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Acherontia Atropos (Part 6)

I hit the dirt in an undignified heap. Suddenly, nothing much mattered 
except for the fact that Yan, who I had thought wouldn't know violence if it 
smacked him in the face, had kneed me in the groin. Really really hard. 
Tears tried to squeeze themselves out of my eyes and I forgot to breathe for 
a couple of minutes while I just lay on the ground and curled up into a little 

There was a surge of that weird staticky feeling that I'd had all night, and it 
came up through the ground and hit me like a spark. I was on my feet and 
feeling a hell of a lot better before I could even think about it. Yan was 
almost to the woods, and I limped after him as quickly as I could. Yeah, 
Duo, real smart. Run toward danger.

But I couldn't just leave him to those monsters. I had the feeling that Yan 
wasn't the one that kneed me, not really. Tamlin had said that vampires 
could roll an ordinary human's mind with their eyes. Yan was as ordinary as 
it got, and he was sweet, and innocent, and damnit, like everybody's little 
brother. So I followed him right into the jaws of the beast, armed only with 
my little gold cross and my dubious amount of faith.

Not one of the brightest things I'd ever done. 

By the time I reached the woods, there were five vampires, and Yan had 
already gotten to them. There were three females and two males, and all of 
them, and I mean all of them, looked like walking wet dreams. Nothing at 
all like the thing that had attacked me before. I knew they were vampires, 
though, no matter what they looked like. It's like how I knew the words I 
said over Heero's body a year ago. No explanation...I just knew.

Just like I knew that there was a sixth vampire further back in the woods, 
the one that was controlling the other five. 

I stopped about six meters away from the vampires and stood. I could feel 
the electric energy almost rolling off of them and brushing past me, raising 
the hair on my arms. I didn't know what the hell it was, but it was 
fascinating, and it felt almost...nice. But I'd worry about that later. Right 
now, I was worried about the fact that there were six vampires, they had 
Yan, and I was completely unarmed. 

/Damnit, Heero, why'd I leave the room without the gun. What are you guys 
doing? I need you!/ I thought angrily. I knew that there was no way they 
could know that I was in trouble, but it felt good to be able to mentally 
curse someone. For a long moment, the vampires watched me, and I 
watched them right back. Yan was being held by one of the female 
vampires, a tall red head that looked like she could have been a fashion 
model or something. She was wearing an actual dress, something white, 
thin, and almost see through. She had Yan cradled in her arms, with his face 
pressed against her breasts. Like she could feel my attention on her, she 
smiled, flashing her fangs in the moonlight.

I licked my suddenly dry lips. "Let him go." I said with a lot more authority 
than I felt.

"No." The red headed vampire clutched Yan a little more tightly. He made a 
soft, very contented sound. "The little one is quite happy where he is."

There was a tiny flicker in my peripheral vision, and I transferred the main 
part of my attention to the vampire that had moved. He was also very tall, 
with pale blonde hair that looked white in the moonlight. He was dressed 
relatively normally, in jeans so tight that they looked like they were painted 
on, and a t-shirt that appeared to be more holes than anything else. He 
smiled at me as well, somehow managing to not show any fang. "You could 
join him in our arms." He licked his lips. "I promise to be gentle." 

"No thanks. I just want Yan." I took a step back as the vampire took a step 

"Look into my eyes." 

I suppressed the urge to laugh. Talk about B-movie vampires...I really 
wanted to ask the guy where he got his dialogue. But I had the feeling it 
would piss him off. So far, they seemed to be content just to play with me. 
Which was fine. I didn't really want to get attacked by five or six vampires. 
"I'd rather not, if you don't mind."

He took another step forward. I took another step back. He laughed, and it 
was actually a pleasant sound. "You smell interesting, human. I just want 
you to look me in the eye."

"Really, that's ok."

The red head had obviously had enough games. "Do what he says, or I will 
kill this one." She stroked Yan's cheek gently with one hand. He giggled 
softly. He was totally out of it.

/Never look a vampire in the eye./ Tamlin had said. Well, it looked like I 
didn't have a lot of choice. I had the funny feeling that the vampire wasn't 
joking when she said that she would kill him. Shit. So I did it. I looked the 
blonde vampire in the eye, expecting at any moment for my mind to get torn 
apart or sucked away or whatever happened when vampires rolled someone 

It was completely anti-climactic. His eyes were just eyes. Pretty, I'll admit, 
an crystalline, icy blue vaguely reminiscent of Tamlin's, but nothing more.

"What is wrong, Paul?" One of the other vampires, I think a female one, 

Paul. Somehow, it didn't seem right for a vampire to be named Paul.

Whatever the vampire saw in my eyes, he didn't like. He frowned, and his 
eyes took on a faint glow. "I can't roll you." he said, sounding faintly 
surprised. I was guessing that it didn't happen very often. "Why?"

I shrugged. "I don't know." I couldn't help it. I grinned. Hey, I'd just made a 
major victory, as far as I was concerned. I was still in control of my own 
mind. Good sign. "So now what?"

I don't think that was what he wanted to hear. He surged forward, and I 
managed to take a step back and grab the chain of my cross. He was fast, 
faster than a normal human, but not that fast.

