Dance With the Demons + Part 9 (cont)
Glass Souls

+

"I still say this is a bad idea."

"You've been saying that for the past hour or so, Wu," Duo said, flinging back the sheets of his bed. After their little chat, Duo had decided that it was time to go home, period. Wufei had gathered up a few more things and they had gotten a taxi back to Duo's apartment. The shifter had stated that Heero would be somewhat less than pleased, but Duo really didn't care. Duo needed to get away from the vampire.

"And you've been ignoring me for just as long."

"Yep," Duo agreed, crawling into the bed with a sigh. "Are you going to stand there and protest for the rest of the morning, or are you coming to bed? You could always sleep on the couch."

A flicker of alarm passed behind Wufei's eyes, and he quickly slid into the bed beside Duo. "Sorry, Duo."

Duo smiled, spooning Wufei's body against his own and wrapping his arm around him. "Let me worry about Heero, Wu. You're mine now, remember? Leave fang-face to me."

Wufei made a noncommittal noise, and burrowed deeper under the blankets, getting as close to Duo as possible. A few silent minutes passed, then Wufei said, "Can I ask a question?"

"Don't be silly, Wu, ‘course you can," Duo mumbled into the pillow.

"Why did you leave the keys to your apartment hidden in the car? With the car unlocked?"

The visible side of Duo's mouth curved up into half of a smile. "I've gotten into the nasty habit of dropping things when I'm in the middle of a hunt. Check that, when I'm trying to kill what I'm hunting." He lifted his head up from the pillow, leaning over Wufei and looking down at him. "Can you imagine the number of keys I've lost because my clothes have been ripped to shreds?"

The shifter laughed quietly. "That explains it then."

"Naturally. Night, Wu."

"Goodnight, Duo," Wufei replied. Eventually, the shifter's breathing evened out and his body relaxed, signaling that he had fallen asleep. Duo buried his head in Wufei's hair, wrapping the scent of it around him. Sleep, however, escaped him. His thoughts were back to chasing their tails again.

Talking with Wufei had answered his questions, but given him a hundred more. Away from Heero, Duo began to think again of what the vampire had said. Did Duo really believe it? The closeness that the four of them, vampires and shifters, shared? Not really. In a way he did, and in a way he didn't. All he had to go on was Heero's word. The vamp had said he was protecting Wufei, and Duo had believed him, at the time. Now he wasn't so sure. To Duo, protection didn't mean turning someone over to a sadistic bitch to be tortured. Odd definition of ‘protection'.

Duo wanted more information. Heero and Wufei were one source, but it was only one side. Time to pay a visit to the other side. Only problem now was how to get Sally to talk him. More specifically, how to get Sally to talk to him and not kill him at the same time.

+

"This is an even WORSE idea," Wufei said irritably.

"Did I ask if you thought it was a good idea?" Duo shot back, angrily stirring his second cup of coffee of the morning.

The black haired man stared into his plate, speaking quickly. "I don't think it's a bad idea, I KNOW it's a bad idea. Getting in to see Sally isn't the hard part, its the getting back out again that'll be impossible!"

Duo sat back down at the table, watching Wufei with steady eyes as the shifter rushed on.

"Even if you only took Quatre with you, at least it would be another vampire. The two of us alone don't stand a chance!" Wufei lifted his eyes as he said the last, willing Duo to understand.

Sighing, Duo said, "Its not just the two of us, Wu."

Wufei's brow furrowed. "Who else?"

"Friends," Duo said with a smirk.

"Human?"

This time Duo snorted. "Close enough," he said.

"How many?"

Duo held up two fingers.

Wufei's chair clattered to the floor as the shifter stood up angrily. "You think that three humans and a shifter stand any chance of survival in Sally's own HOME? You're crazy!"

Duo looked up, eyes flashing. "Sit down, Wufei."

"I will not sit down! You're going to get yourself killed! Sally - "

"God DAMN it, Wufei, sit the fuck down and shut up! NOW!" Duo shouted.

Wufei snapped his mouth shut and was kneeling on the floor in an instant. Duo stood slowly and walked around the table, standing over the shifter. Deadly quiet, he said, "Wufei, we are going to see Sally, and we're going tonight at sundown. I'm taking two people with me, and you're going to take us right to her. You WILL NOT tell Heero, or Quatre, or anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, what we're doing. Got that?"

A small whimper reached Duo's ears, and when Wufei looked up at him, all the anger had faded from the were's face. "Why do you have to see Sally?"

