9-18-1999

Warning: The characters belong to who they belong to and not me. Don't sue me, I'm not worth your time. Special thanks to Laurell K. Hamilton for writing the Anita Blake novels.

Addtional warning: Characters acting wildly OOC. You have been warned.

Additional Additional warning: Alternate reality fic. Events that have happened or will happen in this reality not necessarily connected to what happened in the real series in any way. Don't wave the time line at me, I am beyond it now. A HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

Additional Additional Additional warning: Extreme supernatural action. Supernatural abilities are as defined by me in the shadow world, where this takes place.

Additional Additional Additional Additional Warning: Story contains Yaoi, Bad language, violence, and pretty much everything deemed as "unwholesome" by Focus on the Family. (My Arch Nemesis...) If you are easily offended, do not read. Also, extra warning is attached to this due to the "YUCK!" factor during some scenes.

Additional...Oh, HELL With It Warning: This is not an Anita Blake crossover, per se. Sorry if anyone's been misled. For more details about the universe this takes place in, contact me about the shadow world.

 

Acherontia Atropos Part XIII

 

The Browning dropped from my suddenly lax grip and fell to the thinly carpeted floor with a loud thud. I was lucky that it didn't choose that moment to go off and take me out. Right then, though, I didn't think about it. I didn't think about anything, really.

I was frozen, completely, staring into the flat, dead eyes of Yan. For a long moment, I wondered if it were just a new horror that my nightmares had produced. But no, the sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh was stronger than ever. I was awake.

"No." I whispered, my voice sounding strange to my own ears. "You can't be here. You're dead." For a crazy second, I wondered if I'd dreamed it all, and that he actually was alive.

No. No. It couldn't be possible.

Yan continued to watch me. There was nothing in his eyes, no vital spark or hint of reflection. It was like trying to look into the eyes of one of the preserved animal specimens at the museum.

"What do you want?" I whispered, suddenly very, very afraid. It's not often that a guy gets visited by the ripening corpse of one of his friends. This was definitely a first for me.

Yan's mouth opened and moved, as if he were talking. No sound came out though, nothing but the whistling sound of moving air. My gaze moved slowly, reluctantly down...I really didn't want to know...oh god, I didn't want to look. But I did. Yan had been buried in a suit. It still looked starched and pressed, like he'd just taken it out of his closet and put it on. The high collar was buttoned and he was wearing a tie, but I could still see a bit of his neck. The gaping hole was still there; it looked like some giant had reached down and just scooped half of his neck away. Air was rushing out through the gap between the collar and his throat.

I covered my mouth with one hand. Of course, he couldn't talk. No vocal cords. No throat. It all made perfect, logical sense. A hysterical little giggle started bubbling up inside me, and I fought it off. If I started laughing now, I'd never stop. Stop. "Please stop." I said, very carefully.

Yan stopped moving his mouth and trying to speak. Once again, he just stood there, looking at me blankly. There was something else, though, in his empty gaze, as strange as it seemed. He was expecting something. No, not just expecting. Needing.

Needing me to command him, to give him something to do. The knowledge came to me, the thought forming completely unbidden in my subconscious.

Oh shit...he was looking at me for orders. What the hell was going on?

I shivered, suddenly very cold. Static energy was crawling along my skin, making every hair on my body stand on end. My body was too small all of a sudden. I was overflowing, there was too much...too much what?

My hands stung, and I looked down at them. Blood was glittering on my palms, welling up from four cuts that I'd made there with my fingernails. I'd been clenching my hands into fists in my sleep.

And now that I was awake and looking at the blood, I needed to...do something. I shook my head, slowly, trying to dislodge the weird thoughts that were suddenly creeping through my mind. I was filled with the cold, dark energy again. I could almost feel it dancing along my fingertips in the moonlight. I had to...

I held out a shaking hand toward Yan. Blood droplets glittered blackly on my fingertips. I spoke, the words drawn from me reluctantly from the power that was taking me, the thing I could not understand. "Drink." I said, my voice husky in my ears. "Take the offering and walk again."

The corpse...

No, that wasn't right.

