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
Category: AU
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: OOCness, yaoi, language, light lime.
Spoilers: Do I have to say it again? No.

Note: Let’s see . . . not much to say this time. Other than the fact that there has been nearly overwhelming concern for Wufei’s . . . sexual needs. *grin* Oh, and suzume is a big, huge bully. She made me start a livejournal. *sigh* Of course, now I can mock her publicly. There’s always, always, an up side.

Dance with the Demons: Brightest Nights
Part Seventeen
by Blue Soaring

Duo awoke several hours later, still pressed against Heero. He sighed and snuggled into the covers contentedly. At some point last night, he had come to a decision; he still trusted the vamp. Reasoning, logic, everything else aside, he had to admit to himself that Heero had simply reacted to the threats posed against those he considered his and had protected them. When exactly the vampire had come to the conclusion that Duo was included in this group was really not that important. It might come up later, but for now, Duo was more than a little happy with the arrangement.

However, Duo refused to admit that Heero had influenced said decision. If he had, it was probably around the time his tongue was in Duo's mouth. It was a very persuasive argument. Then again, it could have been when his hands were . . . but, since the vampire had not influenced his decision in the least, the point was moot. And that was that.

Rolling over in Heero's loose embrace, Duo watched his face as the vampire slept. Or did whatever it was that vampires did during the day. Duo lightly touched his fingertips to the curve of a cheek, trailing across slightly parted lips. A puff of warm air brushed his hand. He rubbed the pad of his thumb back over Heero's lips, then let his hand drop down until it rested against the side of his neck. He wouldn't be up and about for another four hours at least.

Duo frowned. And just how the hell did he know that? He glanced around, looking for a clock. He knew there was one on Heero's desk in the other part of the room, but it was both too far away and facing the other direction. There were no windows, nothing for him to use as a guide to estimate the time. His frown deepened, and was reaching epic proportions when a knock sounded on the door, followed shortly by the sound of someone entering the room. Duo tensed, then remembered that anyone who entered Heero's chambers without waiting for permission could only be either Quatre, Trowa or Wufei. Since Heero was out for the count, it couldn't be Quatre – the blonde would be curled up somewhere asleep. Something familiar brushed through Duo's mind, and he knew who it was.

Duo's frown faded, replaced by a smile. "Morning, Wu," he said when the shifter passed through the opening between the curtains.

Wufei's deep black hair was sleep-tousled, small chunks of it falling down around his face. He was clad only in a pair of coal black pajama bottoms. Padding barefoot over to Duo's side of the bed, he absently scratched his nose.

"This looks comfortable," Wufei said with a half smile.

Grinning, Duo said, "And you sound bitter about it."

"Really? I thought I hid that well."

"Nope, it managed to sneak through. Here, crawl in if you dare," he added with a laugh as he lifted the edge of the sheet and glanced down. At least that side was clean.

"It does look warmer in there than out here," Wufei said, eyeing the bed critically.

"In or out, Wu, I'm getting a draft."

Wufei laughed, sliding underneath the sheet and curling up beside Duo. "Much warmer. I-" he cut himself off, nostrils flaring.

"What?" Duo said, glancing around and rolling out from underneath Heero's arm.

"Nothing," the shifter said, blinking. His already night black eyes had become a few shades darker.

"I know that look, Wufei, don't give me that 'nothing' crap."

Wufei pushed himself up on his elbow, staring down at Duo briefly before he dipped his head down and rubbed his face against Duo's chest. "It wasn't so strong when I wasn't this close to you," he said, lips brushing over Duo's skin as he spoke.

"What wasn't?" Duo demanded, refusing to be distracted by the soft caress of Wufei's hair where it touched him.

The shifter's hands came up, running over Duo. He pushed the sheet off of them both, exposing Duo's nude body.

"Whoa, Wu!" Duo exclaimed, "What's gotten into you?"

