9-20-1999

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.

Additional 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 XV

 

I was standing in Yan's cemetery again, underneath one of the statues; this one was of an angel. [1] The angel was looking a little worse for wear; the wings were broken badly and one of its hands had been severed. It still reached out its good hand in a gesture of supplication, though, and the carving's face was serene, still and unchanging. It couldn't feel pain; why should it care if one of its carved hands was missing? There was rusted barbed wire wrapped around it, I guess to hold it together. The rust had run and stained the stone beneath it dully. It looked like blood in the moonlight.

Someone was laughing, giggling quietly in a high pitched, child-like kind of way. I looked up, and saw Trowa and Quatre, sitting on the shoulders of the angel. They were both smiling. Wufei was now laying at the statue's feet, curled up in a ball like a faithful dog...or someone that was very, very frightened and withdrawn completely from reality. I could see his shoulders trembling, ever so slightly.

The earth beneath my feet shifted, and I fell to my knees. Dew that had collected in the grass immediately soaked my pants legs, and I was suddenly very cold. The ground shifted more, sliding around like something was moving under it...it began to flow outward, like water, and a hand shot up from the grave.

I stared in horrified fascination as the person struggled from the grave until the were half laying out of it. The person--no, boy--turned toward me, and I let out a soft, whimper. He had bright red-orange hair, but his face was Heero's, and he stared at me out of flat, dead, cerulean blue eyes. Heero was panting for breath, as if he had just finished a long, long race, and he simply continued to stare at me, his eyes filled with need.

My hand stung. I looked down, and saw blood welling up from between my fingers. Slowly, I held my hand out toward Heero. It was right. He was mine.

Mine.

"Drink, Heero. Take the offering and walk again." A large, fat drop of blood fell from my hand and hit the grass. I could feel energy dance along my skin again, seeking a home. Heero grabbed my wrist and sucked the blood from my fingers, tugging at the power I could feel deep inside of me. Darkness washed over his hair, changing it to crimson, then black, and I smiled softly, my eyes fluttering shut...

"DUO!"

Strong hands grabbed my shoulders roughly and, my eyes flew open. I let out a loud, very high pitched yelp, flailing wildly. I was hopelessly tangled in the sheets. Immediately, Wufei let my shoulders go and backed off, rubbing his ear with one hand and directing a grimace at me.

When I finally freed myself, I sat up, carefully pulling the sheets up over my lap. God, that had been weird. Especially taking in to account the way it was effecting me [2]...I managed not to blush through sheer force of will, and I looked Wufei in the eye. Either he hadn't seen anything or he was being tactful. Considering that Wufei was normally about as subtle and tactful as a rhinoceros horn up the backside, I was going to vote for option one and hope I was right. "What?" I said, somehow managing to keep the confusion and disgust I was suddenly feeling towards myself out of my voice. Point for me.

"You were moaning in your sleep." Wufei said. "Bad dream?" [3]

I shifted uncomfortably and cleared my throat. "You could say that." I murmured. Hey, Heero crawling out of a grave certainly qualified as nightmare material! I'd just forget about the rest of it. I glanced at the window, deciding that a change of subject was in order. Dull light was slowly trickling in through a crack in the curtains. It was still pretty early, then. "What time is it?" I asked.

"About 7:30 in the morning." Wufei said.

I nodded. That felt about right, according to my (faulty) internal clock. "Have the guys come back yet?"

Wufei shook his head. "Not that I know of. I haven't heard them come in."

"Were you awake the whole time?" Great, now came the guilt.

He shook his head again, smirking slightly. "I slept. I simply remained alert for any activity occurring outside the room. No one has come in or gone out, as far as I could hear." He rubbed his ear and shot me a nasty look. "Though I can't say how much I'll be hearing, now. Someone could probably march a Gundam down the hall and I wouldn't hear."

"That's what you get for startling me." I said, and stuck my tongue out at him. "Excuse me if I've been feeling a little more high strung than normal, lately."

Wufei shrugged, and I shifted uncomfortably. My life was weird enough as it was, and now I was getting turned on by dreams of Heero as a zombie. Too frigging strange for me. "Ne, Wu-man, mind if I use your bathroom?"

He shook his head. "Go ahead."

