Author: Sunhawk
Warnings : Supernatural AU, 1+2 with mention of past Solox2 and Solox5, OOC, angst, Duo POV, character death, but not Heero or Duo. Apologies for all butchering of the supernatural genre.

This is a gift fic for Kitana Bradford, for this fantastic picture :
http://photobucket.com/albums/v510/Kitana_Bradford/?action=view€t=Vampire.jpg

Taste of Memory

The undead should smell... well; dead. But they don't, and I don't like it. I'm a 'shifter, and we live by our sense of smell. I don't like it when it betrays me.

When you see a guy so damn hot you could use him to light fires, you shouldn't find out later that he's actually as cold as... not to mince words, but... a corpse.

So I was a little pissed off when I wasted almost fifteen minutes flirting across the room with the best looking guy I'd seen in The Warren in ages, only to have him finally walk over to my table and flash me some fang.

Don't get me wrong, I have fangs too, when I'm in the right... frame of mind, but there's a world of difference between the fangs of a 'shifter and the fangs of a vamp. I knew what I was looking at.

I do not cross the 'species' line when it comes to my love life. Or any other aspect of my life if I can help it.

So I was less than thrilled to discover Mr. Walking-Wet-Dream was not the right kind of dream.

I had to wonder what a vamp was doing in The Warren in the first damn place, but didn't have time to dwell on it, as I had to deal with the whole back-peddling thing.

I was trying to think of a turn-down line that didn't sound lame, because I wasn't stupid enough to piss off one of the undead no matter how I felt about them. But I didn't get the chance.

'Surprise,' he murmured, and the voice was as liquid-sex as the rest of him... damn it.

I blinked at him, not sure just what the surprise was supposed to be. 'Pardon?' I asked, ever mindful of a long... uh... lope home. Alone. And just how many hours it was until dawn.

'You're not happy to see me,' he informed me, that smile he'd given me earlier faded to a kind of sardonic smirk.

'Uh... I don't even know who you are,' I replied, glad I wasn't in wolf form or my hackles would have been standing on end. I hate that.

'No,' he said coolly. 'But you just figured out what I am, and you aren't happy about it.'

Well. I suppose if he'd figured that part out, I could forget about the whole not offending thing. 'We don't get a lot of vamps here,' I said. 'Sorry to waste your time.' And mine.

'Who says I wasted it?' he asked pleasantly. 'I found what I came in for.'

That... didn't exactly make my night, and I didn't reply, just staring at him and hoping he'd go away. You don't out stare a vampire. Especially not one with eyes as blue as a damn Kansas summer sky.

'May I sit down?' he asked even as he was doing so, and I sighed, wishing that I hadn't decided to come out tonight. Wishing... for a lot of things, if the truth be told, but we shan't get into that just now, oh no we shan't.

'Go ahead,' I smiled. 'It's a free country.' And I stood up almost the exact moment his ass hit the chair.

I didn't have to look back to know he was following me. Well shit; only I could be lucky enough to pick up an undead... admirer. Well, me and a couple dozen Hollywood horror starlets, but you know what I mean.

I sighed and had to resist the urge to leave the bar and head for the dubious safety of my apartment. I knew damn well just how dubious that safety was... it was all a psychological illusion best left in my own mind. I would not let him spook me into leaving the slightly less dubious safety of numbers. I picked a bar stool that had occupants on either side and parked there.

I should not have been surprised when he was able to 'convince' the guy on my left to vacate.

'If I didn't know better,' he said as he sat down beside me. 'I'd think you didn't like me.'

'If I didn't know better,' I growled. 'I'd think you were a stalker.'

He chuckled and watched me while I ordered a drink; one of those too sweet wine cooler things. I'd heard once that blood-drinkers don't like them. I only wished the place served garlic cocktails... I'd have ordered one in a heartbeat. Maybe two.

Mr. Too-Sexy-To-Be-Undead leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, 'that's a myth.'

'Maybe I like them,' I countered and hoped the look of distaste wasn't actually on my face.

'Maybe I know better,' he said, and it was almost a purr. He straightened again before I had a chance to look at him. That rather left me blinking. Did it imply what I thought it was supposed to imply? Was the guy claiming to know me well enough to know what I drank on a regular basis? Did I really have some kind of psycho, undead stalker on my hands? Oh happy day.

