Wilder Wein

By Kat Reitz and tzigane

The soft sound of footsteps woke him, impossibly quiet on the hardwood floor and silent upon the rug. Moonlight tinged every facet of his waking moment, dancing with stardust beams through the open window and up over the covers and bed-hangings.

"You've come again."

His whisper was barely heard; a mere breath of air, skittering as a paw upon ice.


A breeze fumbled its way through the window, sickly tinged with the smell of rotting flowers. He didn't notice it, though; only noticed the shimmer in those eyes, the silkiness of the hair that caressed face and throat as another step was taken, closer to the bed. It did not seem strange to hear those steps despite the fact that the slim creature was framed in the window so beautifully.

"Aren't you going to invite me in?"

He paused, those eyes capturing him utterly. "Must I?"


"Come in," he whispered, head dropping back against the pillows.

He heard no movement, saw nothing; indeed, it was as if that slender boy had been standing beside the bed the entire time. "I've missed you," was the murmur, low and sweet. "Wanted you for so long, needed you and only now found you. You won't regret this? My loving you?"

"No," Treize said confusedly, looking at the Gundam pilot with those wide sapphire eyes, ginger-spiked lashes framing them so beautifully. "Why should I?"

"Good," Chang Wufei whispered. The sound of his clothing upon the floor came with a slither, and the last of the Clan of the Dragons slid into the bed of the General of Oz, lean frame pressed to taller one, fingers exploring flesh with light touch.

"You're freezing," Treize told him sleepily, those limbs so very cool to the touch.

The response was a kiss that smothered his words, heated and delicious despite the cold tinge of the lips that touched him. "It was very cold outside," Wufei whispered, hand tracing down Treize's belly to grasp the heated staff rising between his legs.

"Yes..." was the responsive moan. "God, yes..."

A faint smile was felt as those lips wandered over jaw, past throbbing jugular, a kiss deposited in the hollow of his throat. "Tell me you want me to take you."

The breath of those words set him to shivering and the general's thighs sprawled open slowly, giving access to prying fingers that parted him, made him ache, made him want to weep with pain and a rising ecstasy that he had never before imagined. "Take me..." he moaned, head beginning to toss from side to side as that cold little tongue darted out, tracing the aureole of a nipple. "Take me, take me, please!"

The thrust that parted him brought blood, the teeth that cleaved his flesh, pain, but it did not matter. All that mattered, all that he could feel, was that iron-hard shaft inside of him, so delicately moving past the most wonderful of places, pleasure beyond knowing, beyond caring that it was more pain than he could comprehend. "AHHHH!!!"

{Very good... oh, so good, my love... come to me... yes, come to me and be mine, my darling dear, my sweet, sweet creature. For always....}

"For always!" Treize cried, spilling sticky seed over his belly, each thrust bringing a fresh strand of pearlescent juice. "For ALWAYS!"

"My good sweet love..."

"What's that smell?" Zechs Marquise asked as he strolled into the office of the General of Oz, his head tilted to the side.

"I don't smell anything," Treize murmured, eyes half-open. Lord, but he was tired! He'd been up half the night with the most delicious erotic dreams, and he'd awakened with a sore throat because he'd slept with the window open. /I'll have to remember to close that tonight./ "Do you smell anything, Lady?" he asked Une politely.

"Nothing, Treize-sama. I believe Captain Marquise should undoubtedly check the bottoms of his shoes, particularly since Noin so recently acquired that... CHARMING creature she calls 'Prince'." The little dog and his lack of house training had been a sore-spot with the Lady since the day she'd made her acquaintance with the puddle in which she'd slid and fallen.

Zechs said seriously, "No, no. I haven't been anywhere near Noin's quarters today..."

The look she cast him would have quieted the strongest of protestors. "That doesn't necessarily mean the little monster hasn't left you a present, Lieutenant."

"If you please," Treize told them, rolling his eyes. "It is lunchtime. The two of you are interrupting my nap."

That cut the conversation entirely as they both looked at him with a certain amount of disbelief. Zechs was the first to voice their common thought, his brow rising. "Nap?"

"I didn't sleep well," was the response. "And the window was open, so my throat is scratchy, too."

"There's your answer, Lieutenant," Une said dryly. "The smell must be something that drifted in from the outside. Treize-sama, you MUST remember to close your windows of an evening. What would happen if our security was not so very excellent?"

Eyes closed, Treize gave no answer. "Treize-sama?"

A deep breath was all that came in answer.

"I can't believe he fell asleep," Zechs whispered, turning and beckoning Une out of the office. "You're sure you didn't smell anything?"

Her brows raised as she shut the door behind them. "No. Nothing out of the ordinary. Soap, Treize, roses...."

"No undercurrent of..." He paused, wondering at how stupid it would sound. "Of something rotting?"

"Something rotting?" The woman repeated, frowning. "Well... now that you mention it..."


"When I came in this morning, he was still abed, and the roses on the table had died. Just wilted overnight, I suppose. Perhaps that's what you smelled?"

Gnawing at his lower lip, Zechs contemplated it. "Perhaps." It was the closest he was willing to make to a concession.

"Perhaps it's only that and an active imagination," Une suggested, brows rising again as she looked at him expectantly.

"It must be," he agreed, though he didn't believe it. A frown marked his face. "Has he eaten lunch yet?"

Une shook her head. "He said that he wasn't very hungry. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, I thought I'd bring something up to him in a bit, since he doesn't feel well. Soup or something," Zechs said lightly.

"That's really MY job, Lightning Baron." The look on her face was incredibly bulldog-ish, as though her mind was already made on the matter.

His response seemed to soothe her, however. "I know, Lady, and of course you should do that, but I had thought perhaps I could mingle a little business with his lunch. There are a few things I need to discuss with his Excellency, and he had set up an appointment for me; that's why I was in his office."

"Well... If he set up an appointment... I suppose I could check the book and make any necessary rearrangements, ~if~ you could see your way clear to perhaps doing me a favor..."

"Anything for you, Lady," Zechs assured her with perfect finesse.

Her smile was almost vicious as she replied. "Good. Then what I want you to do is this.... HOUSE TRAIN THAT DAMNED DOG!"

Forty-five minutes later, tray in one hand and squirming Huskey bitch in the other, Zechs made his way down the hall. As it had turned out, 'Prince' was more in the way of being 'Princess', something which had amused him to no end, though Noin had been understandably frustrated.

/"I WANTED a boy!" she had sighed, ruffling the dog behind its ears. "What am I going to do, Zechs?"

"I still don't know how you missed it," he said, leaning over and picking up the puppy.

"They told me at the store it was a boy!" Noin had bemoaned. "But still... It's just so cute, Zechs!"

He laughed and ruffled the dog behind its ears. "So it's a girl. It'll make her easier to housebreak. I'll even do it for you. Or, if you really want, I'll go back and pick out a boy for you and I'll keep Princess. I think she sort of likes me." A long pink tongue drawled out, licked his chin and made him chuckle. "See?"

"She'll lick your face right off!" Noin laughed softly. "I'll keep her -- she's so sweet, even if she is a she."

"Well, all right. But I promised Une I'd teach her not to piddle inside..."

"Then, teach her!" Noin chuckled at him. "Go on -- take Treize his lunch, and the dog with you..."/

Chuckling at the memory, Zechs knocked gently on the door to Treize's office. He received no answer and so, with a few acrobatic maneuvers, he managed to lean down and tug the door handle 'til it opened. "Treize...?"

No response, but Zechs could smell, just barely, that scent of rotting flowers.

That stench bothered him; dragged at his nostrils, called to some half-dead long-forgotten memory that he couldn't quite touch as he sat down the puppy and shut the door with the heel of his boot. "Come on, Princess. Let's see if we can find Treize," he said, moving through the office, which had apparently been abandoned, and towards the suite of rooms just beyond it.

Treize had spent so much time over the past two weeks sleeping and sickly that he was barely getting his work done; only because of Une had no-one other than those closest to him knew of what was going on.

And even Treize seemed oblivious to that fact. He put whatever it was down as a bug, a passing virus. He'd obviously shown intent of doing more work than he had, as could be seen from the uniform he still wore as he lay half-curled under the sheets of his bed.

"Treize...." It was terribly cute, and more than a little disturbing; the sight of the Oz general still dressed and plopped in his bed with all the grace and posture of a rag-doll. "Treize," Zechs said again, moving closer and laying the tray down upon the bedside table. "I've brought lunch."

"Nn?" That mumbled query came quietly, as Treize shifted minutely in the bed. His body felt like someone had dropped a large lead weight onto it, making movement near impossible. "I'm awake... really..."

"Sure, and I'm a prince," Zechs said wryly. "Come on, Treize. Wake up. I've got food... very good food, in fact, and I know you've got to be starving. How long have you been sleeping like this?"

"Sleeping like what?" he asked as he sat up very slowly, feeling as if he had all the energy of a salted slug.

"In the middle of the day," Zechs said softly. "O-He-of-Boundless-Energy is now taking naps in the afternoon?"

"I'm sleeping less at night," Treize excused as he stretched casually. "I don't know, Mirialdo."

"Then maybe we should turn Oz into a nocturnal organization..."

"Hush, Zechs," Treize murmured as he finally sat up. "I'm just tired."

"Have you seen a doctor? No, wait, don't answer that. Of course you haven't," Zechs sighed. "Sometimes, Treize, I wonder about you...."

Clearing his throat at the tickling little ache in it, Treize shook his head as he straightened his clothing. "I'm not sick, Zechs!"

"You're sleeping all day and you've got a sore throat. Sounds like strep, Treize. Maybe it's mono. Have you been kissing strange people?" he teased, reaching out and lightly touching the other man's face.

Turning his head to kiss those fingers the general of Oz smiled slyly. "Only in my dreams, Zechs."

"Tease," was the chuckled response, a thumb lightly caressing across Treize's lower lip. "I've missed you, these last two weeks, and I come back and find you dreaming of others and sleeping all day. What's a man to think?"

"That I'm staying up too late at night," Treize smiled, kissing that thumb -- it wasn't the truth, but there was no way to tell Zechs about his dreams of Wufei...

Zechs gave an indelicate snort and stroked fingers across Treize's face. "Then I'll have to come tonight and tuck you into bed."

"Oh...?" The lips near those fingers curled into a smile. "Well. I'll gather my energy for tonight, then."

"Promise me that you'll go to the infirmary and get seen about," Zechs demanded softly.

"Would it make you happy, Mirialdo, if I submit myself to the prodding of the med-staff?"

"Yes," Zechs agreed. "It would make me very happy if you submitted yourself to the prodding of the med-staff."

"I'll pen it into my schedule for tomorrow, then," Treize assured.

"First thing tomorrow. I'm telling Une when I go back out," Zechs said, leaning down at a rapturous little yap and picking up Princess to put her on the bed with Treize.

"I see Noin has you dog-sitting," Treize murmured as he stretched out his legs, a hand drifting to pet the creature. "It's adorable."

"She," Zechs chuckled as the puppy fumbled through sheets, long pink tongue lolling out to lick at Treize's hand joyfully. "Noin wanted a boy, but it turns out that it's Princess... NOT Prince."

The ginger-haired man laughed softly as the dog licked his hand before he could scratch under its chin. "That's good -- she'll have to get it spayed."

"Poor thing," came the purr. "You wouldn't want more puppies?"

"I don't want blood on the carpet," Treize uttered with disdain, though he kept petting it. "Still, very cute."

Eyeing said carpet, Zechs sighed slightly and stood. "Well, I'm afraid you ought to be more worried about OTHER things," he muttered, heading for the bathroom and some tissue.

"Ugh," Treize uttered, "House-train the dog, would you? Or better yet, get her owner to..." He peered down at the dog, saying distinctly, "And dogs like you wonder why I prefer cats. They know where to do that!"

"Lady Une made me promise I would train the dog," Zechs sighed upon return. "The cost for being allowed to bring you your lunch in her stead."

"Ah, but you make far more pleasant company than Une," Treize reminded. "I'm really strangely not hungry, though."

Looking up from cleaning up the little puddle, Zechs raised one platinum brow slowly. "You're DEFINITELY sick. I think you should see someone this afternoon."

"Zechs, you know as well as I that I have to inspect the new suits this afternoon."

"I'll do it. You won't be able to keep your eyes open long enough to get it done!"

"I'm well rested now!" he protested. "Zechs, I'm fine."

For a moment, ice-blue eyes looked at him contemplatively, and then Zechs shook his head steadily. "You'll be asleep again two minutes after I walk out of this room," he declared, standing up and heading back to the bathroom to toss the paper and wash his hands.

"I will not, Zechs!" Treize snapped, his ire well caught.

"Uh-huh." With that, he disappeared into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.

Treize leaned back against the pillows, still petting Princess. /Whatever is wrong with me...?/ he mused, stifling a yawn.

A full three minutes later, Zechs walked back into the bedroom and sighed. "Come on, Princess," he whispered. "Let's leave Sleeping Beauty to his rest." It worried him terribly, just as that strange rotting smell worried him. /What is it...?/ But Treize slept on -- the food was untouched, and the lingering smell didn't fade.

/There's something here I have to remember... if I only knew what!/

"And I feel fine, except for being rather.... ah, tired through the day, and with a sore throat," he informed.

"Hmmm." The physician peered at him for a moment. "Say ahhh."

"Ahhhhh." It was embarrassing, to be treated so much like a little child.

"Hmmmmmmm...." There came that suspicious hum again! "Well, General, it does look like you've got strep, perhaps. A few tests will show me that. Your Lieutenant, Marquise, says you've been falling asleep in the middle of the day..."

"I haven't been sleeping too well at night," he murmured, rubbing a hand over his brow.

"Well, we'll do a little blood work, all the same, all right?" the woman said with a smile, patting his arm. "That way, we'll be able to rule out mononucleosis. In the meantime, I want you to get plenty of fluids and rest and I'll give you something for that sore throat. All right?"

"It works for me," he murmured. "The less invasive, the better."

"Just one little shot," she reassured him. "Enough to get a couple of tubes of blood, and that's all."

He chuckled. "Don't take too much blood."

"Don't you know, General? We're all vampires around here," he was teased. "I assure you, it's actually very little that we'll be taking."

"I'm glad of that," he murmured as he rolled his sleeve up a bit more, not wanting to risk any spots on it.

She chuckled. "Just step outside to the lab. The nurse will prick you there."

"Joy of joyousness," he muttered, getting off of the examination table and gathering himself, trying to not look like the swaying reed he felt like!

"We should have your test results back in a couple of days, General. In the meantime... Eat lots of broccoli. It's good for you."

"I'll remember that, thank you," he murmured as he slipped out of the room and down to the test lab.

As he reached the small area, a nurse seemed to come out of nowhere. "Hi~ii, General! Come on in!"

/Perky women,/ he thought with a mental snort. "Good morning."

"Have a seat," said the nurse, name-tag proclaiming her to be Glenda. "So, we're doing a little blood work on you today, are we?"

"Doctor's orders, yes," he murmured, sitting down in the plastic chair -- why did they have to be that hard, rock-solid plastic?

"All right!" she said, sounding almost like a cheerleader. "I see you've even got your sleeve rolled up already!" A thick rubberband went around his arm, tied into a slip knot. "Now, you just relax," she said, beginning to search for a vein.

Easier for her to say than it was for him to do. Sitting back in the chair, Treize unclenched his fist, waiting. And waiting. "Are veins so hard to find?"

"Ah... not usually," she said, frowning as she took two fingers and lightly smacked the inside of his elbow. "Yours seem to be the kind that practice self-defense."

"I can't blame them, either," he uttered, tensing his muscles in the hopes it might help.

The frown of concentration didn't go away. "Ok, I think I have one... just a minute... there!" The needle slid in, and two vials of dark ruby blood were soon filled. It only took her a moment to apply gauze and wrap sticky rubbery tape in a vile shade of green around his elbow. "Leave that on for at least half an hour, okay?"

Strangely, Treize felt a little woozy. /She didn't even take very much!/ "All right," he murmured as he let his sleeve fall down again.

"Here... let me." The nurse quickly buttoned his sleeve for him. "Wow, you're not going to faint, are you?"