Wufei's hands had continued their explorations, trailing over Duo's hips and down his thighs. He looked up, meeting the longhaired man's wide eyes with his own clouded ones. "Your skin . . . you smell like blood and sex . . . power." His voice had grown rough.

"You've got a severe obsession with all three of those," Duo said softly.

"I know," the shifter breathed, face still pressed close to the other man. Then he sighed. "You have to get up."

"What for? This is as good a place as any to be right now." He arched an eyebrow.

"Heero didn't tell you?" Wufei looked up, resting his cheek on Duo's chest.

"He didn't get a chance to tell me much," Duo said, unable to keep a grin from forming on his face.

"So I see," the shifter murmured, touching Duo's neck.

"Before we both get so distracted that we forget our names, what do I have to get up for?"

"Meeting," was all Wufei said as he buried his head in the crook of Duo's neck. His tongue darted out to lap at the soft skin and a tiny shiver coursed through him. "You taste so good . . . ."

Duo blinked. In this particular context, wasn't that a weird thing to say? He had fallen asleep, covered in the products of a bout of very good, very messy sex with a vampire. Oh. Duo blinked again. Blood, sex, power. Riiight.

"What meeting?" Duo asked, tilting his head unconsciously to the side so Wufei could have better access to his skin. Since the shifter was so dead set on having a little taste, there really wasn't any reason why Duo couldn't enjoy it.

"The one I called."

That wasn't Wufei's voice. Duo turned his head slowly, coming face to face with a certain half-asleep, blue-eyed vampire. Heero's speech was slow and measured, as if it required a great deal of energy. It probably did.

"What are you doing awake? You shouldn't be up for a few hours yet," Duo commented, absently brushing Heero's hair away from his eyes.

Wufei slid a leg over Duo's, moving so he lay half on top of him. "Hello, Heero," he greeted.

"Your energy woke me, Duo," Heero said accusingly after a brief nod to the shifter. "I can't sleep next to you when you're like that."

Duo was about to protest that comment, but one quick glance below his waist would mark him a liar. Not that he had felt his power stir, but there was the vampire, awake with more than three hours to go until sundown.

Turning back to Wufei, Duo said, "Do you think I should apologize for that?"

"It's a nice way to be woken up," Wufei said.

"I think you should apologize, Wu."

"Me? Why?"

"Because it's your fault."

"It is not. It's your fault."

"How's that?"

"Your power woke him."

Duo snorted. "Yeah, well, you started it by licking my neck."

"He was licking your neck? Already?" Heero said, his eyebrows shooting up.

"He tastes good," Wufei said with a shrug.

Heero's expression was just this side of a leer. "Really."

Wufei nodded. "You already knew that," he said, looking pointedly at the tiny scar on Duo.

Heero buried his face in his pillow and groaned.

"Heero?" Duo asked, not sure what that meant.

"This is why I always sleep with Quatre," the vampire mumbled into the pillow.


"Quatre doesn’t stir during the day," Wufei explained.

"And?" Duo prompted.

"Neither one wakes up to disturb the other.”

"Oh." Duo felt like smacking himself on the head.

"If you don't mind," Heero said, his voice still muffled, "would you please both find another bed to continue this on? Or continue it later with me as a participant?"

That surprised Duo, though it probably shouldn't have. Wufei was still his, even after he and Heero had been together. It wasn't like any of it would change. He already knew how Wufei felt about it, the shifter had developed a habit of urging him into Heero's arms, then curling up with them both.

Smiling sheepishly at Wufei, Duo rolled over on his side and nudged Heero's face away from the pillow. Sleepy blue eyes met his, an unspoken question in them.

"Morning, Heero," Duo said, pressing his lips to the vampire's. "See you later, when you're feeling a bit more . . . spry."

Heero laughed softly, eyes slipping closed again. The sound trailed down Duo's spine, making him think thoughts that were definitely not mentioned in decent company. Fortunately for him, the company he held right now was decidedly not decent.