My drink arrived and I reached for it. Fingers like ice brushed over the back of my hand. 'There's no reason to be afraid, Duo.'

Well, maybe there hadn't been, but the... pardon the pun, sucker had just used my name. How in the hell did he know my fucking name? I was hard pressed to maintain my shape and not shift right into a form that would have allowed for those raised hackles.

Ok... this was bad. I had somehow managed to catch the attention... the unwanted attention... of one of the undead. There was no way in hell that he could possibly want anything that was going to be remotely considered 'good for me'.

And me without a pack for support; nobody was going to show up and get my back. It was up to me to get myself out of this particular situation and the sooner the better. The Warren was not open all damn night.

And with no more pre-planning than that, I tossed that white wine spritzer right in his face and shouted, 'Hands off, buddy! I don't fuck with leopards!' and then I shoved him off the stool and into the guy beside him.

Uhm... for the uninitiated, the last thing you want to be in a den full of shape-shifting wolves... is a cat.

I did not hang around to make sure things went exactly as almost planned. The initial growls and shouts were enough to tell me I was at least in the ball park. I ran. I ran like I have never fucking run before. Faster than I'd run the night the church had been burned. The night the pack turned me out. The night it had all gone to hell.

I ducked and dodged and shifted and fought my way to the back of the club, doing my best to take the unexpected route. One of the girls was in the back and she looked startled as I hurtled past, but the look on my face made her just step aside, and I tore through the back door and into the alley.

I suppose I looked pretty damn pathetic, scared spitless and running like a whipped dog. That's pretty much how I felt though, so I guess that's what she saw.

As soon as I hit the night air, I full-shifted and ran like a mother, straight as an arrow and pushing for all possible speed. I wanted some distance first and foremost and I ran full-tilt for a good four blocks before doing a part-shift and starting to think about evasions. I tried not to think like a wolf. Tried not to take the predictable course.

But... right from the starting stride there was a sense that he was on my heels.

Panicked? You bet your ass.

I was already second guessing the decision to run. Already not sure there wouldn't have been another choice. That something with more of a possibility of actually saving my ass wouldn't have presented itself if I'd just bided my time.

But... he could have out-waited me. I'd have had to leave when the bar closed, and there had been no one there I could have turned to that would have given enough of a damn to help me. And no possibility in hell that anyone in that category would have shown up.

No possibility, because there wasn't anyone in that category any more.

That lone wolf thing? Not nearly as romantic as it sounds.

There was no one to count on and nothing to trust but my own speed and agility. Which I've been told are impressive, but somehow... I doubted they were going to save me this time.

I didn't worry about keeping to the shadows; they would be as meaningless to him as they were to me. I just did my best to find hard routes and tight spaces. Using my shifting abilities to the suicidal limit, twisting my body into whatever hybrid phase would afford me what I needed the most at any given moment.

I took full wolf form and ran on the flats, went human when I needed hands to open things, half and half when I needed hands but also the tougher hide of the wolf body. Alleys. Basements. Roofs. Underbrush. I took what cover the city had to offer and just... ran. Throwing myself at every vantage with no thought of not making the leap... of not managing the shift in time... of falling. I was cut and bruised in a dozen places and air was a thing of memory. I couldn't have heard the vamp over the sound of my own panting breath if I'd tried. Not that they make any noise, damn the things.

But somehow... the more I ran, the more I felt positive that he was right on my heels. Not that I ever dared the lost second to look. It's like when you're a kid playing Little League and trying for that single, and the coach is screaming at you to not look, but just run.

But every once in a damn while, I would have sworn on a stack of flaming bibles that I heard that voice whispering my name on the wind.

Panicked... did I mention that? That's the only excuse I have for what happened next, because it was my own damn fault.

Some part of my over-loaded, oxygen-deprived brain had been left to fend for itself while the rest of my higher thought processes had been occupied with breathing and sheer terror. It had decided that we needed to get to a safe place. Too bad the last one of those I'd ever had was the one place on Earth that I should never go.

Seeing the remains of the burned out church, still there after all those months, was enough of a shock that I just fucking stopped dead in my tracks; vampire, pain, fear, and the rest of my sucky night just flat forgotten.