"I never faint," he dismissed, leaning back against the wall to steady himself. No, he wouldn't faint -- but he certainly wasn't feeling great, that was assured.

Glenda-the-Good-Nurse shook her head, blonde curls bobbing. "Sit down here, sir, and put your head between your knees..."

He wanted to argue that, he really did, but instead he just sat down again, curled head down between his knees. "God."

A hand patted him on the back. "Wow, you're a soldier, I'd have thought a little blood or a needle would never make a soldier queasy! Wow..."

He didn't lift his head, but growled, "I'm not queasy. I think you just took too much blood."

"General, it was only a couple of small vials. It wasn't even enough to begin making up a pint," she said gently. "Maybe you're anemic to go along with the whole mono thing..."

He shrugged slightly, head still down. "I don't know at this point." Maybe it was the stress of running Oz -- maybe that was starting to put his health in the shape it was in...

"You just go on home, sir. You need some rest. I can get someone to walk you back to your office...."

"I'll walk myself," he uttered, sitting up slowly. It had helped a little...

Glenda sighed as the large man crumpled to the ground. "Well, that answers that."

When Treize became particularly aware of the world again, he was sitting, once more, in the plastic bucket chair, with the nurse and a large man looming over him.

By some miracle of grace, Glenda resisted the urge to giggle as the General nearly jumped right out of the chair. "Sir, Orderly Kline is going to help you back to your office. We have a wheelchair all ready for you..."

"I don't need a wheel-chair," he uttered distinctly, starting to stand again - well, starting. In retrospect, he really should have eaten lunch.

"I've got you, sir," rumbled the big-bellied Orderly Kline. "We'll just say it's procedure, all right?"

"Fine," he said, dismissively; it was embarrassing, but it seemed there was no way to get around it.

"In we go!" the orderly said cheerfully, helping him into one of the med center's chairs.

"I am not five, sir," Treize snapped out sharply, even as he settled down.

"Yes, sir!" Orderly Kline said, tempted to follow it with something like, 'Loading maneuvers initiated, sir!' but not quite that brave.

Resting his chin in one palm, he let out a sigh. /Dammit. When I see Zechs again, I'm going to maim him -- even if it's just a little./

In his office when he arrived, wheeled along by the disgustingly cheerful Orderly Kline, was Lady Une, Princess and a stack of papers. "Treize-sama!"

"Good-afternoon, Une," Treize uttered as he glared back at the orderly, standing unsteadily. "You can leave, Kline."

"Yes, sir, but you really ought to lay down..."

"Leave," he snapped out, moving to sit behind his desk. "How are you today, Une?"

"Fine, Treize-sama," the woman told him, eyeing him suspiciously even as the orderly left, wheelchair wobbling along in front of him. "You don't look so well. Perhaps you should lay down. I can get the stamp out and simply...."

"It is unnecessary," he uttered as he settled comfortably into his chair.

"If you're sure..." she said, accompanied by a yip from Princess.

"I'm sure," he tried to assure, muffling a yawn. "Is lunch still around? I think I'll eat it now."

Une nodded at him, her little braids swinging. "I'll go get you something!"

"Thank you, Lady," he murmured as he shuffled through the paperwork. Most of it was unnecessary, thankfully.

The yip of the puppy sounded, and it jumped up to place two paws firmly against a boot, yapping again.

"Hello, Princess," Treize smiled down at the dog. "What do you want?"

A happy yip came again as the puppy stood up on his shoe... and promptly piddled.

"Oh, hell," he uttered, not even having the strength left for indignity. He just worked his foot out of his shoe, took off the other one and left them there, walking unsteadily towards his bedroom.

That had been the final straw. He was going back to sleep.

Ten minutes later, Une walked into the office with a tray in hand. Upon it lay a rose, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, some crackers and a cup of tea.

And there was no Treize-sama.

"Treize-sama?" she whispered, moving forward even as she watched out for the panting puppy now gamboling about her feet. "Treize-sama?"

His office and his large bedroom were connected, and the door between was cracked open. With a careful foot, she pushed open the door, and there he lay, sprawled across the bed, his dress uniform still on and still buttoned. "Poor Treize sama..." she said softly. Moving in, she laid the tray down and nudged him. "Roll over, Treize-sama. I'll help you get undressed." It was really not her place, she knew; really something she would ordinarily enjoy the thought of, but he'd been so ill....

"Nnn?" he questioned, lifting his head a tiny bit.

"Lunch is here," she said softly. "If you're going to nap, I'll help you change into pajamas."

He stretched a little, sitting upright. "The day is a loss -- but I'll change on my own. Thank you, Une."

"If you need any help, just call. I won't be far, all right?"

"Of course, Une," he murmured as she turned to leave, "Oh, and the dog...? Piddled on my boots."

With a sigh, she nodded her head. "I'll make sure Lieutenant Zechs does something about it very shortly, sir."

Already standing, his normally deft fingers fumbling at his shirt buttons. /So damned tired.../ "Thank you again, Une."

"You're welcome, sir. When... will they know anything?" she asked tentatively, stoically turning her back.

"They said in a day or so." His shirt, vest and jacket fell to the ground with a 'plop', and he padded softly across the floor. "Could you take those dead flowers out?"

It was then that she noticed it; strangely, she hadn't before, the odor of dead flowers drifting about. "Treize-sama, they die so quickly...."

"I noticed," Treize murmured as he stripped off his pants and slid on loose fitting bottoms. "They never used to die so quickly before."

"I'm convinced it's because you leave your windows open," Une said firmly, shaking her head in exasperation. "You MUST remember to close them tonight."

"It becomes too hot in here at night if I don't leave them open," he told her as he slid on the top of his pajamas.

Une frowned. "Then shall I turn the air conditioning down?"

"If you could -- perhaps that will solve the problem." He moved to slip beneath the sheets. "I wish I knew why I was so tired..."

"Rest well, Treize-sama," she murmured. "Eat a little of the chicken soup before you sleep, however?"

He was already picking up the bowl, stirring it a little. /Chicken soup. My subordinates love me so... Truly. I'm a lucky man to have them care so much for me./ "Believe me, Une, I will try. Thank you."

With a sigh, she moved to leave, shutting the door behind her. The dismissal had been exact, so she really had no reason to stay longer; but before she left, she dropped the temperature down from seventy-two to a cooler sixty seven. /There. That ought to help./

"Yap, yap!" Princess barked, tail wagging happily as she trotted towards Une.

"Hello, wretched little piddle-monster," Une said softly. "Shall we go and find Lieutenants Marquise and Noin and give you back to them?"

"Yap!" Princess stepped up onto Une's left boot, and promptly started to pee. Black boots must have been the right place to go.

With a sigh, Lady Une shook off her foot. "You," she said sternly, "are a BAD BAD DOG!"


Treize drifted into consciousness slowly -- the bedroom was dark, he'd already set aside his tray, and he'd probably slept away the afternoon and into the night.

And someone had opened the windows.

"Treize...." The voice was soft, tempting, right in his ear, a wash of silk lightly covering his face, caressing him with the tickle of hair.

But he couldn't find the source.

"I want to see you," he voiced roughly -- the dream, again. Sweet dream, of passion and love he couldn't comprehend...

"Ask me in...." By now, Wufei didn't need the invitation; but still, asking for it every time made it all so much easier.

"Come in."

Why was he doing this at all...? Because his dream lover was so terribly alluring. And he needed what the other could give him.

"I missed you so..." The silken strands brushing his face were real now, sweetly cold nipping little kisses pressed to his lips. "I've been so lonely, without you."

"You spend too much time out at night," Treize whispered softly, arms coming around the lithe body he held so close.

The warmth of Treize's body was so utterly and perfectly delicious that the smaller one sighed with pleasure. "It's the only time when it's safe to come to you. If the others saw... if anyone you knew saw..."

"It would be over, wouldn't it?" Treize asked, bright sapphire orbs slitted open from pleasure alone. "I've been sick, my love..."

"My poor beloved." Seductive whisper met his ear with slick tongue, nipping teeth, gentle... so unbelievably gentle. "Have they been poking and prodding at you?"

A soft moan rattled free of Treize's lips, eyes fluttering closed with the pleasure of Wufei's touch. "I passed out after they drew blood... I'm glad you're here." His arms tightened around the boy, trying to warm him. "So very glad."

"They took your blood!?" For a moment, the boy in his arms seemed horrified by the thought, but then he calmed again, kissing gently at Treize's throat. "Ahh, poor sweet. Yes... just like that. Take off your pajamas for me, Treize."

"Uhmm..." He moaned softly, stroking his hands down Wufei's bare back and buttocks -- he couldn't remember when the boy had taken them off, and that was why it was a dream -- before starting to remove his own. "You make everything go away, Wufei..."

The barest shivering touch caressed the hollow of his throat, the bones there, over a shoulder to pinch a nipple with a touch that was painful and light, all at once. "I want to make the world perfect for you, beloved. I want you to be with me always, to think of nothing but me..."

"Always," Treize agreed with a soft breath, wanting more of that touch, more.... More. With Wufei pressed against his body, there was no room in his mind for thoughts of the war or anything else but pleasure.

"Kiss me, Treize..." That cold hand was on his belly now, and tracking over a hip to the lengthy steel between the beautiful man's legs, the wonderful heat to be had. "Kiss me..."

Fighting with another delicious shiver of pleasure at that cool clasp around his heated organ, Treize threaded a hand through black silk hair, pulling Wufei's face close to his for a searing hot kiss.

The hand that fondled him was expert, as though the boy knew exactly what he wanted, precisely what he needed, and it did not stop. Even as kisses wandered down the center of his chest and to either side, seeking out nipples, the slow stroke continued, teasing, tight... "Ah, Treize..."

"Stars," Treize breathed out in a whispery breath, eyes barely open at all. "You're so beautiful, Wufei... My love."

The first bite, firm at his abdomen, went almost unfelt, save for the tongue that lapped up the little droplets of blood from that firm golden skin. "Shhh," Wufei whispered, kissing over a hip to the object he most desired, that throbbing blood-filled staff so very close by. "Shhh."

"Ahh, please," he whimpered, shifting up to those little pricks of pain, "Please."

"Do you want me?" Wufei whispered, nipping oh-so-carefully at the tip of his cock. "Would you like for me to suck you?"

"I want you, Wufei," Treize eked out, hips rolling uncontrollably up toward Wufei's mouth. "I want you to suck me."

"Open your thighs, my precious..."

As they parted, he slid between them, and then his ice-cold mouth was on the molten velvet-sheathed marble of that shaft, teeth pressed tenderly along the way, scratching just barely with each motion of his lips. "Mmmmm...."

The pain was minute; nothing compared to the crashing pleasure that he needed so badly -- Wufei was like a drug, one he couldn't get enough of, craved more than was reasonable. "Dragon, dragon!"

"You called for me?" The husky whisper came from between a rain of kisses being bestowed upon his inner thighs, fingers lightly pulling open the flesh beneath to find the tiny entrance and tease it with his tongue. "You want me... the last of the House of the Dragons...?"

"I want you, my dragon," he pleaded in that raw, needy voice. "My beloved Wufei... I want you now."

It was a matter of spare motion to rise, to slide into him, cock and teeth, to moan wildly with the heat surrounding his ice-cold prick, flooding into his mouth... "Mmmmm!"

"Ohhhh!" The pain was unbelievable, and so was the pleasure of it -- skewered so hard onto Wufei's throbbing member, a kiss to his neck that hurt as much as it pleasured. "Dragon..." A breathy moan as his fingers tangled into Wufei's hair, holding his head in place against his neck until the world began to spin.

"Love..." the whisper sounded, dark and wet upon the air as they came together even in that swirling never-land. "My love..."


Zechs pushed a strand of hair back into the scrunchee Noin had let him borrow, scowling as he flipped through the dusty medical text on the floor in front of him. "This is getting us nowhere, Noin. I just know that whatever's wrong isn't going to be in these books!" He sighed in frustration. "There's something off. There's something I can feel, practically tugging at the corpuscles of my blood..."

"Maybe he's anemic?" Noin questioned. But no... the blood tests came back fine -- except for a slightly lower than usual iron content and plasma count.

"Yes, but why?" Zechs asked her. "Where's it going? Is he just removing a pint every now and then for the fun of it? Or is it something more sinister?" He frowned. /She'd think I was crazy if I said.../

"I... don't know," she replied seriously, looking down at the books. "Has anyone looked at his wrists, Zechs? It might be a long-shot, but maybe he's a cutter..."

That pale head of hair was already shaking in the negative. "No, Noin. He's not. I know him too well for that, and I've seen his wrists." The occasional cut had been known to appear, but it was usually because he'd tugged too tight at whatever bondage he'd been in, as Zechs well knew.

She sighed, closing one book while her other hand reached down to pet Princess's tummy. "His blood has to be going somewhere then, doesn't it? Could it be something wrong with his kidneys, maybe...?"

"Maybe. I just don't know," Zechs said, frowning. "There's something strange going on, that's all I know or can tell. Flowers wilt in his office within hours. If you put fresh ones in, they die before you can look at them a good twelve hours. The windows are always open after the night passes, no matter how you lock things up. He's getting pale, and strange, Noin..."

"What do you think is going on?" Was Treize dying? Or... "Is it something the Gundam pilots are doing?"

The expression that he cast her seemed, momentarily, as though he was a deer caught in the headlights. What was the name Treize had been saying in his sleep before? Was it one of theirs? "I don't know," he said slowly, "but I think I'll set up a video surveillance camera between now and tomorrow night..."

Noin's eyes perked up. "Good idea! Then we can see if it's him doing it, or... someone else."

"Yeah," Zechs murmured, KNOWING it wasn't Treize. "We'll see."

"When do we put the cameras in?" she questioned.

Ice-blue eyes looked at Noin seriously. "We'll talk to Une. She'll have to arrange it. His schedule's a wreck, he can't stay awake long enough for any of the meetings..."

"I haven't seen him Zechs, but... is it really that bad?" she asked softly. "I'd always thought that for something like that to happen, Treize would have to be dying..."

"He's pale and tired. He falls asleep at the drop of a dust-mote. He couldn't keep his eyes open with toothpicks, much less last through one of those boring as hell meetings. What do you think?"

"Oh, God..." Noin breathed out softly. "We have to find out what's wrong."

"Before we lose him." /Before I lose him... if I haven't lost him already.../

"Is he sleeping now?" she asked, voice still soft.

Looking up at the clock surprised Zechs somewhat; he hadn't realized it had gotten as late as one in the morning. "Maybe... he doesn't sleep well at night, he says."

"Then maybe he's up at night?"

"Or maybe he only thinks he is," Zechs said.

"Wait, wait... how could he think he's up all night?" Noin asked with incredulous eyes.

"Maybe he's dreaming that he's awake," was the reply.

"That would leave him so tired?"

Zechs sighed. "SOMETHING has to be!"

"But why would you suspect he was dreaming he was awake?" Noin asked, as Princess let out a few choice yaps.

"I don't know, Noin," he said quietly. "All I know is that something is very wrong here."

She reached out a hand towards him, lips thinned. "Zechs.... we won't lose him, all right?"

/Easy for you to say./ "Yes," he responded softly, that touch a comfort. "I hope not."

"He's a wonderful man," Noin murmured softly. "Anyone who wants him dead is very sick."

Scowling, Zechs rose and put the book he'd been looking in back on its shelf. "There's something I'm missing, Noin. It's something I feel in my bones, in my blood, but I can't quite seem to reach it..."

"Can't reach it," she echoed thoughtfully. "Maybe... it's something that can't be reached."

"What do you mean?"

"Maybe it's psychosomatic."

He frowned slightly, considering it. "I don't think so, but..."

"He's sick, but we can't find a reason -- that has to be it, Zechs!"

"We'll see what the doctor says," he murmured, brows knit. "I just know I'm missing something!"

"Well.... are there any marks at all on him?" She asked, picking Princess up the moment she gave that certain 'yip', to carry the dog to the balcony.

A platinum brow rose as Zechs followed, watching the puppy as Noin sat her down in the grass just past the small stone area. "I haven't exactly looked, Noin," he began.

"Oh, I'd thought you would," she uttered with a slight smile. "Look next time you can."

The flush upon his cheeks was utterly undeniable and almost as adorable. "You're a bad woman, Lucrezia," Zechs accused.

