Chapter 23: Bloodlust
by Casey Valhalla
"It would have been nice if you had at least *mentioned* something about Catalonia," Heero grumbled, drawing up alongside Wufei at the door. "I might not have dishonored myself by accusing her of being a double-agent."
Wufei smirked and finished buttoning his coat. "You don't expect me to apologize, do you?"
The assassin folded his arms and narrowed his eyes, but the posture didn't have the same effect on the black-haired young man as it had when they were children. He settled for glaring, and Wufei chuckled lightly.
"I told you she was a Catalonia, and that wasn't enough to tip you off? Really, my dear foster-brother, you're slipping in your old age."
Heero's eyes darted around the room, skimming over the Prime Operative, who was shuffling through a pile of printouts, and the elf, who was still in his seat, a hand rubbing slowly over his chin in thought. Heero's gaze landed on Duo, who had returned to his position at the window.
"Yes, you definitely distract too easily these days," Wufei commented with a huff.
Heero turned back to him sharply, but thought better of saying anything. The Mandate was turning towards the door.
"Let's get some rest, shall we?"
The assassin nodded and looked back at Duo, sending a soft command through the Bond.
The demon stiffened, then relaxed and turned away from the window, allowing Yoko to jump to the floor and follow at his heels. He didn't look at Heero as he approached, just slung his coat over his shoulder and brushed between Heero and Wufei, heading for the door.
The cry was neither loud nor sharp, but somehow it echoed around the little room like a thunderclap. Heero's head jerked around to see Quatre bent slightly over the table, cradling a gently cupped palm, Trowa hovering at his side instantly. The Minister waved him away. "Just a paper cut, nothing to worry about."
"Paper cut." Wufei echoed lightly, a hiss of breath through his teeth.
Duo was standing still, facing the door, rigid as carven stone, his coat slipping out of his fingers to pool on the floor. He turned slowly, drawing steadily larger gulps of air, and it was the rushed intake of breath that finally drew Heero's attention.
The demon lunged forward, gaining only a few feet before he was caught on either side by Heero and Wufei. Duo was a furiously writhing mass of arms and legs, the two humans struggling to restrain his convulsing body. The demon hissed and snarled, his face contorting into an enraged sneer, arms clawing out at the air towards Quatre. His eyes shone with an unbridled intensity.
They were red.
"Fucking *hells*," Wufei shouted, grappling with Duo's struggling limbs. He braced himself and jerked his head at Trowa. "For the love of Nari, get him out of here!"
Duo found purchase and the floor and started to lever himself forward. But Heero had already altered his position. Using the crook of his right foot, Heero swept the demon's legs out from under him. Duo dropped to the floor on his back with an ungraceful thud. Heero immediately followed, straddling his chest and pinning both arms over his head.
The fall winded Duo. His movements stilled for a few minutes as he gasped for breath. Wufei fell back into a crouch at his side, still ready to dart forwards at a moment's notice.
Heero sucked in a deep breath and kept his muscles taut in case Duo tried to break free. The demon coughed sharply, twice, and let out a strangled whimper. His eyes were squeezed closed, his face in a grimace that might have been pain. "He - Heero."
"Relax," the assassin murmured, and sent a few reassurances through the Bond. This was bad. He'd never seen Duo lose control like this before.
"I smell blood." The demon's voice was breathy, squeaking and straining around the edges. He wriggled slightly in Heero's grasp, but didn't try to break his hold. His eyes cracked open, twin slits of violet, the red glow receding to a ring around his pupils. "Just a taste. I just need a taste. please, Heero."
"Shh." The assassin wrapped one hand around both of Duo's slim wrists, and drew the other down to stroke the demon's fall of chestnut bangs soothingly. "Quatre's a White Mage, you don't want his blood. It'd make you sick."
Duo shut his eyes again, his face scrunching up, his jaw clenching. He shuddered once and his head thrashed from side to side. "Just need a taste," he gasped, choking on a sob. "Just a little, I can't. please."
