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, lime, violence, violence, violence (got that?), blood, severe gore, generally icky.
Spoilers: Not a one.

Note: Almost there, only two more chapters to go. This one is amazingly violent *points at warnings* and bloody and gory and you get the idea.

Dance with the Demons: Darkest Days
Part Eighteen
by Blue Soaring

“I want Iria in on it,” Duo said, stalking down the hallway to Heero’s rooms. He wasn’t at all pleased with the vampire. Walking into a blatant trap was not high on his list of ways to stay alive. It actually wasn’t there at all. “If we’re doing this, and I can’t believe we are, I want another shooter with me.”

“She is guarding Lucrezia,” Heero said.

“I don’t care if she’s guarding the Pope,” Duo snapped, “I want her at my back.”

“That’s not necessary,” Heero began.

“The FUCK it’s not!” Duo exploded. “Look, Heero, you’ve got us waltzing in there at a severe disadvantage. If Odin agreed to let you bring six people besides the two of us, you can bet he’s going to have twice that many.” It always worked that way when you were dealing with the bad guys. They never played fair.

Heero’s eyes hardened, but he nodded. Duo stormed off towards Heero’s desk once they reached his room and quickly dialed the number Iria had given him. The phone rang several times, but no one answered. Shit. He carefully dialed again, silently praying he hit a wrong number the first time. Still no answer.

“Jesus, there’s no answer,” Duo said, setting the receiver back on its cradle.

Heero looked at Duo for a moment, then turned back to Quatre. “Send Hilde and Zechs to their hotel,” he said. “Wufei, find Relena, Une and Meiser.”

Duo frowned at the last, unfamiliar name. He didn’t like the idea of having someone he didn’t know at his back. Not that he knew Relena or Une that well, but there was a difference. A very small one. Hell, he was paranoid. Who wouldn’t be?

“Trowa, open the weapons cache for Duo. He’ll want to be armed,” Heero said.

Duo’s ears fairly twitched. “You’ve got weapons in storage?

Heero’s eyes flickered over to Duo briefly and he gave a small nod.

“Maybe this isn’t a total lost cause after all,” the braided man murmured.

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

Forty minutes later, Duo felt like he was literally bristling weapons. The Glock was tucked in its second home, snug in Duo’s shoulder holster. The twin blades were strapped to his wrists, hidden under the long, wide sleeves of a black coat. The coat itself hung to the middle of Duo’s calves, concealing the ambidextrous hip-draw holster that both his own Browning and a nice, shiny new Ruger .40 Auto that he’d borrowed from Heero’s stash rested in. Why, exactly, a bunch of shapeshifters and vampires would need a weapons cache was beyond Duo. Far be it for him to complain, though.

The Derringer Iria had forced on him was tucked safely and definitely uncomfortably away in Duo’s left boot, while a heavier blade rested in the other boot. Two extra magazines, one for the Glock, the other for the Browning; rested in his coat pockets.

The word ‘overkill’ never entered Duo’s mind once.

Heero had presented Duo with yet another outfit, and the braided man had asked the vampire if he had a clothing fetish to go along with all the others. A tight-fitting, low cut shirt left Duo’s neck bare for the choker Heero had given him to be seen. His own cross dangled freely outside the cloth. The sleeves were short, allowing the sheaths to fit comfortably under the coat. Black pants made of a very heavy, stretchy material were molded to Duo’s thighs, falling looser near the bottom and covering the top halves his usual boots.

Duo Maxwell, wet dream for those with a death wish.

He drove the Jeep that Heero had conjured up out of thin air, while the vampire himself sat in the passenger seat, cobalt eyes burning with icy rage. A week ago, Duo would have said he was expressionless, but now he recognized the anger that boiled restlessly under the surface. Heero was not happy with Odin. Duo almost found himself pitying him. Almost.

Heero was dressed in a high-collared sleeveless shirt, colored a rich midnight blue. Black leather pants encased his legs, showing the contours of his body. Heavy boots and an odd, intricately curling armlet that glinted silver in the moonlight snaked up his left arm to complete the outfit.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, would be the wet dream of the aforementioned wet dream.

