Sorry for the long wait _

Duo had slid down on the floor with me, glancing at my sketches with keen eyes. I blushed, closed my eyes and looked away. I'm not ever proud of my work, and having my own maker looking at them made me feel unworthy to be his disciple, as always. It wasn't until I felt his long, cool fingers pull my face back to meet his that I opened my eyes.

He was smiling at me tenderly, his eyes gentle and kind. I tried to smile back, but felt myself turn even redder. I had that kind of skin that made it obvious whenever I blushed.

"These are amazing Q" he began softly, dropping his eyes back down to the papers, "As always. You have a great gift"

"They aren't that good" I murmured back, my face burning, "I mean, the angles are all off and-"

"You capture the expressions so well" he carried on as if he hadn't heard me, "Almost like they're looking at you"

He grinned suddenly, and leant back against the chair, his arms folded.

"They remind me of the portraits in Heero's mansion. Whoever had painted them had done it in such a way that it seemed as if the eyes were following you, no matter where you stood. I remember, me and Treize were freaked out by them when we first went there. We had to walk along this long corridor from our rooms to the dining room, which was full of these creepy portraits.

We each had our own room, there was at least ten bedrooms hidden somewhere in the house. It was the first time I'd ever had a proper bedroom to myself, except the one at the Inn. I always had to share with my brothers, seeing how small our house was. And my bedroom was probably about the size of the ground floor of our house. It was so big, it even had it's own bathroom. And a four poster bed with red and black silk hangings. Heero's taste in decor was pretty much obvious through most of the house, not that we got to see all of it. He told us that we were allowed to go anywhere we liked, except in the east wing. This was where Heero slept, so we just took it for granted that he wanted his privacy.

We didn't even notice that he always slept during the day and would only join us in the evening. Noin suggested that it was because he was foreign, he did have that lilt to his voice, that he wasn't used to our time difference. We excepted it, mainly because there was no other explanation.

The only other people we ever saw was Locke, his servant, and Terra, Locke's wife. Locke would bring us our meals, constantly ask us what we wanted, and insisted on calling us 'Sir' and 'Madam'. I, not used to such attention, asked him to stop it and just call me Duo. He never did, he was just brought up that way I guess. He was a great guy though. We hardly ever saw Terra, she was always too busy. But when we did, she was always really pleasant and friendly.

The first night, I will always remember. We had all gone to bed early, and I fell asleep pretty much straight away. Only to be woken in the early hours by the worst nightmare that I had ever experienced. I can't remember too much of it now, except that it involved my father and my brothers and a huge blazing fire. I think the farm house had caught fire, and all of them were trapped inside and all I could do was watch helplessly from the safety of the ground, as the flesh was burnt from their still moving bodies"

Duo shuddered suddenly.

"I awoke screaming and shaking, the strange surroundings not calming me one bit. Almost instantly Heero came in, a lamp held in one hand. He just watched me for a few seconds, bewildered, before crossing over to the bedside and reaching out, touching my shoulder.

His cool hand seeped through the thin cloth of my nightwear and I fell silent, still shaking from the reality of what I had seen.

"What's wrong?" he asked softly, his piercing blue eyes fixated on my own. And as I often do when I get nervous, I babble.

"I saw my brothers, my brother and my dad..... not my real dad... or my brothers... I don't have a family... and they were in this fire, and they were all on fire and they were crying out to me, they wanted me to save them but I couldn't..... I couldn't save them!"

I was crying as I spoke, embarrassed for showing so much emotion in front of a total stranger. I turned my face away from him, trying to compose myself.

"I'm so sorry...." I managed to choke, "I..."

"What is it exactly what you are apologising for?" he began softly, "There's no need to hide your tears...."

As I looked back at him, he gave me what I came to learn was a rare smile, and he reached out, brushing some of the hair out of my eyes.

"There's something troubling you. I can see it in your eyes"

And I don't exactly know how, but I ended up telling him my life story, how my father had died, how I'd let to become a highway man, and basically everything up until when he'd rescued me from the noose. And he just sat there, listening to every word I said and watching me the entire time, with those.... eyes of his"

Duo smiled and tucked a strand of his hair back behind his ear. He met my gaze once more, and nodded slightly.

"I guess that you could say it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship" he began, his eyes glittering, "From then on he'd come and talk to me before I went to sleep, to ensure that I didn't suffer from any more nightmares. And as a result of this, I didn't. As we talked long into the night, we slowly became what some people could call friends. I noticed that when we were with the others he was considerably warmer to me than the other two. But then again, that had been the case from the first day we met

As you may have well predicted, Treize and Noin found their own love for each other, and planned to move out to the nearest city. They invited for me to go, but I genuinely wanted to stay with Heero. As quiet, as stoic, and as mysterious as he may have been, he was still the closest friend that I had experienced in a long time.