"And you're a very kinky man, Zechs," she shot back.

Golden cheeks turned a deep bright red. "Er..."

"Try to deny it, Zechs," she dared.


"You want to install WHAT?!"

"Cameras, Une. Security cameras, so we can see what's going on at night," Zechs explained again, more gently this time. "All of that blood has to be going somewhere, at some time. If he won't tell us where or why or who, then we have to find out somehow!"

"It's an invasion of his privacy," she uttered firmly, folding her arms across his chest as she looked at him through her glasses.

"So you'd rather that he bled to death from whatever it is, and us only find him the next morning?" Zechs asked pointedly.

That seemed to erase all protests from Une at once, as she frowned slightly, before saying, "Only two."

"All right, Une. And we'll want someone with him, or perhaps... More specifically, some thing. Noin's puppy, maybe, or a larger dog. One that would warn against someone entering the room, in case we couldn't see them, somehow." He didn't know why he'd thought of that; only he did, and he wanted it done.

"That would be a perfect use for that dog," Une sighed, "but ONLY once she's trained."

Zechs grimaced. "We're almost there," he promised. "Really!"

"Have it done before you get her near Treize-sama again," Une uttered fiercely.

"Of course," Zechs acceded, sighing slightly. "But she needs to start sleeping with him tonight, Une."

"How do we put in the cameras?"

Blue eyes frowned at her seriously. "We'll have to do it while he's sleeping. There's really not any other option."

"He's sleeping right now," she murmured. "We may as well begin."

"Send in a team, Lady," Zechs replied. "If he wakes, well, I'll be there to soothe him."

"You had better," she bristled. "I'd be there, but.. I have to do what he can't."

Zechs nodded. "I know, Lady. You're doing a commendable job for which I am sure he is most appreciative. I know that I certainly am. I cannot imagine the chaos which would ensue without you."

"Just find out what's going on, Zechs -- I'm trusting you to protect him when he can't protect himself."

Watchful blue eyes remained upon Treize as the technicians finished placing the last of the cameras and wires. "Thanks," he whispered, ruffling the puppy's ears as the two men headed out of the small bedroom.

Treize appeared so peaceful, sleeping there; as though nothing disturbed him, as though nothing could ever disturb him, so lovely and tender and pale. It made Zechs more than a bit distraught, and only now that he was alone did he think to look for marks or signs of where the bleeding was going. With a frown, he caressed his fingers lightly across an arm, pulling at the sleeve of the night-shirt in which the young general was clad.

No signs of wrist-slashing; no signs or marks upon his arms.

Time was short, he knew, between now and the technicians reaching the control room and hooking up the cameras, so he made his search carefully, swiftly, worried that Treize would awaken. Legs were checked, the crease of a thigh, close to his body, showing the barest of scratches, his cock as well, and that bothered Zechs immensely. There were scratches, as well, upon his belly and chest, the marks of fingernails that he knew that he did not possess. /A woman...?/

That was a worrisome thought, indeed, and he frowned. /That's ridiculous./

A continued search led to the hollow of his throat, the delicate wing of collarbone revealed even as Zechs pulled the nightshirt gently back into place...

And then he saw them.

Delicate puncture wounds at his throat, so tiny, hidden back against the line of his jaw and barely seen.

"Oh, my God..."

"Nnn?" A soft sound, ragged and tired, as Treize cracked open his eyes, focused them on Zechs. "Morning, Mirialdo. Come to drag me out of bed, or join me...?"

"Come to check on you, sir," Zechs said softly. "And to leave the puppy, just in case you need her to scare someone off. I want to be sure no one is sneaking into your rooms, hurting you. I'm very worried about you..."

"I'm worried about me, too," Treize confided softly, expression drained and tired, as he moved a hand to grasp Zechs's arm. "Could I get a kiss, my friend?"

For a moment, Zechs paused, thinking of the cameras, and then he leaned down and brushed a kiss lightly over Treize's forehead. "I should tell you," he whispered. "There are a couple of cameras placed to view the entrance ways..." Well, the entrances and Treize's bed, but...

"Mirialdo," Treize uttered softly, hand still holding Zechs's arm, "when I get better, we'll go on vacation. Just you and I."

"Yes," Zechs whispered. "Just us, Treize, you and me, and we'll have such a wonderful time, all peace and quiet, and you'll be well for me." His mind whirled and jigged with the knowledge of the bite so obvious againstTreize's throat and the urge to sigh was denied. /It can't be that... Can't be.../

"I'd like to be well for you, Zechs," Treize murmured, "I just don't know what's wrong..."

"It's all right," Zechs whispered, fingers tracing Treize's jaw. "You'll be well soon, I know, and when you are, it will be just fine. I promise."

Treize's lips curled into a smile as he turned his head to kiss those fingers. "Yes. You're always right, Zechs -- you give me so much hope..."

"Hope you deserve to have, love," came the solemn assurance. "I want you to rest, all right? Try and build up your strength. Princess is going to stay with you tonight... and I'll be back shortly with something for you to eat...."

He smiled a little. "Thank you. I've slept so much I can't remember the last time I ate."

"You've got to remember to eat, Treize," Zechs chided. "To keep up your strength, if nothing else..."

"It's not that I don't remember, Zechs -- it's that I nod off while trying."

"Then I'll bring you something and watch you eat it and keep you awake," the tall blond pilot threatened, frowning. "Something with lots of broccoli. I wonder if there's any liver in the kitchen downstairs..."

"Ugh," Treize uttered. "Well. Food is food."

"You're running low on iron," Zechs explained, "and you know it. Both of those things are excellent sources of.."

"Iron," Treize finished for him. "All right. I'll eat it, then."

"Every last bite," Zechs tried to get him to promise.

"Every last bite, as long as I can stay awake," Treize sighed.

Nodding with satisfaction, Zechs rose and headed for the door. "And I'll make SURE you stay awake. I'll be back as soon as possible. Until then, sleep a little."

"Easily done," Treize murmured, settling back down in the bedding as Zechs left the room.

With a demanding little bark, Princess put both paws upon the bed rail, wanting into it.

"You can come up," Treize murmured, reaching a hand towards the dog.

Carefully, back legs squirming 'til she got a hold upon the bed, the dog climbed in, settling down patiently beside him and laying her head upon his chest to give him a look that practically begged for petting, praise and (with any hope) a fair portion of his liver. She'd probably get that. He smiled a little, one hand drifting to pet her head. "I'm rather glad he did leave you here with me."

A little nudge of her head indicated her pleasure as her eyes slowly closed and she gave a little sound to indicate that playfulness was out... for the moment.

One slim hand kneaded and petted through the dog's fur, slow, soothing, almost soothing enough to make him...

Treize drifted into sleep.

It was almost forty-five minutes later when Zechs returned, a deep purple dusk shining gloriously through the windows as if to remind him of something... something...

If only he could think of what it was tugging at him so!

"Treize," he said softly, settling onto the side of the bed with the tray in his hands. Upon it lay not only a plate and glass for Treize, but a plate and glass for him as well, and a bowl full of carefully sliced liver for the puppy with its head laying drowsily against Treize's chest. "Wake up, sir. It's time to eat.

"Mmm?" he half-moaned, one eye barely opening at all.

Shifting, Zechs laid the tray down and clicked on a bedside lamp. "Wake up, Treize. I've got your dinner here, and you have to eat."

"All right," he murmured, voice quiet as he started to sit up. "Staying?"

"SOMEONE has to make sure that you stay awake long enough to eat it!" Zechs smiled, picking up the now waking puppy and settling her on the floor with her bowl full of liver. "Make sure Princess doesn't breathe in your face much tonight. It won't be pleasant."

"So, what's the food you brought?"

"Liver, Treize. To..." He spoke over the loud moan Treize gave. "To build up your iron!"

"Why, again?"

"Because you need it, and you're going to eat every last bite, broccoli included," Zechs told him firmly. "EVERY last one!"

Treize sighed darkly. "It had better be cooked."

"It is," Zechs promised. "Every last bite. I made certain of it, told them that you wouldn't eat it if it wasn't and that you HAD to eat it. They also sent you...." He paused to lightly pick up the cover from a smaller dish. "Strawberry pie. To make up for the fact that you have to eat liver."

"That's horrid, Zechs -- withholding real food from me until I eat slop."

"That's right, I'm an ogre," Zechs said with a nod. "Now, you're going to eat it or I'm going to start injecting it directly into your veins, Treize. You need to eat. And I intend to make sure that you're awake long enough to do so."

Sighing, Treize reached out for the liver. "Fine. I'll eat it."

"Good boy," Zechs purred. /Too bad you're so sick. I'd have liked to tie you down and make you eat it.../ He sighed and looked at Princess. "She'll have to go out, shortly."

"I'll eat -- you take her out," Treize smirked just slightly as Zechs shifted the tray into his lap. "She's a wonderful companion, in your absence."

"Ahh, in another moment, Treize. Half an hour, actually. I've almost got her trained," Zechs proclaimed proudly just as she piddled on his boot.

Treize snickered softly. "You were saying?" he murmured, after forcing himself to swallow a mouthful of the liver.

"Sure, sure, rub it in," Zechs sighed, shifting up off of the bed and picking up the puppy. "Bad, bad, BAD, Princess! Bad, BAD!"

"I'd bet the dog doesn't know what you're saying," he smirked, stabbing a piece of broccoli.

"She'll learn," Zechs muttered, setting her down on the balcony so that she could gambol off into the grass and do her duty.

"Perhaps," Treize smiled slightly. "Strange. I have the funniest feeling that someone has told me before that I needed to eat more iron." He shook his head a little. "Probably just you."

Zechs smiled back at him. "Or the doctor, perhaps. How are you feeling?"

"Better," he assured. "Tired, still, but I'm feeling better this morning."

"Treize, it's just past sunset!" Zechs pointed out.

The blue gaze fell a little. "Hell. I have no idea of what time it is."

Coming back to the bed, Zechs sat on the edge and took Treize's hand. "It's all right, love," he whispered. "It's all right. You'll be better soon..." The urge to reach out and touch Treize's face was denied as he thought of the cameras and sighed. "And we'll take a vacation, just as you've said."

Treize squeezed Zechs's hand. "I'm really looking forward to that."

"Now. Eat your liver. Every bite," Zechs ordered.

"Yes, sir," he chuckled quietly, putting another forkful into his mouth.

Contemplatively, Zechs murmured, "Tell me something, Treize. What do you do at night? What is it that you dream?"

"I don't dream," Treize murmured, eating a piece of broccoli. "Or if I do, I can't remember what it is."

Frowning, Zechs considered it. "Well, maybe we'll see something on the cameras tonight, then."

"Hopefully," he smiled, turning his head as the dog padded back into the room. "Is she good for the night?"

"Hmmmm, probably. So long as she doesn't drink a lot of water, she should be fine. Noin says she sleeps the night through without wetting her bed, so she should be safe, though she'll probably wake you around five," Zechs noted.

"If I can stay awake," Treize murmured, as the puppy scrabbled up onto the bed again. "Have I eaten enough liver yet?"

"Two more bites," Zechs judged, smiling.

"Ugh." But those last two bites were quickly eaten. "There. Happy?"

"MUCH," came the quiet agreement. "Now you can have your pie."

The other man sighed. "I feel like I'm five."

"I feel like I'm your mother," Zechs teased him.

"Then does that mean you'll tuck me in?" Treize joked quietly, picking up his fork to start eating the pie.

"If you eat all of your pie like a good boy," Zechs said with a wink, "and finish your milk."

"Well, I'll have to do just that, then," Treize smiled a little. It was good to be awake and talking to someone again... good to see his lover again, even if they had to be on good conduct.

Zechs smiled and finished off his own ice water, setting it down upon the tray. "You seem a lot better tonight, sir. I'm glad..."

"I've noticed that I get better towards night, normally," he spoke, voice only half-drowsy and still mostly alert as he polished off the pie. "It's nice to have someone here when I actually am awake."

Zechs nodded. "How many more tests have they run?" he asked.

"No idea," he sighed. "Probably too many. Nothing's turned up yet."

"It will soon," Zechs assured him, removing the tray and all of the dinnerware. "Rest again, sir. I'll be watching your sleep."

He nodded slowly, a hand drifting to pet Princess again. "That's easily done..."

"Sleep well... Treize..."

And then Treize was out, drifting off to sleep, his hand stilling atop the puppy's fur.

With a little sigh, Zechs rose and lifted the tray, patting Princess one last time. "Guard him well," he whispered. /I have a feeling that he needs it./

Treize awoke, perhaps three hours later, by a soft noise. "Who...?"

"It's only me," came the soft voice from the doorway. "Won't you invite me in?"

"Come in," he answered, sitting up a little. "Do I always have to invite you in?"

"No," Wufei answered honestly as he almost drifted across the carpet. "Only I like to know I'm welcome. I like to hear you say it; to invite me in from the cold. I see you have a puppy. Isn't she cute?"

"Her name's Princess," he answered at length, still petting her a little. "It's Noin's... but they wanted me to have company." He breathed in, smelling the scent that was distinctly Wufei.

A little smile crossed dark eyes, distinctly red lips, as though he had just been kissed. "Really? How charming. Come here, Princess," he said lightly, crawling into the bed. "You're a darling puppy, aren't you? Huskies are nice. So much like wolves...."

The puppy's whimpering abated once Wufei's hands touched her, turning instead to the occasional contented whuf.

"She likes you," Treize smiled, sitting back again. "I can't blame her."

"I missed you," Wufei whispered, crawling over to lay atop Treize. "Tonight, we'll do something special, then, all right?"

He smiled, arms opening for the boy. "And what would that be?"

"You'll see," Wufei whispered, leaning down and kissing him, tongue and teeth sharp. "You'll see..."

"Ah..." Both arms came up around Wufei, holding the chilled body close.

Sitting in the control booth, Zechs frowned as he watched the cameras. No motion, no person on it but... there! Treize was awake again, and the puppy... How strange. It seemed as though he was talking to someone!

Scowling, he rose, looking at it, turning on the microphones that had also been installed.

"...you'll see..." came from the console, followed by Treize's soft, "Ah..." as he reached up for the nonentity.

Something was in there!

Quickly, he rose, flipping open a portable comm. "Noin," he said, hurrying into the hall, hoping that she was still awake.

A sleepy, "What...?" came from her.

"Meet me in Treize's quarters, stat!" he said, clicking it off as he began to run down the maze that made up the hallways of the palace that had been made into a base. By the time he reached the floor on which Treize slept and ran through four more halls, he was just about ready to shoot whatever was making him run in those damned boots!

Gun drawn, he lightly pushed in the door to Treize's office and looked inside carefully before moving through the small dark area. From behind the closed doors came a noise -- the dog, yipping and barking frantically, and some sort of strangled moan.

Quickly, he moved and opened them, careful for the moment in case the intruder was dangerous... and then he saw.

Lightly leaning over Treize, the creature was small; dark in appearance, the color of creamy caramel with leathery skin and wings that arched out,turning from caramel to chocolate to black at the tips and edges. Ebony hair drifted halfway over its back and down its shoulders to clawed fingertips, fingertips that grasped the back of Treize's neck and head tenderly, as one would a child's. Ginger hair drifted in the breeze from the window as the General of OZ, Zechs's lover of long-standing, lightly lapped at the blood that flowed freely down a rigidly ribbed chest, over flat belly and down the thigh of a leg that ended in clawed digits even as those fingertips were.


For a moment, it didn't seem that either one of them had heard him, and then the general stopped lapping and his head fell back, letting out a softly pained moan.

"Help me," came the thin words as his body began to shake, and the creature tightened its tender grasp on his body.

Princess sat by the door, all barking and howling stopped.

"Shhh, pressssssioussssss." The sound of it was sibilant, sweet, seductive, even as the creature turned serpentine gaze upon Zechs, standing in the doorway. "No Von Helssssing can help you now."

Moving forward, Zechs cocked the gun, feeling the firm motion of the bullet dropping into the chamber. "Get off of him, whatever you are!"

Consciousness was coming back to Treize, little by little, and he struggled some, though weakly. "Help, Miri...al..." But one hand was still holding onto the creature's side, even though he was trying to get free, there was some part of him rebelling against that struggle.