Trowa and Wufei had hauled out yet another leather pants and collar ensemble, dressing in black with solid, blood red accents. Quatre had poured himself into a pair of dark pants, donning a matching sleeveless shirt that he left open. A black and red chain wound itself around his neck. With a start, Duo realized that the chain Quatre wore was a mimic of the stone that rested just above the hollow of his own throat.

Relena and Une were following in another car. Both had opted to wear the skintight bodysuits that served as the uniform for Devil’s Bliss. Meiser, the new guy with the crew cut was handsome in a boy-next-door kind of way. He wore dark, snakeskin pants and an open black shirt that had large silver clips on either side to fasten it. Walker had just plodded along with them, looking bored.

“Why, exactly, are we meeting them at a graveyard?” Duo asked, his gaze flicking from road to rearview mirror.

“It’s neutral ground,” Quatre said from the back, idly running his fingers over the collar at Trowa’s throat. The vampire had a thing for casual touching.

“How is a graveyard neutral?” It was morbid, that’s what it was. And suggestive. And clichéd. It had to be the biggest damn cliché in the world. A bunch of vampires and co. were heading to a graveyard to try and kill each other. Huge cliché.

“It always has been,” Heero said, turning his eyes to Duo.

Duo felt the heat of his gaze burn along his skin. Heero was swimming in power tonight. It was a wonder that the air didn’t shimmer around him.

“How is this gonna work? We have a plan, right?” Duo began tapping the wheel with his fingertip.

“No,” the Erus answered.

“Oh, Christ, we don’t have a plan. Heero, are you insane?” Duo hissed.

“We kill Odin and keep as many of our people alive as possible.”

Oh, great. Now they were ‘our’ people. “Killing Odin comes first,” Duo said, making it a statement.

Heero nodded.

“I want my cats in one piece, Heero,” Duo said, his voice low. “You let Wufei or Trowa get killed, and the shit will hit the fan.”

The vampire went very still. “You believe I would abandon them?” His voice was cold.

“Sorry,” Duo mumbled. The werepanthers were as important to Heero as they were to him.

It wasn’t that Duo was indifferent about what happened to Relena and the others. It’d be bad if something happened to them. Very not nice. But he’d be dammed if he let Wufei or Trowa go down saving one of them. He wasn’t worried as much about Quatre. The blonde vampire could hold his own. Then again, so could the shifters. Maybe he was just feeling protective.

“How much does Dorothy mean to you, Heero?” Duo asked quietly.

“We are going to rescue her,” Heero said.

“No, we’re going to kill Odin.”

“We are,” the vampire conceded.

“So how much does she mean?”

“Not enough that I will let you die for her.”

“She’s been with you for longer than I have,” Duo said.

Heero turned to him, slanting his body in the passenger seat. “You will not die for her,” his tone was firm. “This has very little to do with Dorothy. It’s Odin’s way of bringing you within his reach.”

“And it’s your way of getting him close enough for you to kill.”

Heero gave him a small nod, cobalt eyes never leaving Duo’s face.

“I hope it works,” Duo said, staring out at the night.

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

Trudging through the rows and rows of tombstones, Duo glanced up at the starless sky. It was a warm night, a slight breeze ruffling the hair that had worked loose from his braid. Heero loomed like a hot fire to his right. Quatre walked slightly ahead and to his left while Wufei, Trowa and the others fanned out behind them.

Grave markers reached up from the ground like old broken bones. Ancient roots of the trees that reared above the stone crypts crisscrossed the earth. The monsters surrounding Duo glided over the uncertain terrain with ease. He followed their steps, managing to not fall flat on his face. He almost wished Une or Meiser would go head first on the ground. Okay, he was bitter. So what?