I looked at him. He looked at me. Neither of us moved, and he raised an eyebrow. I reeeeeally wanted to blush. "Would you mind doing me a huge favor?"

"What?"

"Would you mind grabbing me some fresh clothes out of my room so I don't have to streak across the hall in a towel?"

For a long moment, I thought he was going to argue. His eyebrow cranked up to nearly his hairline, and he gave me an extremely hard, skeptical look. I smiled winsomely. That's me. Duo the lost, cute little waif. "Fine." he said. Go me. I'm so cute that not even Wufei can resist my charms. Right.

As soon as Wufei had left the room and the door was fully shut behind him, the blush I'd been holding in for the last few minutes suddenly manifested. My face felt like it was on fire, but then again, I was feeling a bit warm all over. I scrambled out from the tangle of sheets on the bed and hurried to the bathroom, shutting and locking the door behind me. I needed a cold shower. Yeah, that was it. The cure for all ills, even weird ass dreams.

As soon as the freezing water hit me, I yelped and forgot how off balance I was feeling.

***

Almost immediately, someone was pounding on the bathroom door. I cursed and turned the shower off with a shaking hand. "What the hell is it?" I yelled as I clawed my soaking hair out of my eyes with one hand and felt along the wall, attempting to figure out where the towel rack was with the other.

"Duo, get out here now! We have a problem!"

I paused for a moment. Wufei sounded really upset. Shit. Something bad was going down. I managed to find a towel to wrap around my waist. There wasn't an extra one for my hair, so I'd just have to drip on the floor. Oh well. It was Wufei's problem to deal with, considering that he was the one hauling me out of the bathroom. After slipping on the tiled floor of the bathroom and almost cracking my head on the edge of the sink (only a desperate grab at the towel rack saved me) I managed to get the door open and stumble out into the safer, carpeted portion of the room.

Wufei was staring at me incredulously. I knew that I had to look like crap; I was shivering hard, and I was most likely white as a sheet. My hair was trailing all over the place, dripping icy trails of water down my body wherever it touched me. It was nice to know that the exterior was mirroring the interior.

"What?" I demanded crankily.

Wordlessly, he handed me something. "Huh?" I looked down at the little object. It took a minute for what the thing was to sink in. "Oh god!" I dropped it on the floor and covered my mouth with my hands.

It was hair--three locks of hair, black, light brown, and blonde, tied together in a little bundle with a ribbon that used to be white. Used to be. It had rusty red stains all over it. Dried blood. The bits of hair were splattered liberally too; they were stiff, and the only reason I could tell the blonde hair was in fact blonde was that the ends of the lock were still relatively clean. "Oh God..." I said again, stumbling back until I hit the wall. I leaned gratefully against it.

Wufei crouched and picked up the hair, a look of revulsion on his face. "This was pinned to the inside of your room's door with Quatre's butterfly." [4]

"Oh shit." I laughed, and it had a very frightening edge to it. "Can't they leave a NORMAL calling card? How about a note that says 'Yo, I have your buddies, play nice or they'll be wearing cement overshoes.' or something like that!" I trailed off into a giggle. I was scared. It had to be the vampires. There was no one else it could be. They had the guys now. I'd told Heero I wouldn't go with him. I cut down their fighting strength. Oh shit. I slid down the wall and put my face in my hands. The towel rode up a great deal, but I didn't care. Quatre and Heero and Trowa might be dead, and it was my fault. All my fault...

"Stop that!" Wufei growled and grabbed me by the upper arms and hauled me to my feet, banging me roughly against the wall. "What the hell are you doing?" He hissed. "The others have been captured and you have a mental breakdown?? Are you really that WEAK?"

I got banged against the wall again. Wufei's face was only inches from mine. I couldn't escape the anger in his eyes...or the fear. If they could get three of us, including Heero, we didn't have a chance...

Wufei smacked me against the all once more. "Didn't you listen to a goddamn thing I said last night, Maxwell?" He snarled.

That, more than the violence, hit me like a slap in the face. Wufei had been calling me by my first name for over a year, since we became friends. And now, we were back to being strangers. What he'd said last night...