Wufei slipped off of the bed, waiting expectantly for Duo. Crawling somewhat less gracefully, Duo got to his feet. The shapeshifter’s gaze traveled down the length of Duo’s body then returned to meet his eyes. Taking a quick step forward, Wufei wrapped his arms around the longhaired man’s waist and buried his head in the crook of Duo’s neck.

Startled, Duo automatically returned the embrace. “Wu?”

“I want you, Duo,” Wufei said, his voice low and husky. He nuzzled Duo’s neck, teasing the soft skin with lips and tongue.

Duo drew in a shaky breath, pressing the length of Wufei’s body firmly against his own. The thin barrier of pajama bottoms did nothing to contain the heat radiating from the were.

“What meeting did Heero call?” Duo asked. Amazing. His higher brain functions were still working.

“We’re to brief you on the situation involving Odin,” Wufei answered, his breath hot against Duo’s skin.

Duo’s hands slipped lower, resting on the curve of Wufei’s hips. “How long until you guys brief me?”

“Trowa is still asleep with Quatre.”


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

Duo was pacing. Again. Trowa silently tracked Duo’s progress from his perch on the arm of a black wingchair, green eyes following each step and turn exactly.

Stopping, the braided man turned to Wufei, who was sitting in the same chair that Trowa had settled on. “And neither one of you has any idea where they went? No one does?” he asked for the fourth time.

Wufei sighed. “No, Duo, no one knows. It’s not odd for Treize and Dorothy to go out on their own.”

“I don’t like it,” Duo said, frowning. “The timing is bad.”

“It is,” Trowa agreed, “but they don’t know anything about Odin yet.”

“Still . . . I don’t like it,” Duo repeated. They may have left before the little encounter with Odin, but that hardly meant they knew nothing about it. Maybe he was just being overly paranoid; or maybe his sense of self-preservation was kicking in. About damn time, too. He was already neck deep in monsters.

“So you’ve said,” Wufei commented.

“Where the hell is Heero?” Duo half-shouted, resuming his pacing. “He should have been here by now, what can be taking him so damn long?”

Knowing Heero, the vampire would only show up when he was good and ready. Near immortality gives a person a hell of a lot of time to fuck around.

Duo stopped short, grinning. Then he started to chuckle. When Quatre and Heero finally appeared in the doorway of the blonde’s room, Duo was laughing outright, his shoulders shaking with mirth.

Wufei glanced at the longhaired man, then the vampires, then Trowa. "Do you have any idea why he's doing that?" he asked, gesturing vaguely.

"Perhaps the stress is getting to him?" Heero offered as Quatre eyed the laughing man suspiciously.

The blonde gave Duo a wide berth, eventually sliding into the companion wingchair. He glanced at Trowa, who slipped off the chair’s arm and seated himself at Quatre’s feet.

"Stress?" Wufei snorted. "What stress? He couldn't possibly be stressed. Tired, yes, but not stressed."

"No, I suppose not," Heero mused. "Do you think his mind has snapped?"




"Why 'no'?"

Wufei shrugged. "I don't think he has much of a mind left after last night for it to have snapped," he said pointedly.

Duo had finally gotten control of himself, and was viciously glaring at them both. "Would you two stop talking about me as if I wasn't here?"

"You weren't here," Trowa put in lightly. "At least your mind wasn't."

"What were you laughing about?" Heero asked.

"Never mind," Duo said shortly. "Treize and Dorothy have gone AWOL.”

Heero nodded. "I know.”


“They are the least of our worries at the moment.”

“They’re a loose thread, Heero,” Duo said, “I don’t-”

“Like it, we know,” Quatre interrupted.

That earned the vampire a glare. It didn’t seem to bother him in the least. And that didn’t help Duo’s mood.

Everyone in the room, save Duo, turned towards the door. Seconds later, a tentative knock sounded. Une cracked open the door at Heero’s word.

“We’ve found Treize,” she stated simply. “Catherine has him in the front room.”

