Acherontia Atropos Part VI

I hit the dirt in an undignified heap. Suddenly, nothing much mattered
except for the fact that Yan, who I had thought wouldn't know violence if it
smacked him in the face, had kneed me in the groin. Really really hard.
Tears tried to squeeze themselves out of my eyes and I forgot to breathe for
a couple of minutes while I just lay on the ground and curled up into a little

There was a surge of that weird staticky feeling that I'd had all night, and it
came up through the ground and hit me like a spark. I was on my feet and
feeling a hell of a lot better before I could even think about it. Yan was
almost to the woods, and I limped after him as quickly as I could. Yeah,
Duo, real smart. Run toward danger.

But I couldn't just leave him to those monsters. I had the feeling that Yan
wasn't the one that kneed me, not really. Tamlin had said that vampires
could roll an ordinary human's mind with their eyes. Yan was as ordinary as
it got, and he was sweet, and innocent, and damnit, like everybody's little
brother. So I followed him right into the jaws of the beast, armed only with
my little gold cross and my dubious amount of faith.

Not one of the brightest things I'd ever done.

By the time I reached the woods, there were five vampires, and Yan had
already gotten to them.  There were three females and two males, and all of
them, and I mean all of them, looked like walking wet dreams. Nothing at
all like the thing that had attacked me before. I knew they were vampires,
though, no matter what they looked like. It's like how I knew the words I
said over Heero's body a year ago. No explanation...I just knew.

Just like I knew that there was a sixth vampire further back in the woods,
the one that was controlling the other five.

I stopped about six meters away from the vampires and stood. I could feel
the electric energy almost rolling off of them and brushing past me, raising
the hair on my arms. I didn't know what the hell it was, but it was
fascinating, and it felt almost...nice. But I'd worry about that later. Right
now, I was worried about the fact that there were six vampires, they had
Yan, and I was completely unarmed.

/Damnit, Heero, why'd I leave the room without the gun. What are you guys
doing? I need you!/ I thought angrily. I knew that there was no way they
could know that I was in trouble, but it felt good to be able to mentally
curse someone. For a long moment, the vampires watched me, and I
watched them right back. Yan was being held by one of the female
vampires, a tall red head that looked like she could have been a fashion
model or something. She was wearing an actual dress, something white,
thin, and almost see through. She had Yan cradled in her arms, with his face
pressed against her breasts. Like she could feel my attention on her, she
smiled, flashing her fangs in the moonlight.

I licked my suddenly dry lips. "Let him go." I said with a lot more authority
than I felt.

"No." The red headed vampire clutched Yan a little more tightly. He made a
soft, very contented sound. "The little one is quite happy where he is."

There was a tiny flicker in my peripheral vision, and I transferred the main
part of my attention to the vampire that had moved. He was also very tall,
with pale blonde hair that looked white in the moonlight. He was dressed
relatively normally, in jeans so tight that they looked like they were painted
on, and a t-shirt that appeared to be more holes than anything else. He
smiled at me as well, somehow managing to not show any fang. "You could
join him in our arms." He licked his lips. "I promise to be gentle."

"No thanks. I just want Yan." I took a step back as the vampire took a step

"Look into my eyes."

I suppressed the urge to laugh. Talk about B-movie vampires...I really
wanted to ask the guy where he got his dialogue. But I had the feeling it
would piss him off. So far, they seemed to be content just to play with me.
Which was fine. I didn't really want to get attacked by five or six vampires.
"I'd rather not, if you don't mind."

He took another step forward. I took another step back. He laughed, and it
was actually a pleasant sound. "You smell interesting, human. I just want
you to look me in the eye."

"Really, that's ok."

The red head had obviously had enough games. "Do what he says, or I will
kill this one." She stroked Yan's cheek gently with one hand. He giggled
softly. He was totally out of it.

/Never look a vampire in the eye./ Tamlin had said. Well, it looked like I
didn't have a lot of choice. I had the funny feeling that the vampire wasn't
joking when she said that she would kill him. Shit. So I did it. I looked the
blonde vampire in the eye, expecting at any moment for my mind to get torn
apart or sucked away or whatever happened when vampires rolled someone

It was completely anti-climactic. His eyes were just eyes. Pretty, I'll admit,
an crystalline, icy blue vaguely reminiscent of Tamlin's, but nothing more.

"What is wrong, Paul?" One of the other vampires, I think a female one,

Paul. Somehow, it didn't seem right for a vampire to be named Paul.

Whatever the vampire saw in my eyes, he didn't like. He frowned, and his
eyes took on a faint glow. "I can't roll you." he said, sounding faintly
surprised. I was guessing that it didn't happen very often. "Why?"

I shrugged. "I don't know." I couldn't help it. I grinned. Hey, I'd just made a
major victory, as far as I was concerned. I was still in control of my own
mind. Good sign. "So now what?"

I don't think that was what he wanted to hear. He surged forward, and I
managed to take a step back and grab the chain of my cross. He was fast,
faster than a normal human, but not that fast.