Quatre led them to a clear area, open on two sides and backed up against a sheer cliff face. The final edge was lined with a thicket of trees. Duo squinted and looked around, gauging distances and space. The cliff was a double-edged sword. It could possibly keep the bad guys from sneaking up behind them or provide them with a way to drop right down on their heads. Duo tipped his head back and followed the line of rock. Nothing was getting up that quickly, at least not from this side.

“That’s why you didn’t want to send the site along with Catherine,” Duo said, glancing over at Heero and jerking his head towards the rock wall. “You wanted the cliff clear for a back guard.”

The vampire joined him, following his gaze. He nodded. “There is a small risk of being penned in.”

“Better a wall of stone at your back than an enemy,” Duo replied. Last time he checked, stone walls didn’t try to rip your heart out.

“Odin will arrive soon,” Heero said.

“How does this work? Do we start shooting right away or sit down and have a cup of tea first?”

“There are games to be played first,” the vampire said, turning to face Duo and running his fingers along the column of his neck, stopping at the choker.

“What kinda games?” Even that small touch had sent power singing along Duo’s nerves. Though part of the thrill had nothing to do with power, only desire.

“If it were Sally we were facing, I would know. Odin . . . is something entirely different. He could wish to bargain or attempt to steal you from me.”

Duo frowned. He didn’t like how Heero was phrasing that.

“He views you as a possession, Duo. The entire Assembly does. I don’t. I’m trying to tell you what to expect. Getting angry at me is useless,” Heero said, withdrawing his hand.

Duo almost told Heero that he didn’t have to stop touching him. He stopped himself short of opening his mouth. Duo enjoyed the feel of the vampire’s hands on him too much. It probably shouldn’t have bothered him, but it did.

“Just because I might not like it doesn’t mean I’m angry,” Duo snapped.

Heero gave him a mild look.

“Oh, shut up.” Never mind the fact that the vampire didn’t say anything, Duo wanted to tell him to shut up.

“He’ll most likely try to keep you for himself. The energy you have is more powerful when you use it. Failing that, he’ll take it from you and kill you.”

“How nice,” Duo said, angrily recalling what it had felt like the last time Odin got a hold of him. “What about you? And the others?”

“He will try to kill us,” Heero said as casually as you’d say good morning.

“Homicidal little bastard, isn’t he?”

“Suicidal,” Heero corrected.

Duo grinned. “Planning on ripping his head right off his shoulders, aren’t you?”

Heero’s eyes grew darker, the cobalt flames heating until Duo felt it on his skin like the blazing sun. “I plan on much more than that.”

“Heero,” Trowa said, walking towards them. “Odin and the others are arriving.”

Show time. Whoo hoo.

Odin came first, flanked by two large werewolves and Sally. Couldn’t be Catherine’s wolves, Walker was standing between Une and Relena. Rashid and Catherine came next, four men, one of them Duo recognized as Otto, with them. Treize brought up the rear, Dorothy standing beside him and two men Duo decided looked petty and annoying on either side of them. Twelve. They were outnumbered, but not by much. Something wasn’t quite right.

/Come with me,/ Heero’s voice echoed in Duo’s mind.

Seemingly on cue, everyone formed up around them, waiting for Odin to come close enough. Duo took his place beside Heero. The fireworks were going to start soon and he had a ringside seat. Lucky him.

“Return Dorothy,” Heero said bluntly.

Wow. That was a first; Heero wasn’t spending any time beating around the bush.

“Patience, little Heero,” Odin said. “All in good time.”

Oh, great. They were back to that again.

“We are quite well aware that this is not about your lamia,” Odin continued.

“Regardless what it is truly about, return her to me.”

“No, I do not think so.” Odin raised his hand, his forefinger extended up into the air.

The man standing beside Dorothy, the one with the sickly blond hair and weird hairband, drew back a fist and punched her solidly in the midsection. Dorothy bent over a little, then straightened. She stared at Hairband Boy. He punched her again, this time knocking her to one knee. Dorothy stayed down a moment longer, then got back to her feet.

“What the hell is that supposed to prove?” Duo demanded. He’d had it with weird vampire shit.

