Erm, well, this thing isn't even really yaoi. But it's kinda cute. I started doing it on the WUML, cuz I hoped it would be a round robin, but now I've taken it over and it's MINE MINE MINE =b he he he we go...


by Shanna Seanachai


On the corner of a street in L2 there once was (and may still be) asmall bookstore -- the type of place no one goes to anymore, because they are a breath of the past...and who wants to be reminded of the past? It was a used bookstore, and through the glass door you could see (if you bothered to look) shelves and desks - indeed, any available space -- covered with books of any sort imaginable. And if you stepped back a pace, you could see the sign on the door --


Open 7 Days a week - 9 to 9


It was raining hard on the morning this story begins. A small boy, whose name we will soon learn, came plummeting down the street, paused at the bookstore, and, glancing around uneasily, wrenched open the door and went inside. He stood there, panting, for a few minutes until a voice spoke from behind the walls of books: "Get out of here! Store's not open yet!" The boy looked up, searching for the owner of the voice, and then picked up his school bag and crept quietly towards where it had come from. Finally, an old man came into view, seated at a desk, smoking a pipe and looking at him crossly.
"What are you still doing here?" he barked. "I told you -- the store is closed. And besides, I don't like kids! We don't have any children's books here, anyway."
"I'm sorry, I --"
"What? Are you looking for the video archade? It's down the street. Here we only sell books - long flat things, that make no beep-beep-beep-beeps."
"I know what books are!" the boy said defensively. "I read them, all the time."
The shop keeper waved his hand dismisssively. "Ah, comic books."
"No, real books. I've read Robinson Crusoe, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Lord of the Rings, the --"
"Stop." the old man looked at him oddly. "Who were you running from?"
The boy looked uncomfortable. "Just some boys."
"They wanted to throw me in the garbage!"
"Well, why didn't you just give 'em a good punch in the nose?" asked the man, smiling.
The boy shrugged.
"What's your name, boy?"
"Duo What?" the man raised an eyebrow. "Don't you have a last name?"
"Not really," Duo said confidently. "I'm an orphan. In school they call me Duo Maxwell, though. What" - he pointed to the book on the old man's desk -" what's *that* book about?"
"Oh," said the old man. "This book right here? This not for you." he sized up Duo carefully. "No," he said, shaking his head. "This book is definately not for you."

"What do you mean, it's not for me?"
The old man leveled his gaze at the boy and smiled in a patronizing sort of way. "This book is not like other books you've read. Your books are safe."
He smiled that infuriating smile again. "Tell me Duo....have you ever been Frodo Baggins, running through the Mines of Moria, while the Balrog chased you?"
Duo nodded solemnly. "Yes."
"Well...weren't you afraid you couldn't get out?"
Duo looked skeptical. "It's only a story! It's not real."
The old man nodded. "That's what I mean. You're books are safe."
Slow realization dawned on Duo's face. "And you mean...and that one...isn't?"
Before the old man could say anything else, the telephone rang, from a back room, Duo supposed, though he couldn't really around all the books. The old man slid the book under the daily newspaper and got up to answer the phone. "You. Stay here. And don't touch anything!"
Duo stood completely still for about a minute. Then he took a step closer to the desk. He could hear the man talking on the phone. "No, we don't have that one...But...well, no, I might be able to get a copy...uh huh..." Duo stretched his neck, trying to peer around the books to see him, but he couldn't see anything. Holding his breath, he put his fingers on the edge of the book poking under the newspapers. It was decided right then. He slid the book out, and and traced the title with his fingers.
There are some things that can't be exactly explained in words. Feelings, hunches, impulses. When Duo touched that book, something like that passed through him. He could never really explain to anyone else why he did what he did next, but I will try to. Everyone in the world has some secret love, a passion - whether it be for danger, or for money, or for power, or for people. It is a human tendency, and no one can escape it. Duo's passion was for books.
If you have never spent sleepless nights, reading beneath the covers with a flashlight, because your well-meaning mother insisted you go to sleep because you had school tomorrow -

If you have never spent whole days completely wrapped up in a book, tuning out the entire world around you -
If you have never cried as you reached the end of a story, because you had gone through so much with the characters, and loved them and knew were going to miss them -
If you have never experienced anything like this, than you will never, ever understand what Duo did next.
Once more, he searched furtively to see if the store keeper was anywhere in sight. Than he picked the book up (it was heavy and rather awkward but he managed) shoved it inside his jacket as best he could, picked up his bag, and ran like hell for the door.
He hit it with all the force of a torpedo and stumbled out onto the wet pavement.
Go! he screamed to himself. He took off, not knowing or caring where he was heading sneakers splashing through peddles, jumping over curbs, and finally pulling to a stop after at least ten minutes of this.
"Oh, God," he gasped, letting his bag slide down his arm onto the ground, and joining it quickly himself. He wrapped his two arms around himself (and the book). And groaned.
What have you done?
Sister Helen will be so disappointed in you. You promised you'd never steal *again*.
I've got to go, he decided. I've got to take off.
He stood up again, lugging the bag with him and walked more sedately down the street. He'd wound up at school...he remembered something sudddenly. A good place to hide. He trudged up the steps to the school, all the while holding the book tightly against him.

It was the attic of the school. Not many kids knew about it, but Duo had been up there to help the janitor put some old books away just last week. *Nobody* went up here. And if someone came, then it would take only minutes to hide. It was perfect.

He pulled out a few old carpets from the cluttered corners and plopped down on them. Well, once you got used to the lighting, it was perfect. There were only a few windows, and they were all dirty, and the light that filtered through them was weak and tired. But it was enough to read by, he supposed. He pulled the book from where he had it wedged beneath his jacket, under his arm, and got a really good look at it.

It was bound in amber colored leather, like old books you saw in movies, but while it certainly seemed old, it was not crumbling. It had been well taken care of, the binding polished, so that the gold embossed letters shone clearly on the front cover. Below them was a strange symbol - two snakes biting each others' tail. One was a dark coppery color and the other was light, almost silver. Together they formed a perfect circle.

Duo held the book back for a second, feeling the mild rush of excitement he always had when starting a book. Who knew what could be in there? Anything. Anything at all. Whole adventures, whole lives, all contained within two covers, trapped on peices of paper for everyone to see. It was like going deep into a jungle, or sinking into the ocean, or...or, something like that. He'd never really expereinced any of those things, but he supposed it must be sort of like that.

Settling himself carefully, legs in a lotus position, the book in his lap, he opened the two covers. The book had no pictures, but the first letter of each chapter was enlarged and elaborate and tiny pictures were inlayed in it. The first letter on the first page was 'I'. Duo ran his hand down it, noting the small, strange creatures inscribed - a small furry person seated on a bat. A little man and a snail. A large grey giant riding what looked like a bicyle. A tiny man engulfed in light. Then Duo's hand slid to the next page, where the word was completed...

"It was a dark, lonely night in the Howling Forest..."