Warnings: Angst, yaoi, supernatural hocus pocus
Pairings: 1+2, 3+4, 5+?
Disclaimers: GW doesn't belong to me. I'm just borrowing the g-boys for a little entertainment and will return them relatively unharmed. Please don't sue me.

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He didn't know where he was going. He didn't know where he would end up. And for the moment, he didn't care. The trees, cars, and houses flashed by, mere blurs at the speed he was running. His lungs screamed for air as his muscles begged for rest.

Collapsing on the ground, Duo fought to regain his breath. His violet eyes scanned his surroundings, more out of habit than anything else. The small, dirty street was deserted, empty except for the occasional scurrying rat. In the distance, he could make out a wandering bum, but he was no threat.

The cheap-looking shops that lined the streets where covered in graffiti scrawls, as well as a thick layer of dust and grime. The few trees that stood in small squares of dirt on the sidewalk were thin and scrubby, drooping towards the ground as if in a state of melancholy.

The place was all too familiar to the braided boy. While it wasn't where he grew up, it was similar enough to give him a sense of depression and nostalgia. Recalling the past wasn't one of Duo's favorite pastimes.

He sat there for a while, just recovering from his violent flight. Sleep subtly tugged at his mind, pulling, persisting, teasing, until before he knew it, he had sank into the deep, black abyss that was his only asylum from the real world.

-*-

"Cool! Does this mean that I get to live forever and have the cool powers that you do?" A braided teenager was practically bouncing with excitement, grinning from ear to ear.

"Yes." Green-not-quite-hazel eyes looked at the glowing face with concern. "But are you sure you want to go through with this, Duo? I love you just the way you are...and I don't want you to have any regrets."

"Aww, Solo!" Duo whined. "I want to stay with you forever..." He hugged the older boy and nuzzled his chest. "I love you...and I never want to leave you!"

Reluctantly, Solo nodded. "Alright, then. But this change is permanent. If you regret it later, you can't undo it. Are you absolutely sure you want to?"

Duo rolled his eyes. "Hai, hai. How many times do you want me to say it before you believe me?"

"I just wanted to make sure. You know that I worry about you..." The older boy touched one smooth cheek tenderly. "I...I just...don't think you'll like living only for the darkness, for the night....for the blood. You're such a bright, happy person, Duo-chan. It's what I love most about you...and I don't want you to lose that..."

Violet eyes suddenly turned dead serious, earnest solemnity replacing the sparkle of laughter. "I was serious when I said that I want to be with you. Make me what you are so I can stay by your side...for eternity. Just you and me. Forever."

Solo bit his lip hard enough to produce a small droplet of blood. With a small sigh of resignation, he nodded silently.

The chesnut-haired youth nodded as well. He closed his eyes tightly in a surge of unexpected fear. Warm breath tickled the hair on his neck as he was pulled into a tight embrace. In a low husky voice, Duo heard his best friend and lover murmur, "Don't worry, young one. It won't hurt...too much."

Immediatly tensing up, the long-haired boy thought he heard his companion chuckle darkly before lunging with a superhuman swiftness.

He thought he heard someone screaming in the far off distance. It sounded familiar, almost like...himself.

-*-

"Hey...wake up..." Somebody shook Duo's shoulder. The voice persisted. "It's dangerous here...come on!"

He slowly pulled his eyelids open, irritated. A person, or at least what he assumed was a person, stood in front of him. The multicolored blur sharpened slowly as his numbed mind snapped back into reality. He realized that he was staring blankly at an young Asian woman. By the looks of it, she was physically a few years older than him, but of course it was no comparison. Duo would retain his fifteen-year-old appearance for a long time, by mortal standards.

Still disoriented, Duo blinked a few times. What had his dream been about? He had a feeling that it had been important, but he just couldn't remember. Frowning, he thought hard. Still couldn't remember.

Clearing his throat, he said out loud to the air, more to himself than anyone else, "Who are you?"

"Your guardian angel," she replied sarcastically, hands on her hips. "Now come on, it's dangerous out here for someone like you to be sleeping out on the sidewalk.."

He was tempted to ask what she meant by "Someone like you", but he refrained from saying it aloud. Most likely she just thought he was a homeless bum or something.

She grabbed his arm and pulled him up forcefully. He tried to stand up, to no success. The woman looked at him for a moment, then slung one of his arms over her shoulder. Slowly and steadily they made their way down the street. She led the way, unfaltering, farther into the dirty streets and past the crooked alleyways of the small ghetto in a sector of L2.