“It gladdens me,” Odin said, lowering his hand and turning his full attention to Duo, “that Heero does not have complete control over you yet.”

“You need to find a new hobby, Odin,” Duo said. “This one is going to get you killed.”

“If you want your lamia and Treize back, give Duo to me,” Odin said.

“No,” Heero said calmly. “Duo is given to no one.”

“Not even to you, little Heero?”

“Your games are pointless now, Odin. Duo will never answer to you. His power will never be yours. Crawl back to your master and play with his toys,” Heero replied.

Cold anger flashed in Odin’s dirty gray eyes. “I answer to no one.”

“Then I was wrong,” Heero conceded. “You’re more of a fool than I thought.”

“Stupid child!” Odin shouted, clenching his fists at his sides. “Do you forget I was your master once? Do you forget all I taught you?”

Duo felt the backlash of power, not aimed at himself but at Heero. A thin trail of blood seeped from a deep gash that had appeared on the vampire’s cheek.

Ignoring the wound, Heero said, “You are not my master any longer, and I am not a child. Time has snuck up on you, old man.”

Odin reined in his anger, shaking with the effort. “You will die, little Heero. You will die by your new lover’s hand.”

“Everything dies,” Heero responded. “But I will not die today.”

“Such confidence!”

Duo watched the two vampires converse, amazed at the idiocy of it all. He could draw a gun now and kill Odin. They could pick up their people and go home. His hand strayed towards his hip.

Something cold flowed through Duo, something that made his hand freeze and pulse quicken from fear. It was Odin’s touch. Immediately, Duo reached for his power, bringing it boiling to the surface before Odin could trap it, keeping it out of his reach. He felt the cold retreat, fading away into nothing but a bad memory.

“Not again,” Duo said, blinking at Odin through the blackness covering his eyes. “Get out of my head, you bastard.”

“The puppet has teeth,” Odin said, his gaze focused on Heero. “He will kill you one day, little Heero.”

“He may kill me one day, but he’ll kill you today, Odin. Don’t underestimate him.”

“He is to me as a newborn kitten to a lion.”

Odin was the poster boy for annoying people; he had to be. Duo let go of his barriers, let his power flow out and strike Odin head on. The vampire’s eyes widened.

“This kitten has claws,” Duo said, a feeling of elation washing over him as he felt Odin’s life drain away. The thought of enjoying killing him this much made him hesitate, made him lose his focus long enough for Odin to break away and take a stumbling step backwards.

Duo fell back, dizzy for a split second. Shit. That couldn’t be good. Odin was staring at him, cold hate burning in his eyes.

“I will enjoy breaking you, boy,” Odin spat. “I will enjoy making you kill your lover.”

“Oh, shut up!” Duo snapped. “Jesus, don’t you ever shut up!?” So he was a little pissed. Understandable, right?

“Enough, Duo,” Heero said, his eyes glowing. “You can’t own him, Odin,” the vampire growled, turning to him. “No one can.”

Well, that was nice to know. Which meant, of course, that Odin was going to kill him. Try and kill him, anyway. That was better than being owned by him. Anything was better than that.

“Alex, kill the lamia,” Odin said coldly.

Hairband Boy, Alex, grinned, backhanding Dorothy. Her lip split and blood glistened against her skin. His partner, still not named, mirrored Alex’s grin. His teeth shone brilliantly white compared to the dark chocolate tone of his skin.

That wasn’t supposed to happen. Duo was almost sure it wasn’t supposed to happen quite like that.

“If you kill her,” Heero said, “Catherine’s wolf dies.”

“What does it matter to me?” Odin asked. “He is nothing.”

“No!” Catherine said, lunging forward. “Walker is mine,” she hissed at Odin.

Dorothy grunted and fell to her knees as Alex drew back his fist and punched her in the stomach. Or she would have, if he hadn’t had a death grip on her throat. She grasped his wrist, fingernails digging into his skin. He didn’t seem to notice.

The other man beside Treize blocked him from aiding Dorothy. Duo narrowed his eyes. Treize should have been able to tear that idiot in two bloody pieces.