Zombie. Yes. It was a zombie--don't think of it as Yan, think of it as something else--didn't need any more urging than that. It grabbed my wrist and pulled my hand toward it, then began to suck the blood from my fingers. Its fingers were hard and cold, its skin faintly waxy. A dry, leathery tongue rasped against my fingertips, and I let out a soft, frightened whimper and tried to pull my hand away. The zombie clung like a limpet, making a protesting almost-sound, and continued to lick at the blood. I stopped trying to get away when its grip tightened enough to make the bones of my wrist grind together. When it had finished with my fingers, the zombie turned its attention to the still bleeding wounds on the palm of my hand and began to drink from them. It looked at me the entire time.

I was caught in its gaze, frozen. With each passing minute, the zombie's eyes became less flat, less dead. There was something shining in them--not life, it couldn't be that--but awareness. Knowledge. Self. Just as weird, its neck healed as I watched, shiny white scar tissue closing over the gaping hole.

My hand protested like all hell when the zombie began sucking at the cuts. The pain brought me back to myself, and I suddenly realized that I was just standing there, letting something that must have just crawled out of the ground drink my blood. Oh God. I tried to pull my hand back again. The zombie mewled out a pathetic protest. "Let go." I said, sharply.

It did exactly as it was told, and I stumbled back a step and ran the backs of my legs into Heero's bed. I just wanted to laugh. It was mine, all mine. I'd created it, brought it to me, and now it was mine to command totally. A strange kind of elation welled up inside me, and I felt the dark energy stir, pulling toward the zombie. I wanted to touch it again, to share my blood with it more, because it was mine. Mine...my child...

/Stop that!/ I told myself, and shook my head sharply. I couldn't...no...this was too freaky...

The zombie stared at me again. Its lips were dark with blood. We watched each other for an eternal second, and then the zombie licked its lips, cleaning the blood from them. It was as if that little bit made all of the blood, magic, or whatever reach critical mass. Suddenly, the zombie's entire posture changed. It was no longer stiff and dead, though it wasn't quite alive. It was...familiar.

It looked at me, and self flooded into its eyes. "Duo?" It said with Yan's voice, inflections, and everything. "What's going on?" It--no, shit, I couldn't think of the zombie as an it any more, not when it was looking at me like that--HE sounded like a lost, scared little boy.

I took an involuntary step back, toward the door. The zombie took a step toward me.

That was it. "Stay there!" I yelled, my voice cracking. I backed away more quickly, even though the zombie obeyed my command. This couldn't be happening. It had to be a bad dream. My back ran into the door, and I let out a loud yelp. Yan the zombie watched me, a mixture of curiosity and hurt on its dead face. That was too much. I fumbled for the doorknob, not looking away from the zombie, and managed to get the door open.

I slammed the door behind me as soon as I was out in the hall, then ran the short distance to Wufei's room. My breath was sobbing in my throat, coming way too fast. I could feel myself panicking all over again.

"Wufei!" I said as loudly as I dared, knocking on the door. There was no answer. "Wufei!" My voice was shaking. I knew on an intellectual level that the zombie would still be back in my room, waiting for the next order...but my intellect was definitely not at home. I could almost feel the zombie, the thing I had called, creeping up behind me, reaching out for me in classic "Night of the Living Dead" style.

I'd created it. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god...

"Wufei!" I gave up any pretense at being quiet. If the other guys in the dorm had a problem, THEY could go deal with the damn zombie. I pounded on the door harder. Still no answer, and for one terrible moment, I imagined that another zombie had come and gotten Wufei, and any minute, the one in my room would change its mind about obeying me and come and get me next. My knees gave out and I let out a hoarse sob, crashing up against Wufei's door and sliding slowly down its smooth surface until I was on the floor. I continued to hit the door with one hand. The cuts in my palm had reopened, I could feel it. I was leaving little smears of blood on the door every time I hit it.

There was a soft sound beyond the door, and it was suddenly jerked open. I fell over, caught completely off guard, and ended up sprawling at Wufei's feet. His hair was hanging around his face, and he was wearing only a pair of pants. "Duo?" He asked, incredulous. "What's wrong?"