“Catherine!?” Duo exclaimed.

Une simply nodded. “He is undamaged as far as we can tell. She wishes to . . . talk.”

“What the fuck does she want NOW?” Duo said viciously while at the same time entertaining thoughts of slowly throttling the woman to death.

“You could go with Heero to find out,” Quatre said pointedly, rising to his feet.

Had Quatre always been such a smart-ass? Duo grunted, then turned on his heel to follow the Erus. Quatre quickly caught up with them and fell into step beside Duo, the two shifters, as usual, bringing up the rear. Duo took the opportunity to stare blatantly at Heero’s ass.

The vampire had somehow managed to pour himself into yet another pair of straight-legged black pants, and, amazingly enough, they weren't leather. Une opened the door leading to the main room, and Heero turned around to address the others before he followed her inside. The pants, Duo noted, rested low on his hips, the front slit open with only a deep, blood red thread lacing them loosely together. Very loosely, he thought with a fair measure of appreciation. His black shirt was webbed, baring more skin than it covered. Long sleeves draped down over his hands, the cuffs flared and wide.

Heero held out his hand to Duo, something black coiled in his palm. Quirking an eyebrow at him, Duo waited for an explanation.

The vampire picked the item up, uncoiling it. An intricately woven chain dangled from his fingers. “Nichol arrived sometime last night. He is a . . . .” Heero paused, searching for a word, “representative of the Assembly.”

“Assembly meaning that crew you mentioned before,” Duo stated.

Heero nodded.

“So what’s that got to do with it?”

“It marks you as one of us,” Quatre said. “If not in form, then in mindset.”

That sounded rather ominous.

Duo took the choker from Heero’s hand, looking critically at it. The black threads of metal twisted in upon one another in a dizzying pattern, reminding him of the Celtic knots he’d seen in Mariemeia’s apartment. A single coil of silver trailed through the black, framing a teardrop stone woven amongst the strands in the very center. Duo tipped it to the side, watching it catch in the dim light. Black diamond and something the color of fresh blood were melded impossibly close together, spiraling in an endless helix to create the solid stone. It was beautiful.

“The Assembly wishes proof that you are no threat to us,” Heero said, retrieving the chain. “Nichol was sent here to see that proof.”

“It doesn’t just mark me as one of you,” Duo said, fixing Heero with a heated glare, “it marks me as yours, doesn’t it?”

The vampire regarded the choker quietly. “It does.”

“And this will get them off both of our backs?”

Another nod.

There was more to this than Heero was telling him. Not that Duo found that particularly surprising. Placing that little piece of jewelry around his neck should have been nothing more than just a ruse to placate some collection of overly nosy busybody monsters in another country. But for some reason, Duo stared at the black and silver threads, debating whether or not simply donning it would alter his life forever.

As if his life could be more radically altered than it already had been.

Duo felt the eyes of Quatre and the two shifters like a tangible force at his back, but he forced them to the back his mind and concentrated only on Heero. The vampire was watching him with that familiar burning gaze, something like hope and anticipation swimming in the blue depths.

This was a vampire, a supernatural force to be reckoned with; a killer beyond anything humans could ever aspire to. This was his lover.

Resolute, Duo nodded. “Put it on.”

Heero stepped forward, bringing his arms around Duo and leaning over his shoulder to clasp the choker around his neck. It fastened with a quiet click at the same moment as the vampire’s lips touched his.

Amazingly soft and gentle, Heero kissed him, and it was anything but chaste. Sealing his lips over Duo’s, Heero invaded his mouth, tasting every corner. His tongue stroked along Duo’s, bringing heat and fire running through the braided man. Duo couldn’t stop the moan that echoed deep in his throat as he tangled his hand in Heero’s shirt, balling the webbing in his fist.

The presence that always lingered in the back of Duo’s mind surged to the forefront, accompanied by the feather-light brush of the connection he seemed to share with Wufei and Trowa. Only this time, the ice-fire touch of Heero came with it, along with something strange but familiar. Something warm and sexual, something purely Quatre.