He was fast enough, however, to punch me before I could dodge. He was
sure as hell a lot stronger than a human. His fist connected with my ribcage
and I went flying. I hit the ground hard and he was on me, fangs bared. I
yanked the cross out from under my shirt, and it flared into life.

Immediately, the vampire was gone. The others were shrieking loudly. I
pushed myself up to a sitting position and clutched my ribs. Something was
broken. Shit.

It took me a couple seconds to gain my feet, and they were the longest
seconds of my life. I still wasn't sure about the entire cross thing against
vampires, and I was waiting for one of them to shout "Just kidding!" and
leap on me. But it didn't happen. They were actually cowering away. The
red head and the blonde were just shielding their eyes, the other three were
actually shrieking and slowly backing away. I took a step forward.

They all took a step back. Damn, it felt good.

The good feeling didn't last long, though. The red headed vampire wrapped
one of her hands around Yan's throat, still shielding her eyes with the other
one. "Take the cross off and throw it away."

"The hell with that!" I yelled.

"If you don't, I will rip his throat out." I saw her hand tighten, and Yan
giggled. He actually giggled. I guessed Tamlin was right, and he must have
been totally under. "I am not joking, human, and you know it."

Shit. I reached up and grabbed my cross. It was faintly warm in my hand.
That was the problem with being the good guy. You can't let another good
guy get killed in front of you. You have to do everything in your power to
stop it, no matter how obvious the trap is. So I jerked the cross and snapped
the chain, then threw it away. Hopefully, I'd be alive to get it back later.

I really really really really wished that I hadn't left without my gun. I also
wished that the guys were here. I really did.

The light of the cross died as soon as I pulled it off, and the vampires
stopped cowering. "There, happy?"

"Very." Paul the vampire started moving toward me again. One of the other
female ones, this one with black hair and dressed in more leather than I've
ever seen in one place, slunk along with him.

"Woah, woah, stop there." I backed away. "What the hell do you want?"

"Stop moving." The red head commanded. "Or I will kill him."

Shit. I stopped. Paul and the other vampire took a leisurely walk up to me,
and slowly looked me up and down the way you'd check out a horse before
you bought it. The female vampire leaned in and blew softly on my ear. I
flinched. There was something about them, that energy that I'd felt earlier,
and it was almost dancing across my skin. I felt damn uncomfortable, and I
was starting to get very scared.

Paul stopped on the other side of me and grabbed my braid, stroking it
gently. That bastard. I suddenly decided that I would kill him first, as soon
as I got out of this situation and managed to get a weapon. NO ONE
touches my hair. Especially not stupid vampires with B movie dialogue.
"He is pretty, isn't he, Victoria."

Victoria. So that was the leather queen's name. It just seemed too perfect.
Gag me.

She breathed softly in my ear. "I like you."

"That's nice." I said. "I don't think I like you." Me and my big mouth.

It was definitely not the thing to say. She laid a hand on my chest, somehow
finding exactly the same spot where Paul had hit me, and pushed. I fell to
my knees, gasping for breath. Victoria giggled. I decided that it was a sound
that I didn't like. Paul hauled me to my feet like I didn't weigh anything
when I couldn't manage to stand up right away on my own. Great.

Victoria blew on my ear again, and then there was a quick wetness that
could only be her tongue. I couldn't help it, I shivered. I had to close my
eyes and imagine that it was someone else, because I knew I couldn't give
her the satisfaction of whimpering, which is what I really wanted to do. No,
better to pretend that it was Heero, or, hell, anyone else.

She giggled. Again. It was really setting my teeth on edge. I concentrated
on the annoyance and anger, anything to keep myself from thinking about
the fact that she was nibbling on my ear...and then my neck. My eyes flew

"Just relax, pretty one. I just want a little taste." she whispered.

I had to try twice before I found my voice. "Something tells me that with
you, it's never just a little taste." I said.

"True." She licked my neck, and I did my best to flinch away.

"Victoria just wants a taste, pretty one. She won't hurt you, too much." Paul
whispered in my other ear. Oh God, I had both of them after me, now. "If
you fight, Cheree will kill the boy. You're a much more interesting toy than
he is."

"What do you want?" I asked, very quietly. My voice didn't shake or crack.
Point for me. God, I hate being powerless more than anything else.

Cheree, the red head, laughed. She must have practiced her laugh or
something, because it was very, very pleasant, like a warm blanket that you
could almost wrap around yourself. Not the kind of laugh that comes
naturally. "I want your fear, pretty one, and your anger. I want it to wash
over me."

Ok, I definitely did not like Cheree, either. I don't think I've ever been so
thoroughly trapped before in my entire life. And this time, this one was
wholly my fault. I decided that when I got free, Paul would be second.
Cheree was going to die first.

Victoria nuzzled at my neck, drawing my attention back to more immediate
problems. "Tell me I can taste, pretty one." She whispered. In another
situation, it would have been seductive.