I was feeling a little upset. Yan dying, I could handle. Dead was dead, no changing it, I wouldn't be Shinigami if I didn't know that. But...now...he wasn't dead. Kind of. Because of me.

So I went into a round of hysterics.

Wufei handled it pretty well, I think. I threw myself at him and locked my arms around his waist, and he didn't push me away. Instead, he awkwardly returned my desperate embrace. He doesn't do that sort of thing very often. He stood there and half held me and listened to me babble for several minutes before he realized that I wasn't going to just calm down on my own. Then he pushed me away slightly, grabbed my arms, and shook me, very firmly.

The sound of my teeth rattling in my head brought me back to my senses a little, forcibly stopping the words that were cascading from my mouth. My breath was coming in rapid gasps. I concentrated on slowing it down until a small measure of coherency returned to my thoughts.

"Ok, Duo." Wufei said, a great deal more calm than he had any right to be. Then again, he didn't know about the dead guy in my room yet. "What's going on?"

I took a long, deep breath. "Yan." I said, very softly. "He's...in my room."

Wufei's eyebrows shot up almost to his hairline. "What?"

"Yan's in my room!" I almost shouted, my voice cracking. Tears were stinging in my eyes, but I wouldn't let them fall. I had to stay calm.

To Wufei's credit, he didn't ask questions or patronize me. I guessed that after the week we'd all been having, he was pretty much willing to believe anything now, too. "Can I let go of you now?" He asked.

I nodded, not trusting myself to talk again. He let go of my arms, then disappeared into his room for a moment. When he came back out, he was tugging on a shirt one handed and held his sword in the other hand. Wordlessly, we walked down the hall to my room. Wufei opened my door and took a cautious look inside.

If he saw anything, he didn't give any outward sign. For a crazy minute, I wondered if it had been a nightmare, and I'd gotten Wufei out of bed for nothing. God, I hoped it was a nightmare. If there was a choice between having a real zombie sitting in my room and being royally embarrassed, I would happily choose being royally embarrassed any day of the week.

Wufei took a deliberate step back and quietly shut the door. His had taken on a pale, sickly tinge that I didn't think was entirely due to the dim light of the hallway. "That," he said, very carefully, "is impossible."

My eyes widened. I hadn't heard Wufei sound like that very often. He was afraid. The only thing that was keeping him from breaking down like me was the fact that he was Wufei, and Wufei would never let anyone see him like that. I fell back against the wall with a solid thump and slid down until I was sitting on the floor. I wanted to laugh. So I hadn't been dreaming. "I wish." I said. "I really wish."

Wufei took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Did it attack you?"

I shook my head.

"Did it act hostile at all?"

I shook my head again. "It..." I took a deep breath and tried again. My words came out in a rush. "It's waiting for me to tell it to do something."

Wufei's eyes widened. "What?"

I scrubbed at my eyes with one hand, the hand that the zombie hadn't touched. "It's waiting for me to give it orders. It's mine."

"How...?"

"I don't know. Jesus, I don't know." I actually started laughing. I put my face in one hand and slammed the other into the floor. Hard. The pain shocked me enough that I managed to pull myself out of another looming bout of hysteria. "God, Wufei...when are our lives ever going to go back to normal?"

Wufei crouched down until he was level with me. "I don't know." he said. "Were they that normal to begin with?"

I snorted. "God, I don't know how you handle this so well."

"It's happening to you, mostly, not me. I'm only effected because I am your friend...so I am at least getting a choice as to whether or not I want to get involved." he pointed out. "Besides, maybe you only think I'm taking it well. Maybe once the zombie's taken care of, I'm going to go back to my room, lock myself in, and draw on the walls for a while."

The comment had its desired effect. I laughed, and it wasn't tainted with panic in the slightest. The image of Wufei, barefoot and with his hair loose, drawing on the walls with crayons was just too ridiculous. I felt calmer almost immediately, a little removed from the problem. If Wufei could handle it, so could I. I hoped.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. When Wufei's not ranting about justice or being taken up in the heat of the fight, God is he one cool cucumber.

"You win." I said. "I'm ok now." I took a deep breath. No, I wasn't ok, but at least I was in control. "What do we do?"