“What have you done to them?” Heero asked.

“I? I have done nothing to them,” Odin said, all smiles again.

“That’s it, enough is fucking enough, already,” Duo said. “I’m sick of all this vampire shit. You want to kill me? Fine.” He had both the Glock and the new Ruger in his hands, both pointed at the ground.

Odin stared at him, shock evident on his face. And that was what Duo had hoped for. He raised his arm, quickly sighting down the barrel and pulling the trigger.

Odin snarled, dropping low and swiftly moving away. The man holding Treize jerked, blood spraying from his shoulder. Treize’s elbow snapped up, striking the man full in the face. The man stumbled back but kept his feet. Lunging towards Dorothy, Treize caught her around the waist, tumbling both them and Alex to the ground.

Duo focused on Odin, quickly firing two more shots. One grazed his face while the other hit him solidly in the collarbone. Blood and thicker things flew from the wound, splattering Odin’s face in a gory mask. Rashid launched himself at Duo, slamming into him and knocking him to the ground.

Instantly, Wufei was above them, wrapping his arms around the much larger man and roughly hauling him back. An inhuman roar burst from the shifter’s throat as he flung Rashid away. The big man quickly got to his feet, but Wufei had already taken a flying leap into the air, a flash of light and heat emanating from him. When he landed again, he had shifted, swinging a huge, clawed paw at Rashid’s face.

Duo scooted back, trying to get his breath. He rolled to his feet. Both guns were somehow still in his hands. Good. Peachy. Now he needed something to kill. He cast about, trying to pinpoint Odin. He had a brief flash of Heero snarling at Odin, his hand wrapped around Odin’s throat and tearing through flesh like paper.

Bursts of energy assaulted Duo as the shifters around him changed form. He faltered, drowning in power. Someone was beside him, and he whirled around, gun pointed. Quatre stared back at him, unflinching. Duo slowly eased his finger off the trigger.

The blonde unexpectedly shoved Duo aside, aiming a savage kick at the head of a large gray wolf that was in mid-jump. The animal dropped to the ground, roughly shaking its head. It lunged forward again, clawing at Quatre’s face. The vampire raised his arms, blocking with one and latching onto a leg with the other. He twisted brutally, and Duo heard the wet pop of a joint breaking.

Duo turned, searching for Heero and Odin once more. They were close by now, only ten feet or so away. Cold tendrils of Odin’s power brushed by the edges of his mind. The larger vampire’s throat was torn and bleeding. Heero’s arm was dark red to the elbow. Odin stood a few feet away from him, struggling to breathe even as Heero slowly advanced. Heero’s energy flared, exploding over Duo and almost knocking him to his knees. Odin winced, stumbling backwards. Another surge of power quickly followed, forcing Odin to the ground. Heero bent, balanced on the balls of his feet. He was speaking quickly, quietly. Odin’s eyes rolled up, fear shining like a beacon in his eyes. He was a far cry from the overconfident prick he’d shown himself to be.

Heero reached out painfully slow. Odin’s eyes narrowed. Duo felt the cold energy grow. He opened his mouth to warn Heero, taking a few running steps forward and gathering up his own power to help stop Odin. Heero lashed out, lightening quick, and plunged his hands into Odin’s chest. The larger vamp screamed. Heero’s face remained impassive. The sick, wet tear of flesh reached Duo’s ears. He watched in morbid fascination as Heero ripped Odin’s chest inside out.

Something screamed, loud and pitiful. Duo jerked to the side, startled, and caught sight of Catherine. She had a long whip in her hands, he saw, before she hauled her arm back and let fly, the black length glinting oddly. Duo cursed and flung himself aside, dropping to the ground with a jarring thud. He aimed and fired, hoping that he hit his mark. A wordless scream echoed in his ears for his trouble. Then the whip was back, snapping across Duo’s cheek. Searing pain flared across his face and he felt metal teeth bite into his skin. He heard the sharp crack again. He automatically raised his arm to protect his eyes. More pain burst in a hot line along his leg as the whip tore ruthlessly through his clothes. Blinking through the hurt, he scrambled backwards, catching sight of Catherine and firing three quick shots before she could snap the whip back again.