-*-

Some time later found them on the doorstep of a run down apartment complex, some twelve blocks from where Duo had originally been. Letting the nearly unconcious boy lean on the wall, the woman fumbled in her pocket for a minute, then produced a key. The violet-eyed boy was slumped against the wall, already asleep when she prodded him sharply in the arm, waking him up with a start. She sighed, then pointed to the flight of stairs leading to her room.

"Fifth floor," she informed him. With an resigned sigh, she moved to help him, but he pushed her away with an indignant noise and pulled himself up the stairway with uneven and unsteady steps. At the fifth step, the room tilted and darkness rushed at him. At his last concious moment, he saw her catch him before he hit the ground, dropping her bags in the process.

-*-

"You're very heavy for someone of your size, did you know that?"

Duo groaned as he opened his eyes, allowing a few seconds for his head to stop spinning. His back was sore from the unaccustomed softness of the unfamiliar bed. He pushed the heavy comforters away and sat up, blinking. He looked down and noticed that his favorite outfit was torn and wrinkled, not to mention dirty. Of course, being a gundam pilot, it was nothing new. The job was a bitch on new clothes.

Noticing his look of distaste, the woman smiled briefly. "What, you didn't expect me to undress you, did you?"

He shot the woman a nasty look before attempting to stand up, swaying on his feet. Stumbling out of the room, he went throught the kitchen, living room, and several closets before he realized that he didn't know where the bathroom was. In fact, he didn't even know whose house he was in. Duo stormed back to the bedroom (as well as he could) and faced the woman, seething with frustration. She was writing at a small rickety desk, a massive tower of books threatening to topple on her. As she scribbled furiously, she would occasionally put out a hand to steady the books, then continue writing.

Duo glanced at the clock nearly buried under papers on the desk, which flashed 3:56 rather annoyingly, like a broken VCR.

"What are you doing up this late?" He hoped that it wasn't because he'd been sleeping in her bed.

She stood up and stretched, working the various cricks out of her neck. Seeing her face clearly for the first time, the braided boy noticed that she was very pretty, but a little too old for him. Besides, he just didn't swing that way. He flinched slightly, the thought of Heero was still a fresh, stabbing pain.

"Well, I have to study. It's very hard to handle three part-time jobs *and* full time college."

The violet-eyed teenager flinched again, this time not at the thought of Heero.

//Open mouth, insert foot.//

Weakly, he tried to apologize. "Sorry.."

She sighed and flipped her short black hair. "It's alright.....and the bathroom is down the hall, first right."

He grinned, partially still apologetic, and left to search once more for the mystical bathroom door. The girl sighed and returned to her huge amount of work.

-*-

Over the next few days, Duo found a way to occupy his time. In trying to thank her for taking him in, he prowled around the apartment, searching for anything that needed fixing. With only his bare hands, a few nails, and 3 3/4 screwdrivers (one of the screwdrivers lost its handle) and the assorted tools that he kept in his own hammerspace, he found and fixed anything broken in her house. By the next day, no chair or table dared to lean lopsided, no door creaked.

She sat across the newly fixed breakfast table, looking at him increduously.

"You're a miracle worker with tools...I haven't been able to fix this table since...well, *ever*!"

The chestnut-haired pilot grinned and held out a slightly sore hand. "Duo. Duo Maxwell."

She grinned back, extending her own hand. "Aileen. Aileen Kim."

Over the table, they sealed their newfound friendship, before Duo resumed shoveling Sugar-Coated Sugar Puffs with Cream Filling down his throat by the bushel. Soon, breakfast was finished and dishes done and put away. They sat on the beat-up sofa, just drinking coffee and sitting in silence.

He noticed Aileen staring at him, with what looked like sympathy in her eyes.

"What?"

"Nothing. I just....I know what you're going through, Duo. I want you to know that I'm here for you. I used to do drugs, too. My life used to be hell...I even got pregnant once. But I've changed, and now I'm trying to patch my life back up. It's not much now, but in a couple of years, who knows? I might even move out of this dump someday, live in luxury, be rich.." She trailed off, searching his eyes for comprehension. "You know what I'm talking about, right?"