"We go inside and see what it wants. It came from somewhere. We send it back." It sounded so simple when he said it. Maybe it was that easy. I hoped so. Sometimes I wished I could see the world in simple terms like Wufei seemed to. There's a fight, so you apply sufficient force to the enemy that you will leave nothing standing. There is a wrong, so you right it. There's a pervert groping you, so you kick him in the nuts. There's not enough rice, so you go buy more. There's a reanimated, ripe-smelling corpse standing in your friends' rooms, so you go in and ask it what it wants, then send it home. See? Fits right in.

I nodded shakily and stood up. He followed me when I walked into my room. It was the bravest thing I'd done all week.

 

********************

Ok, three posts in a row, I know that I'm being bad, but please don't beat me, k? I'm really sorry. I finished this one just now, and it is WAY past my bedtime, so please let me know if there are any problems with coherency in it, k? Please? C&C? *shimmery eyes* Promise there's some action coming soon!!!

--
Katsu no Miko
Keeper of Duo's Stake and Mallet??
Keeper of Duo's Browning .40 Hi-Power III???
(Or maybe) Keeper of Duo's angst???? (future generations will decide)
AND: Keeper of Ad's Sanity! (*snicker* What sanity?)

"Erst wenn die Wolken schlafen gehen/kann man uns am Himmel sehen/
wir haben Angst und sind allein.../Gott weiss ich wil kein Engel sein..."
(~Ramms+ein~)

 

Warning: The characters belong to who they belong to and not me. Don't sue me, I'm not worth your time. Special thanks to Laurell K. Hamilton for writing the Anita Blake novels.

Addtional warning: Characters acting wildly OOC. You have been warned.

Additional Additional warning: Alternate reality fic. Events that have happened or will happen in this reality not necessarily connected to what happened in the real series in any way. Don't wave the time line at me, I am beyond it now. A HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

Additional Additional Additional warning: Extreme supernatural action. Supernatural abilities are as defined by me in the shadow world, where this takes place.

Additional Additional Additional Additional Warning: Story contains Yaoi, Bad language, violence, and pretty much everything deemed as "unwholesome" by Focus on the Family. (My Arch Nemesis...) If you are easily offended, do not read. Also, extra warning is attached to this due to the "YUCK!" factor during some scenes.

Additional...Oh, HELL With It Warning: This is not an Anita Blake crossover, per se. Sorry if anyone's been misled. For more details about the universe this takes place in, contact me about the shadow world.

 

Acherontia Atropos Part 14

 

The zombie was standing where I'd left it--him. When I came in, he looked at me, and I only had one name for the expression on his face. He was hurt. I suddenly felt like a heel, which seemed pretty ridiculous. I was feeling bad about hurting the feelings of a corpse.

But damnit, corpses weren't supposed to look so...alive.

"Duo?" Yan looked up at me. There was still a strange flatness in his eyes, like he was lacking some vital spark. Well, duh. But at the same time, they were still Yan's eyes, and there was still a measure of intelligence and self awareness in them. "What's going on? What am I doing here?" he looked confused and lost.

I carefully moved past him and sat on my bed. Wufei stayed standing, by the door, still holding his sword. "What do you want, Yan?" I asked, keeping my voice carefully neutral.

If anything, the question seemed to just confuse him more. "Want...?" he said wonderingly, as if the thought that he might actually want something was completely foreign to him.

I glanced at Wufei. Wufei shrugged. Big help there. So I tried again. "Why are you here?" When in doubt, rephrase the question.

Yan suddenly smiled. Boyish. Innocent. All American. If you ignored the fact that he was dead and smelled, that is. "You called me."

"I *WHAT*?" I nearly yelled. That wasn't the answer I had been expecting.

Yan regarded me unblinkingly. "You called me." he said again.

I looked at Wufei. He shrugged. I resisted the urge to hit him. "Called you from where?"

Yan hesitated. "My...room?" It sounded more like a question than an answer.

I knew THAT wasn't it. I shook my head. "Try to remember."

"But where would I be if I wasn't in my room?"

