Author: Blue Soaring
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just steal them for a little while. And I refuse to admit that I've corrupted them. They were already like that when I, erm, borrowed them. Yeah, that's it.
Note: Amazing. I'm still writing. And they told me I couldn't write an epic! Ha, fooled them! ... ..what? A good epic? Well, let's not get all crazy.
see Part 1 for warnings

Dance With the Demons + Part 6
True Illusions: A Fic of Lies

Duo paced the lush room impatiently. He'd showered and borrowed some of Trowa's clothes. The shirt was comfortable, if a little over the top for Duo. It was made of silk, a deep black color. The collar met in a low 'V' just above the center of his chest, and exposing his collarbone. Below that, the shirt hung open, not made to close in the middle, leaving a trail of Duo's pale skin bare. Duo thought it was just as well to go shirtless, but even the small bit of material made him feel better. He didn't really want to meet Heero half-naked.

The black pants were another matter entirely. Duo found leather a pain in the ass to wear; it creaked when he walked. And the pants were much too long in the legs. And way too tight. It should be considered punishment for clothing to be made this tight. When Duo had complained, Trowa merely smiled, saying that he looked quite good in them. Duo thought Trowa was biased.

So, Duo creaked his way around the room, waiting for the esteemed Erus to show up. Questions filled Duo's head, and he wanted answers. Remembering his last little chat with Heero, he was wishing he had a gun. He kept poking around in the vain hope that he would find one, or maybe a knife, anything to use as a weapon. Duo knew he wouldn't, why would a vampire need a weapon? But he still looked. He might get lucky.

Duo stopped in front of a large picture that hung behind Heero's desk. It was of a glorious sunrise, just before the sun emerged on the horizon. Rays of light emanated from between the mountains, setting the valley below on fire. The sky was perfectly clear, highlighted in the brightness of the rising sun. Duo stared at the picture, absorbed in the play of the sun's rays on the rough texture of the mountains and the sweeping roll of the valley.

"From my home . . . ." a voice stated softly beside him.

Duo jumped at the sound of Heero's voice. He turned his head to the side, not taking his eyes off the picture.

"Japan?" he asked, quietly.

When Heero didn't answer, Duo looked over at him. He was dressed in a dark forest green dress shirt, unbuttoned at the collar and left untucked, with a pair of formfitting slacks. All in all, he looked rather casual. Duo felt much too overdressed, and he had Trowa to thank for that.

Heero was looking at the picture. His eyes were dark, reflecting the sorrow that Duo had seen in them when he had first woken up from his semi-comatose state yesterday. Behind it was a deep longing, for times past and futures lost.

Heero felt Duo watching him. He turned to the braided man, closing off his thoughts, making his eyes bleed back to their harsh cobalt.

Duo blinked, amazed at how fast Heero's eyes had changed. Then he realized he was staring. Quickly looking away, he backed up to lean on the edge of the desk, folding his arms in front of him.

"Quatre said you wanted to see me," Duo said, gathering his thoughts.

"Yes."

Duo waited for the vampire to continue. When he didn't, Duo sighed. "Well, what did you want?"

"Did you discover anything about the killings?" Heero's voice had dropped back to its usual chilling tone along with his eyes.

"Not really. The police are useless, and Lucrezia flat out refused to help me. And, well, you know what happened to Mary-Anne . . . ." Duo's voice trailed off.

Heero nodded slightly. "I have also found nothing. I'm beginning to believe that this is more complex than I first thought."

"Who cares about how complex it is! I'm more interested in finding out what did that to Wufei and Mary-Anne, and why." Realization dawned slowly on Duo. "You think it's the same thing, don't you?

"I think that happened to Mary-Anne because you involved her."

Duo gaped at the dark haired vampire. "BECAUSE of me!? You're the one who asked me to help you, that's the only reason I went to her!"

"And would she have helped?"

"Probably . . . of course she'd have helped. She'd do anything to put a stop to needless death," Duo said carefully, wondering what Heero was getting at.

"And Lucrezia? Why didn't she help?"

Duo shrugged. "Who knows? She's always been a little weird. Most times she'd only help if there was something in it for her."

Heero took a step closer to Duo. "Maybe there was something in it for her. Just not to be gotten by helping you."

Taken aback, Duo stared hard at Heero, searching his face. He saw nothing there but truth. Looking away, Duo said, "That sounds like her. But I don't think she'd stoop to killing anyone."

"Even if she didn't cause the death directly? Merely helped it along by delaying you?"

Duo mulled that over, then he let his breath out in a big sigh. "Yeah, she'd be capable of doing that." Abruptly, Duo slammed his fist into the oak desk. "Bloody fucking hell!" He launched himself away from the desk, pacing the floor.