Flat black eyes peered at the tall blond with a certain amount of contempt. "Back away, Von Helssssssing," the vampire hissed softly, sweetly, "if you value his liffffe, ffffffor it issssss mine now. I had thhhhought I had killed the lasssssssst of you thhhhhhirteen yearssss ago. I ssssseeee that I missssstakenly allowed one tssso live...."

Zechs only knew in the back of his mind what a 'Von Helsing' was... And thirteen years ago his entire family had died, except for he and Relena...!

Taking careful aim, he started to tighten his finger on the trigger. "Let go of him!"

With a delicate care, the wings stretched out and the serpentine monster rose from the bed, Treize clasped in his arms, landing lightly beside it. "Will you chansssssse it, Von Helssssssing?"

What choice was there?! This... demon, monster, could leave with Treize, kill him, or he could try to save his lover's life? Lining up the barrel, he fired a single shot at the creature's neck.

The bullet spattered through, ripping caramel-almost-scaled flesh, a gasp ripping its way loose, as well, in that moment. Rippling, the creature changed quickly to nothing more than a dark-skinned black-haired boy, Treize tumbling from its arms as one raised to press to the side of his throat.

"Bastard," Chang Wufei hissed, despite the wound. "I'll be back to kill you, Von Helsing! And I'll claim what you stole from me so long ago!" With that, he was a flit of motion, barely there as he flew out the window and into the night on silent feet.

Rushing forward, Zechs dropped to his knees, shuddering. "Treize!"

The ginger-haired man was just a shaking pile of limbs, moaning softly; the only other sound in the room was the puppy's worried whines as it plodded towards where Treize was on the floor.

"Oh, God..." He flipped open the comm quickly and called medical before calling Noin again. "Woman! Where are you!?"

"Down the... hall!" came the comm reply, and the shout from near-by. Just outside the office.

Princess licked a little blood from Treize's bare foot and drew back with a yelp and a shudder of her own.

"Don't touch it, Princess," Zechs said softly. "I don't know what it is. Treize..." He shook the other man, shuddering thoughts dancing through his head and being stuffed back for going over later. "Wake up, Treize. Come on! Ah, God, there's blood everywhere..."

Treize only moaned softly, a pained, shuddery noise of incoherence.

"Zechs -- oh, God! Is he alive?!" Noin asked as she opened the door and Princess nearly clung beside her legs.

"He's alive," Zechs assured her grimly. "The med team's on its way. Help me find where all the blood is coming from..."

"Help me uncurl him," she instructed quietly, kneeling down to put her hands on Treize's shoulders.

Carefully, they stretched him out upon the carpet, Zechs's hands ripping open the night-shirt that was already half-unbuttoned. "Treize...?"

A soft word, incoherent, then, "...aldo? What...?"

"It's all right, Treize," Zechs said softly. "Just lay still. We're looking you over to see where the blood is coming from."

"Not bleeding," he spoke, voice half-choked. "Drank... Uhhhh."

"You drank?" Zechs whispered, shuddering and looking up at Noin, desperation obvious in those clear blue eyes before he looked at the face of the man upon the floor. "Tell me, Treize. Tell me you didn't drink, please!"

"No choice," the man moaned quietly, eyes closing tightly as a shudder racked him. "Tasted warm, so cold..."

"Treize..." Arms wrapped warmly about him. "Noin, get a blanket or something. Everything on the bed..." He shuddered, the smell of blood thick in the room. "Try the closet."

"What's going to.... happen?" Treize asked raggedly, clinging weakly to Zechs, body still trembling uncontrollably as Noin went to fetch a blanket. "Just rest," Zechs whispered gently, stroking tangled ginger hair out of that pale face, those star-brilliant eyes. "Rest..."

"I can't.... he'll come back," were the whimpered words while Noin returned.

"Here -- a thick fleece blanket," she whispered, handing it to Zechs. "Wrap him up tight -- he looks hysterical, Zechs..."

Quickly, he began to tuck the blanket around the older man, tugging him into his lap. "Hush, Treize... Shhhhh. I won't let him come back. I shot him. It's all right..." And, for a while anyway, Zechs wasn't going to think about anything beyond that.

"Sir?" came a rough voice from the other side of the door, along with a heavy knock. "You called for medics...?"

"Come in!" Zechs called loudly, still cradling Treize. "I'll kill him for you, Treize," he whispered softly. "I'll get rid of him."

Only a soft whimpering noise left Treize as the men entered, one of them startling at all the blood before two others moved in to take Treize from Zechs.

"Sir, did you see what happened...?"

For a moment, Zechs contemplated what to tell them, frowning as he looked at Treize and then over at Noin. "No," he said finally. "I was watching on the cameras that were installed this afternoon and I thought I saw someone enter the room. By the time I got here, things were as you see them." /Minus a serpent or vampire or something./

They were already moving Treize from the room, going quickly. "Do either of you wish to go with...?"

"Yes," Zechs said quickly. "I'll be right with you. Noin...?"

"I'll take Princess back to my room," she murmured, picking up the agitated dog. "I'm glad whatever happened didn't kill her."

"Be careful," he said, hurrying after them. "Get Une. Don't be alone, ok?"

"I won't, Zechs -- don't worry," she murmured, bundling the puppy close as she turned to head towards her own room.

"Be careful!" he reiterated, and then they were gone, Treize on the gurney as they hurried along their way.

"Do you have any idea what may have happened, captain?" One of the men asked, walking quickly beside Zechs. "He's starting to slip into shock."

"I'm uncertain at this time," Zechs said softly. "Between my noting that there was someone in the room and my arrival, something happened, but I'm not sure as to what."

"All right sir -- we'll be sure in a few minutes, of how he is. You'll have to wait in one of the waiting rooms -- we can't let you into the ER."

Nodding, Zechs simply followed. "All right. I understand." "Good." That man split off from the other two, and gestured Zechs into the waiting room. "Do you know who has his power of attorney?"

"Ah, I'll call Lady Une," Zechs mumbled, watching as Treize was taken away from him.

"Yes, sir," the medic uttered, before leaving the room.

There was a phone there, and he made use of it, dialing Lady Une's private number and allowing it to ring several times before trying Noin's room.

The phone picked up, answered by Une's stern voice, "Lady Une speaking."

"Lady Une." Zechs sighed with relief. "I'm glad you're there with Noin, and I hope you're both all right. Do you know who has Treize's power of attorney? The medical people want to know..."

"Ah...." she sighed, falling silent. "Yes, Zechs -- I have it, I'm sure. Or you do -- would that change anything, really?"

His response waited for a moment before he said, "I'm sure it doesn't. If you're the one, do I have your permission to do as I think best?"

"Entirely -- I trust your judgements concerning his safety and continued health," she sighed quietly.

"Thank you, Une," he said quietly.

"You're welcome, Zechs," Une sighed softly. "Get some sleep."

"I'll try," he told her softly, hanging up the phone and settling into one of the hard molded-plastic chairs that seemed inevitable with medical places everywhere.


He'd try.

Soft loam surrounded him, cradling him in the belly of the monster in which he now slept. Shenlong was better than a coffin, more protected from sunlight and humans, the spirit of Nataku watching over him as he wept deep in those earthen bowels. The shot that damned Von Helsing brat had gotten off hurt still. It would, he knew, 'til he drank again beneath the night sky.

That would be a difficult task in his current condition. He couldn't think for the pain, the searing agony of unhealed flash that was as much mental as physical. It would make it difficult to dazzle someone into not seeing the injury.

A Von Helsing had harmed him once again.

It had been long centuries since last he'd allowed one to injure him; even the arranged destruction of the Sank Kingdom in an attempt to destroy the last of his mortal enemies had not brought him so close to peril. He couldn't believe that one of them had escaped... The attempts to destroy their bloodline had taken him the better part of the last four centuries. For all that time, he had been the last of the House of Dracul... the last of the blood-drinking Dragons. One by one, he had hunted them down to dark corners of the Earth and, finally, space, draining them dry only after telling him why he hunted them -- WHY they were going to die.

The last of them had almost escaped him by marrying into the Sankian Peacecrafts, hiding all information about her prior life. She had known that someone, something, would be stalking her. Had it not been for a single television appearance, and the tiny miniature he still kept portraying the wife of the original vampire hunter whom she so resembled, the one who'd begun this mess by hunting Dracula, the one who'd encouraged his descendants to continue hunting the creatures...

He missed Sashenka so much.

With the supposed deaths of the hated Von Helsing line, he had thought himself to be free again. With some care, he had searched out the mortal line of his own long-murdered maker, the beloved and adored lover who had made him what he was so very long ago. It was with some surprise that he had seen Treize Khushrenada, grandson many times over to that cherished lost one. The lovely thick ginger hair, brilliant royal sapphire gaze, the quick intelligence so obvious in his face... He looked so much like his ancestor that, for the first time in almost half a millennium, Chang Wufei, vampire, found himself tempted. Tempted to enter the war, tempted to change the world, tempted and won over by a single duel.

He'd begun making his twice weekly visits immediately after that.

It was so terrible, so lonely. Even his clan was gone now, the people who had looked after him for so long, his young 'wife', the sacrificial lamb they had offered him with such beauty, dead. Everything was gone now, save himself, his machine and the almost stale dirt he needed to live that came from the tiny estate tucked between the mountains of Romania, near Moldova, directly adjacent to one of Khushrenada's estates.

It was almost enough to make him laugh. Almost, just as was the realization that a Von Helsing appeared to be the lover of the man he'd begun to make his fledgling, a vampire's get. That put him in danger again -- terrible danger.

As the sun eased over the horizon and the deep deathlike sleep it brought with it began to wash over him, he sighed, weeping going still.

Somehow, he had to get rid of that Von Helsing brat and make sure there were no more of them. Only then could he turn his attention back where it truly belonged -- to the new companion he had chosen and already cherished.

Deep at his core, Treize felt a terrible sadness.

It seemed... detached from him somehow, but the urge to weep was there, to cry for something nearly lost but still so close.

But he couldn't, not while he was still aware of where he was -- laying, exhausted, in a hospital bed, mulling over everything that had happened, everything he could remember. Zechs was there, and Une had been, too, but he hadn't spoken yet. It probably worried them, but... There was too much to think of before he started to answer their questions. Une's questions in particular. Zechs was just... there, holding his hand, proving himself the wonderful friend and lover he'd always been.

The feel of fingers caressed slowly across a wrist, carefully touching Treize, soothing, gentle; tender with emotion, with worry, though Zechs did not speak. Instead, he waited. He had been waiting for hours, and had finally been allowed near Treize when they'd placed him in a normal bed just before dawn. Now, it was only a matter of time, and of finding out certain things.

To speak, to chance.... yes. "I'm glad that you came in," Treize whispered, the noise sudden and unexpected in that private room.

"What... How..." Zechs took a deep breath. "Are you up to answering any questions?"

"I will try," he spoke softly.

"When did it begin, Treize? Do you remember?" Zechs asked quietly. /One question at a time, Peacecraft,/ he told himself firmly.

"A month ago... maybe more," Treize uttered. "Can I... water?"

The sound of shifting ice chips and trickling liquid sounded, and Zechs stood, leaning over to help Treize drink. "How did it happen?" he asked as Treize sighed, laying his head back upon the white pillows. He seemed almost as pale as the sheets.

"Came to me -- to fight, and it just..." Treize trailed off into a sigh, letting his eyes close for a moment before he looked up at Zechs with an intent, tired gaze. "I've betrayed you, Mirialdo. I'm so sorry..."

Fingers shifted, gently touching Treize's cheek. "Did you know? What he -- it -- was?" he asked, ignoring Treize's apology for the moment.

"I didn't know," Treize murmured in a raw voice, pushing back the urge to cry -- he'd put Zechs through the hell of watching him so sick, because he was having sex with that... creature at night. "I never remembered."

"That he was coming to you?" Zechs asked him, still lightly touching Treize's face.

Nodding in answer, Treize sighed softly, turning to kiss Zechs's fingertips, a familiar but saddened gesture. "I'm sorry. I should have... remembered." /Somehow./

"Have you ever read... it's a very old book, but still... Bram Stoker wrote a book called Dracula a very long time ago," Zechs said softly. "All about vampires and their powers and... Von Helsings..." The thought captured him once again, and he frowned. "One of the things that was so terrible was that the vampire could control someone's mind...

"I've never read it," Treize murmured, eyes still closed, as he dragged one hand to clutch onto Zechs's wrist. "I just wish..."

"What, love?" Zechs whispered softly. "What do you wish, Treize?"

"That I'd lost that duel and this had never happened," he breathed tiredly, eyes closing for a moment more before they opened again. "There's no way to stop him."

That startled Zechs. "How do you know?" he asked softly.

Treize shivered a little, pulling Zechs's hand minutely closer to him. "I don't know."

"I won't let him have you," the reply came firmly. "I won't!"

Treize smiled weakly, trying to manage that expression. "Thank you."

"It will be all right, love," Zechs whispered. "I promise you that."

"He's not human," Treize whispered shakily.

The agreement was grim. "No, he's definitely not, and the way he accused me of being a 'Von Helsing' determines that he's not sane, either. But don't you worry. I'll take care of it."

"Don't leave me at night any more," he requested.

"I won't leave you, love," Zechs said, absolutely aching. "I'll never leave you again."

Sapphire eyes looked damp as Treize nodded, hand squeezing Zechs's wrist again. "Good," was the tentative reply. "I'm glad you stopped it, Miri."

"Rest," Zechs said quietly, a thumb rising to wipe lightly beneath an eye. "Rest for me, Treize."

"Don't leave," he asked. "I don't feel safe."

"I won't go anywhere," came the promise. "I'll be right here."

"When I wake up, you'll be here...?" he murmured, already starting to give in to slumber again. "I'm so tired of 'resting'."

Zechs leaned over, hair brushing Treize's face just before his lips did. "I'll be right beside you, love. I won't even go so far as the restroom."

Treize leaned up the little bit to close the kiss. "Thank you."

"Sleep, Treize. Get well..."


"Look at this, Une," Noin said excitedly, pointing to the yellowed scrap of newspaper she'd found. It was the first clue they'd stumbled across at all in this wild goose-chase of Zechs's. Von Helsings, indeed! Next thing they knew, Zechs would be declaring that a vampire was responsible for Treize's illness!

....though that would explain rather a lot, come to think of it....

"What is it?" Une asked, leaning in closer.

"A marriage announcement," the soft reply sounded. "Here. See? Aricin Peacecraft, King of Sank, to wed...."

"Katrien Von Helsing," Une finished for Noin. "Noin, do you know what happened to Treize-sama?"

"....I can guess," Noin said softly. "From the symptoms, from what Zechs has got us looking for... It can't be true, but..."

"Zechs thinks it's a vampire," Une sighed, shaking her head. "They don't exist."

Noin frowned. "Well, he saw SOMETHING that terrified him, that's sure. Maybe it's only someone who thinks they're a vampire. That would mean that he might be going after the general to..." She paused, realizing what she was almost giving away. "Well, because he's an old friend of the Peacecrafts."

Lips thinned a little, Une nodded. "It makes sense, in a way. Though I still can't bring myself to believe that it's that."

"Well, there really isn't any other explanation that makes sense...." /And it makes even more sense, knowing that Zechs is Mirialdo Peacecraft./

"But the Peacecrafts are dead," Une pointed out.

Noin paused for a moment, debating with herself. "Perhaps," she conceded. "But Treize was their friend; and Zechs resembles them greatly, doesn't he?"

"So to an enemy of Peacecrafts, I could see how they'd think him one, and hurt Treize," Une sighed softly. "First, we have to up security."

"WITHOUT letting them know what's going on," Noin agreed.

"Oh, I can make it seem quite routine -- we haven't done a full inspection of security in some time. That always raises the level."

A fat smile worked over Noin's face. "You're an absolute SAINT, Une!"

"Well, I can't run the inspection," she sighed, "because I'm trying to do my work, and Treize's."

"I'll handle it," Noin volunteered jauntily, "if you'd like."

"Thank you," Une sighed quietly. "Would you mind letting Princess stay with Treize again? I think he rather likes the dog's company."