This was not a safe place, no matter what that errant brain cell had thought. In fact... this was probably the least safe place, for me at least, in the known universe. Never mind that it had been the heart of my security for 99.9% of my life.

I'd fled right straight into the territory of my former pack. The one that had cast me out and declared me dead in name, and dead in body as soon as they managed to catch me again.

I was somewhat amazed to feel adrenaline hit my heart so solidly that it hurt all through my chest and up into my throat. I wouldn't have thought I had any of that particular chemical that hadn't been used already.

I very distinctly remember breathing, 'oh fuck', and would probably have turned around and run back the way I'd come, but there was enough of my rational brain left to remember that in that direction lie something a little bit worse than death. In front of me just lay death... albeit, it would not be an easy one.

Excuse me a moment while I introduce the rock to the hard place.

I can only forgive myself that stone cold moment of indecision because it wasn't any more than that. It didn't take three heart beats; even at the rate mine was pounding, for the Maxwell pack to begin appearing around me. And despite the fact that I'd spent my whole life running, eating, living and loving with the 'shifters descending on me... there wasn't an eye in the bunch that held any compassion.

You don't betray the pack and get nothing more than a smack on the wrist. You generally get death, and I'd only been living on borrowed time because of that vaunted speed of mine.

Too bad I'd spent it and then some already... it would have come in handy at about that point.

Most of my former pack-mates slipped out of the shadows on little wolf feet, growling low and sniffing the air as if verifying that fortune had indeed brought them what they thought it had. My own ass delivered up on a nice, shiny silver platter.

Solo, of course, walked on two legs... I think he liked the look it gave him. Liked the image of the leader surrounded by his beasts. He really didn't need the cheap tricks. With that fall of stark, white hair and those piercing eyes of blue ice... he sure as hell didn't need the cheap ass tricks.

He was... as impressive as he'd ever been.

And though it pains me to admit it, and damned if I'll ever admit it out loud, that bastard Chang looked just as impressive at his right hand. Probably better than I'd looked when I'd stood in that spot.

That was almost more insult than I could take... that the son of a bitch who was really responsible for the destruction of that place we'd all called home, the one that had framed me and thrown me down from my place at Solo's side... had so obviously stepped in and taken that place.

While Solo stared at me... Chang only smiled.

I think, in that moment, I would have thrown myself into the thick of the pack if I thought I could have taken the bastard with me, but I knew I was done. Knowing that I couldn't fight a vampire, I'd gambled it all on just getting away, spending all my energy on fleeing. I was barely on my feet after the mad run through half the city, shifting a hundred damn times... I wouldn't get within a foot of him.

Not that it mattered much... I was pretty well done one way or the other. I spared a moment to regret deciding to come out looking for a drink, and took a stance that was meant to be firm, but was probably... pretty pathetic.

'Forget you don't live here anymore, dog?' Solo snarled and I watched Chang's smile grow a little wider.

I didn't bother to answer... he wouldn't hear anything I tried to tell him anyway. I'd already seen that when I'd screamed my innocence in front of the lot of them. Not a one had believed me, and now I was dead in their eyes... sentence already passed.

'Perhaps the pup found his balls and came back to face his just punishment,' Chang suggested, his voice matching that damned expression, and I wished I could wipe it off his face for just one damn second. Wanted to see that cocky mask slip just once. Just one damn time before I died. I really didn't want that to be the last thing I saw.

There was a growl to my right and I caught a glimpse of silver-tipped fur and felt an advance.

Solo's gaze never left mine, but he growled low. 'Barton! Winner! Back off... he's mine.'

I had been... once. Not like he meant now, but I suppose there was some serendipity in dying at his hand. And I suppose it was better than dying at Chang's. Infinitely better than falling to the bastard who had taken my place.

And then Solo just seemed to tire of waiting and he came at me. Shifted and sprang and I shifted to meet him, though I didn't stand a chance. As impressive as he is in his human form... it doesn't hold a candle to the White Ghost of local legend. He's pack leader for a reason.