For one long, long instant, everything inside me froze, every emotion that I'd been directing at myself. Then it exploded. Suddenly, I was angry, angrier than I'd ever been in my entire life. They were playing with me again, I knew it now, trying to break me so that I couldn't be a threat to them any more. They were using the others to mess with my mind. Hot rage flooded through me like molten metal. I grabbed the collar of Wufei's shirt roughly and pulled him close with sudden, manic strength, until our foreheads were touching. His eyes widened as he looked into mine.

"I," I said very carefully, "Am going to fucking KILL them." My throat hurt; I could feel myself biting back a low growl. I was breathing heavily, and my arms were so tense that I could feel them shaking.

Suddenly, Wufei smiled. "No." he said. "WE are going to fucking kill them."

***

I had never been so angry before in my entire life. It was a unique sensation; I was so hot with anger inside that I had transcended rage. All that was left was a malevolent, deadly calm.[5] All it took was one look at Wufei to see that he was feeling exactly the same way, and I knew for a fact that it was just as unusual for him as it was for me.

The vampires hadn't just invaded our lives and turned our worlds upside-down. They hadn't just screwed with my head until I was reduced to a pathetic, scared little wreck. Now they had struck at the very foundation of our lives; the other pilots, the only people the Wufei and I had that we could trust, or count on, or love.

More than friends. More than families. More even than our reflections in a mirror.

They were OURS. This happening in war was one thing, but this wasn't war to the monsters. This was a game. Play with the funny little humans. Step on their anthill and watch them scramble. Poke them with a sharp stick.

I was going to rip Cheree's head off and force feed it to her. That was just to start.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I was down the hall and into my room. There was a blood stain on the back of the door, and a crack in the word where the knife had been stuck. I ignored it. Instead, I pulled on my clothes, grabbed my shoulder rig, wiggled into it, and shoved the Browning into its holster after I got the safety back on. The black windbreaker went on next, I shoved some extra ammo in the pockets, and I was good to go. The guys had taken the other guns, so I didn't have a back up weapon. After a fast stop to use the phone, I walked quickly back to Wufei's room.

"Do you have a gun?" was all I asked.

Wufei shook his head. "No. I prefer other weapons." He pulled the mattress off of his bed. I let off a low whistle. It looked like he was keeping an entire damn cutlery catalog's inventory under his mattress. And I'm not talking about the friendly fork and spoon kind of cutlery, either. "Go grab the coat out of my closet." He said.

I did as I was told like the good little boy I am. Right. There was only one coat in his closet. It was a grey trench that I'd never seen him wear before. I grabbed it off the hanger and took it over to Wufei. He was pushing down his pants legs--he'd just gotten done putting ankle sheathes on for knives. Wordlessly, I handed him the coat.

"Do you want a couple?" He asked, jerking his head toward the still large selection. Then he grabbed a knife that looked more like a really short word than a knife, and tucked it down his back. The coat went over it, and he looked like little, innocent Wufei again, not the walking one-man knife show. Little innocent Wufei after he joined the mafia, that is. I snorted and grabbed a knife to tuck up my sleeve. You never can be too careful these days.

"Where's the hair?" I asked. Wufei handed it to me, and I tucked it into another of the convenient pockets in my windbreaker. I had to resist the urge to wipe my hand on my pants afterwards. The thing felt very strange in a not nice sort of way. "Ok, Wu-man, ready to go?"

He nodded. "I assume that you have a destination in mind."

I grinned. "But of course."

Half and hour later, we were standing out in front of Carmelita's. Wufei looked less than thrilled. I felt about the same. I was still too pissed to care, though. The wave of anger that was still burning me took me through the doors and up to the front desk. Hara was there, waiting for us in her usual state of undress. Fancy that. I grinned my best, most pleasant company smile for her, then cut right to the chase. "Where's Carmen?"

"Carmen's getting ready to entertain a client." Hara crossed her arms, her eyes quickly taking in the store around us, to make sure there was no one there to overhear us. There wasn't. Maybe no one felt like buying porn so early on a lovely Sunday morning. Imagine that. She glared at me. "Carmen told me what you wanted her to do. I refuse to allow it."

I never stopped grinning. "Why?"

"We can't afford to antagonize the vampires."

"Bullshit. They're messing in your territory, too."

She shook her head. "No way in hell."