"Of course not," Noin replied. "She's almost stopped... ahhh, well, you know. Probably because His Excellency is in such dislike of it. Amazing, isn't it?"

"Utterly," Une agreed, shaking her head. "The puppy really likes him, and I think that His Excellency might rest better with someone with him."

Noin nodded. "Have they said yet when they'll release him from the Center?"

"Zechs said they told him they'd release Treize as soon as they finished testing the blood that was on him."

A little shudder spread through Noin. "What if... Well, you know, what if it corroborates what we're afraid of thinking, somehow? I mean, what if it's real and not just some psycho?"

"What could it possibly be?" Une questioned.

"Well, you know," Noin said uncomfortably. "A vampire. Weren't you ever terrified of them as a kid?" /Somehow, Une, I think the vampire might just have been afraid of you, instead.../

The woman across from Noin simply shook her head. "No -- I never indulged in such silly things as horror books."

/How did I know it?/ Noin thought, smiling slightly at her. "Well, I have to admit that I haven't, either. It was stories from other kids that scared me nearly senseless," she said, grinning now. "It was awful. I slept with a night-light for yours."

"I'll have to see if you still sleep with one," Une spoke, half serious before she cracked a slight smile. Anything to ease the tension concerning Treize. Anything....

Still, the flustered blush that covered Noin's cheeks was enough to make her really smile. "I will be from now on," she said lightly, "if only just so that you'll have something to find."

"Maybe to keep whatever is going on from going after you," Une suggested. "I just can't help but think that a human couldn't do that to Treize-sama."

"That's my fear exactly," Noin whispered, shivering. "But we'll do our best, Une. We always do."

"Of course. Our very best."

Waking had been painful, though not quite so much so as he'd been afraid it would be. Indeed, he'd healed enough over the day's sleep that he thought perhaps it would be all right to try and see someone already suggestible to him; someone who would fall easily under his sway.

That meant one of the other Gundam pilots, and he didn't like that at all.

It wasn't good to do such a thing to people too close to one.

The trip to the nearby safehouse was a difficult one; he could barely stand, much less make his way over river and through brush to the tiny spot tucked away in a little canyon near where Shenlong was hidden.

He wondered who would be there...

"What the hell hit you?" Duo asked, setting down his coffee cup at the sight of Wufei in the open door.

"Marquise," Wufei whispered harshly, wobbling as he stepped farther into the kitchen and beginning to fall.

"Shit," Duo swore softly, rising and rushing to Wufei's side. Deceptively strong arms moved to support Wufei -- one behind his back, the other pulling Wufei's right arm around his shoulders. "Here -- let me help ya into your room... Was it for a mission, Wufei?"

"Hurts..." Wufei whispered, aware of what he must look like, even dazzling the boy. He hated to do it, didn't want to do it, but... His teeth were absolutely itching as he turned slightly, burying his face in Duo's neck as he was lifted into the boy's arms.

"You'll be all right Wufei," Duo whispered roughly. "Ain't nothing that can take you down, you know?" He kneed open the door, letting it swing into the dark, empty room before he carried Wufei in.

The moment that his teeth bit in was the same moment that Duo placed him on the bed. It was light, so very light, and it tasted so good, so necessary to him, that he almost swooned.

And Duo didn't even startle -- he was so accustomed to strange little aches and pricks of pain that he didn't associate it with Wufei's face nuzzled to his neck. "You're a mess, Wufei," he whispered, putting Wufei down on the bed, but going with him -- trying to comfort him, not letting him go.

Finally, Wufei managed to drag his face away, shuddering slightly as the infusion spread through him, small though it had been. "Not so bad," he whispered. "Just bled a lot. No big deal."

"How'd it happen?" Duo asked, letting go of Wufei. "Let me wrap it for you."

Wufei closed his eyes, acknowledgment that he'd allow Duo to do that. "Challenged Khushrenada. Marquise shot at me. Don't think he meant... hurt so bad..." And that was a lie, but still. Better that than the truth... he could just hear that. /Gee, Duo, I was getting off my rocks and letting Treize guzzle my blood so we could be vampires together forever./

It was almost enough to make him laugh.

"Shit, Wufei," Duo swore again. "Where's he shot you? Didn't we warn you to not test with Khushrenada, Wufei?"

"Sorry," Wufei whispered. "It was just a little shot. Nothing bad," he said. "Just bled lots..." The flesh had knitted together enough that he thought he could pass it off as nothing more than that, anyway.

"Where," he demanded softly, sitting on the edge of the bed and starting to remove Wufei's tank.

Silently, Wufei turned his head. The gap that had been the side of his throat had closed up, leaving what was now barely more than a graze, but which still appeared deeply bruised and painful.

Duo hissed softly as he looked at it. "Can you come into the bathroom with me? Or are you too tired...?"

"I can come," Wufei said tiredly, almost sitting up before falling back again. "Sorry."

"No, just stay here -- I'll be right back," Duo uttered in a rush, turning out of the room to go to the bathroom -- he needed to get a wash-cloth, a bowl of water, rubbing alcohol and bandages.

Wufei watched him as he left, eyes barely slitted open. He was grateful to Duo for sharing that bit of blood; he didn't think he could have gotten by without it. He'd given so much to Treize, already, more than he should have, and then that damned Von Helsing brat had shot him..... Even the little bit he'd taken was a relief, though he needed so much more...

It was easy to gather the supplies -- they were all kept neatly under the cabinet of the bland sink -- and Duo filled a bowl with warm water, grabbing a wash-cloth, the bandages and the rubbing alcohol. "You still awake, Wufei?" he asked as he re-entered the room.

"Yeah," Wufei said tiredly. "I'm awake."

"Good -- he shot your neck?" Duo asked as he perched beside Wufei.

"Think he was aiming at my head, maybe," was the response, Wufei's eyes closing. "Or maybe it was the best shot he could get around Khushrenada."

"I wouldn't have thought Khushrenada would allow that, even if he is a dick," Duo drawled, making Wufei bare his neck to him as he dabbed at it with water, first.

"...was unconscious," Wufei whispered. "Well, almost. Didn't kill him, but he was out of it. Sick or something..." Or something.

"Khushrenada's ill?" Duo asked, that catching his attention. "Wufei, that's great!!"

Wufei winced as Duo said that, passing it off as pain from the wound. "He's an honorable man, Maxwell..."

"Wufei, this is war -- we can slip in, kill him, slip out..." Part of him wondered why Wufei had never done that before.

"That's unjust, Maxwell!" Wufei croaked, biting down hard on his lip as the other boy began to use the rubbing alcohol. It hurt, too much, and he hated it. "He deserves to be challenged, not murdered!"

"He needs to die, Wufei, so that we can win this war," Duo countered, unwrapping the bandages. "I don't have anything personal against him, but he's the key to winning."

The answer that followed was hoarse, barely spoken. "Soon," Wufei managed. "Soon."

"Yeah," Duo agreed. "Lift your head; tell me if I'm wrapping too tightly."

Wufei obeyed, waiting as Duo wrapped bandages gently about his throat and across the shoulder the shot had been so close to. He was glad it appeared as only a tiny graze, even if it still hurt terribly. "Mm."

"You okay...? You look starved."

A grunt came in answer; the best Wufei could do and not laugh. He was starving, but it wasn't for anything Duo could provide... at least, not without him revealing himself and sucking the other pilot dry! "A little," he said softly. "Too tired to eat."

"Never too tired to eat," Duo chuckled, gathering up the supplies and heading out of the room. "I'll get you something to drink, at least -- to replace lost blood. What do you want?"

/More blood.../ the errant thought stuttered. "Water's good," Wufei muttered.

"I'll put some vitamin shit in it -- Heero's stuff, you know? It's supposed to be good for you," he uttered, leaving for a few minutes before returning with a large clear glass, the water tinged very faintly orange.

Wufei could smell it from the door, and it was no more pleasant now than it ever was... perhaps even less so, thanks to his need for liquid of an entire different sort. "I'd rather you just raided a blood bank and pumped it into me," he muttered, sighing.

"If I could, Wufei, you know I would," Duo sighed, offering the cup to Wufei. "You sleep a lot tonight, okay?"

"And all day tomorrow," he agreed, taking the cup and drinking. "Duo.... Thank you."

"You're welcome," Duo smiled slowly at the other pilot. "You're my friend, Wufei."

Wufei sighed softly. "You wouldn't think of me that way if you knew everything about me."

"Yeah, I would," Duo assured. "We've all done horrible things."

"Not like me, you haven't," Wufei muttered, giving Duo the barest quirk of a lip by way of a smile. "But it doesn't matter. Thank you, anyway."

"You're welcome, Wufei," he smiled back, standing in the door-way. "Rest up, all right? I'll be back later to check in on you."

"Mmm," Wufei answered, closing his eyes. He hoped someone else would come in, preferably Quatre. He was still hungry, starving, in fact, but he didn't want to chance taking any more from Duo, and Quatre was so... He sighed. Quatre was just a better option than Heero or Trowa... "Oyasumi."

"Quat'll be in sometime tonight -- I think he's supposed to bunk up with you," were Duo's parting words.

And it was then that Wufei thanked God and the Devil in Hell for small favors.

Carefully, Zechs sat papers on Treize's desk. It had been a long time since he'd shot the vampire; he could only assume that it had died, for Gundam 05 had not been seen in some time. Still... things were certainly still disturbing.

He'd learned more and more about his mother's family; the Von Helsings. V.H. Vampire Hunter.

The notion of being Vampire Hunter Zechs Marquise did not amuse him.

He was no more amused by the fact that Oz had become something of a nocturnal organization over the past month. Treize still slept almost all day, but he'd become able to at least function at night, and that was something. All testing on the blood they'd found had become moot. It had rather effectively dried up and practically disappeared, leaving all of the scientists and doctors frustrated and no one truly understanding what was happening to Treize.


No one but him.

"All done, sir."

"Thank you, Zechs," Treize sighed at his friend and lover. Since that had happened, he'd gained a few more eccentricities than he'd had before. He couldn't sleep alone, so he needed either Princess or Zechs with him when he slept. The fine paleness of his skin had become even more-so, as if there was a light powder on his flesh that couldn't be wiped away.

"You're welcome," Zechs replied, yawning slightly. "You're sure you're getting enough rest, Treize?" The funny days and nights were killing Zechs, but... It was worth it. For Treize.

"It's strange that I sleep so well now," Treize murmured, "even if it is through the day." He didn't want to think as to why that was. Didn't want to think that he knew why he slept at day but not at night.

Zechs smiled, leaning across the desk. He'd had the cameras removed, as he was now spending every night with Treize and they were no longer needed. "I'm just glad you're better, love. That's all I could ask for."

"I'm glad, too, and I still think that I owe you for what you did," he pointed out, gesturing with his pen and dropping ink all over some of the papers.

With a laugh, Zechs took the pen away. "Be more careful, Treize. You've gotten ink everywhere..." He paused, tilting his head to the side and speaking with a lightness of heart that he did not feel. "I didn't mind, Treize. After all. That's what Von Helsings do."

"I'd prefer to think that that's what loyal friends and lovers do, Zechs, rather than that it's a family tradition," Treize teased lightly.

"That, too," the platinum blond murmured, leaning across the desk and kissing Treize sweetly.

"I can think of forty things I'd rather do than paperwork right now," Treize sighed against those warm, familiar lips. No searing cold in that touch... None at all, for they only continued to move with slick, delicious warmth against him.

"You could take a break..."

"The sofa?" Treize asked with a smile.

"It's not so far," Zechs agreed.

"Good," Treize purred, starting to stand up, giving a languid stretch. "So many things to sign..."

"You could always pull out the stamp..."

Treize looked thoughtful for a moment as he walked away from the desk. "Proof that I'm too overwhelmed by it to think properly."

"Even better yet. Une's caught up again... she could take a little of it, and so could I," Zechs murmured.

"That's all right -- I feel good to be pulling my own weight around again," Treize answered as he snuck playfully towards Zechs. "Sofa, Captain -- now."

"Feeling feisty, are we?" A wolfish grin snuck up over Zechs's face. It was wonderful to see Treize with some enthusiasm again!

"Oh, yes -- feisty and deprived, Zechs..."

With a chuckle, Zechs allowed him to catch up to him before swinging Treize up into his grasp, the entirety of the slightly smaller man in his grasp. "Well, I certainly wouldn't want you to be deprived, love."

"Neither do I," Treize purred, plastering himself firmly against his lover, hands reaching down to cup Zechs's bottom.

"Excited, are we?" came the whisper in his ear as he was laid down upon the divan, fingers going to brush gold uniform buttons open.

"Or horny," Treize sighed, stroking his hands over Zechs's tight uniform pants, peeling off his gloves. "My elegance has fled for a few hours, it seems."

"That's all right," Zechs whispered, beginning to divest him of all clothing. "I don't want you elegant. I want you naked and writhing and pleading with me for more..." Kisses began scattering along his jaw, occasionally encountering Treize's mouth before he pulled away to remove the other man's boots so that he could get Treize's pants off of him.

"I'd like to have you beneath me, Zechs, crying out and remembering what we did when you sleep," he uttered in a rich, aching voice as he leaned in to remove one boot while Zechs dealt with the other.

The blond only laughed softly at that. "We'll see," he promised as they managed to get the boots off and he began to strip Treize of the rest of his clothing.

"Your clothes come next," he pointed out. It felt... normal, actually. They usually made love at night -- except that this was now during the time he spent wide awake.

With a smile, Zechs stood and began shedding his red uniform jacket, the rest of his clothes soon joining the pile beside the divan before he moved swiftly to cover Treize, long strands of silken blond hair caressing over his skin. "Something comes next, anyway," he teased with a whisper.

Strong arms slid around Zechs, stronger than they looked, as he nipped at Zechs's chin, rolling atop him. They almost rolled off of the couch with that movement, but Zechs shifted, catching him and pulling one of Treize's thighs to plant firmly on either side of him. "Careful..."

"Was it really so bad when we fell last time?" Treize asked. Aside from the sharp jarring of his head, he'd been fine, and so had been Zechs.

"Mmm, no," Zechs admitted, "but I've a notion to stay on the couch tonight."

"Then I shall have to requisition us a bigger sofa." One hand stroked the inside of Zechs's left thigh, teasing near his sex.

That brought an almost purr from the tall blond as his own palms skimmed down Treize's back, tracing the feel of his spine to cup both cheeks of his ass. "Mmmm, sounds like a wonderful idea."

Treize was a little thinner than he'd been before it had all begun, but that could be put down toe his gradual recovery of health -- his sexual appetite for Zechs's company certainly hadn't diminished. "Or a sofa-bed," he purred suggestively, pressing his hips down against Zechs's.

"Mmmm," Zechs gave a murmured groan of agreement, burying his face against Treize's throat and delicately nipping.

Treize shuddered, though, subconsciously drawing back. "No, Mirialdo... Not... Not there."

"I'm sorry, love," Zechs whispered, drawing back and lightly kissing the edge of a jaw. "I'm so sorry."

Another shudder, but it was of a different sort, and Treize started to relax again. "It's a rational fear," he murmured softly.

"I know," Zechs said softly, shifting Treize to the side so that he laid between the back of the sofa and Zechs's own lean body. The fingers that had traced him so delicately before began to caress, touching long pale limbs, lightly brushing Treize's belly. "I want you," he whispered.

Treize sighed carefully, liking the dual shelter the sofa-back and Zechs provided him, making him feel safer still... "I want you, too," he agreed, tugged the other man close to him.

"Turn around, Treize," Zechs whispered, pushing at him gently after giving him several kisses. "I want to..."

"Make me feel you," Treize finished, already starting to turn.

Kisses met the back of his neck as Zechs pressed him into the couch, a hand moving around him to stroke his belly even as his second slowly kissed down his spine, nose caressing after lips and almost tickling. Exquisite attention was paid to the small of his back, homage to the curve of a buttock, the place where thigh met rear, the little crease hiding the warm snug place where Zechs wanted so badly to be. "Love you," he whispered, fingers and tongue parting that flesh, his own legs now dangling precipitously off of the couch. "Ah, Treize. Love you..."

"Gott," Treize gasped softly as he muffled his own soft cries against the couch. And Une wondered why it looked like Princess chewed on it. "Feels so good, Miri... Love you, love..."