Duo's eyes softened. He leaned down, balancing on the balls of his feet. "I have questions . . . things I need to find out." He tucked a strand of hair behind Wufei's ear. "And I can't have Heero or Quatre around when I get my answers."

Wufei still looked wary, but he nodded. "Alright . . . I shouldn't have argued with you."

Standing, Duo waved that away. "It doesn't matter now, anyway." Suddenly, he grinned. "By the way, Wu, when I said sit, I meant on a chair."

Wufei shrugged.

A knock came on Duo's door then. "And there they are now," Duo said, heading over to the door and checking the peephole. Surprise showed on Duo's face as he stepped back and opened the door to his visitors.

A woman, tall and slender, entered first. Her chin length auburn hair was left loose, framing a triangle shaped face. Her eyes were dark, almost black. And oddly empty. She wore blue jeans and a red tank; a cross shoulder holster over that. Duo looked at the gun and whistled. A Ruger, .45 caliber. The magazine carried eight bullets, but if someone was still standing after the first three, you were in trouble. An awful lot of power for a simple visit. The fireworks shouldn't start until AFTER they get to Sally's.

"Expecting trouble, Iria?" Duo asked, nodding at the gun.

"No. But that doesn't mean I won't get any," she replied in a voice that matched her body, but not the gun. She smiled, but her eyes betrayed the emotion. Iria's eyes said that she had seen more than she cared to talk about, and none of it was good.

"Riiiight," Duo said, waving her in. "Have a seat anywhere you like."

Iria's eyes glanced around the room, and she moved in to sit easily on the couch. Her gaze paused briefly on Wufei, then she looked back to the door. An older man in an outrageous Hawaiian shirt and shorts followed her so far into the room, and Trowa was the last to enter. Duo looked at him then back to Trowa, frowning slightly, before the man flopped easily onto the couch next to the woman.

"How ya been, Duo?" the man asked loudly. "Up to your ass in shit again, huh?" He had stark gray hair, sticking off at the sides, and was balding on top. A gray mustache and sharply pointed beard adorned his angular face. He carried himself like a man much too young for gray hair. He was not large, and slender was too kind a word and suggested a sort of flowing quality. This man was made of sharp lines and angles. Reflective sunglasses obscured his eyes.

Duo locked the door and looked back to his guests, ignoring Trowa. "Up to my fucking neck this time, Howard. What else would have me calling in you and Iria?"

Howard guffawed loudly, and Duo winced. Howard wasn't always this loud, was he?

"Howard, would you shut up and let Duo tell us what is going on that he's got a shifter sitting in his kitchen instead of buried in his backyard?" Iria said, leveling a glare at him.

"Duo doesn't have a backyard, girl!" Howard laughed.

Iria looked at the man silently, then back to Duo. "Well?" she said shortly.

"Hold up a sec, Iria." Duo turned to Trowa. "What are you doing here?"

Trowa bowed his head, refusing to meet Duo's eyes. "You left."

"No shit," Duo said, crossing his arms.

"The Erus sent me to guard you when you go to Sally's."

"What?" Duo blinked, unable to hide the shock on his face. How the fuck had Heero come to that conclusion?

Trowa said nothing.

Duo walked slowly over to Trowa, body tense with rage. He stopped a hairsbreadth away from him. "What in Jesus' name are you talking about?"

Wufei spoke up. "The Erus probably assumed what you would do, Duo. Trowa's here to help."

"Yeah. Right. Help who, exactly? Us or your wonderful Erus?" Duo said, not looking away from Trowa.

The green-eyed shifter sighed. "I'm just doing what I was told to."

"I'm dominant to you, Tro. Or had you forgotten? What if I sent your ass packing back to him?" Duo asked.

Howard and Iria sat on the couch, watching the exchange silently. Iria finally spoke up. "Are you talking about the vampire Erus?"

Duo had almost forgotten about them. "Yeah," he answered. "How'd you know about him?"

"Word's been floatin' around, Duo." Howard said easily. "If you'd kept your ears open, and you'd have heard about it." He waited a beat, then said, "You in the middle of some kinda vampire power struggle, or did I hear ya wrong when you said Erus and Sally in the same breath?"

"Fuck," Duo said, pacing the floor. "Fucking Jesus!" He stormed over to the chair in the living room and flopped into it, legs straightened out in front of him. "Trowa, Wufei, here, now," he said, pointing at the floor beside the chair.

Trowa sat down immediately, still looking at the floor. Wufei crawled across the floor like an animal that expected to be hit.

Howard mumbled something under his breath, while Iria merely raised an eyebrow.