"There is something about you, pretty one. I can't drink unless you say I

Hot dog. I'd figure out what later. The important part was that right now, I
had a little power.

"Tell Victoria that she can drink, or--"

"--yes, I know I know. You'll kill Yan." Damnit damnit. Shit. I licked my
lips. "Victoria, you can...drink." Those simple words took a lot more
courage than I frankly thought I had. Point for me. The bad news was, I'd
just told a vampire that she could have a drink. God, I was in trouble.

Victoria actually kissed me. Full on the lips, open mouth, tongue and
everything. I didn't respond, and after a long minute, she pulled away.
"Thank you." She whispered, and then her lips moved to my neck. “You
must be the one that Thomas got himself killed trying to take. Are you
worth it?”  I felt sharpness that could have only been her fangs, and I shut
my eyes tightly. I would not scream. I would not scream. I would not
scream. Oh God...

I heard a sound behind me. Running footsteps, getting closer. Hot damn.
Victoria pulled abruptly back and hissed...and whoever it was (I was
praying that it was the guys) started shooting. A bullet hit Victoria in her
arm, and there was an explosion of blood. She went down clutching her
arm, and I think that's the only reason it stayed attached to her body.
Whatever kind of ammo that Tamlin had given us, it definitely was not for
play. I wanted to cheer.

That happy thought got cut off when Paul grabbed me by the throat.
Suddenly, time slowed down for me, like it sometimes does in the middle of
really intense fights. The electricity I'd been feeling all evening jolted
through my body like cold black lightning, and I sent it blasting outwards,
down into the ground, and, most importantly, through Paul's arm and down
into his body. It's hard to find the words to describe how it felt. My nerve
endings were on fire, but strangely enough, it was almost pleasant. I felt like
I was filled to the brim with cool, dark water that I could manipulate at will.
When it went flowing into Paul, the spark that was him retreated before the
rush of power, and then he was mine.

He was mine, and I could feel him hating me.

"Let me go." I said, a lot more calm than I had any right to be. I could feel
things happening around me, more bullets flying through the air, the
vampires beginning to retaliate...then beginning to fall back as the power
that was filling me up swept over them. None of it mattered, because for
that one moment, I and the power were all that existed. It was like the
feeling I got sometimes when I was in Deathscythe, when I felt like I was
floating in my Gundam's darkness like a diver in the deep ocean.

Paul let me go. I fell to my knees, clutching my ribs and trying to start
breathing again. "Back away." I wheezed. He backed up two steps, and I
could feel a line of power stretching between us like a rubber band. One
more step, and it snapped. Paul was free from my control, though I could
still dimly 'feel' him. He shot me a look of pure, utter hatred, and fled with
the others, disappearing into the woods.

The guys were right behind me, I could hear them, and I could feel them
sending ripples shuddering through the dark power that was still filling me.
Trowa and Heero ran past me toward the woods, though Heero paused long
enough to give me a quick once over with his eyes, to make sure I wasn't
bleeding profusely or anything.

"Duo!!" It was Quatre. I turned to look at him. There was an almost tangible
bubble of energy around me. He touched the outlying edges of the energy
carefully with the tips of his fingers, and then quickly jerked his hand away,
shaking it as if it had stung.

Abruptly, the bubble popped and all the energy dried up. I found myself
laying on the asphalt of the parking lot, again, gasping for breath. I was
completely empty.

"Duo...Daijoubu ka. What was that?" Quatre was on his knees beside me,
helping me roll over. I jerked when he touched me, and rolled away. "Duo!"

"Don't touch me!" I screamed, and struggled to my feet, rear-end first. It
wasn't terribly dignified, but it was the quickest way to get up. I stumbled
toward the woods, half running.

There was blood, so much blood, all over the asphalt and in the dirt by the
trees. I knew some of it belonged to the vampires; Trowa, Heero, and
Quatre had managed to wound most of them. That wasn't what I was
interested in though. There, under one of the huge, ancient trees, the ground
had turned into black, sticky mud. The air was chokingly full of the coppery
tang of fresh, cooling blood. There was so much blood, too much blood.

I knew where all the power had come from, though not why it had come to
me, or why it had even existed.

Yan was there, laying in the middle of the sea of mud. His head was thrown
back and one of his arms was carelessly to the side, like he was just
sleeping or something. There was even a soft, innocent smile curving his
lips. His formerly pristine white shirt was now shiny, wet black in the
moonlight. Where his neck had been, there was only a gaping hole,
gleaming dully in the dim light.

That bitch had said she wanted my fear and my anger. She could have my
anger, all of it. I wanted to give her as much as I could hold. But not just
then. Then, I grabbed a tree for support and started throwing up until I was
empty and I felt like I was going to vomit my toenails. When I was done, I
looked back. Yan was still laying there in the moonlight. He wasn't a
hallucination, like I'd half hoped.

I fell to my knees in the mud by him and let the cooling blood soak into my
pant legs.

I knew where all that power had come from.

Oh God, I wish I didn’t know.