Heated slickness moved within, lathing the tiny hole with which Zechs was so familiar and spearing it. The taste of Treize was clean; knowing how his lover adored touching him there, tongueing him, he was extra-careful in his baths. "Mmmmm..."

And that extra care was worth it to have Zechs doing that, the heated squirm of sensation that nothing could mimic. The muscles in his thighs danced, as he bucked back to his lover. "More," he moaned softly, before he started to bite at the upholstery.

A finger squirmed in beside that tongue, both working to lubricate the Oz general carefully, teasing at him, touching him, bringing him to pleasure.

Pressing his sex hard against the fabric of the sofa, Treize gave another moan. "Zechs!"

"Shhh," Zechs whispered, sliding in a second finger and beginning to move farther up, his aching erection caressing over Treize's calf and thigh. "Just a minute..."

"Soon, Miri," he whispered raggedly, moving back to that tender impalement. "Soon..."

"Now," came the whisper as Zechs slid between his cheeks, fingers withdrawing to make space for the stiff implement of Treize's penetration, guiding it into place. The tiny hole was perfect, resisting him sweetly at first and then opening to the slow thrust he gave.

Treize gave the same gasp he gave every time Zechs slid into him, half startled, half fulfilled pleasure; it trailed off into a familiar moan, as he rocked his hips back to the slow impalement. "Ah, yes..."

"I'm inside of you," Zechs whispered, thrilling as he told Treize what he was doing. That was the best part, sometimes; the way the words made them both feel. "Taking you. Loving you. You're almost filled up with me, love. Almost...." A sigh slid from his lips, a shudder spreading down his spine as he found the depths of his lover. "There. I'm all in you now. You're mine...."

"Yours, Mirialdo," Treize panted softly, savoring the knowledge that he was... was Zechs's. All Zechs's, not the plaything of an unnatural creature, no matter how beautiful that creature had been... it was still just a creature, not a living, breathing, loving man that he trusted with everything. He pushed his hips back, feeling the bones of Zechs's pelvis press against him. "You're mine, too."

"Yes," the quiet groan came, felt against the back of Treize's neck as his lover withdrew slightly, pushing deep, angling to strike against the center of his pleasure. "Ah, yes, love..."

"So deep inside me, Miri -- you feel so right..." he uttered raggedly, one hand reaching back to grasp Zechs's arm.

"You belong to me," Zechs moaned, nipping gently at a shoulder and then kissing it, lathing it lightly with his tongue.

"Yes, yours, Miri," Treize purred, pulling Zechs's arm forward to have something to hold onto, to feel more possessed by his lover as he rocked slowly.

Arms wrapping around Treize, he thrust, kissing lightly at the back of his neck, teasing at nipples and cock with slow strokes of his hand. It was wonderfully tender to be spooned up against Treize that way, the other man held safe and close in his arms, between the back of the couch and that long golden body. "Love you," he purred.

"I love you, also," the shaking tenor voice replied. "Mean so very much to me..."

"My love," Zechs whispered, thrusting deep and hard, now, a hand stroking the warmth of Treize's erection, his mouth giving deep abiding kisses across shoulders and back. "Ahh...!"

The muscles beneath his lips tensed and relaxed with every touch, and Treize's blood pounded through his body, calling... calling. It discomforted him, to feel it tuning into something he wanted no part of, while he was so very much there with Zechs. "Harder," he pleaded quietly. "Harder."

Gentle motions changed, becoming rougher and deeper at the sound of his voice, Zechs groaning quietly against his ear as he plunged to the depths of him. "Treize! Treize!"

It didn't stop the strange yearning in his blood, though, or the peculiar sense of hurt and anger that balled up in his belly along with the pleasure that was beginning to overcome him.

But the hardness of the pounding he was getting made the pleasure more, stronger in his mind, and that was enough. "Ah, god, Zechs! Miri... so... ah, Miri..~!" his voice trailed off as his body locked, arching against the sofa's back.

A deep clenching snugged Zechs's pounding shaft close and he gasped, thrusts shortening, quickening as he snapped his hips quickly, biting out his own grunt of pleasure as he spilled deep inside of Treize, fingers still lightly caressing him as they finished together.

Sated, Treize laid there, pressing his back against Zechs's warm, chest, smiling to himself. "Thank you... ah, you always feel so good inside of me."

"I love you, Treize," Zechs whispered. "Really. Truly. Deeply. It seems as though I always have."

"Since we were just children," he murmured richly, "before your family met its fate..."

/In the form of a vampire,/ Zechs thought. "Yes. Yes."

"Zechs," Treize purred, turning slowly, slowly, feeling Zechs's presence in him slip free. "Promise to do something for me if I ask it of you."

"Mmm?" Zechs asked contentedly, pulling Treize back into his arms, ginger capped head tucked beneath his chin.

"I can still feel him, Zechs," Treize whispered softly. "He's still alive."

That brought the blond man to stillness, tension rising quickly in him. "I... All right," he murmured, hand rising to stroke gently at the back of Treize's head. "I'm going to kill him for you... as soon as he shows himself again."

"That... that doesn't worry me, Mirialdo, as much as that I can feel him," Treize murmured. "I may be becoming what he is."

Zechs's head was shaking already as he put his hands on Treize's shoulders and pulled back to look at him sternly. "No, you're not, and you never will be that sort of monster!" he said firmly.

"But if, Zechs," Treize spoke, ever the one who found reason at last. "But if... I'll ask you a favor. Only then. Not until then, my love."

"You know I would do anything for you..."

"I know." Those words were tinged with a certain sadness, as he hugged Zechs a little closer, enjoying the contact. "I hope I'll never ask you that."

"You won't," Zechs insisted. "I'll kill him, and it will be over. You'll never have to ask me anything." His grip on Treize was firm, arms holding him tightly against his own body. "You won't have to ask me for any favors."

"I love you, Mirialdo. Forever."

With a wet huff of breath, the wolf puppy with the icy eyes who had been staring so diligently through the window of Treize's office loped into the grass and headed into the shadows, stopping only once it reached the feet of the creature standing there, buried in the penumbra of foliage. "Very good," Wufei whispered, raising the sharp-toothed animal and allowing it to nuzzle at his face affectionately. "Thank you for your help."

With care, he sat the small wolf down and watched it scramble carefully for the little break in the stone enclosure of the wall that had allowed both the puppy and himself through, his own misty form drawing little attention as it had filtered slowly across the ground, dissipating so as to appear inconspicuous before gathering again in the wisteria vines just outside of Treize's window.

He could smell them dying around him even as he stood there.

It was not so bad, though; the fragile flowers spent little time at full bloom before turning to that sickly-sweet half-rotted smell, and he did not mind it half as much as he minded what the wolf had conveyed to him with shimmering thought and the flick of its ears.

The Von Helsing brat was in there.

It should have been no surprise at all that he was; no, it shouldn't have, but it still hurt. He couldn't believe that Sashenka... no, no, he wasn't Sashenka, was he? Treize. He couldn't believe that Treize would say those things; that he would betray him when he loved the ginger-haired general so.

Feeling pathetic, he waited for a long time before the platinum-tressed Von Helsing man (for no matter what name he went by; that was what he was, to Chang Wufei, the last of the House of the Dragons) rose and slipped back into his uniform, brushing a kiss over the brow of his now-dozing superior and moving to the door. As he walked out, he allowed the Husky bitch into the room.

/Princess,/ Wufei thought with a smile, watching her ears perk up excitedly at the thought. /Hello, there. I've missed you./

Still, Zechs didn't notice it, the door shutting behind him as Wufei waited another moment before moving to the window.

This time, he did not stop to ask; to rouse Treize any more than he already was. Instead, he slipped carefully through the seal of the window as a mist, gathering on the other side, all appearance of clothing dropped as he moved to the divan and crawled into it carefully, the chill of his flesh surely felt.

The ginger-haired man awoke at once, with a fearful jolt from his pleasant, warm dreams of just moments ago. Dozing off into Zechs's arms after they'd traded assurances and words of love, and not this, this sudden, burning cold.


"I missed you," came the miserable whisper, the Gundam pilot raising his face to look into the sapphire gaze of the OZ general. "I missed you, and you didn't miss me at all."

Trembling, Treize watched Wufei, his expression tense. "Wufei... I could feel... where you were, always..." Another shiver, as he felt himself falling under Wufei's sway, steadily... "You frighten me."

The vampire leaned up, sweet kisses raining upon Treize's lips and cheeks. "I shouldn't frighten you," he whispered. "I shouldn't scare you half so much as that Von Helsing, and he doesn't scare you at all. Sashenka, how could you forgive them?" He was half-lost in the past tonight, still hurting to the core, no matter that the flesh where Zechs had shot him was healed and he'd drunk plenty in the month since. "How could you?"

"I love him," Treize whispered, at a complete lost, half wanting to run, half wanting to give in... "We've been friends since we were children, and he's been my world... Not a dangerous enemy killing me bit by bit."

"I'm not killing you!" Wufei cried quietly. "I'm giving you life! Eternal life, beautiful life! Don't you see? Can't you see?" The small frame shook as a sob ripped out of it, black hair shadowing that face as a hand rose to hide it from the man.

A hand brushed gently over Wufei's cheek, gentling away that hand. "Beautiful, but you're so sad. You suffer so much, and why?"

The touch of Treize's fingers were so sweet! Dark eyes closed, pink-tinged tears staining pale caramel skin, a depth of anguish impossible to know hidden by dark lashes. "They've killed all but the last of my kind," he said softly. "Sashenka, they killed you, and I've been alone for so many years, for half a millennium. I need you...."

"You poor thing," Treize whispered softly, heated fingers still on Wufei's cheek. "I'm so sorry I look like him. I'm not him, Chang Wufei. I'm not your... your Sashenka."

"I don't care!" Wufei insisted, shaking his head as his eyes opened quickly. "I don't care! I can't be alone any more! I can't! Please, please..." What control he had was rapidly crumbling, the grasp on Treize growing feeble for the moment.

"You should die, Wufei -- you time in this world long ago passed, and your lover is dust in the wind," he whispered. "You belong with him, not someone that looks like him."

"NO!" came the cry as Wufei began pulling himself together. "No!! It will be all right again! You must believe it! I must believe it! It will be all right again!"

"I have none of your... lover's memories, Wufei," Treize uttered firmly, starting to sit up, looking for where Zechs had put his clothing. "I am not him, and I cannot be him."

Hands pressed firmly to his chest, lips sealed momentarily against lips to prevent further words, to keep him from rising. "You will love me," Wufei whispered, bringing every ounce of his will to bear upon the ginger-haired man. "You will see. It will not be so hard, truly. I love you..."

"I love..." Zechs. Treize trembled, finding he couldn't move free, could only look up into those sad, deep eyes...

And drown in them, their want for him so powerful.

"Yes," came the quietest murmur, barely a breath of sound. "Kiss me, Treize. Kiss me and make me yours, and I will give you everything I have, everything I am, for always..." /And Sashenka will be so proud of me... so proud, love, to have found something so lovely, to save me.../

Unthinking of it, he obeyed, shifting forward to kiss the creature before him, in all of it's beauty. "Dragon..."

"Yes," Wufei breathed softly. "Just that."

The feel of Treize's lips, warm and deep against his own chilled flesh, was so wonderful that there was no way to express the joy it brought; even when it had grown cold, only to be heated by blood drunk afresh, he would love that touch, he knew. Hands rose and tangled very lightly in short ginger locks, a sigh brooking between them that almost seemed to waft and frost between warm and ice-cold. "Oh..."

Part of Treize was screaming hysterically at what he was doing, while outside, he kissed the creature, giving in to that Will, feeling the burning cold of those hands in his hair. /Stop, stop, I don't want... I want... ah, too much./

"Love me," Wufei pleaded, pressing to him as those deliciously warm lips touched his throat, teasing lightly at it with teeth that made him shiver. "You have so much to give. Truly, it won't be that difficult..."

"It hurts," the inner part of Treize managed in a broken voice. "There's so much to miss..."

"I'll make it perfect for you," Wufei promised, nuzzling at him tenderly. "Everything will be perfect for you, I promise..."

"It... I..." Words suddenly couldn't struggle through his throat as he clung closer to the vampire.

"Shhh," Wufei whispered, frigid bare legs wrapping about Treize's thighs. "Only love me, and it will be perfect. I promise you, I'll give you a perfect world, if I have to make it with my own hands." /I'll kill the Von Helsing so he can't hurt you again, love. I'll kill him, and then we'll be safe forever, my Sashenka.../

"Love..." The word strangled its way from Treize's throat, and he felt tears brimming in his eyes as he nuzzled against the cold face. So much sorrow to be felt from the creature beside him, so much pain and longing, raw want...

The sigh that brooked from Wufei's throat seemed sweet, his fingers gentle upon Treize's hair, petting him as the other man kissed the hollow of his throat, his shoulder. /I'll share blood with you again soon, love, so soon, and it will be wonderful and you can go with me then,/ he thought with a delirious happiness. /You can go with me, and it will be all right again.../ "Yes..."

The face that pressed to his chest was damp with tears, even as he kissed there, not of his own will. He wanted Zechs, wanted the blond man he trusted so much to save him again, but help wasn't coming, was it...? Zechs would be too late, and then nothing would matter anymore...

"Please, Treize..." The words fell upon his ear, chiming slightly with the bending of pure will against him. "Please. I want to be yours. Please..."

"You... want...?" Treize asked, voice sounding foreign to his own ears, strange -- raw in a different way.

"Please," Wufei whispered again. "I want you. I want you to be, in all ways, mine. Once, please, at least, and then always the other way, always the way you want it. Please."

He could only tremble, nod, as he shifted closer, sudden hardness making itself known to him as Wufei -- how long had that been there, pressing against Wufei's chilly thigh?

It was wonderful, to be pushed down against the couch, risen over. If he almost closed his eyes, gazed up through the lashes, it was so easy to pretend. So easy... "You feel so good..."

A soft nod against his chest, as Treize parted his legs, running warm hands all over the thin, lean body. /Zechs, Zechs, help me, help.../

Delighted little shivers of breath puffed into the air, liquid ebony eyes opening slowly to look at him, a smile so tender upon those lips as Wufei shifted, arms wrapping around Treize's neck, a leg rubbing against his thigh. "Oh, yes..."

"Now?" he asked, hesitant.

"Yes," Wufei whispered. "Yes."

Moaning softly, Treize pressed himself against the icy body; heated limbs tugging at and shifting cold ones, until he pressed at Wufei's tight entrance, arms around the vampire's chest.

"So beautiful... so hot," the vampire breathed, arms wrapping about Treize's neck as he settled thighs tightly around hips, a hand brushing his own throat.

Shivering at the burning cold pressed against his cock, Treize pushed forward, unable to do anything but. "Dragon... dragon..."

"Ahhh!!!" That slow thrust, with its wondrous heat, ached horribly, and Wufei sobbed, wrapping his arms about Treize's neck. /Sashenka... Sashenka.../

To Treize, it were as if he weren't even a part of his body -- only able too feel the sensations, but not to act against or upon them. With each bit more he pushed in, it felt as if his cock were being encased in ice, burning with a pain that would have made him scream if he could've. But the only word that came out was "Dragon", moaned softly.

"Kiss me," the plea sounded, a tremulous happiness spreading down all of Wufei's limbs and into Treize, so much loneliness flooding loose in that moment, disappearing from him. "Kiss me. Love me...."

That wash of feelings made it easier, and Treize did, pressing hot lips to cold, tongue teasing at chilled lips. /Help, God, can't... Dragon./

They met and meshed there, tangled limbs, pale and caramel colors blending, moving, and Wufei sighed. He brought his thumb to his throat, the nail slicing flesh as his other hand brought Treize's head to him gently, and he murmured, the softest echoing sound, "Drink."

And what could Treize do, but drink deep of that chilling red draught? He drank what was given to him, mind screaming protest again, just as it had the first time. /Zechs, Zechs, help me! Stop this! ZECHS!/

For Wufei, it could get no better, slim body writhing beneath Treize's, golden sparks dancing in his blood and his brain as he moaned, wrapping about the heated warmth of his lover, soft sighs spilling loose as he tightened, so very close... and then over the edge, crying out roughly with his pleasure, shuddering with the wonder of it.