It didn't seem right for a zombie to sound so...lost. They were supposed to try to eat people, and stumble around moaning "fresh meat" or something like that. At least if you believed the movies. Then again, I'd already learned that movies weren't exactly the best source of information on earth. "I hate to tell you this, man, but you're dead."

"I am?"

I nodded. God, this was so weird. "A vampire ripped your throat out. It's hard to get deader than that."

Yan reached up and cautiously touched his neck. His eyes widened. God, he looked so alive, it was freaky. "I don't remember..."

"That's probably for the best." Wufei murmured.

Yan looked at Wufei. He smiled. He'd always liked Wufei. His attention came back to me almost immediately, though. I was the focus of his world. "I'm...dead." He said quietly, as if he were testing out the idea. "My parents are sad, aren't they."

"A lot of us are." I said, just as quietly. "Some of the guys are out, right now, looking for the monsters that killed you." Shit. The guys. They wouldn't believe this.

"Can I go home?" he asked.

I shook my head quickly. "I...don't think that would be a good idea. Your parents already got a bad shock when you died...if you showed back up, I don't know how they'd take it."

He nodded. "You're right. So I'm dead." He was so trusting. It only made me feel worse.

"Yes." At least he wasn't in denial about it. I don't know what I would have done about that.

"Then I should go back to being dead, shouldn't I." He said slowly. His voice immediately firmed, and he nodded, as if he liked the idea. "I should get put back."

Great. Never mind the fact that I had no idea how to do it. Then again, I hadn't had the foggiest clue on how to bring someone back as a zombie to begin with. Maybe whatever it was that told me how to start this little adventure would tell me how to finish it. "Where did you come from?"

Yan shrugged. Big help there.

Wufei cleared his throat. "There's a graveyard a few miles northwest. That is most likely." I blinked. I hadn't known that. Wufei smirked slightly. "It pays to be thorough in one's reconnaissance."

I rolled my eyes. Of course. Wufei seriously needed a life if he spent his time scouting around for graveyards, but I wasn't going to say that, considering he had possibly just saved my ass. "Ok, then. We'll go there. Sound good to everyone?" No objections. Great. Take charge, Duo. Go me. As I stood, a strange thought came to mind. "Wufei, do you have some salt?"

Wufei had been turning to leave, but he stopped at my question. "I might have some in my room. Why?"

"Don't know." I shrugged. It had been a weird, stupid idea that came up from my subconscious. Considering all the interesting things that had been coming up from that part of my mind lately, I wasn't going to argue with it.

Wufei obviously was thinking along the same lines as me. "I'll go check." he said.

***

When we consulted with a map, we found that the graveyard was closer to five miles away. Too long to walk with as little time as we had until dawn. I knew I sure as hell didn't want to get caught walking around with Yan's animated corpse. That would probably raise some questions that I wouldn't want to answer. So we hot-wired one of the cars in the teacher's parking lot, a truck that we were fairly certain belonged to one of the night janitors. Wufei drove. I wasn't feeling too confident in my ability to do anything that required any amount of focus right then.

After a little discussion and shuffling, Yan got relegated to the back. As sorry as I felt for him, I still didn't want to have to deal with how he smelled in close quarters, even with the windows open. I figured that if the back of the truck smelled a bit off when we returned it to its place in the parking lot, well...hopefully the janitor wouldn't notice it. There were all sorts of cleaning supplies and implements back there. Maybe he'd figure that he hadn't rinsed his mop out well enough or something. I wasn't going to worry about it too much, though. Let someone else deal with a damn mystery for once.

The ride to the cemetery was silent. Yan wouldn't speak unless spoken to, and neither Wufei or I really felt like talking. Once we got there and unloaded Yan, we had another problem.

"Where the hell did you get buried?" I asked the dead guy, more than a bit exasperated. The cemetery was huge. Acres of crosses and weathered stone angels, tall headstones covered with kanji and english characters, as far as the eye could see. Looking for one grave would take forever.

"I don't know." Yan shrugged. "I just remember coming to your room."

Great.

"This is an old graveyard." Wufei said. "There won't be many new graves. So we look for freshly disturbed sod or dirt."