"So, you think Lucrezia's got something to do with it. Maybe not much, but something. Just because I think she's capable of that doesn't mean she'd actually do it. It could be a coincidence," Duo said, not really believing it.

"It would be best to analyze all possible avenues." Heero held up his hand. "Despite your feelings."

Duo glared, but didn't contradict the vampire's words. "So," Duo said, his curiosity finally getting the better of him, "how did you find me?"

Heero's face showed momentary surprise before it returned to its usual unreadable expression. "Wufei and Trowa have already informed you as to what occurred."

"So they did. I wanted to hear it from you."

"Why?"

Duo stopped pacing and flopped down on one of the curved couches. The fire pit was unlit, the only illumination in the room coming from the dim overhead swivel lights. He shrugged. "Because."

Heero walked over to stand above Duo, watching him with cold eyes. "Because? That isn't much of an answer."

Duo grinned up at the vampire. "Neither is 'why'."

Raising an eyebrow, Heero opened his mouth to say something, but Duo cut him off.

"Don't try to change the subject. I want to know how you found me . . . and I have a few other questions too."

"Other questions?"

"What is it with you and answering questions with questions?"

"Why?"

Duo looked sharply at Heero. Was that a joke? Duo took a chance and looked at the vampire's eyes again. He didn't feel the now familiar brush of power or burning cold. They were just eyes. "Is that a joke?"

"Now who's answering questions with questions?"

Duo grinned again. THAT was a joke. "You still are."

Heero nodded his head, still no expression on his face.

The braided man narrowed his eyes, annoyed. "So fess up, Heero. How did you find me? And why the hell were you locked in a room with me for three days? Alone?"

Heero regarded the frustrated Duo coolly. "You were meant to be found. Whoever killed the witch was expecting you, waiting for you. And they wanted me to find you in the graveyard, dead."

"Yeah, I'm feeling pretty spry for a dead man. And just why is it that I'm NOT dead?"

"It wasn't for lack of them trying. I believe they thought you dead when they placed you in the tree. You were a message to me. Perhaps it was also a way to eliminate the threat you posed to their cause."

Duo looked startled. "A threat, huh? Yeah, I could see that. Knock off the Erus' little human helper before he starts causing any trouble."

"Exactly."

"And why is it that I'm not dead?"

"I don't know; you were dead."

"WHAT!?" Duo bolted up from the couch, his movements hampered by the tight clothing.

"When I found you, I first thought you were dead," Heero clarified.

"You had better start explaining yourself, buddy, or we're going to have a problem. Wu told me one of your little cronies tried to change me."

Much to Duo's surprise, Heero's eyes actually grew colder. The light offered by the spotlights seemed much too little for the large room. A shiver ran down Duo's back.

"Dorothy has been dealt with for her ignorance." His voice was like ice. "You have not become one of us, or a shifter. You're still what you were before."

"Keep going."

"Sit down, Duo."

Before he thought about it, Duo was sitting stiffly on the arm of the couch. Heero still stood in front of him, eyes distant as he spoke.

"There was a message for me, in the witch's apartment."

"I thought you had to be invited into a person's home?"

"The girl is dead, it is no longer her home."

Duo blinked. Well, at least that much about vampires was true. As long as Duo was at home, he would be safe from vampires. Somehow, he didn't think vampires were the only things he had to worry about. Unless, of course, the fact that a place was or wasn't someone's home didn't matter. Heero hadn't actually admitted that vamps had to be invited in, he just hadn't denied it by stating that it was no longer Mary-Anne's home. Maybe Duo was becoming paranoid.

Heero watched Duo's face. He could almost see him consider and store the information. Duo's light and simple attitude served only to mask the true character of the man. For all his jokes and outbursts, Duo was a force to be wary of. Heero wondered how many people were aware of that fact.

"So, what did the message say?"

Heero halted his musings and continued the narrative. "Among other things, it said that Death had returned home."

"And this led you to the graveyard?"

Another nod.

"Death and its association with a graveyard I can understand. But how did you know which graveyard? It would take you several nights to check each one in and near the city alone."

"I knew exactly which graveyard to check."

"How? They couldn't have told you that, it would make it too easy. And they couldn't be sure of how soon you would get there."

The Erus merely looked at Duo for a moment. Then he reached into the pocket of his pants, taking out a gold chain that dangled from his fingers as he held it up for Duo to see. A small, gold cross glinted in the light.

Duo's eyes widened, and he stopped breathing for a second. He stared hard at the cross, not believing what his eyes were telling him. He tentatively reached out to touch the cross, and Heero let it fall into the braided manís hands.

He stared at his hand and the cross he held in it. Duo let the implications of this run through his mind, and Heero said nothing, letting him come to his own conclusions.

"The church . . . three years ago, the church fire in the suburbs." He looked up at the silent Heero. "Where did you get this?" Duo demanded.