And I was already shaky and panting and damn near dead on my feet, and as he took me down to the concrete, jaws snapping at me... I had to laugh thinking what I'd led to their doorstep. I wondered, even as I automatically twisted and fought, if the vamp would pick somebody else to stalk.

Solo bit at my foreleg and I tore at his muzzle, managing to draw blood, but only seeming to piss him off further. I couldn't help remembering other struggles between us... but those had been mock, and had led to something that hadn't involved blood and death.

When he delivered the death strike, it wasn't even clean... he tore into my abdomen and I knew even as he ripped me open that he meant to let me lie on the pavement and die slowly. And he wouldn't care how long it took.

You don't betray the pack. Not and live to tell the tale. Not unless you can blame it on someone else. I knew that... but it didn't make the pain any less.

Somewhere, high above us, there was a... roar. A primal cry of pure rage. It froze us all right where we were, and in the space of an indrawn breath, Solo was gone. Ripped away from me so suddenly I couldn't even tell where he ended up. I probably should have tried to get away then, but... well... I was just too busy dying. So I just laid there and bled, lungs sucking for air that didn't seem to be available, and sight playing tricks on me.

Something had Solo and I wasn't even sure what it was. Is it... sick that I had a moment's instinct to try and help him? Is it sad that having him believe Chang's lies about me so damn easily, had not been enough to completely erase what he'd meant to me?

Though it was only a fleeting moment; betrayal might not have been enough to kill those feelings, but I guess having him rip my guts open had pretty well done the job.

Didn't stop me from smirking when I realized Chang had broken and run without so much as thinking about going to his lover's aid.

In fact... the entire pack broke and ran, the whole lot of them. Left their leader screaming helplessly under... whatever in the hell had fallen out of the sky.

And then the screams stopped with a rather sickening meaty sound. The thing dropped the body and stood... resolving itself into something more human shaped. Well... except for the wings.

I shivered in a cold that was my body's own making and thought about avenging angels, as strange as that thought was. But then the angel turned my way and I thought more of devils.

It was the vampire, the blue-eyed vampire, and he was coming my way. I was losing coherency and could feel myself shifting, not quite able to keep wolf form... not quite able to obtain human. I knew I was almost done and could only hope my body gave up the fight before he... did whatever vamps do. Somehow... I just didn't want to die at the hands of the undead.

'You killed the wrong fucking one,' I choked out as he knelt beside me, not sure why I felt the need to tell him that.

'I killed the one who harmed you,' he growled, and he was damn scary looking with those wings and those eyes and those God damn fangs. I would have shivered again, but didn't have the strength left.

'W...what the hell are you?' I breathed, the sight of him dipping his head toward my stomach making me look away. Over his shoulder I could see the hulking remains of the place that had been home until the flames had taken it away. It seemed fitting, somehow, that I would end here.

'Your stalker, remember?' he murmured, and I felt his lips touch the ragged edge of my wound. He was as cold as I had imagined, and I knew it was all over. One way or the other... it was all over.

I threw back my head and gave voice to my own death howl, since I knew there was no one who would come afterward and mourn my loss. It made the vamp shiver.

Nobody was as surprised as I was when I woke up again.

I had no idea where in the hell I was. I was cold, I was battered, I ached, and was so damn weak I couldn't even roll over when I heard the vamp's voice behind me.

'You're awake?'

'Yeah,' I managed and felt a moment's fear, having to touch my tongue to my canine teeth before I could manage more. 'You wanna tell me why that is?'

'I healed you,' he told me, voice sounding rather matter of fact. I heard him move and knew he allowed it. He came around in front of me where I could see him and it made me realize I was lying on something and not just the ground.

'You can do that?' I asked, blinking at him in a manner that must have looked pretty dumb.

He gave me a sardonic little smile. 'Obviously, though you can check for yourself, if you'd like.'

I thought about it. Thought about reaching down to touch my side to see just what the story was there, but... I couldn't so much as lift my arm. 'I'll take your word for it,' I murmured and debated the notion of just going back to sleep.

He snorted softly and took hold of my hand, using his to smooth my fingers over my own bare torso. It took me a moment to stop thinking about how he felt to notice that I didn't have a gaping hole in me. Granted, the place was tender as screaming hell, but it should have been a whole lot more than that.

'You're... not cold,' was what I found myself telling him.