Wufei sat back on his heels, his brow drawing into a frown. He started to say something, but Heero's face had frozen into a determined mask. The assassin stroked Duo's cheek gently, his eyes fixed on the demon's face. "Shh, I know. It's okay."
"You-" Wufei started, and his jaw fell open. "You're not going to-"
"Anyone who doesn't want to see this should leave the room," Heero announced, loud enough for the statement to reverberate off the stone walls.
Trowa gave the three operatives on the floor a wide berth as he ushered Quatre out of the conference chamber. Wufei remained in place a moment longer, giving Heero a hard, black stare. The assassin finally looked up, his gaze rising to meet Wufei's. Heero's eyes were like steel, hardening before darting away and fixing again on Duo.
The Dragon sighed and stood, collecting Yoko from the chair where she crouched. He followed the others out the door, closing it behind him with a small click.
Wufei met Trowa and Quatre further down the corridor, the pair of them leaning against the wall in the far corner. A glimmer of white light in the Minister's cupped hands signaled a healing spell. As Wufei drew up beside them Quatre dropped his arms to his sides and gave him a demanding blue glare. "What in the Seven Hells was that?"
"You just witnessed a Relic in blood rage," Wufei replied, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "It isn't a common occurrence."
"He's vampiric?" The Minister appeared slightly alarmed, but hid the fact quickly.
"Somewhat. Blood isn't an outright necessity, but they do crave it. Duo's control is generally much better than this, but it's been eighteen months."
"Which is about three times longer than an average Relic can retain that control," Trowa finished. "I've only seen it happen once."
Quatre's eyes narrowed, his gaze jerking from Wufei to the elf and back. "And why did no one see fit to inform me of this?"
Trowa laid a light hand on the blond's shoulder. "As Wufei said, it isn't a common occurrence."
"If I let go, will you lie still?"
Duo nodded, chewing on his lower lip, his face turned to the side away from Heero. The assassin released the demon's arms, still hovering until he was sure Duo was remaining motionless, and sat back on his heels. He unbuttoned the sleeve on his right arm and rolled it up over his elbow, making sure the fabric was secure before drawing a short knife out of his belt. Duo shifted beneath him, choking down another sob, and Heero reached out briefly to smooth the demon's bangs away from his face. "Shh, just a moment. Relax."
The blade cut cleanly through the flesh of Heero's right arm, and Duo's hands immediately began scrabbling at the fringes of the carpet. Heero leaned back over him, supporting himself with his left arm, and held his right arm over Duo's face, letting the first droplets of blood patter against the demon's lips.
Duo's hands darted out to grab the wounded arm and press it against his mouth, sucking deeply at the cut and humming against Heero's skin, the sound dropping into a low, needy moan in his throat. The assassin hissed, the suction on the wound painful, an irritation like a number of needles pricking at it. He clenched his fist around the cool metal of his chainmail glove until the pain abated.
The demon began shifting slightly underneath him. Duo's eyes were still closed, his expression melting into bliss, making small noises of pleasure deep in his throat. Heero sucked in a breath when he realized Duo was wriggling his body against the floor, occasionally arching up slightly off of it, his legs drawing up at the knee and slowly straightening back out again. The movements brushed against the insides of Heero's thighs, making him suck in breath and clench his teeth.
Duo's body continued moving in a slow writhe, and Heero couldn't help but stare down at him, at the creamy cast of his pale skin, the eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks, the soft fall of his hair around his forehead. Watching, transfixed, as the demon pulled away slightly and his red tongue poked out of his mouth to lap gently at the wound-
I can't let myself think this way, Heero told himself, firmly. Not now, not while he's like this.
Quatre stopped in front of a door that Wufei assumed was a guest room, and turned to lean back against it, once more catching both the Mandate and Trowa with a blue glare. "So, is there anything *else* I ought to know about this 'blood rage' thing?"
The elf gave a halfhearted shrug, edging away slightly from the irritated blond. "I know that it has to be human, and it has to be fresh."
"And then there are the after-effects," Wufei stated in distaste, catching the expression soon enough to turn it into a simple frown.