Blood blossomed on her chest. Somehow, she snapped the whip again. Duo raised his arm, feeling the leather wrap around his forearm and the metal teeth biting into the material of his coat. She wrenched the whip back, making the teeth dig deeper. The leather sheaths underneath stopped some of them from tearing his skin. He jerked his arm up, feeling the length go slack as Catherine’s hands grew too weak to hold it. Rising to his feet, Duo watched her fall to her knees.

She fell forward slowly, eyes blazing with hate and loathing. Holding herself up with one arm, Catherine fixed her gaze on Duo. Another wolf barreled into him from the side. The Ruger flew from his hand. Its jaws fastened on his arm, biting down hard as it shook its head savagely from side to side. Duo fell back, letting the wolf ride him to the ground. Reaching up with his other arm, he turned the gun still clutched in his hand and fired point blank into the wolf’s head. He closed his eyes, feeling a rain of hot blood spatter his face. Kicking and shoving, he got the wolf’s body off of him and swiped a hand across his face. His arm throbbed painfully. Looking down, he saw a bloody mess, the sleeve of his coat gone but the sheath with the knife still in it holding on by a strap.

Then Catherine was looming above him, a maniac grin on her face. A long blade clutched in her hands, she started the downward stroke, aiming for Duo’s heart. He wouldn’t be able to get the gun up in time. He would have to dodge, but there wasn’t enough time for that, either. Catherine’s body jerked, confusion crossing her face. She opened her mouth to scream, but a gurgling rush of blood spilled forth instead. Seizing the opportunity, Duo fired into her face, watching it disappear in a red explosion. He lurched to his feet and came face to face with Heero.

The vampire’s hand was buried in Catherine’s back passed the wrist. The white of her spine gleamed through the gaping wound. He jerked his arm, flinging the faceless corpse to the ground and giving his arm an extra shake, ridding himself of the bloody chunks clinging to it.

“That’s disgusting,” Duo said, wiping gore from his face. His arm ached and burned. “Odin’s fertilizer?”

“Very much so,” Heero said, turning.

“You always have been very thorough,” Mariemeia said, appearing out of the darkness and stepping over the broken mess that had been Catherine. She stood calmly in front of them, as if they had met on a sunny day at the park.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Duo said, almost too tired to be surprised.

“Duo,” Mariemeia chided gently, “hush.”

Hush. Hush. HUSH!?! She wanted him to hush, did she? He was hurting in more places than he could name, bleeding all over himself, and she wanted him to hush!?

“I should thank you for killing Odin,” she said, smiling. “He was becoming a problem.”

“Yeah, for you and me both,” Duo said. He kept the Glock in his good hand, not feeling at all comfortable putting it up. He risked a glance around, trying to take stock of the situation. He trusted Heero to watch his back.

Meiser and Relena were down, as was Trowa. Quatre bent over the green-eyed shifter, supporting his head. He looked pale, but not in immediate danger. Duo couldn’t tell what condition Meiser and Relena were in. Treize and Dorothy were nowhere to be seen. Wufei was also out of sight. Most of the other side seemed to be down, bleeding or dead.

“That leaves only one thing to take care of,” Mariemeia said.

Duo tightened his grip on the Glock, tensing. Beside him, he felt Heero quietly shift his weight forward. “And that would be?”

“Do not be so modest, Duo. You know exactly what I want. I told you days ago.” She was still smiling. Duo was annoyed.

“You wanted me dead,” he said.

“You’re correct in using the past tense, Duo. I no longer want you to die. That was merely an acceptable option before.”

“Before what?”

“Before I realized the true extent of your ability. Odin could never hope to own you, Duo. He was a fool.”

A very dead fool. Agreeing with her did nothing to change the fact that he wanted Mariemeia to go away. Far, far away. He should kill her. Now.