His eyes narrowed. 'I've fed.'

I stared into those eyes that were even bluer up close, and knew just who he'd fed on. I wanted to mourn... but somehow just couldn't. I heaved a sigh. 'I'm not dessert, am I?' I asked and managed to win a laugh. He was... less scary when he laughed.

He knelt down beside whatever in the hell I was lying on to bring himself closer to my eye level. 'Duo... I never meant to harm you. I really did approach you in that bar because I'd seen you around and found you... attractive. It was some kind of twisted fate that led us both back to that monster Chang Wufei.'

'What?' was all I could come up with on short notice and so I asked him just that. Though I couldn't have told you which part of his statement I was questioning. Seen me? Attractive? Monster? Fate?

He glanced away from me then, something in his expression looking almost frustrated. 'I'm running out of time, I can't explain right now, but believe me... we both have reason to want revenge on Chang. If you want to have it... live. Stay here, sleep... wait for me. I'll be back at nightfall.'

Sleep? I thought I could manage that easily enough. The rest of what he said just whirled around in my head. He let go of my hand and rose then, and I could feel what he already had; knew dawn was approaching. He turned to leave with no more than that. It scared me a little to have him leave me alone as incapacitated as I was. But that notion almost made me laugh, so I just ignored it. 'Wait,' I called out and he hesitated, glancing back at me. 'What... what in the hell is your name?'

He smiled and seemed to be acknowledging something with a faint incline of his head. I wondered if my curiosity had just committed me to a partnership before I really had a chance to think about it.

'Heero Yuy,' he told me and then started moving again.

'Pleased to meet you,' I murmured to his back and I got another one of those little laughs before he was out of sight.

Well this was just great; an outcast shape-shifter in league with the undead, all because I'd gotten lonely and decided to go for a drink. Guess that would teach me. Assuming I lived through the day to get the rest of the story from Mr. Yuy when the aforementioned nightfall came.

'Hey!' I shouted after him on a sudden thought. 'Bring back a couple of damn cheeseburgers! I'm starving here!'

I swear to God I heard him laugh right next to my ear, then I closed my eyes and went to sleep. Wasn't so scary at all when he laughed. Maybe I'd even find out what in the hell he was when he came back again.

I didn't even find it odd that I had no doubts about his return.

I woke several times through the day, or at least... drifted up to consciousness. My kind aren't really meant to change form at the drop of a hat... it's not overly painful, but it takes a hell of a lot of energy. What I'd put my body through in an effort to escape becoming an hors d'oeuvre for the living dead, had alone been enough to have me down for the count for awhile. Add to that the physical rearrangement that Solo had gifted me with, and I couldn't manage much more than opening my eyes, verifying that I wasn't dead yet, and then drifting back to sleep/unconsciousness.

I remember waking once and very distinctly thinking that I wished I'd asked for fries and a shake with those cheeseburgers, because I was getting really hungry.

I remember waking and worrying about rats, but there didn't seem to be any around, and it seemed kind of stupid for the big, bad wolf to be freaked about a thing like rodents anyway.

I remember waking and thinking that the room I was in smelled warm, but I still didn't feel it. It made me really wonder just how close I'd come.

And the weirdest thing of all... I remember waking up in a bit of a panic because I still couldn't have stood up if my life had depended on it... and wishing Heero would come back.

Ain't that a total kick in the head? I had a panic dream because I was so helpless, and I wanted a vampire to come and hold my hand. I drifted off that time laughing hysterically. It made my side hurt like a mother.

When I woke after that, I could tell that darkness had come and damned if I didn't smell cheeseburgers.

'Awake?' that liquid-sex voice asked and I started, though I couldn't do much about it.

'Seem to be,' I croaked out, and blinked when he squatted down in front of me with a bag from Burger Zippy. 'You really brought it?'

He smiled faintly and sat the bag on the floor. 'You need to build your strength back up. Can you manage?'

I thought about it. Thought about him. Thought about the burgers and the mind wandered off thinking about rabbits for a minute, before coming back and trying to get back on track. I blinked some more. 'I have no fucking idea.'

He gave out with one of those little chuckles, but then reached out toward me and I found a reserve somewhere and flinched. He frowned, but hesitated, taking the time to ask first. 'I was going to help you sit up, if that's ok?'