He was fast enough, however, to punch me before I could dodge. He was 
sure as hell a lot stronger than a human. His fist connected with my ribcage 
and I went flying. I hit the ground hard and he was on me, fangs bared. I 
yanked the cross out from under my shirt, and it flared into life.

Immediately, the vampire was gone. The others were shrieking loudly. I 
pushed myself up to a sitting position and clutched my ribs. Something was 
broken. Shit. 

It took me a couple seconds to gain my feet, and they were the longest 
seconds of my life. I still wasn't sure about the entire cross thing against 
vampires, and I was waiting for one of them to shout "Just kidding!" and 
leap on me. But it didn't happen. They were actually cowering away. The 
red head and the blonde were just shielding their eyes, the other three were 
actually shrieking and slowly backing away. I took a step forward.

They all took a step back. Damn, it felt good.

The good feeling didn't last long, though. The red headed vampire wrapped 
one of her hands around Yan's throat, still shielding her eyes with the other 
one. "Take the cross off and throw it away."

"The hell with that!" I yelled.

"If you don't, I will rip his throat out." I saw her hand tighten, and Yan 
giggled. He actually giggled. I guessed Tamlin was right, and he must have 
been totally under. "I am not joking, human, and you know it."

Shit. I reached up and grabbed my cross. It was faintly warm in my hand. 
That was the problem with being the good guy. You can't let another good 
guy get killed in front of you. You have to do everything in your power to 
stop it, no matter how obvious the trap is. So I jerked the cross and snapped 
the chain, then threw it away. Hopefully, I'd be alive to get it back later.

I really really really really wished that I hadn't left without my gun. I also 
wished that the guys were here. I really did.

The light of the cross died as soon as I pulled it off, and the vampires 
stopped cowering. "There, happy?"

"Very." Paul the vampire started moving toward me again. One of the other 
female ones, this one with black hair and dressed in more leather than I've 
ever seen in one place, slunk along with him.

"Woah, woah, stop there." I backed away. "What the hell do you want?"

"Stop moving." The red head commanded. "Or I will kill him."

Shit. I stopped. Paul and the other vampire took a leisurely walk up to me, 
and slowly looked me up and down the way you'd check out a horse before 
you bought it. The female vampire leaned in and blew softly on my ear. I 
flinched. There was something about them, that energy that I'd felt earlier, 
and it was almost dancing across my skin. I felt damn uncomfortable, and I 
was starting to get very scared.

Paul stopped on the other side of me and grabbed my braid, stroking it 
gently. That bastard. I suddenly decided that I would kill him first, as soon 
as I got out of this situation and managed to get a weapon. NO ONE 
touches my hair. Especially not stupid vampires with B movie dialogue. 
"He is pretty, isn't he, Victoria."

Victoria. So that was the leather queen's name. It just seemed too perfect. 
Gag me.

She breathed softly in my ear. "I like you." 

"That's nice." I said. "I don't think I like you." Me and my big mouth.

It was definitely not the thing to say. She laid a hand on my chest, somehow 
finding exactly the same spot where Paul had hit me, and pushed. I fell to 
my knees, gasping for breath. Victoria giggled. I decided that it was a sound 
that I didn't like. Paul hauled me to my feet like I didn't weigh anything 
when I couldn't manage to stand up right away on my own. Great.

Victoria blew on my ear again, and then there was a quick wetness that 
could only be her tongue. I couldn't help it, I shivered. I had to close my 
eyes and imagine that it was someone else, because I knew I couldn't give 
her the satisfaction of whimpering, which is what I really wanted to do. No, 
better to pretend that it was Heero, or, hell, anyone else. 

She giggled. Again. It was really setting my teeth on edge. I concentrated 
on the annoyance and anger, anything to keep myself from thinking about 
the fact that she was nibbling on my ear...and then my neck. My eyes flew 

"Just relax, pretty one. I just want a little taste." she whispered.

I had to try twice before I found my voice. "Something tells me that with 
you, it's never just a little taste." I said. 

"True." She licked my neck, and I did my best to flinch away.

"Victoria just wants a taste, pretty one. She won't hurt you, too much." Paul 
whispered in my other ear. Oh God, I had both of them after me, now. "If 
you fight, Cheree will kill the boy. You're a much more interesting toy than 
he is."

"What do you want?" I asked, very quietly. My voice didn't shake or crack. 
Point for me. God, I hate being powerless more than anything else.

Cheree, the red head, laughed. She must have practiced her laugh or 
something, because it was very, very pleasant, like a warm blanket that you 
could almost wrap around yourself. Not the kind of laugh that comes
naturally. "I want your fear, pretty one, and your anger. I want it to wash 
over me."

Ok, I definitely did not like Cheree, either. I don't think I've ever been so 
thoroughly trapped before in my entire life. And this time, this one was 
wholly my fault. I decided that when I got free, Paul would be second. 
Cheree was going to die first.

Victoria nuzzled at my neck, drawing my attention back to more immediate 
problems. "Tell me I can taste, pretty one." She whispered. In another 
situation, it would have been seductive.