I shook my head right back at her. "That's not the way it works, Hara. Either Carmen is going to do this for us, or you will. Either way, someone is going to tell me where I can find those assholes before I leave this store. I'd prefer it was Carmen instead of you, because I like her better, but you'll do just as well." It struck me that it might not be a good idea to piss off one of the local witches. Then it struck me that I really didn't give a shit. I'd probably get myself killed tonight, anyway.

"No." She said again. "Get out."

Wufei cleared his throat. "You might want to reconsider." He said, very calmly. It stuck me as kind of funny. Normally I'm the good cop.

I leaned toward her, over the counter. "That's not one of the options, Hara. Look, the line's in the sand now, you're going to have to pick your side. Either your going to help me find the vampires so I can kill them, or you're going to be my enemy." My grin broadened. "And trust me, you don't want to be my enemy. All the vampires can do is screw with you, then kill you. I can do worse." I hadn't thought of it before I said it, but yeah, I guessed I could. If I could just figure out how I'd managed to call Yan to me last night, I could do a LOT worse.

She stared at me, and for one moment, her eyes went completely white. Something almost like a physical blow hit me, and it was all I could do not to take a step back. My entire body started tingling with that pins and needles feeling.

I gritted my teeth. "What was that?" I said "Are we going to get into a pissing contest now?" My eyes narrowed, and I fumbled around internally for the power that I had felt last night, hell, every night for almost a year. It was sleepy and protested when I nudged it; the sun was out and it didn't want to play. But I woke it up anyway and did the only thing I knew how to do. I threw it at Hara.

She DID take a step back. Her face was pale, and she was shaking. Oh lord, she was trembling all over. What the hell had I done?

"Get Carmen now." I said. I hoped she would do it. I hoped that what I'd done would be a good enough bluff for her. I was out of mystical shit, and I was afraid that the next thing I'd have to do was go for my gun...and I learned a while back that you don't go for your gun unless you truly intend to kill someone. Heero still hadn't quite figured that one out on a subconscious level. "I don't have time for this shit. If we go into another round, I'm going to end it."

Wufei stepped forward and gently touched Hara's arm and smiled politely at her. Damn, he's a good actor...or maybe he just didn't like the way I was treating her. We'd hash that out later. I knew I was in the right--she'd started it! "Get Carmen, please." Was all he said.

Hara jumped when he touched her arm, but she immediately relaxed. She nodded stiffly, just once, her eyes still wide and round in her face. "I'll go get her." she said. "She'll have my permission to do the spell if she can."

Alright. Now for the easy part. I hoped.

I'd worry about how I managed to scare the piss out of a high witch later.

If there was a later.

 

 

[1] I have been known to hang out at Riverside Cemetery, which is one of the oldest, largest cemeteries in Denver. Yes, I admit it, I am a strange one. The angel statue that I have described is actually real. One of the best pictures I've ever taken in my life was of that statue with the light shining down on it. Just as a point of interest (this has no significance to the story) the angel was broken several years ago by vandals, whence the barbed wire and missing parts. It stands over the grave of a prostitute who either ran away from home or was thrown out by her parents, I forget which. The inscription on the marker says "Beloved Daughter." Nicely ironic, no? If any of you are ever in the Denver area, drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to show it to you. :)

[2] Forgive me if some of this isn't sounding quite right. I am, after all, a girl. And I'm not about to call up one of my guy friends at four in the morning and ask them if I'm being accurate or not. Hell, I don't think I'd call anyone up and ask no matter WHAT time of day it is. ;)

[3] Yes, I know this line is kind of trite, but...oh well.

[4] No, I don't mean butterfly as in the cute little insect. I mean butterfly as in my favorite kind of knife, which happens to be illegal in two states. ;) I have decided that Quatre shall own a butterfly knife--either a Jaguar or a Balisong, since both are nice knives, though I'm partial to original Balisongs. I can just see Quatre sitting there, flipping it open and shut...*shimmer*

[5] This is one thing that I have drawn from my own experience, the feeling and the wild leap from despair to hatred. I'm making Duo's temper a lot like mine in the respect that it takes a lot to piss me off, I mean REALLY piss me off...but once I am that angry, I will level buildings. (Well, not quite...no buildings have gotten knocked down quite yet, but you get the idea)