'Ok, sure,' I muttered, feeling kind of stupid. If the guy had really wanted to... do the icky vamp thing, he could do it any damn time he pleased. Not like my lying there twitching was going to stop him.

He was surprisingly gentle for an undead guy, slipping his arms under me and carefully lifting me up to recline against what I discovered to be the arm of an old, battered couch. Some part of my mind registered that he felt warm and I wondered if his last meal was... still with him, or if he'd fed again. It was something of a relief either way, because quite frankly... the cold corpse feel is really creepy.

I didn't waste what little energy I had trying to hold my head up, and just let it loll against the back of the couch. Instead, I saved it to lift my dinner so I could eat without him hand feeding me, because that would have been just weird as all hell.

I inhaled the first sandwich while he made noises that might have indicated that I should slow down, and then I took a little nap. I was rather appalled at myself when I blinked my eyes open to find him still sitting there next to me, but he didn't mention it, just handed me the next sandwich. I have no idea how long it had been, but the burger was stone cold. Not that I cared. I ate slower and tried to pay a little bit more attention to him, but he seemed to have figured out that multi-tasking was beyond me, and just let me eat. There were four burgers in that bag, an order of fries and a nice syrupy soda. I put it all away and would have considered licking the bag if he hadn't wadded it up and tossed it aside when it was empty.

I felt like one of those big ass snakes that eats a cow once a year. The tiny little bit of energy my poor battered self had, went straight to my stomach to handle the digestion process, and left the rest of me blinking at him like a sloth.

'I still don't understand why I'm not vamp kibble,' I mumbled, and he snorted in a manner that was very undignified and not the sort of thing you expect the undead to do. They're only supposed to do that maniacal laugh thing.

'It would just be such a waste,' he said, smiling like I was the most amusing damn thing in the city.

Focus was getting hard and I remember telling him, 'Eyes that blue shouldn't be dead.' Some small part of my brain thought that had been a dumb thing to say.

He only whispered, 'Sleep,' like it was a command, and I did.

When I woke next, he was gone, and I could scent the sun's heat in the air. I had to pee something awful, and had little doubt that I would have continued to sleep otherwise. I don't make ka-ka in my own nest, even when it's a borrowed one, so I set about rolling off the couch and ended up on my hands and knees watching little spots dance in front of my eyes. I settled for crawling six or seven feet away from my bed and peeing against a wall. Then I decided that taking a nap on the floor half way back to the couch was a decent idea.

I woke up again when Heero picked me up off the floor. I flinched awake at the touch, but relaxed when I realized it was him.

That thought struck me as seriously twisted.

'Were you trying to run away?' he asked me, and I was taken by surprise by the faintly wistful tone to his voice.

I couldn't help a snort of derision. 'Trying to crawl to the... facilities.'

He blinked at me and managed to look chagrined. 'I'm sorry... I forget things sometimes. I should have woken you up last night to take care of that.'

Forget? I guess it would make sense that the undead wouldn't exactly have to deal with the niceties of things like bodily waste. It made me wonder about a few other things, but nothing you asked about in polite company.

It was hard enough getting my head around the weird time lags without adding in a course on vampire physiology. My brain was just not functioning on all cylinders, I guess, but if I wouldn't have looked like a total moron, I'd have used my fingers to figure it out. He'd come back twice now. That was two full days and going into the second night. If you didn't count that first one. It all made my head hurt, and it was the odd desire to lay that head on his shoulder to rest my muscles, that made me realize just how long he'd been standing there holding me.

I think I stiffened at the thought, and he went ahead then and put me back down on the couch.

'I don't want to seem ungrateful,' I told him when he'd straightened away and I could see him again. 'But why are you going to so much trouble over me?'

He ducked his head and managed a look that spoke of guilt. 'It was my fault you got hurt to begin with, I shouldn't have chased you. I should have accepted that you didn't... that you weren't interested.'

I watched him stand there and look unaccountably... not happy, but I couldn't figure it out. He was catching me all kinds of off-guard. I'd always been told that the living dead were not the most compassionate things that walked the night. It was hard to look at him standing there with his head ducked, seeming to almost hide behind the fall of his hair, and think... 'Vampire'. He sure as fuck did not look like a damn vampire.