“A useful fool, but a fool nonetheless. He took liberties and abused his power, the power I gave him.” Mariemeia’s eyes had acquired a strange glint as she spoke.

This was also not good. There wasn’t a tiny bit of this that was good. Duo kept telling himself over and over again to raise the gun and kill her. He’d already tried. His arm refused to cooperate. Duo glanced at Heero, silently asking the vampire what the hell was going on. Heero didn’t answer. He tried again, both with his voice and his mind. His lips remained still and the vampire didn’t even acknowledge that he had heard Duo’s silent cry.

Duo was not given to panic. In fact, he handled most situations with . . . relative calm. Now, however, seemed like a good time to panic. Genuine, all out panic. Complete with running around in useless little circles while waving his arms madly in the air.

He couldn’t feel Heero. Somewhere along the line, Duo had gotten used to the vampire’s presence. A tiny hint of something in his mind that let him know Heero was there. He hadn’t even noticed it before, simply accepted it with the same attitude that he accepted Wufei’s presence inside his head. Now that it was gone, he damn well noticed.

He didn’t feel relieved. He felt panicky. Well and truly panicky. It wasn’t that he wanted Heero stuck in his head all the time. It wasn’t even the fact that he was only realizing now that Heero had actually constantly been there.

It was the fact that he wasn’t there anymore. Not good. If Heero wasn’t there anymore, it probably wasn’t part of any plan of his.

Of course, it wasn’t helping that now he was really trying to shoot Mariemeia and he couldn’t.

He tried to lift the gun again. Nothing. He tried to twitch a finger. Still nothing. He tried to wiggle his nose. Not a damn thing. Shit.

So much for running around in little panic stricken circles.

Mariemeia was watching him, smiling. Duo attempted to work up a glare and he found himself unable to do even that. Her smile widened. Bitch.

Alright, time to take stock. He could breathe and, obviously, think. As a little plus, he could blink. Good thing, too, because his fucking eyes were drying out. Beyond that, nothing.

“I think,” she said, “it is a good thing that Odin attempted to abuse the power I gave him. I would have never learned that you held such energy and potential inside you, Duo. And now,” she continued, a macabre smile still twisting her features, “I think it is time to see exactly what you are capable of.”


“Leave him be, Mariemeia,” Heero growled, the blue flames of his eyes flashing in the dark. “You will fail the same as Odin.”

“No,” the woman sneered, “I will not fail. Odin was an impatient idiot. I have been preparing for years for this. Duo has been under my spell far longer than he has yours, vampire.”

Uber-bitch didn’t cut it. There wasn’t a word severe enough to describe what she was.

“Do you honestly believe I would watch him and not act?” Mariemeia turned to Duo, taking several steps forward to look directly into his eyes. “Every day, I wove the spell a little tighter, placed another layer upon the last.” Her eyes glittered as she whipped around to shout at Heero, “I could make his heart stop now; he could fall dead at your feet!”

Heero watched her impassively, but Duo saw the flare of fear behind his eyes. The vampire was afraid for Duo’s life. About time he and Heero agreed on something. Duo was petrified. Literally and figuratively.

“Would you like to test me, vampire?” Mariemeia invited, calm once more. “Risk his life and attempt to stop me.”

Duo’s chest tightened, his heart beating loudly in his ears. Something closed around it, like a fist crushing his heart. Breathing was painful; every second, the fist closed tighter. An icy cold feeling spread throughout him, frozen fingers of power twisting in his veins. Oh, this was bad. Very, very bad.

Heero remained impossibly still, no sense of movement or even life in him. His eyes had gone cold and flat.

God damn it. Heero was going to try something. The stupid bastard didn’t have the right to risk it. As fucked up as Duo’s life was, it was HIS, not Heero’s.

Curling up into a little ball seemed cowardly, but Duo was tempted. Except for the fact that the only thing he seemed able to do was breathe and think, with the occasional blink thrown in. The first one was becoming harder and harder and that wasn’t helping the second.

Somehow, blinking just didn’t seem like it would do much good.

on to part 19

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