Treize came, too, but it wasn't pleasure that shook him so -- it was the strange feelings taking over his body, a shiver of cold as he pulled back from that gaping wound, feeling strangely...


"My love," Wufei whispered in exhaustion, stroking his fingers across Treize's face gently. "My sweet love."

"What... have you done?" Treize spoke, finding his voice at last, as another chill wracked him. "Oh god..."

"You'll be with me always," the soft answer came. "Always and always. Sashenka, I'll kill the Von Helsing for you. Don't worry. He won't hurt you, ever again."

Treize shivered, trying to fight back the seeping cold. "No, no, I don't want this -- I want to live, not... not kill."

"We'll live forever," Wufei said happily, hugging him close. "Forever and ever, just like this, for always, and you'll love me and I'll love you. It will be wonderful. Relax..."

"No!" he protested, sharper now, weakly pulling back despite the cold. "I won't kill so I can live! I won't!!"

The fight in him made Wufei frown, crashing away from the happiness that had filled him as he looked at Treize in miserable confusion. "You don't have to. It's all right. You haven't got to kill everybody all the way, you know..."

"It's not war, Wufei -- it's not honorable, it's not right," Treize nearly hissed at Wufei, shivering beyond control. He knew what was happening -- he was in the transition between living and undead, and it was a painful thing, the cold... oh, the cold.

Kneeling up, Wufei reached for him, only to have him draw violently away, shuddering with the agony. "It's only a little death and then you'll never die again. It's all right," he mumbled, the reddish tears of before gathering again as he watched. He didn't want to see Sashenka die even this death... no, no, Treize, not Sashenka....

"So cold," Treize eked out, closing his eyes for a moment as he sat back on the sofa, wrapping his arms around himself as if to conserve his quickly fleeing heat. "I don't want to live this way... Not without my humanity. Ah, so cold..."

"But there is humanity!" Wufei cried, flinging himself over the other man. "There is, we aren't just monsters! We've never been just monsters! You don't even know what you are, and that Von Helsing man..."

But Treize was too far lost in his suffering, that 'small' death as Wufei had called it. "So cold... don't let this... stop it, Wufei. I don't want it, so stop... If you love me, end this."

"I can't," Wufei told him sadly, watching him die and weeping for the pain that he felt. "You must die, only this little death, and there is warmth in the blood, my love. There is warmth. We are not monsters..."

"Not human," he gasped quietly, eyes clenched shut as he hugged his arms tighter around himself, shaking worse... It was getting hard to breath, against the cold, and it was horror itself to feel his pulse slow, slowing... /Zechs, where are you?!/

"But not monsters," the melancholy murmur followed, a hand reaching out to brush ginger locks out of Treize's face. "Shhh, the worst will be over soon..."

The tremors went on for long, agonizing minutes, and then it just stopped -- like falling into ice-water, instead of the slow wading of before. He nearly screamed, and did yell out, as he felt that last heart-beat, that last breath fade...

And was still sitting there. Alive, but not.

Sweet kisses brushed his face, nuzzled at his lips as the bare skin of the other vampire pressed lightly to his own seeming much less cold now, bright eyes watching him with a wealth of concern. "Treize...?"

Treize let out a shudder of air, but it wasn't breath. Not breath, not... his lungs still drew in air, at odd intervals, when they felt like it -- and there was no purpose to it. The tremble that shook him now had nothing to do with the cold, and everything to do with horror and fear, and exhaustion, as he leaned his back against the strangely warm sofa. "Gott..." Had Zechs heard him yell?

But how could he face his lover now -- as a...


Too late.

Treize slitted open his eyes, fixed them on the doorway, as he sat there, unmoving and frozen to his core. "You ruined me, Chang Wufei," Treize whispered in a raw voice, the sound.... different, somehow. Not as bright and as full as it had been before. The light was gone from it, the hope torn away and replaced in the ill-fitting form of sadness, despair, and loss. "Treize Khushrenada is nothing without his humanity... that was what made me." A hot sting pricked behind his eyes, the urge to cry as he heard Zechs coming closer. /I failed you, my beloved. I've failed you./

There was a definite shift in the slim body atop him, Wufei moving quickly, even naked as he was. "You! Von Helsing!" Wufei cried grimly. "Step no closer! I'll kill you if you do!"

Too exhausted to do any more than sit stiffly and watch, eyes barely slitted open, Treize looked as if he held no life.

And that was how Zechs saw it, as he stepped into the room -- blood on Treize's face, dried in rivulets down his neck, and from the dead look his body held...

/But I heard his voice!/ a spark of hope cried within him. /He's not dead, he can't be dead!/

The blond soldier stood solidly in the door-way, pulling out his gun. "Your time is over, Vampire."

"You can't kill me with that!" Wufei declared, though his voice was decidedly thin. "You don't dare try any other way, either. Your kind," he said angrily, frightenedly, "your kind has always been cowardly. And if you kill me, what then? Will you kill him, too?"

"There's no reason to kill Treize," Zechs spoke in a ragged voice, though... doubting. The hammer was cocked back, as he lined up the shot at Wufei's face. "You have no right to be here."

Impossibly, Wufei shifted out of the line of fire, smiling... toying with the man before him. "I have more right than you. He's a vampire's get, child of my Sashenka whom you killed before. I won't allow you to kill this one. I won't allow you to kill me!" he cried, rushing forward quickly as if to catch the blond OZ pilot.

Part fear, part instinct, Zechs fired his gun, emptying it at the creature parading as a human. Two shots at the chest, two at the neck, two at the beautiful, haunted face.

He had been moving so quickly that only five of them had gotten him; one near the diaphragm, one near the heart, one high in his shoulder, the other dead centered in his neck.

The last burst into Chang Wufei's brain and out the top of his skull, creating a gaping wound and leaving his face absolutely perfect as he fell to the floor with a soft whine, continuing to whimper and weep as he lay there, shuddering, bleeding, broken.

Treize felt it then, the tug and painful, soul-tearing ache of the freshly formed bond between he and his maker, being severed by something unstoppable.

"Sashenka waits for you," Treize whispered roughly, having to think to draw in the air to power those words. Movement was barely accomplished, just sitting up faintly, still trembling. "Go to him, dragon... he waits."

The shift in the creature was hardly visible, and then it was there, the soft skin darkening, the wings fluttering out to cover him, to hide him from them as he began to pull himself desperately, unthinkingly, towards the wide windows. Blood spilled out in widening crimson pools around him, jewel-like and so cold that it almost steamed in the warm air of Treize's office.

He was not dead yet; though the question of whether he could live or not was unanswered, for Zechs raised a chair and slammed it onto the desk to break off the wooden leg before moving and positioning the wooden spike carefully between those leathery wings and driving it directly down and into the still beating heart.

There was no question, then, of life or death.

Treize had averted his eyes, closed tightly, and he sought the voice to speak with, not strong enough to face his lover, his friend and greatest companion... "Now do that to me," he whispered, softy, not a request, just... a hope, as he fought back another tremor. The cold was so strange...

Turning, Zechs looked at him. Instead of pulling the wood loose from the body that had begun to crumble into bloody dust upon the floor, he moved to the bathroom beyond Treize's bedroom and returned with a wet towel to begin wiping the blood away from him, quickly, carefully. "No," he whispered, half pleadingly. "Treize, no, you'll be just fine. You'll be fine..."

"I'm dead, Zechs," was Treize's softly anguished reply, as he shivered again. Sapphire eyes were open, but if it hadn't been for their slow movement and Treize's moving lips, he'd have been easily mistaken for a corpse. "Gott, it's so cold..."

"No," Zechs whispered again, fingers lightly tracing Treize's now-clean face. "Ah, no, love...."

Only Treize's eyes had moved, eerily, watching as he'd been cleaned of the blood. Then another shiver shook him. "I tried hard to resist, Mirialdo," he whispered, voice raw and dry. "Help... help me get dressed. I can't stay here."

"Treize, no," Zechs said again softly. "It's not true. You'll be fine. Fine..."

That stillness again, before Treize lifted one trembling, frozen hand to grasp Zechs's, dragging those gentle fingers down to press to his pulse-point.

"My God... my God..." Zechs whispered, shuddering at the cold-clay fingers of that touch, the lack of throbbing pulse beneath his own. "No..."

Treize drew his hand back, letting it fall limply to his side, before he looked up at Zechs with saddened, sickened eyes. "You fear me now, don't you?" He wanted to cry, but the tears didn't come.

It was true.

There was something deep inside of the blond man, mingled and mixed with the love and adoration he'd always felt for Treize, something dark that wanted him to reach for the stake that had now fallen in the pile of dust that had once been the last of the vampires, something terrible, and he shuddered. "I don't want to be afraid," he whispered. "Treize, pretend it isn't so. We can go on. OZ has adjusted to you..."

"I'm not even alive," he whispered raggedly. "How can I fight for humanity when I'm not even... Not even a part of it." The shiver worsened as he closed his still bright eyes. "Ah, so very cold, Mirialdo. I've never been so cold in my life. Help me.... get warmer."

Arms wrapped carefully about Treize's shoulder, Zechs holding him close for a moment as he whispered garbled endearments, half-spoken words that came, shaken, from his lips. "Ich liebe du. Meine Treize, wie ich du so, wie kann liebe ich diese Sache tragen, die Ihnen geschehen ist?"

"I don't know," he whispered brokenly. "Ich leibe du."

Zechs shook his head slightly, kisses brushing cold flesh. "You should go," he said, voice aching. "You should go and... and clean up, or something. I'll take care of this.... this..." He couldn't think of what he wanted to call the pile of ashes upon the floor, in his anger.

"I'm too... drained," he murmured, lifting a hand tiredly, the chilled skin touching the back of Zechs's neck like a mobile corpse.

"Come on." With those words, he was lifted and carefully carried into the bedroom, tucked into his own bed. "It's all right, love. It's all right. I'll take care of everything. No one has to know..."

"How can I hide it?" he asked softly, closing his eyes slowly, letting out a frustrated huff of breath. His canine teeth appeared sharper than they had before; not yet fangs, but heading that way. "Don't leave me Zechs." Part of him wanted to accuse -- that Zechs had left, and that was why... how... But no. It as solely his own fault. "I'm so very frightened -- it's strange, all of this..."

"I won't leave you, love," Zechs whispered, gently stroking his forehead, his face. "I'll never leave you."

"Stay here tonight," he murmured, voice coaxing, but not a plea. In the morning... or next night, whenever he awoke at last, he'd think harder on all of it. He'd think then, decide what to do...

"Only let me take care of that wretched pile of bone and dust in the other room," Zechs soothed. "Then, I'll return."

"All right," came the exhausted, sighed words. The stillness was starting to worry at Treize's mind. To not even hear his own body, to not feel his heartbeat... he wanted for Zechs to return, wrap him up in those wonderful golden arms, and then...

Then, perhaps, he'd awaken in the morning, to the sunlight he so missed waking up to, and find that it was all a terrible nightmare that he and Zechs would laugh over in the morning.

They'd share coffee, eat breakfast together, before they parted ways until lunch, and met in his office...

Treize drifted to sleep with that wonderful dream of hope held close to his unbeating heart, as a tiny rivulet of pink dripped from the corner of his eye.


She'd been thinking it for the past five minutes, at least, but it was the first time she'd said it. The shock of seeing him, whiter than white, eyes practically glowing there in the darkness, was enough to make even her shudder. She thought, now, that she understood Noin's fear of the dark, somehow.

He put down his pen, expression looking strained for a moment before he let out a sigh. "Yes, Lady Une...?"

"There... are things which need your attention," she said softly. "And a meeting, tomorrow morning..."

"What time?" he asked, meeting her eyes with a gaze gone sharp and glittering. Too sharp, in its own dark way.


He almost winced, giving off a sigh. Sunlight didn't 'kill' him as old myths would hold, but it left him so tired, and weak feeling... The sapphire gaze drifted to look out into the night sky before he murmured, "You'll have to reschedule it. I cannot attend."

"...yes, Treize-sama," Une said quietly, bowing to him before turning to take her leave.

He watched her step away, silent and so strangely still, before he made a soft noise, rising to his feet. "Lady Une. I have a request to make of you."

"Yes, Treize-sama?" she asked, turning to look at him.

"I would like to make changes to my will -- I've realized of late that I haven't updated it in years."

A stunned pause filled the air before she said softly, "Yes, Treize-sama. I'll call someone to take care of that immediately. Is there anything else I can do for you, at all?"

"I have a medical scheduled tomorrow evening -- I'd like it canceled indefinitely."

"Immediately, sir."

"Anne," Treize murmured, watching her expression flicker just slightly. "Anne. Anne, I believe that my time is nearing it's end. I need to be sure, before it does, that you know what to do." He could live an eternity, he knew, but... He couldn't bring himself to kill, to feed his Hunger, nor create another of his kind. Stealing from the medical center's blood reserves was a low enough thing for him to be doing in the midst of a war...

"Oh, no, Treize-sama!" she gasped, shaking her head. "You... You won't... don't say that you..."

His pale lips were firm in the light of the night's sky. "Anne. I know it to be true."

"Please, Treize-sama..." she said softly, and then sighed. "As you wish. Does Captain Marquise...?"

"Know? I would suppose that he does," he murmured quietly. For the past two weeks, Zechs had slept beside him during the days, trying to share his body's warmth, while Treize tried to stir up some of Zechs's old wants without... repulsing him.

It hadn't worked. Predisposition by blood seemed stronger than any feelings either of them had.

Left without the stabilities and love Zechs had sworn he'd offer no matter what, Treize was a dead creature cut adrift, dying inside, slowly but surely, and refusing to become what Wufei had become.

"I see," she said sadly, shaking her head. "Treize-sama... perhaps it isn't my place, but I..."

"Ask as you see fit. I will not lie to you, Anne, of all people."

"Must you?" she asked simply, blue eyes yearning behind the thin lenses of her glasses.

"I tire, Anne," Treize murmured, tone gentle. "I'm so very tired, and I tire of playing these same games, from day to day, but not wanting to play those games that are ahead of me. It... is right, for me to do this, Anne. And so I must be sure that you will do the right things when I am gone."

The tears that welled up and spilled over were solemn, as was her expression. "I will do precisely as you wish, Treize-sama," she told him quietly.

"Just end the war as quickly as you can," he spoke softly, risking it all by what he did next -- brushed ice-cold fingers across her cheek, wiping away those hot tears.

"Yes," she said with an equal softness. "Yes, Treize-sama. It will be just as you desire."

"Thank you, Anne," he murmured quietly, stroking for a moment more before he let his hand fall. "You understand now. I'm glad. Watch over Zechs for me."

"Of course," Une replied, glasses steaming with the heat of repressed tears.

"I'm sorry," he murmured quietly, turning away at last. "But I cannot... survive such hypocrisy as I am committing."

"I understand," she replied with a strange gentleness. "I will make the arrangements you have requested."

He nodded, looking out of the window. "I'll need my will soon, so I can make changes to it."

"I'll arrange it done before morning, Treize-sama," Lady Une whispered, stepping out into the hall and quietly shutting the door, leaving him in his office as he'd been before she came in -- cold and alone, looking out the window to the moon.

/Tomorrow night, Zechs... I'll call you in on that favor, my love. And you'll happily oblige, I know. You hate me now, for what I've become, and I cannot stand knowing that hatred fills your heart./

He was two hours late.

The summons had come just at the end of a battle with the Gundam pilots. They all seemed to believe that OZ was holding their compatriot hostage and were fighting for his release, to find him.

Zechs wanted to tell them that he had been nothing more than a vicious leech; a bloodsucker, a vampire, a very dead vampire, about which he felt a strange and inexorable guilt -- mostly concerning Treize.

The fact that Treize was... well, that he had changed, was difficult for Zechs, at best, impossible for him, at worst. It was hard to go, to see those glittering eyes, the strangely lifelike appearance, and then to touch his lover and find no drawn breaths, no beating heart... No warmth.

It led him to staying more and more on the battlefield, and made him feel a welter of impossible guilt.

With a slight knock, he awaited the call for admission before he stepped into Treize's office. "Good evening, sir."