"There is something about you, pretty one. I can't drink unless you say I 

Hot dog. I'd figure out what later. The important part was that right now, I 
had a little power.

"Tell Victoria that she can drink, or--"

"--yes, I know I know. You'll kill Yan." Damnit damnit. Shit. I licked my 
lips. "Victoria, you can...drink." Those simple words took a lot more 
courage than I frankly thought I had. Point for me. The bad news was, I'd 
just told a vampire that she could have a drink. God, I was in trouble.

Victoria actually kissed me. Full on the lips, open mouth, tongue and 
everything. I didn't respond, and after a long minute, she pulled away. 
"Thank you." She whispered, and then her lips moved to my neck. “You 
must be the one that Thomas got himself killed trying to take. Are you 
worth it?” I felt sharpness that could have only been her fangs, and I shut 
my eyes tightly. I would not scream. I would not scream. I would not 
scream. Oh God...

I heard a sound behind me. Running footsteps, getting closer. Hot damn. 
Victoria pulled abruptly back and hissed...and whoever it was (I was 
praying that it was the guys) started shooting. A bullet hit Victoria in her 
arm, and there was an explosion of blood. She went down clutching her 
arm, and I think that's the only reason it stayed attached to her body. 
Whatever kind of ammo that Tamlin had given us, it definitely was not for 
play. I wanted to cheer.

That happy thought got cut off when Paul grabbed me by the throat. 
Suddenly, time slowed down for me, like it sometimes does in the middle of 
really intense fights. The electricity I'd been feeling all evening jolted 
through my body like cold black lightning, and I sent it blasting outwards, 
down into the ground, and, most importantly, through Paul's arm and down 
into his body. It's hard to find the words to describe how it felt. My nerve 
endings were on fire, but strangely enough, it was almost pleasant. I felt like 
I was filled to the brim with cool, dark water that I could manipulate at will. 
When it went flowing into Paul, the spark that was him retreated before the 
rush of power, and then he was mine.

He was mine, and I could feel him hating me.

"Let me go." I said, a lot more calm than I had any right to be. I could feel 
things happening around me, more bullets flying through the air, the 
vampires beginning to retaliate...then beginning to fall back as the power 
that was filling me up swept over them. None of it mattered, because for 
that one moment, I and the power were all that existed. It was like the 
feeling I got sometimes when I was in Deathscythe, when I felt like I was 
floating in my Gundam's darkness like a diver in the deep ocean.

Paul let me go. I fell to my knees, clutching my ribs and trying to start 
breathing again. "Back away." I wheezed. He backed up two steps, and I 
could feel a line of power stretching between us like a rubber band. One 
more step, and it snapped. Paul was free from my control, though I could 
still dimly 'feel' him. He shot me a look of pure, utter hatred, and fled with 
the others, disappearing into the woods.

The guys were right behind me, I could hear them, and I could feel them 
sending ripples shuddering through the dark power that was still filling me. 
Trowa and Heero ran past me toward the woods, though Heero paused long 
enough to give me a quick once over with his eyes, to make sure I wasn't 
bleeding profusely or anything.

"Duo!!" It was Quatre. I turned to look at him. There was an almost tangible 
bubble of energy around me. He touched the outlying edges of the energy 
carefully with the tips of his fingers, and then quickly jerked his hand away, 
shaking it as if it had stung. 

Abruptly, the bubble popped and all the energy dried up. I found myself 
laying on the asphalt of the parking lot, again, gasping for breath. I was 
completely empty.

"Duo...Daijoubu ka. What was that?" Quatre was on his knees beside me, 
helping me roll over. I jerked when he touched me, and rolled away. "Duo!"

"Don't touch me!" I screamed, and struggled to my feet, rear-end first. It 
wasn't terribly dignified, but it was the quickest way to get up. I stumbled 
toward the woods, half running.

There was blood, so much blood, all over the asphalt and in the dirt by the 
trees. I knew some of it belonged to the vampires; Trowa, Heero, and 
Quatre had managed to wound most of them. That wasn't what I was 
interested in though. There, under one of the huge, ancient trees, the ground 
had turned into black, sticky mud. The air was chokingly full of the coppery 
tang of fresh, cooling blood. There was so much blood, too much blood.

I knew where all the power had come from, though not why it had come to 
me, or why it had even existed.

Yan was there, laying in the middle of the sea of mud. His head was thrown 
back and one of his arms was carelessly to the side, like he was just 
sleeping or something. There was even a soft, innocent smile curving his 
lips. His formerly pristine white shirt was now shiny, wet black in the 
moonlight. Where his neck had been, there was only a gaping hole, 
gleaming dully in the dim light.

That bitch had said she wanted my fear and my anger. She could have my 
anger, all of it. I wanted to give her as much as I could hold. But not just 
then. Then, I grabbed a tree for support and started throwing up until I was 
empty and I felt like I was going to vomit my toenails. When I was done, I 
looked back. Yan was still laying there in the moonlight. He wasn't a 
hallucination, like I'd half hoped.

I fell to my knees in the mud by him and let the cooling blood soak into my 
pant legs. 

I knew where all that power had come from.

Oh God, I wish I didn’t know.

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