But the world didn’t shatter, the ground didn’t shake beneath his feet. It was almost disappointing.

Duo blinked, clearing his suddenly blurry eyes. Maybe it was a good thing that the earth hadn’t opened up under him.

“Mine and yours, yours and mine,” Heero said softly, pulling away from him.

Reaching up hesitantly, Duo fingered the stone that rested in the center of his throat. He glanced back at the other three, surprised to notice happiness and . . . approval in their eyes.

“Let’s go meet the peanut gallery,” Duo said, letting his hand drop from his neck.

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

Catherine looked . . . normal. She was dressed in a short blue skirt, a simple tee and had her hair pulled back into a complicated twist. The two shifters that always seemed to accompany her were also dressed in street clothes, the younger in jeans and a shirt, the older in slacks and a men’s semi-casual shirt. The three stood just inside the entryway coming from the main part of Bliss.

Treize, looking tired but otherwise fine, sat on the couch facing them. His clothes were slightly rumpled, which made Duo frown. Treize was usually perfection in a bottle. He stayed quiet though, as Heero had ‘advised’ him to do. He was to follow the Erus’ lead, and not stomp ahead on his own. That had worked really well in the encounter with Odin.

Turning his gaze to the only new face in the room, Duo assumed it must be Nichol. He sat calmly in a plush chair, his back ramrod straight and his light brown hair neatly cropped. Old military. When Heero entered, he nodded curtly, his gaze darting from vampire to Duo. Recognition flared in his brown eyes.

“Hello again, Heero,” he said smoothly, “it’s been quite a long time.”

Everyone seemed to be saying it had been a while since they’d seen Heero. Must be a trend.

“Nichol,” the vampire replied in greeting, slipping gracefully into one of the red chairs. “I assume you’re here on business of the Assembly.”

That was Heero, cut right to the chase. Duo took his place beside the Erus, while Quatre stood a little to the left and behind the chair. Trowa and Wufei, as usual, sank to the floor on either side of Heero’s legs.

“If you’ll excuse me a moment,” he continued, pausing for a moment to acknowledge Nichol’s nod. Turning to Catherine, he said, “And what brings you here again?”

“I wish to speak with you privately,” the woman answered shortly.

“No business is private from the Assembly,” Heero countered.

Catherine looked indecisive, then firmed her shoulders. “No, it isn’t. Yet I will speak with only you.”

Even though Catherine and her wolves had the advantage of height and Heero was forced to look up at them, it did nothing to diminish the aura of authority that the vampire exuded. If anything, the trio looked almost ridiculous standing there while Heero reclined comfortably in a chair. It gave them an air of triviality.

“Very well,” Heero agreed, dismissing her and turning his attention back to Nichol. “And what matter brings the Assembly to me?”

“It has been brought to the attention of the Assembly that a person of moderate interest has recently come under your power. A human known as Duo Maxwell now serves you.”

Duo almost choked on that.

“He does,” Heero confirmed. “And what of him?”

“He has been slated for execution by the Assembly.”

Duo felt his face go carefully blank, devoid of emotion. Inside, he was seething. Execution, huh? Wonder how much the Assembly would appreciate their little messenger boy being sent home in a Ziploc baggie.

“The human is mine, impervious to such edicts,” Heero stated simply, as if it wasn’t Duo they were discussing, but an inanimate object.

“It had been passed before the human committed himself to you.”

“Regardless,” Heero replied, sitting very still, “he is mine. The edict is nullified, unless I wish him killed.”

A smile quirked at the corners of Nichol’s mouth. “I doubt you will do so.”

“Perceptive of you,” Heero agreed.

“There are some who doubt the strength of your bond.”

Duo was starting to feel almost dizzy, watching the conversation bounce back and forth between the two.

“There are some who covet that bond.”


A genuine smile covered Nichol’s face. “And there are still others who would see that bond broken.”