'I don't generally date dead people,' I heard myself say and wondered if it had been rude. God... I was worrying about the political correctness of vamp labeling.

It didn't help that he seemed to tense. 'I suppose not,' he sighed.

I was starting to feel really uncomfortable lying there flat on my back with him standing over me, so I shifted to sit up a bit. It was disconcerting to have his instant attention, but I let him help me and I was again surprised by how gentle he could be.

His hands... lingered, and now that my brain had more than two cells in gear, it struck me just how many opportunities he took to touch me. There was something inside him that seemed almost... barely reined.

And this is going to make me sound like a total nut-bar, but I felt in that moment that I could trust him. That I had nothing in the world to fear from him. And that made me shiver.

I didn't recall that my Momma raised a blithering idiot, but maybe so.

'Stop... towering,' I growled, feeling off-center. 'Sit the hell down.'

He graced me with a faint smile that relieved some of the weird tension, and sat down at the other end of the couch.

'Now tell me shit I don't know,' I commanded, pleased with the tone I managed despite how ludicrous it probably sounded. Like I had a perfect right to boss him around.

'Like what?' he asked, a little bit of that cockiness I recalled from the bar coming back to his voice.

'Like what in the hell are you?' I asked, and almost mentioned the wings, but then had a moment of doubt that I'd imagined the whole thing, and left that part out.

He sighed and quirked a little grin. 'Always with the hard questions first,' he murmured and ran a hand over his face. 'I thought you'd already figured out I'm a vampire.'

'Not like any I've ever met before,' I grumbled and his little grin widened.

'You've met so many.'

'Ok,' I amended. 'Not like any I've ever heard of.'

He snorted, but the smile went away. 'I was... a 'shifter, before I became what I am now.'

I just stared at him, not sure just how to take that news and fought to keep my tongue from checking my own canines again. There was something in his intent gaze that made me think the fact was important. 'And that's why you're... different?'

He nodded, still watching me. 'Shape-shifters... almost never turn. It takes a very powerful vampire, so... my kind are very rare. And it makes us... different.'

I digested that, thinking it over and found that it was something of a relief. I didn't have much desire to become a walking corpse. Though I didn't ask him if he fell into that category of 'powerful enough'.

'And just where does Chang Wufei fit into all this?'

His eyes went dark and cold in an instant. I caught a glimpse of a hatred that felt so wide and so deep that my own seemed childish in comparison. 'He's the bastard who turned me,' he growled.

He might as well have jerked my entire world out from under me.

'What!' I snarled and threw myself to my feet... and almost to my knees. Heero had to catch me to keep me from falling.

Chang Wufei was a... was a card-carrying member of the ranks of the undead? No way. No fucking way. Except... it explained some things. It maybe made sense out of why my family had turned on me so easily.

It was like watching somebody throw a handful of puzzle pieces into the air and having them fall neatly into place all on their own.

I remembered a wound I'd found on Solo's thigh that he'd had no explanation for...

I remembered his sudden discomfort in the sunlight...

The way he'd seemed so fixated on Chang when he'd first shown up...

The way Chang would disappear on us after he was taken into the pack...

Chang Wufei had seduced his damn way into our home. Had obviously bitten Solo and had been exerting some control over him. I didn't know much about vamps, but I knew that... that once you willingly gave yourself to one... you didn't entirely own yourself anymore.

Hell... Solo had probably gone into it with open arms. If the guy had had a fear... it was of growing old and weak. Of losing his place as master of the pack. Chang could have offered him an eternity at his peak. Forever strong. Forever the leader.

Heero had kept me on my feet while my mind had gone off to introspection land and we stood staring at each other, his hands holding me by the elbows and my legs trembling under me.

He had that look again, something in his eyes that spoke of a hunger so deep it took my breath away. I wondered when he'd fed last, but he didn't feel cold. Not warm exactly, but not cold yet. But... I didn't think it was that kind of hunger anyway.

'You scare the holy shit out of me,' I heard myself say. 'I don't want to be like you.'

'I don't want you to be like me,' he whispered, and it was impossible to believe him. Impossible not to believe him.

[cont]