"Good evening, Mirialdo." Since the change, Treize seemed sadder than he ever had, voice bogged down in a wealth of misery over a hundred different things. "Please sit down." A sparse gesture to the chair across from his desk, as he moved to close and lock the door from that hall, that lead into his quarters. "You're rather late, Zechs. I'm sorry it took you so long to find the courage to come." All the bitterness in that smooth voice made it sound ragged, raw and aching as Treize's heart and mind.

"You know as well as I, Treize, that the Gundam pilots have been attacking in wildly indiscriminate assaults," Zechs replied evenly. "I came as soon as I could."

"Of course." He obviously didn't believe Zechs, as he crossed to look out of the window and onto the nighttime sky. "I'm going to ask you for that favor now, Mirialdo."

Drawing in a deep breath, Zechs moved closer to him. "I promised you that I'd do anything you asked."

"To a... certain degree. I asked you to not desert me, but I know you've tried your best." Treize was talking to the window, but addressing, at least, Zechs. "I don't know what I would have done were it you that this had happened to and not the other way around. But it hurts worse than dying, these past days."


"Kill me, Zechs. I wish you'd killed me when I first became that way, before I found out that a great deal of your love for me is solely rooted in the physical. My mind hasn't changed at all, but suddenly, you can't stand to be around me... and I wish I'd never known that."

Arms came tightly around him suddenly, clenching to hug him tightly. "I can't kill you," the strained remonstrance came. "Please, Treize, anything but that! I don't mean to be distant, only..." /Only you're a vampire. Only you're dead.../

Treize's form was cold, unmoving as a statue's. "Better to mourn me in death than loathe me in life, Zechs. You didn't mean to be so distant when I needed you most, only I'm not the perfect human you've envisioned me as, any longer. So you tell yourself what? Because my heart doesn't beat, I don't feel pain? That it's not really Treize that you're shunning, because I'm not really alive anymore... I should have left with Wufei. I broke his heart, and for what? To have you break mine."

"I can't believe you said that," Zechs told him flatly, not releasing Treize despite what he'd said. "It's been two weeks, Treize. You think it's something one accustoms oneself to overnight? You think that something in my blood isn't crying out against this? Give me time, Treize... Don't ask this thing of me, not just yet..."

"There is accustoming yourself to something, and then there is fearing the idea of trying," Treize murmured coldly. "Wufei never became used to what he was. I... You think your blood is screaming against it? I have to risk or kill other people to even go on with this mockery of living!"

"Do you think accusing me of these things will make you feel better? Will make me more likely to do what you ask?" Zechs said sharply, releasing him and striding to Treize's desk. The words hurt, terribly. That some of it seemed true, even to him, made it a million times worse. "I love you, Treize. I've loved you since I was a child, and things are different now than before. You've given me two weeks, and it's not enough!"

"I can't last any god-damned longer!" Treize snapped. "I'm stealing blood from the med-centers, and it's not enough. I'll wither of starvation before you can become 'comfortable' with the fact that I'm not alive."

"What do you want from me!?" Zechs cried back in return, turning to look at his lover. "Do you want me to be your blood-doll, as you were to him? How could you not KNOW what you were doing!?"

"Because I could subvert your mind without you even noticing it," Treize whispered, throat tense. "You think I wanted this? You think I had any power over my own mind the moment he came near me? I didn't."

He turned, at last, from the window, pivoting to face Zechs. Streaks of red had traced their way down his pale face, coming from his eyes; tears of anguish and frustration. "I don't want you as a 'blood-doll', Mirialdo. I love you too much to do that to you, even if you think I would. But I can't bring myself to kill to 'live'."

"Then what will you do?" Zechs asked in a strained whisper, lost. He couldn't believe things had gone so horribly wrong so very quickly...

"I have to die, Mirialdo," Treize murmured, taking a step towards him. "I need to drink blood to survive, but I don't want to harm others so that I can survive. My continued existence isn't worth all of the suffering it would cause."

"Treize, please," he begged, unable to stop himself. "Please, Treize, don't make me do this terrible thing..."

"If you don't, Zechs, then I will," Treize uttered in a rough voice, still nearing the other man. "I have a knife, beside my bed... We can go in there, do it that way -- let me die in your arms, Zechs. Let me pretend that all of this never happened."

The sharpness of tears stung his sinuses as he moved across the room, long stride taking him closer so that he clung to Treize in a very short amount of time. "Steel won't do it," he whispered painfully, stroking Treize's back as he buried his face against the side of Treize's neck. "It will have to be wood, Treize, ash or rosewood... My love... my poor love... Please..."

"It's better for both of us, this way," Treize whispered softly as he hugged Zechs in turn, loving the feel of the warm body in his arms, that he'd so missed... "I love you, Mirialdo. Remember that."

"Always." The response was choked as kisses pressed lightly to Treize's face. "Always, Treize. Always. I'm sorry, for these past weeks. I'm so sorry."

"I'm sorry, too," Treize whispered softly, bloodstained face nuzzling Zechs's, as he started to lead Zechs back into his bedroom. "If none of this had happened..."

"But it did," Zechs answered miserably. "And that can't be changed; won't be changed. Ah, love..."

"It can be changed -- it can be stopped." The chill face pressed to his cheek as he opened the bedroom door, going through it and taking his lover with him.

Gently, Zechs helped him into the bed and crawled in beside him, shimmering starlight filling the room as they laid there momentarily. "Treize, I don't know if I can do what you've asked of me."

"Then I'll do it myself," Treize murmured, voice a little shaky. "But it will be done, Mirialdo. It has to be."

"This is my fault," the Tallgeese pilot mourned. "You wouldn't be considering this if I'd stayed by you, you wouldn't be... you wouldn't be as you are if I'd noticed earlier..."

"What's done is done," Treize murmured tiredly, sitting up to remove his uniform vest and shirt. "Keep these in good shape for me, hmn?" he requested, voice tight as he folded the piece of material.

"I will," Zechs replied, voice hoarse as he took them from Treize, not daring to look him in the eye -- unable to do so, in fact.

Then he took his boots off, and laid back on the bed, eyes soft and tired. "I love you Mirialdo. I've always loved you, and I never meant to ever betray you."

"I know," Zechs responded, trying desperately to be strong. "Treize, I... I'll have to go in the next room for a moment. Close your eyes. Please. Don't look, even when I return."

"A final kiss, then," he pleaded softly.

"Yes." The soft pressure of lips met Treize's, tender, sweet and lingering, fingertip touch lightly tilting his chin. "Treize, I do love you."

It was a feeling Treize that ingrained into his mind, to concentrate on during the last few moments. "I'll be waiting for you, Mirialdo. On the other side."

"I'll find you there," the whisper sounded, soft against his skin. "No matter how long it takes. No matter how much time lays between now and then. I'll find you. Keep your eyes closed, Treize. Keep your eyes closed. I'll be back in only a moment."

"A moment," he echoed tiredly, still thinking hard on the feel of Zechs's heated lips against his. /My love... i wish we'd had more time, wish we'd not wasted what time we had.../

It was no more than that, and then footsteps sounded upon the carpet, the weight of Zechs's knees hitting the mattress, weighing it down. "I'm so sorry, Treize," he whispered. "I'm so sorry."

"It's better this way," was all Treize could manage to say, reaching a hand out blindly to rest it on Zechs's knee. Better this than hatred and fear. Better this than killing others, better to die at Zechs's hands than to watch him die of age...

The sharp edge of the rosewood chair leg that had lodged itself inside the Gundam pilot slid with sickening ease into Treize's flesh, and Zechs moaned as loudly as Treize did as he pushed hard against it, shuddering. His eyes were wide open, watching every nuance, and dripping with salty tears that spilled from the edge of his chin as he shoved again.

Sapphire-bright eyes opened, a slight parting, then wider, Treize's hands lightly gripping Zechs's knee as blood tears welled in the corners of his eyes, a pained smile curling his lips. Yes, this hurt worse than the first time he'd died, but he didn't fear it. Not from Zechs. "Love... Mine..."

"TREIZE!" The cry spilt from Mirialdo as the point found his lover's heart, azure locked with eyes that were deepening to indigo, slowly but surely. "TREIZE!"

The moonlight pale chest convulsed, seeming to draw in a breath -- and there it was. A shaking sound of pain, as, for a moment, skin flushed peach, a sluggish well of blood forming around that piercing. Darkening eyes flared farther open, boring into Zechs's in a last attempt at connection, seeking something deep within beautiful sky blue.

"Miri..." A whisper of wind across a meadow filled with roses.

And then the light in Treize's eyes and the brief splash of color in his body died.

The only sound that came, for the rest of the night, were soft sounds of sorrow and a whisper. "My love. My love. My love..."


It was always depressing to visit Zechs -- since the war had ended, he'd not been able to hold himself together any longer.

But he was in a nice place now, a place where he was safe, and could think, remember and say what he wanted without anyone stopping him. When Princess gave birth to the only litter of puppies that Noin would let her have, Noin had given one to Zechs. The interns at the 'estate' told her animals were therapeutic, and approved once they were sure that Pumpkin would never be more than a medium-sized dog. The black and white puppy she'd given Zechs would never grow very much larger.

It was a special mental institution, for those who suffered so horribly from the war, or from nervous breakdowns that they couldn't recover from them. There, Zechs could live, care for himself, but still be watched and kept from hurting himself.

Noin stopped at the central desk, smiling at Alana, the normal nurse on duty during that shift. "Hello, Alana -- is Zechs in his rooms today?"

The redhead behind the desk glanced down and then nodded, giving a brilliant smile. "Mhm. Sure thing! Arts and crafts have been over for the last half hour!"

"Did he make anything today?" she asked, curious, as she leaned against the desk. Zechs always made something but it was usually so sad... "Is he any better than last time...?"

The nurse paused for a moment, gave a sad smile. "It was painting today. He was very proud of his picture, but..."

"But he's no better," Une said softly from behind the other woman. "Hello, Noin. Sorry I'm a bit late."

"It's good to see you again," she smiled at Une. "You here to see him, too?"

"It is Wednesday," the other woman said by way of answer.

Alana interrupted them. "Y'all can go right on down. I'll be watching on the cameras and buzz you through."

"Do you think he notices that we visit every Wednesday?" Noin asked, as she and Une walked away from the nurses' desk with a wave to Alana. "I wish... that he could get better."

"With the way things are," Une said softly, "it's a wonder he remembers his name."

"Not that bad off, Une," Noin chided lightly. "He's not that bad."

Two light brown eyes rose as Une looked at her. "Isn't he? It's worse than that, I think."

Sighing, Noin shook her head. "He has his puppy to keep him company..."

"It's good for him," Une agreed, "but still..."

"Yes," Noin said softly. "Let's go see him, then." The rest of the walk down the hall was short -- it wasn't all bare white walls like some places they'd thought of putting him in. Deep wood panelling, with a lush green carpet, imitating the 'outside'. They stopped outside of Zechs's door, and Noin knocked lightly. "He can't be any worse than he was before..."

"Enter," came that deep velvet voice that was so familiar to them both, and Une took a deep breath as she watched Noin turn the handle.

He was there, seated carefully before the shatter-proof glass of the window, staring sightlessly out at the pond and the thick pelter of red roses that had been planted just beneath his window. "Good afternoon. I'm glad you've come."

"Hello, Zechs," Noin smiled cordially as she came in. He was nearly always sitting like that, just there. He appreciated the roses, she knew, even... if they were so much a reminder of Treize. Rumor was that Treize had run, disappeared to the colonies, never to be seen... but they knew


"Hello, Pumpkin," Une said, sighing as the little dog piddled on her shoe. Well... She supposed it was to be expected.

When Zechs spoke again, it was slow, and his eyes had not yet turned away from the water outside. "It must be a visiting day again. I'm very glad you've come," he repeated.

"Yap!" The little dog -- a boy -- finished, and then bounded up to sit in Zechs's lap.

Noin's expression was sad as she moved forward, to stand beside him. "It's pretty outside, isn't it, Zechs?"

"Is it?" he asked, before saying, "I like it when the sun is shining. Treize liked for the sun to shine."

"That he did," Une answered softly, wiping off her shoe with the towel she'd kept draped over her arm from the car. Such piddling was a fairly regular occurrence. She'd expected it.

Eyes drifted to look out the window -- it was overcast, but still bright. "The sun will be out in a little bit," Noin tried to soothe him, resting a hand on his shoulder. The puppy nestled down into Zechs's lap like he was just a pillow. "How was your day today, Zechs...? Alana told me you were painting..."

"They had pretty red paints today," Zechs noted. "Most days, they don't have such nice red paints. They say it disturbs the others. It doesn't disturb me, but they didn't want to let me keep the painting, anyway."

Une glanced over at Noin, a strange chill thrilling down her spine. "Where is the painting Zechs?"

"Oh, just over there," he said, waving a hand negligently towards the corner.

Noin didn't look -- not yet. "Did... did you paint roses, Zechs? Treize would have liked you to paint roses." She started to look, the hand on Zechs's shoulder squeezing gently as she turned to look at that picture.

"Blood roses," he answered faintly. "The kind he liked best."

And there they were, smiling out of the picture, a beautiful black-haired creature with wings and the ginger-haired general, exquisite naked limbs coated in blood that did faintly resemble blooms. The most disturbing part, though, was how they smiled out at the viewer, smiled and smiled as if somehow they knew something that the world did not; that perhaps only Zechs knew.

"It's a pretty picture," Noin whispered softly, voice catching in her throat. "You keep getting... better at drawing, you know that? Treize would be... proud of you." So hard, to string together those words.

"You think?" Zechs asked her distantly, still staring out the window, a hand petting through the puppy's long fur, taking pleasure in the action. "I suppose. You can ask him what he thinks, you know. Just ask him, he'll answer you, or the other one will."

A shudder spread through Une as she stepped closer to Noin, shaking her head. /I don't even want to LOOK at it.../

"Zechs... we can't ask Treize, and neither can you," she insisted softly.

"Of course I can," he said faintly. "Treize, are you proud that I'm doing so well in art class?" That exquisite blond head tilted to the side for a moment before he spoke again. "See? I told you he'd say so. Even the demon thinks so."

The hand on Zechs's shoulder squeezed firmly. "Zechs. They're not there."

For the first time since they'd arrived, he turned, looked at her, and smiled that eerie smile that made her skin turn to ice and dust. "If you say so, Lucrezia," he answered faintly.

"Noin..." Une murmured. "It's almost time." Their visits didn't last long; it was usually as much as they could bear to stay a short fifteen minutes.

But she couldn't stop looking at him. "Zechs... He never meant for you to be like this. Treize would have wanted you to be happy." No answer came, though, Zechs seemingly lost in the world inside of his mind, the world that neither of them could begin to understand.

Une moved to the door, opening it gently and waiting.

"I wish..." she made a frustrated sound as she pulled away. "Next week, Zechs -- we'll see you again next week. And be good, Pumpkin."

"Yip!" Pumpkin agreed, licking her hand as she patted him goodbye.

Zechs didn't appear to be listening... to her, anyway.

As they shut the door and walked down the hall, Lady Une let out a slow sigh of relief. "He never gets any better, Noin..."

"He thinks he can talk to Treize," she sighed, a hand rubbing over her eyes. "I'd never really noticed it before, but...."

"And the other one," Une pointed out gently. "He's never going to be able to leave."

"No," Noin agreed softly. "But maybe... this is better."

Une's reply was quiet and very definite. "Maybe."

Zechs smiled, and looked to the side of the window. "I'm glad you think I look nice," he said softly. "I always want to look nice to you." A frown settled slightly on his face and he tilted his head to the side. "I don't know why you always bring him, you know. I'm not a Von Helsing. I'm a Peacecraft." A sniff followed after a moment. "I don't care if Sashenka came straight back from hell, I am NOT a Von Helsing. I shall trounce him."

"Thank you, Treize," Zechs sighed, turning to look at the painting and smiling. "I will always be Mirialdo Peacecraft. Yes. And I will join you. Soon, perhaps. I'm very bored here. They don't like my paintings..." In his lap, Pumpkin shifted, growling sleepily to himself before nestling down again as Zechs lightly reached into the cuff of his shirt and withdrew the small razor he'd snuck from the art room's normally locked supply closet. "I'm on my way, Treize. Just you wait."