Quatre's eyes narrowed dangerously. "And just what might that be?"
Wufei looked down at Yoko in his arms and scratched gently between her ears. "Have you ever seen a cat with catnip?"
The Minister's eyes widened fractionally.
"It's like that," the Dragon stated flatly. "Essentially, blood is what gets Relics drunk."
"Is that enough?"
Duo hummed again, his eyes sliding open to half-mast. The violet glow was pure now, but glazed, unfocused. Heero dropped his arm back to support himself and let his shoulders relax, a little dizzy from the blood loss.
The demon slid up slowly, propping himself up by the elbows, leaving his face less than an inch away from Heero's. His tongue darted out, still red with blood, and brushed across the line of Heero's lips. The assassin gasped, his arms trembling slightly, and he jerked back to sit on his heels. "Duo-"
The Relic followed him up, seated between Heero's bent knees, and slid his hands up the assassin's chest, curling his fingers against the fabric of Heero's tunic. Duo nuzzled against the open collar, his nose brushing over the bared skin there, and mumbled a few words Heero didn't understand.
Heero's skin was on fire just from those few simple touches. He tried to collect himself, grasping Duo's shoulders with both hands in an attempt to push him away.
The demon snarled and shoved Heero backwards, crawling to hover over him, effectively reversing their earlier position. Heero froze for a moment, somewhat stunned, until he felt Duo's fingers threading through his hair, the other hand tracing the contours of his face. He blinked up at the demon, noting that Duo's eyes weren't focusing entirely on him, that his expression was somehow distant. A lazy smile crept across Duo's face, and he leant down to place a slow series of kisses across Heero's cheekbones.
"Kirei." Duo's whispers were more coherent, this close. "Watashi no mono."
Hells, Heero thought before he could stop himself, he's farther gone than I thought if he's dropping back into the old language. Idly, another part of his mind wondered what Duo was saying.
The assassin clung to what was left of his wits and tried again to push Duo away. The demon responded violently, shoving him back against the floor so hard that spots of light flickered in Heero's vision. The demon raked his tongue along Heero's jawline. Before the assassin knew what was happening, that tongue was in his mouth, forcing itself inside hungrily. Duo's lips locked against his with bruising intensity.
Heero felt like flailing helplessly, but kept his hands clenched against the carpet. He found himself sinking into the kiss, widening his mouth to it, allowing his tongue to caress Duo's, feeling the touch like a surge of energy through every cell. Duo had dropped his body to lie on top of Heero, wriggling and sliding suggestively. Heero wanted to reach up and bury his hands in Duo's hair, wanted to arch off the floor and press back against him, wanted to give himself up to the demon's whims, drop out of reality and drown in pleasure.
I can't, he admitted to himself, choking on a whimper. Not like this.
Heero reached out mentally, grasping at the Bond, and alleviated the situation the only way he knew how.
Duo growled and bit roughly at his lower lip, his hands leaving Heero's face to tear savagely at his clothes.
"Yamero!" the demon snapped, grabbing Heero by the hair. The assassin grimaced, but the order was already working. Duo's eyelids were heavy, his muscles unconsciously relaxing. The demon growled again.
Duo's head dropped onto his shoulder, and after a moment his breathing had evened out into the steady rhythm of deep slumber. Heero deflated and stared up at the ceiling, raising his left hand to rub his forehead resignedly.
After several minutes of grappling with his composure and trying to slow his racing pulse, Heero maneuvered himself up into a sitting position, careful not to wake Duo. He kept the demon's head cradled against his shoulder and managed to get his opposite arm under Duo's legs. Then, slowly, he climbed to his feet.
It wasn't the best idea - he was still slightly dizzy from the loss of blood, and giddy from. he stopped that series of thoughts before they could take root in his already foggy mind. He focused only on staying upright, and stepped carefully to the door.
Trowa was outside, leaning against the wall across the hallway. The one eyebrow not hidden by his bang rose slightly. "Need a hand?"