"Shut up and listen, Howard," Duo grumbled, then told them an edited version of the past week or so, telling them of Heero's request for Duo's help and why. He left out as many names as he could, giving only facts. When he was done, both of Iria's eyebrows were up, and Howard was shaking his head slowly.

"You've been busy, Duo," Iria said finally.

"I was wrong, Duo. You're not up to your ass, or your neck, you're in over your damn fool head . . . and then some." Howard said, stretching the kinks out of his leg. "So, you gonna tell us exactly why you have to see this Sally chick, or do we get to find out later?"

"Later," replied Duo. "I'm going to ride this out, see how it goes. I don't know how this is going to work."

"And you need us because the last time you saw Sally, you shot her?" Iria asked.

Duo nodded. "She'll probably hold a grudge for that, and I'm a bit rusty at politics. I need your to help there, Howard. Iria's my firecracker for the night."

Howard grinned. "You want someone dead, Iria's your girl. Even better, you want someone scared shitless, Iria's still your girl."

"Fucking right," Duo said, mirroring Howard's grin. Hell, Iria scared Duo shitless half the time. So did Howard for that matter. Howard's easy attitude concealed more than a sharp mind. Both of them seemed to be behaving in front of the extra company. That reminded Duo of the werepanthers at his feet. They had been completely still and silent since they had sat down.

"Here's the deal, Trowa. I won't send you back to the Erus," he said. No one had mentioned Heero's name, so for now, he was just the Erus. "In fact, we could use the extra help. But," Duo paused for emphasis, "don't you fucking DARE interrupt anything I say or I ask Sally, got that?"

Trowa nodded, still not speaking.

Duo frowned. "What the fuck is his problem?" he asked Wufei.

"You're angry at him. And me," came the quiet response.

"Yeah, so how come you're not keeping quiet?"

"It'd just piss you off more."

Duo realized that it was true; silence would make him angrier. It was surprising how well Wufei knew him after such a short time. Duo sighed. "It's alright, Tro, I'm not angry at you." That much was true, Duo was pissed at Heero, not Trowa. "Or Wufei," Duo added. "Okay?"

Trowa looked up, his eyes vibrantly green. He raised his hand as if to touch Duo, then stopped, hand hovering near Duo's leg. "I'm forgiven?"

"There's nothing to forgive - ", Duo started. He stopped, sighing. "Yes, Tro, you're forgiven. You and Wufei both."

Trowa's characteristic smile, which really wasn't much of a smile, more of a slight impish upturning of his lips, returned. He closed the distance between him and Duo, resting the top half of his body against Duo's legs. Wufei mirrored the action on the opposite side. Duo reached down, laying one hand on Wufei's shoulder and the other behind Trowa's head. Everything felt alright between them again.

Duo looked up to see twin expressions on Howard's and Iria's faces. A mixture of incredulity and confusion. Duo sighed again. That was exactly how he felt about the entire mess.

Duo stood. Wufei and Trowa followed him in perfect unison, flanking him on both sides. "So," he said to the two on the couch, "you with me or not?"

Howard nodded right away. "You bet, little man! No way I'm letting you go in there with only two shifters for backup."

Duo nodded, then looked to Iria. The woman stood, flicking her hair away from her face. "I'm in. From the look of things, it seems like something will need killing before the night is over."

Duo grinned. "Great." Glancing out the window, Duo said, "We've got about two hours until sunset. And even though Iria's got that snazzy new toy," he looked pointedly at the Ruger resting in her holster, "we'll need more." Duo's gaze transferred from the gun to Iria's face. "What new toys do you have that we can play with?" he asked, smiling.

Iria smiled back, and Duo felt a chill travel down his spine. Her eyes stayed dark, the smile only reaching as far as her lips. "Nothing half as interesting as your new toys."

Duo felt the warm presence of the shifters at his back. Oddly enough, he agreed with her.

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

Wufei: *blink*
Trowa: *blink blink*
Duo: Okaaaaay . . . .
Blue: Yeah, well, shut up.
Wufei: Onna! What are you doing?
Blue: Havin' fun?
Trowa: *blink*
Blue: Oh, COME ON! Stick with it, will ya? Sure, Iria SEEMS a little odd –
Duo: A LITTLE?
Blue: *grumbling* Just wait for it, hmmm? When will you people learn that nothing is ever as it seems with me?
Heero: Can I kill her now?
Blue: *mumbling* Antisocial-trigger-happy-silent-withdrawn-angst-ridden teenager . . .

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