. Even we have no idea what it is," Heero continued after a moment.

"Why are you the Erus?" Duo interrupted, trying not to hurt Heero. The vampire didn't seem to be bothered by the foot long gouges in his back, butDuo was careful anyway. "Why not Quatre?"

"It is the way it is. There have always been those dominant, and those submissive. Trowa and Wufei are submissive by nature, you have seen that. You have tasted it."

Duo was silent. No use arguing with the truth.

"Quatre is slightly different. Where Trowa and Wufei are submissive to all, Quatre is submissive only to some."

"By some, you mean one, don't you?"

Heero nodded.

"So that’s why you’re the Erus. And why it's always different when the four of you are alone together." Duo mulled it over, thinking about what Wufei had told him only days before about the Erus forbidding Wufei to fight for dominance. The shifter was very submissive, despite his considerable power. And that meant that everyone else was that much stronger. That's why Heero had forbidden Wufei to fight. He simply wasn't strong enough. "Is Wufei growing any stronger?" Duo asked suddenly.

If Heero was surprised by the abruptness of the question, it didn't show. "Wufei has the physical strength to fight, but not the will. If the others - excluding Quatre and Trowa - knew of this, Wufei would be unable to survive in our world. And there is nowhere else for him to go; humans would not accept him. I forbade him from fighting for that one reason; to hide his compassion from those who would exploit it. He will fight to protect others, but that is all."

Duo chewed on that for a while, turning it over in his head and trying to find a fault in it. There was none. Not that he could see, anyway. "When Wu said he was anybody's meat before Quatre came, I thought he was referring to Quatre joining you here. He didn't, did he?"


Duo waited, hoping Heero would continue. At least some things were becoming clearer.

"He was talking about when Quatre first found him. A very long time ago."

"Shifters have extended lifespans?"

"Somewhat. Lamias are close to immortal; they will die only when they want to or they are killed. It seems being with vampires will lengthen the lifespan of other shifters, mammals mostly. Trowa has been with Quatre and I for longer than I can remember."

The conversation had definitely taken a sober tone. He wondered what Heero meant by ‘being with vampires’, but another question loomed larger in his mind. Duo rested his hand on Heero's shoulder, feeling the threads of sorrow in the vampire's voice. "How old are you, Heero?"

"I don't know. I stopped counting the years long ago."

Duo felt something in his chest wrench at the sheer exhaustion in Heero's voice. When humans dream of immortality, they seldom think of the consequences. Life that doesn't end is just that. Endless. How many empires had Heero seen rise and fall? How many times had Heero wished for the dance to simply end? Duo understood why the four were so close now. They were the only constant in an endless world that was forever changing. At that moment of understanding, Heero seemed less and less the monster he was considered to be. Heero was forced into a dance choreographed by Fate, and he was simply tired. As was Duo.

Duo was silent, searching for the right words. For once, he understood.

Heero sighed, and Duo felt it brush through him, jolting him out of his somber musings. That was a neat trick Heero had. The damn vampire even fucking SIGHED in a sexy way. Duo didn't stop to think of exactly what point in time Heero had become sexy. Some questions just didn't have answers. And some questions . . . .

"What is a vampire?" Duo asked suddenly. Now why had he asked THAT?

"Evil devil-spawn corpses that feed off the life and blood of poor, innocent human beings."

Duo flicked some water at Heero. Naturally, the vampire would take this moment to develop a sense of humor. At least, Duo was pretty sure Heero was joking.

"Seriously," Duo said.

Heero turned his head, shifting his upper body so Duo could see his face, but he avoided eye contact. "I am neither dead nor immortal, Duo. You can't kill something that's already dead or that is immortal. I can be killed. I am a type of life that imitates immortality. This either makes humans afraid or jealous. Humans seek to destroy that which they fear and, if they cannot have it, that which they covet."

Duo looked at Heero in shock. He had not expected an answer quite like that. But Heero was plugging right along.

"I am more like you than you think, Duo. But if one of us is to fear the other, it would serve me well to be terrified of you."

Duo opened his mouth, then shut it again. Heero should fear him? Maybe Heero got hit on the head during the fight. Duo had just heard more from Heero in ten minutes than he had in the entire time since he had first gotten involved in this sorry affair. A thousand more questions swirled through Duo's mind, but he was much too tired to ask them tonight. He got to his feet slowly, handing Heero the towel.

"Dry off, Heero. I'm tired, and you just gave me a hell of a lot more to think about than I wanted."

Heero wordlessly took the towel as he stood, and Duo stepped down from the dais, moving back to the bed to retrieve his gun before heading over to the couches to get some sleep. Wufei and the others would probably trickle in before long; Duo didn't think anyone wanted to be alone this night. And truth be told, Heero's words had shaken Duo more than he wanted to admit. It was pretty bad when the demons were more afraid of you than you were of them.

on to part nine

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