"At the girl's apartment. It was how I found you, at the graveyard where the victims of the fire were buried."

Duo looked again at the fragment of his past. He remembered the fire, remembered the heat on his face, the smell of burning flesh. The smoke and light. It was hell inside the church. People had screamed and had died. People he knew. Duo had been friends with the priest. He had come across one of the local children one night, while he was tracking a shifter. Duo still remembered the look of gratitude on the priest's face when Duo had brought the child to the church; the little boy couldn't remember where he lived.

Duo visited the church once in a while after that, not very many times, perhaps only once or twice. But, the priest had still been his friend. And he had died. The small gold cross that Duo held in his hand had been a gift from the priest, on that first night they had met. Then, Duo lost the cross in the fire, trying to reach the old man that had been so kind and grateful.

". . . they were there, then. The ones who are killing now. They were responsible for the fire, for the death." Duo said softly.

"It would seem so," was all Heero said.

"We find them, and we destroy them. No talking, no bargaining, no mercy. They die." Duo's eyes had gone cold. "They wanted you to know. Maybe they thought I wasn't dead, and they wanted me to know too," he paused. "Or they knew that you could revive me."

Heero shook his head. "You were not dead, it only seemed so. Your body was torn and broken. Zechs could heal that. But you did not wake up."

"Coma, maybe? But that can't be right, I remember waking. Once to two people arguing, once to someone else talking, and the last when you were next to me."

"No, nothing as simple as that. You were trapped within yourself." Heero's eyes flickered down to the cross still pooled in Duo's hand. "It was a spell of some kind."

"Oh, great. A spell." Duo glanced down at the cross, debating what to do with it. Finally, he settled on slipping it around his neck, the black shirt framing it where it rested against his pale skin. "And you broke the spell, then." Duo glanced down at the cross, then back up at Heero.

"No."

Duo looked surprised. "You didn't? Then how . . . ?"

"You broke the spell, with very little of my assistance."

"But . . . the dreams . . . ."

Now it was Heero's turn to look sharply at Duo. "Dreams? What dreams?"

Duo looked lost in his thoughts. "An ice fire that melted in the dark . . . a mirror that warped and reflected nothing . . . and the cool warmth that washed my memories away . . . ."

Heero took a quick step forward, grasping Duo's face between his hands. He looked into Duo's eyes, searching for his reflection in them. He saw nothing.

"Why can't I see myself in your eyes, Duo?"

Duo focused his eyes on Heero's, a bemused expression on his face. "You're a vampire, you don't have a reflection."

"Nonsense. Of course I have a reflection. Look over at the wall."

Duo turned his head sluggishly to face the wall. Looking into the mirror there, he saw the room reflected back at him, his own face and Heero standing above him.

"You see?"

Duo nodded slowly.

"It is a myth, the same as the idea that vampires can change into bats or mist, or that we cannot enter churches or even that a blessed cross will burn us. Or that we are dead," he paused, thinking.

"And yet . . ." Heero continued, "I can't see myself in your eyes."

"I can see into yours."

Heero blinked. "Into . . . my eyes?"

An odd smile spread over Duo's face. "Uh huh. I can see them burn, then freeze. The ice fire from my dream. Then, I see your sadness, your sorrow, and the fire melts into tears of ice and flame that vanish in the darkness . . . ." As he spoke, Duo's eyes unfocused, like he was staring directly through Heero at something only he could see.

"Duo!" Heero grabbed his shoulders and gently shook him. "What are you doing?"

"I could drown in your eyes . . . ."

"Stop it, Duo. Wake up." Heero shook Duo harder, causing him to close his eyes. When they opened again, the braided manís eyes were still glassy.

"The fire melts into the mirror, the mirror freezes the fire; everything drowning in the darkness." Duo's voice was distant now, like his eyes.

Heero looked hard into Duo's eyes. "Come back, Duo." He saw no response in Duo's face. "Duo! Duo . . . Death!"

Duo's expression darkened.

Letting his power free to wash over Duo, Heero repeated his name. He felt his consciousness flow into the room, searching for the touch of Duo's mind. He felt nothing. Desperate, he kept searching for the familiar touch, remembering what it was like when he had done the same only days before as Duo slept, trapped within the spell and his own mind

There, buried deep in the void surrounding Duo's mind, was a flicker of something. Heero reached for it, strained to catch and hold on to that bit of Duo. Then he felt himself being drawn into nothing, felt his power drain away and be absorbed by the void inside Duo. Heero's vision clouded, and his body grew weak.

"The Devil calls Death . . . ." Duo whispered. "But will the Devil answer, if Death calls to him...?" His eyes cleared, focused on the cobalt fire burning in Heero's eyes, and he screamed.

+

[cont]