So, when they left, it was just me, Heero, Terra & Locke alone in the house. My days were often very lonely now, with no-one other than Locke to talk to, so I spent most of the time reading or sleeping. That's where my love for reading came about really. I had a enormous library at my expense, and I was determined to read my way through it.

So, my life again grew quiet and simple again, like it had been all those years ago before my father died. But, it wouldn't be for long. And it all really started, when I found myself falling in love with Heero.

It was a freezing cold night in winter. We were sat in the lounge, in armchairs by the roaring fire. We could hear the rain pounding against the windows and the shriek of the wind as it whistled through the nooks and crannies of the aging house.

Due to the cold, we both had a few drinks, to keep ourselves warm. I was feeling quite relaxed, I'd had little alcohol growing up so I wasn't fully used to the feeling that I got from it. In other words, I was on the verge of becoming drunk.

Heero, seemed the total opposite. He must have easily consumed the same amount as me, but his face was as pale as ever and he didn't seem to have any more energy about him than he usually did.

We were discussing Terra's cooking. Which now, I think was a rather strange subject to have discussed with him. But then again, that was before I knew.

"I've never had so much good food before" I told him, my words slightly slurred, "I better be careful in case I put any more weight on"

"You look fine" he replied softly, "And you always have done. Since I first set eyes on you"

"What, when I had just come outta the prison cell all dirty and dishevelled?"

He nodded slowly.

"Even then"

He set his drink down and stood, crossing over the hearth to me. I just watched him, fascinated by the way his features were lit up in the glow from the fire, and at how fluid and swift his movements were. He stopped in front of me and leant over, his hands resting on the arms of my chair.

"You're beautiful" he whispered, his face inches from my own. And as I stared back into those amazing eyes of his, my heart began fluttering in my chest. I could feel the blood rise to me cheeks and at the same time, that I found Heero Yuy very attractive.

His face was so perfectly sculptured, and his eyes blazed with such intensity. I couldn't help but reach up and run my fingers over his cool skin, to which he smiled faintly and took my hand in his. With his other hand, he took my glass from me and placed it on the side.

Then he traced my lips with his icy fingers, before leaning closer and brushing his lips close to mine. And that feeling... was so... magical.. so perfect....I"

Duo broke off, grinning. He rubbed the back of his neck, and I think that if it were possible, he would have been blushing.

"So yeah. That's when I discovered my feelings for him. And his for me. I'm not sure why he liked me back, he never did tell me, but the time we had together was wonderful. And over time, that feeling turned to love.

It was a strange relationship, to the outsider. Me, a scruffy farm hand with nothing to his name and an elegant gentlemen, who owned his own mansion. But... we just seemed to work. I knew little of him, but he knew everything about me"

"When... did you find out he was a... vampire?"

Duo smiled at me, and gave a short laugh. He then sighed, and turned back towards the fire, his pale face flickering from the flames. For the longest time, he just sat there, and I just watched him. His eyes had that glazed over look, when someone is deep in thought.

After a while, I turned back to my sketches, not wishing to disturb him. Inspiration suddenly struck me as I did, and I took a clean sheet of paper and began to sketch.

I was so engrossed in my work that I really didn't notice that Duo was watching me until I happened to look up and catch his gaze, which up until then he'd been dropping. He smiled and leant over, looking at my work.

"Is that me?" he asked after a while. I just nodded and his smile grew wider, and he gently took the paper off me for a closer look. I could feel myself blushing again, and I busied myself with adding details to another drawing until he spoke again.

"You've really got some talent, Q" he finally said, handing the picture back to me, "You should go into business. You'd make a mint"

"They're just sketches...."

"That's what I'm saying! These are only quick sketches and they're still good! I can only imagine how great your paintings would be"

"Maybe...."

"I'm not forcing you though" he replied softly, "I wouldn't force anyone to do anything they didn't want to"

"Did... how did you....?"

"Hmm? No, he didn't force me. It was my choice. In fact," Duo said, smiling, "He told me to think about it for a while before we went ahead with it. He said that he didn't want me to lead a cursed life unless I wanted to. And all I wanted was to be with him so....

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. You wanted to know how... I found out he was a vampire?"

I nodded slowly.

"Unless you don't want to talk about it"

He gave me a quick grin before reaching out and ruffling my hair. A sign of affection between old and young, wise and learner. And yet to look at us, we look the same age. In reality, Duo is several years older than me. I don't know how many exactly, he's never told me.