It was a better than being completely clueless, but for some reason, the thought of wandering around in a huge, old grave yard in the middle of the night looking for a small patch of freshly disturbed earth just did not turn me on. Call me weird. "Wait, I have a better idea." I glanced at Yan. "Does your family have a plot in this cemetery, maybe somewhere you guys would visit?"

Yan nodded slowly. "I think so. Yes. I remember where it is."

I grinned. "Bingo. Take us there, then." Yan the zombie nodded and chose one of the gravel paths to walk down. Wufei and I followed him. None of us spoke; the sound of gravel crunching under our feet was the only thing I could hear.

I watched Yan walking ahead of me. He had his hands in his pockets. That was another thing. I thought zombies were supposed to shuffle. And do so while holding their arms stiffly out in front of them. I would really have to have a talk with the guys that thought up horror flicks some time. So far, they were batting zero. I didn't know how I would tell them, though. 'Hi, I'm Duo Maxwell, and I met a REAL zombie once and this was how he acted...' No. I'd just have to keep my revelations about the horror movie industry to myself, I guessed.

Yan's family plot was pretty far removed from the front gate of the cemetery. It was actually on the outskirts; there were trees on almost all sides of it, and a fence. End of the road. There were several large grave markers, all of them covered with the graceful, spidery shapes of hundreds of kanji. I could only understand about half of them, but the effect itself was pretty. They glimmered in the moonlight; the characters had been filled in with silver leafing, it looked like. Yan's grave was the only relatively new one; I could tell by the lack of weathering on the marker over it. Plus, there were two wreaths of flowers set up by it, and an easel with Yan's picture on it. The picture had a piece of red ribbon tied around it. Yan in the picture was smiling. His hair was slicked back perfectly and he was in his uniform. His school picture. Shit.

Strangely enough, the earth over the grave wasn't really disturbed. It just looked like it had settled a little--there was a depression in the grass. Yan obviously hadn't clawed his way up through the earth like in the movies...

/Geeze, man/ I hissed at myself in annoyance. /enough with the damn horror movies./

Some days, I really wonder about myself. Other days, I know.

I cleared my throat and looked at Yan. "Looks like the end of the road, man."

He nodded and stood by his grave. None of us moved for a moment. We didn't know what to do. Finally, he looked at me, his face expressionless. "Will it hurt?" he asked.

I hesitated. "I don't know." I said honestly. "I don't think it will, though."

He nodded. "Then put me back. I'm tired."

At his quiet words, my throat closed off. I blinked my eyes quickly. Damnit, I was not going to cry. As soon as I had myself back under control, I took a deep breath. The air tasted tired, faintly moldy and full of the earthy scents of fresh dirt and old death. "Ok..." I said. "Ok..."

I glanced back at Wufei. He raised his eyebrows. No ideas there. Of course, I would have been very shocked if he'd had any ideas. Wufei's an educated guy, but somehow, I just don't think his repertoire extends to zombies, or any of the really weird shit for that matter.

So I turned back to Yan, took a deep breath, and let myself go. I didn't have any better ideas.

As soon as I stopped trying to keep it out, the cool, electrical power crashed into me and went through me, leaving me gasping as if I'd just been dunked in freezing water. All of my nerve endings were sensitized; I could feel the slightest breeze, could almost feel the tiny pressure of the moonlight on my skin. I couldn’t give it direction, because I didn't know what to do with it, so it rushed into the ground madly, leaving me tingling with its constant flow.

But it was more than that. I could see underground, into the graves, through the grass and dirt and wood of the coffins. Skeletons and rotted corpses caught my attention, and I could see each one in my mind's eye. One woman, now nothing more than dust, lay in her grave like so, though there was no longer enough of her left that her position could be discerned with sight. Another grave held three corpses stacked one on top of each other, ancient on the bottom, barely fifty years dead on top. I could taste the last glimmerings of the people that had left the bodies behind, roll the feel of them between my fingers and tell how old they were, when they died.

"Duo." I heard Wufei say, his voice strained.

I opened my eyes slowly, turning to look at Wufei. All around, small clusters of lights or mist had sprung from the graves. I knew that they were ghosts without knowing precisely why. They were the last gasps of personalities and souls that had long since moved on, but had been strong enough, angry enough to stain the ground over them with their presence.