Heero’s eyes grew dark. Duo could have reached out and touched the menace that started to roll out from the vampire like a desert wind. “I pity those that would dare to try.”

“Then there are many who deserve your pity.”

Heero remained quiet, silently agreeing with Nichol’s statement.

“The Assembly wants proof, Heero,” Nichol said finally.

“And they send you here to witness this proof.”

Another curt nod. “They want him marked.”

Duo didn’t have to see Heero’s smile to know it was there. “He is marked.”

Nichol looked taken aback. He quickly covered his surprise, saying, “None of the old ones felt you mark him.”

“I am one of the old ones,” Heero said simply. Duo felt the weight of his voice fall over him, the pressure of it dulling his hearing momentarily.

“True,” Nichol said, accepting the vampire’s small display of power.

Jesus, you’d think that it’d be proof enough that Duo was sitting here putting up with all this arcane vampire shit.

“Show me the mark,” Nichol said.

This guy comes halfway around the world to see a little bite mark? Oh, hell, did vampires ever have time to waste!

The shifters at Heero’s feet moved, slipping to sit on either side of the back of Heero’s chair. That must be Duo’s cue.

Settling on the floor in front of Heero, but facing Nichol, Duo obediently tipped his head to the side and turned as the vampire slipped the choker up, baring the shiny scar at his neck.

Brushing his hand over the soft skin, Heero’s voice echoed in Duo’s mind, /Release some of your power, Duo. Show him the marks./

Confused, Duo closed his eyes. The marks? What was Heero talking about? Then, with a mind of its own, the energy coiled inside Duo rose up like a great beast waking itself from a long slumber. It curled and twisted within him, reaching out towards the four beings gathered behind him. It stretched and wound between them, touching both vampires and shifters in turn.

As quickly as it had come, it folded back in upon itself, lingering on the cool flames of Heero’s touch. And then it quieted, lying just below the surface and waiting for Duo to call it forward once more.

Duo swayed, suddenly very happy that he was sitting on the floor. That must be what Heero had meant by the marks. He remembered doing that same thing before, when he was lost in the rage caused by Sally and her games.

The question was, who had marked whom?

Across from them, Duo heard Nichol suck in a sharp breath. Heero slipped the choker back down, leaving his hand resting on Duo’s neck, a sardonic smile gracing his lips.

“Will this proof satisfy them?” Heero asked.

Nichol shook his head. “If it doesn’t . . . nothing will. You needn’t have gone that far, Heero.”

“I want the Assembly to leave us be,” Heero replied. “Go back. Tell your masters that Duo Maxwell is no threat to us or them. Leave him alone.”

“Very well.” Nichol stood in one fluid motion, then turned to Heero with a calculating eye. “Truth be told, I agree with the old ones. Duo Maxwell should die. That much power in one human is dangerous to us all. And you should not be allowed to run free as you do.”

“You are entitled to an opinion,” Heero said coldly. “I think you’re finished here.”

“Yes . . . yes, I am,” Nichol said, “I’ve seen all I need to see.”

“Hope that we never cross paths again, Nichol.”

Nichol smiled indulgently. “I sincerely hope we never do. Watch yourself with that one, Heero. I’m not entirely sure he is human.”

“Goodbye, Nichol,” was all Heero said in reply.

Finally accepting his crisp dismissal, Nichol nodded to the room, then walked towards the exit. Catherine and her wolves, forgotten in the exchange, parted to let him pass. The door clicked shut with a note of finality.

“Now,” Heero said, turning to Catherine, “what do you want?”

Duo turned, focusing his gaze squarely on the Tamer and the two shifters with her. If Heero thought for one second that he was going to be quiet during this little conversation, the vampire was in for a nasty surprise.

“Just what the hell happened to you?” Duo demanded.

Catherine actually smiled. “A very good thing, Duo, depending on your point of view. I’m wondering what happened to you.”

