Dance With the Demons + Part 18 (cont)
Darkest Days

"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."

Uber-bitch.

"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.

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

Duo: *gape*
Quatre: Surely you aren't leaving it there.
Blue: Yes, I am.
Duo: *still gaping*
Wufei: You can't leave it there! The-!
Blue: *clamps a hand over Wufei's mouth* If you say ‘injustice', I'll toss
you to Mariemeia. *slowly takes hand away*
Wufei: Ahem. *straightens clothes* As I was saying . . . you can't leave
Maxwell like that. The readers will mob you.
Blue: *shrugs* That's why I've got suz, Pondy and Stacy. They won't let
anyone mob me.
Wufei: Who?
Trowa: Her . . . people.
Duo: Did anyone notice that Wu called me ‘Duo' last time?
Wufei: I did not.
Heero: You did.
Blue: *nods*
Wufei: *sputter*

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