The violet-eyed boy resisted the urge to roll his eyes. //She thinks that I'm addicted to pot or something.// But it wasn't her fault, and what she was saying was heartfelt and genuine. What came out of his mouth, however, was a simple, "Being rich is an overrated concept, ya know? I know somebody rich, and she's a spoiled brat."

She nodded. //He's trying to change the subject. I shouldn't push it.// Noticing the long, disheveled braid trailing behind him, she said with a cheerfulness that sounded a little too forced, "Maybe you should take a shower, freshen up that braid of yours."

Duo looked at himself and grinned. "Maybe I should."

"Here, tell you what. I'll get you some clean clothes and I'll wash your outfit later." With a small smile, she made a shooing motion.

"Ok." He nodded and trotted off, headed for the bathroom. A few minutes later, Aileen heard the water running. Quietly, she snuck in and took the haphazardly piled clothing off the floor and left a clean, neatly folded bundle on the toilet seat.

-*-

Duo came out of the shower in a pair of sweats and a white shirt that seemed to fit just right. As he toweled his hair, he glared at the small elastic tie in his other hand, which had somehow managed to snap during the night. Sighing to himself, he glanced at the severed ends, checking if it was salvageable.

Aileen, sipping her third cup of coffee, noticed and looked first at him, then at the hair tie consideringly. After a moment's apparent thought, she walked over to her nightstand and picked up a plain box. She removed something and walked back, with the expression of someone who had made a painful decision. She sighed quietly, glanced at whatever she was holding, and opened her hand, offering it to the long-haired teenager. Duo looked at it curiously, still toweling his damp hair.

It was a beautiful hair clip embedded with amethysts. It looked like it was worth more than everything else in the house put together. He looked at the Asian girl, violet eyes wide. Her lips turned upward in a genuine smile.

"Here, use this. My grandmother gave it to me, but I think you can use it more than me..." She made a gesture for him to take it, nothing but kindness in her eyes. "Besides, it matches your eyes."

Duo tried to stammer an excuse, but she would have none of it. Evidentally, she'd decided to give her undoubtedly priceless heirloom to a near-stranger just out of a fit of kindless. She forced it into his hands, looking pleased and a little regretful at the same time.

As soon as he held the jewel-encrusted clip in his hands, he could feel the strong sentimental value it had to Aileen. He tried to give it back, but to no sucess. She could be very stubborn when determined, he noted.

"Why are you giving this to me? It obviously means alot to you...and you hardly know me.." he tried to explain.

She smiled again, and he thought that the expression reminded him a little of Quatre. Firmly repressing the thoughts of the others, he tried to focus on the present: a girl giving him possibly the most precious possesion in her life.

"Because you remind me of myself when I was your age," she said a bit wistfully. "You have potential, Duo. You just have to see that the path you're choosing may not be the best one."

The former Deathscythe pilot (former because he didn't think he'd ever go back, much less pilot his beloved gundam again) looked down at the ground. If she'd given him such a priceless gift, he felt indebted to give her something in return. His hand slipped to the heavy gold cross around his neck and grasped the body-warmed metal. With sudden decision, he removed it and quickly shoved it into her hands.

She made a motion to return it, but he pleaded, hoping that she would understand, "Please, take it. I...I no longer deserve to wear it. Maybe, someday, I'll return your clip. And you can give me back my cross."

They stared at each other for a moment, both feeling a little strange. Then Aileen smiled again and lifted the cross over her head, around her neck. Duo grinned and resumed brushing and plaiting his hair, securing it with the clip when he was finished.

-*-

Duo lay in his makeshift bed on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Already he could feel the dark influence surfacing again, and it had only been three days since he'd last fed. Usually he could keep the hunger down for about four to five days, partially because he had trained himself to be resistant for as long as he could last, and partially because of his interesting condition.

He closed his eyes and past memories slowly resurfaced.

-*-

After the first flash of blinding pain when the fangs pierced the delicate skin of his neck, it vanished. Completely. Instead of the mind-numbing pain, an all-consuming bliss took its place. He was in a near orgasmic state of ecstasy, his body melting with the sheer pleasure of it. How he could have been afraid, he didn't know. He was in rapture...

He nearly howled with disappointment when the other boy (who in fact was at least a few hundred years old) pulled back, licking his bloodstained lips.

Solo smiled, a dark expression without any mirth or joy. With a very meaningful movement, reached over, and with one sharp fingernail, drew a bloody line across his own neck.

"Drink."