“I think my story’s a lot less interesting compared to yours,” he snorted.

Heero gave Duo a wry look. “You couldn’t be quiet a moment longer, could you?”

“Not one more fucking second.”

“I knew it was too good to last,” Wufei mumbled.

“Odin wants to see you,” Catherine said abruptly, steering all attention back to her.

“What?” Duo said, blinking. That was a little unexpected.

“You’re very slow these days, Heero,” she continued, a mocking tone in her voice. “Sally has been working towards Odin’s goals for a long time. Associating with so many humans is dulling your senses.”

Heero merely fixed a chilling glare on the woman. “You’re at a very large disadvantage right now, Catherine.”

“Not really. You see, he has Dorothy. Treize here was returned to provide confirmation of my story,” she said, turning to Treize, “weren’t you?”

Treize looked righteously disgusted. “I fear it’s the truth, Erus.”

“He’ll be heading back with me, too.” Catherine’s eyes were sparkling like a child’s on Christmas morning.

“How the hell do you figure we’ll let you waltz out of here with him again?” Duo ground out, rising to his feet.

“Because if I don’t return with him in the next hour, Dorothy dies. And don’t get any ideas about just killing me here. That won’t do you any good.”

“It’ll make me feel a hell of a lot better,” Duo said.

“Whatever,” Catherine replied with a wave of her hand.

“What makes Odin so certain I will agree to meet with him?” Heero asked. “Dorothy might not mean that much to me.”

“Oh, Odin thinks she does. Consequently,” she added with a smirk, “so do I. You’re such a bleeding heart, Heero. Always looking out for your people.”

Was the woman on crack!? Heero was as far from being a bleeding heart as Bambi was from being a serial murderer.

“You don’t have much choice, Heero. Bring Duo and meet with Odin tonight.”

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” Heero asked. “Odin is too intelligent to believe I’d agree to meet him with only Duo.”

“Odin is many things, but he’s not stupid,” Catherine said. “Bring your werepanthers and your second. Treize goes with me. Aside from that, choose three more of your people. That’s it.”

Heero seemed to consider this. “I will meet him. But in a place of my choosing.”

Catherine nodded, expecting this.

“Tell Odin that I will contact Sally in one hour to tell her where we will meet.”

“You can simply tell me now. I play messenger girl very well,” Catherine ventured.

“No. One hour.”


“And you will leave Walker with me.”

Catherine’s eyes flashed. “I don’t think so, Heero.”

“You’re right, Catherine, you DON’T think,” Duo put in. “If you take Treize back with you to the polite psycho, then one of your wolves stays with us.”

“Call it a gesture of good faith on your part,” Quatre added.

“No deal,” Catherine said.

“Then kill Dorothy and tell Odin to stop bothering me with his childish games.”


“You can’t be serious, Heero. You would abandon the lamia for this . . . this human?” Catherine spat.

“Oh, I am serious,” Heero said, rising to his feet in one fluid motion. He took a step towards Catherine threateningly. “Odin is a fool to think that one lamia is worth all our lives. Agree to my terms or return and tell him of your failure.”

Ouch. Catherine visibly winced at that prospect. “Take Otto.”

“Walker, or fail Odin,” Quatre said, his tone cold and dispassionate.

“Agreed,” Catherine said after a short pause, “but you won’t be so confidant when your human fawns at Odin’s feet while he drains the life from your worthless carcass, Heero Yuy!!” she screeched. “Give me Treize!”

Treize glanced at Heero, then rose smoothly to his feet. He looked at Catherine with obvious distaste. The younger of the wolves, Walker, moved to the side as the Tamer turned and stomped out of the room. Treize sighed comically loud, then trudged after her, Otto following close on his heels.

“Was that a good idea?” Duo asked no one in particular.

“Odin won’t harm them until we arrive,” Heero said. “He wouldn’t waste the chance to kill me.”

“That’s really comforting, Heero. Really fucking comforting.”

on to part 18

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