"Can you take him for me?" Heero grunted, glad when the elf nodded and pushed away from the wall to accept the burden. Heero relaxed and sagged against the doorframe, momentarily letting his persona slip.
"Heavy drinker, is he?"
Heero started at the comment, and looked up to see Trowa's face perfectly blank. The idler part of his brain wondered how flushed and disarrayed he looked.
The rest of him had the urge to slap the elf across his smug little face.
For once, Heero slept through the night without dreaming.
He stepped out into the gray pre-dawn at the Talmac gates, where a cruiser was waiting to take the assorted remaining operatives back to the command ship. The morning was growing warmer, and the sky was clear of the clouds Duo had summoned during battle the day before. Trowa, Wufei and Quatre were already assembled, standing silently in a semicircle off to the side. Heero scanned the area quickly. "Where's Duo?"
"We don't know," Wufei shrugged. "Which is why we were waiting for you."
Heero scanned the Bond quickly and located the absent Relic. "Give me a minute."
"Take your time," the Minister replied, but his tone was cool. Heero waved at him dismissively and reentered the fortress, taking the stairs up to the balustrades two at a time.
Duo was standing at the casement, looking out over the ruins of the battlefield in the dim light. His trenchcoat was pulled tight around him, and Yoko sat atop a stone, legs curled underneath her, perfectly still. Heero stopped a few feet behind him, and kept his voice soft. "What are you doing?"
"I like it up here." Duo's response was strained and a bit defensive, and he made no move to acknowledge Heero's presence.
"We need to leave now, Duo. Come with me."
Duo's shoulders stiffened, his head dropping slightly. He leaned with his hands against the casement stones, and a nearly imperceptible tremor ran through his body. "Why did you stop, Heero? You could have done whatever you wanted. It's not like I was gonna say No."
The assassin's eyes widened, and he unconsciously took a step back. "I won't take advantage of you."
"Why not?" The question was a ringing shout.
Heero flinched at the tone. "It wouldn't be right."
Duo bit out a harsh laugh. "It doesn't matter, Heero. I'm your slave. Your property. You can order me to do anything you want, and I'll do it. That's how it works, remember?"
The assassin's mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, then he tore his eyes away from Duo's form, looking down and to the side at the rough limestone walkways. He nearly choked on his voice. "When have I ever treated you like a slave?"
"Don't get humanitarian on me, *sir*," Duo ground out, straightening to resume his vigil over the battlefield. "How you treat me doesn't matter. You have the right to do whatever you want to me, and I have the right to nothing."
"Stop this, Duo." Heero tried to be sharp, but was certain he just sounded weary. "I can't. I won't. That's not what you are to me."
Duo's knuckles were whitening from his grip on the casement stones. His voice dropped, into an aggravated hiss. "Damn you, Heero Yuy. Why do you have to be so fucking honorable, huh?" He spun in place to face his controller, and his voice began rising with every word until it was a strained shriek. "Why the fuck can't I just hate you?"
Heero's mouth fell open, and for a moment he wavered between taking a step forward or taking another one back. He raised one hand, as though in supplication, then dropped it back to his side.
Eventually, all he could voice was, "Why?"
Duo dropped his gaze and shuffled back around to stare down at the casement. "Do you know what it's like, Heero?" His tone had dropped again, this time to a low murmur. "Do you know how it is for me, watching your life?"
Heero swallowed and shook his head, shuffling slightly in place, still unsure of how to respond.
"I watched you grow up, you know." Duo's voice was slightly wistful, and Heero thought he saw the edges of a sad smile in the demon's profile. "And I watch you live. Soon I'll be watching you grow old, and some day I'll watch you die." His voice caught suddenly, and he paused before he continued in a whisper. "I get to watch all this, and know all along that I'll never do any of that."
Heero reeled in place, all of reality striking him in the shoulders and hovering there like a suit of lead armor weighing him down. His legs wanted to step forward, his arms wanted to reach out and wrap the demon in a tight embrace. He wanted to bury his face in Duo's hair and breathe in his scent, and pretend that everything was right, and always would be.
But for all his wants, there might as well have been a galaxy between them.