"Ignore them." I said, my voice very calm. "They can't hurt you if you ignore them."

I turned my eyes back to Yan--no, what was left of Yan. There was no soul there, only the short-lived memory of who he had been moving the body, using the vital spark of power that I had given him. My zombie. My...child. I had called him, and now he was tired, ready for to rest once more.

I stepped forward, tearing at the scabs on my hand until one came free and blood welled from the newly reopened wound in a hot line. The blood clung to my fingertips. I wiped it gently on Yan's lips. He watched me, his eyes wide and frightened for a moment. He couldn't understand what I was doing. I wasn't sure if I understood, myself.

My hand went to my pocket, and I pulled out the small paper packet of salt that Wufei had found for me. my guess was that he'd liberated it from a fast food restaurant at some point. That wasn't important though. The salt itself was. I sprinkled the salt on Yan's shoulders, and he shuddered.

"With blood and earth, I bind thee. Return to thy rest and walk no more." I said, very softly. I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. I sounded like some kind of weird Shakespearean actor or something. Too strange for me.

Yan closed his eyes, and finally smiled. "Thank you." He whispered.

I took him by the arms and helped him lay down on his grave. The grass and soil flowed over him like water until he was hidden from sight.

The power inside me dried up abruptly, and I collapsed to my knees on top of Yan's grave, my hands shaking badly. Whatever it was that had moved me before, it was completely gone now. I was just Duo, and it felt pretty good to have everything back under control.

Well, pretty much. Right then, I just felt like a candle that someone had left out in their car in the middle of summer.

"Daijoubu ka, Duo." Wufei said. He was suddenly kneeling by me. I hadn't heard him move.

"Aa, daijoubu." I said. "Now that that little adventure is over with."

"Is it?" Wufei said, enigmatic as always. He gave me a hand up. "I have a strange feeling that things are going to get worse."

I groaned, laughing. "Don't say that, man! Someone might be listening!" It felt good to laugh and relax. Things were ok now. The corpse was back in the ground. The corpse... "Oh god..." I moaned, suddenly stumbling against Wufei as the enormity of what had just happened hit me like a falling pallet of bricks. "What the hell did I do?" I'd brought Yan back from the dead...the boy I'd helped kill...god, this on top of everything else. Was I even human any more?

Wufei caught me and held me up. "You didn't do anything." he said. "Everything that has been happening since the beginning of this mess has been caused by the vampires."

I looked up. He sounded very angry. "Everything." He said again. "They're the reason that the boy died. They're the ones that...assaulted you." his lips curled in distaste. I guess it had been pretty obvious what they'd done to me, even if I'd tried to hide it. "They are why the others are out in the woods tonight and we're here. Don't try to blame it on yourself." He turned his gaze on to me, and gave me a sharp shake. "Or I won't be angry with them any more. I'll save all my anger for YOU."

I nodded meekly. I'd never seen Wufei in a mood quite like this before.

"Understand?"

I nodded again.

"Good."

He half carried, half dragged me back to the truck, and we rode back to the school in silence. When we were back in the dorms, I hesitated in front of my door.

"Wu-man?"

He stopped, halfway down the hall. "Yes?"

I licked my lips nervously. This sounded really weird. "Can I sleep in your room tonight?"

Wufei turned back toward me, his eyes wide with shock. Finally, he nodded. "As long as you promise not to have any more visitors."

"I'll do my best." I grinned weakly and let him usher me into his room. Soon, I was ensconced on his bed. Despite my best efforts at keeping calm, I was shivering, and my teeth were chattering. It's not every day I discover that I have some kind of weird power that lets me call the dead from the grave. Or maybe not so much having as being used by some strange power...I don't know. Either way, I was scared.

Wufei grabbed one of his extra blankets and wrapped it around himself, then sat on the floor by the door, his sword propped against his shoulder. "Go to sleep, Duo." He said quietly. "I'm watching over you."

It was like before, when Quatre and Heero had held me. I suddenly felt warm and safe, because Wufei was there. He wouldn't let anyone hurt me. I didn't have to be afraid.

I lay down and drifted off to sleep.