The young boy nodded and did as he was told, latching on and drinking hungrily. As he drank, changes were occuring in his body. Night changed to day; his senses amplified a thousandfold, and the blood, originally tasting bitter and metallic against his tongue became sweet, as pleasant as a nectar. He could feel his psychic mind unfolding as each drop hit his tongue, his own blood changing from the dark red human life force to the black, thick, lifeless blood of the other side.

His blood slowly changed, coming apart and rearranging to something new. The corner of his mouth tugged up into a slight smile as he felt the near end of the transformation approaching...

Solo pulled back suddenly and Duo growled in hunger and frustration. He leapt at Solo, human reason and morals forgotten, but Solo's superior speed and strength kept Duo at bay. Duo could feel his blood settling, and the mad hunger slowly ebbed away, leaving a frail street boy in half crouch on the ground. Solo looked at him, blood red tears streaming down his face.

"I-I'm so sorry Duo. I'm so selfish, bringing you into this...this..half life. You don't deserve to live like this..."

Duo looked at him in wonder. He still felt the dark powers coursing through him. Suddenly he hissed as the first glowing rays of sunlight fell over the tall buildings into the dark alleys of L2. Abruptly as if a light switch had been flicked on, he felt something recede within him and felt reborn, renewed, refreshed. The dark influence withdrew nearly completely, as a subtle, lighter force touched his mind. He turned to Solo again. The older teenager looked at him with something like awe.

"I don't know how or why, but...somehow, since the change wasn't complete, you seem to be both human and.. vampire.."

Duo noticed for once how sickly Solo looked in the first lights of day. Even under the bright morning rays, Solo always seemed to have a permanent shadow hanging over him.

-*-

Duo opened his eyes, a red tear slowly trailing down his face. Even now, the hunger was nibbling at the back of his mind. Involuntarily, he fantasized about sinking his teeth into a slender throat, itching to tap into the fountain of forbidden desires and sin. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fingers tightly, allowing a small drop of dark blood run down his palm before the cuts closed themselves nearly instantaneously.

He came to a decision. If he kept this up, he'd end up killing Aileen, like he'd nearly killed Heero. He allowed himself a small moment to remember his former teammate and lover, which only strengthened his decision. Folding up the blankets neatly, he quietly walked to the half open door to the darkened bedroom. Sadly, he looked at the still figure of the kind Asian girl who had taken him in a few days before. With a whispered goodbye, he closed the door and walked out the door, down the stairs, and onto the streets where the first few drops of rain began to fall.

-*-

Aileen sat up in her bed, her dark eyes glittering with moisture in the dim rays of the full moon, staring at the closed door of her room.

"I'm sorry, Duo. I tried, but I wasn't strong enough to help you.."

-*-

Heero leaned against the window, the crystal clear pane dotted with silvery raindrops. As the storm raged on outside, he closed his eyes and allowed his head to rest on the cold glass. The memories of the night of the--incident--were still fresh in his mind. Only one one question, one plea, one desire, remained in his thoughts...

In a voice barely louder than a whisper, Heero murmured, "Where are you, Duo?"

-*-

Quatre rested his weight against the door frame, watching the brooding Heero stare at the weather outside. He saw the dark-haired pilot's lips move, but the words were so faint he couldn't be sure of what he heard.

With a soft rush of air and a nearly tangible warmth, Trowa appeared behind him. Gentle arms wrapped around shoulders, and Quatre had to smile despite the pressure on his uchuu no kokoro. From all the frustrations and pains of the past events, each and every one of his friends were hurting, in their own way for their own reasons. Yes, they were his friends. In the last few months, through their trials and tribulations, they'd grown close. Close enough so that when one was in pain, the others felt it too.

Trowa turned and studied Quatre's face, eyes concerned. "Are you feeling okay? You look a little bit pale."

Quatre sighed a little. "I'm fine. Don't worry. How about we get a cup of tea to soothe away the cold chills of winter..?"

The green-eyed pilot smiled softly and led the way to the kitchen.

-*-

Unbeknowest to either Quatre or Trowa, Heero's eyes followed the couple as they walked to the kitchen, fingers entwined in a simple, sweet gesture that made his heart twinge with what could nearly be envy. Hestitantly, he reached for a worn, white box, his hand almost shaking as he picked it off the dresser. Slowly, he opened it and gazed inside at something for his and Duo's eyes only. In the cold window, a soft gold glittered, and a warm tear sparkled.

tbc...