"You're so sweet sometimes, Quatre. I said I'll answer your questions, so I will.

It was late one evening. I was getting bored with waiting for Heero to wake up, so I was in the library, reading. He'd told me he had a slight sun allergy so that was why he preferred to live nocturnally. And I, the fool in love, accepted that.

Anyway, I was engrossed in my book when there was this huge banging on the front door. I was so startled that I found myself crossing the room to go and see who it was. One, people rarely came to visit, infact no-one save Treize and Noin. And two, it looked like there could be trouble. And I wasn't going to let Locke take the brunt of it.

I caught him just before he reached the door. I didn't say anything, and neither did he but I could tell that he knew why I was there. So, he slowly opened the huge wooden door.

Outside, gathered on the steps were about... five men. A couple of them had torches, and behind them I could see a horse and trap. I returned my gaze to the man at the head of the group.

"We'd like to see the master"

Locke shrugged his shoulders, his expression blank.

"The master is out of the country at the moment" he began politely, "He won't be back for a good few months"

That was the start of my full suspicion. Of course he was lying. But why? And why did this men want Heero? They looked like the type that wanted to beat the living daylights out of him. But again, why?

"Why do you wish to see the master?" I asked the leader, finding it strange to be calling Heero master. The man gave me a look of complete and utter bewilderment.

"Why do you think? To invite him to supper?" he began, his voice hard, "He's a murderous bastard, that's why! They all are... they all need to be destroyed"

"They...?"

"Vampires, you idiot!"

That's when the full horror struck me. Heero was a vampire. How could I have not noticed? The pale skin, his cold touch, his restricted smile, his 'sun allergy'. I felt so stupid and at the same time betrayed. Why didn't he tell me?

"The master won't be back here anytime soon" Locke interrupted, "I'll give him the message when he returns. Good day"

And he slammed the door. As he went to walk away, I grabbed him by the shoulders. I was so scared... so angry... and I'm afraid I took out quite a lot of it on him.

"Vampire?! He's a VAMPIRE?!"

Locke nodded slowly, and I could see sympathy swimming in the depths of his eyes.

"Yes. But... he's not like other vampires. I know that you're about to go off and confront him... but please... let me tell you something first"

I did like Locke, and he just had a way of calming me slightly. So I released him and leant back on one foot, waiting for what he had to say. He nodded to me slightly in thanks.

"He's never killed anyone. He lives of rats and other such animals. The times when he has had to take from a human have been where he was on the brink of starvation and had no other source. And even then, he leaves enough to let them live. He even saved mine and Terra's lives from another vampire, and took us off the streets and gave us a place to live"

"Why did he become a vampire in the first place then?!"

Locke shook his head.

"I don't know. He's never told anyone why, or even how he become a vampire. It seems to be a sore topic with him"

"I don't like remembering it, that is all"

We both turned to see Heero stood there, watching us with those blazing eyes of his. And for the first time ever, I felt afraid of him. As he stepped closer to us, I subconsciously stepped back. And the hurt that flickered in those eyes for the briefest of seconds has haunted me since.

"I take it that you'll be leaving?" he said, his tone stoic, "I can't blame you. Who wants to live under the same roof as a monster...."

"Wait!" I heard myself shout back, my voice echoing in the vastness of the hall, "I didn't say that I would be leaving... did I?"

"Your eyes tell me something else"

I sighed in frustration, and stepped up closer to him. He seemed slightly fazed, but more confused than anything.

"So what?! Yes, I'm scared. And I'm pissed off. And yet.... I still love you"

And I knew what I was saying was the truth. I'd always known there was some big secret about Heero and now that it was out in the open, it didn't seem as bad as it originally did. I was just angry at him for not trusting me enough to tell me sooner.

"It's nothing to do with you..... being a vampire! It's the fact that you never bothered to tell me!"

He just watched me for the longest time. Locke left silently and we were just stood there, staring each other down. He was the first to look away.

"I didn't want to lose you"

"And you won't" I replied instantly, standing directly in front of him, "All I ask is that you... explain it to me... please? And about how you become... what you are. Please?"

He nodded slowly. I managed a faint smile and I reached up, brushing the bangs out of his eyes. The same motion he had used with me many times before, but I never with him. And for the first time, it seemed that I was the stronger one"

Duo grinned, and nodded to me.

"It was a bit like what your asking me now I guess. Except my answers a lot longer than the one he gave me. So anyway, we went and sat down in the lounge, in our usual seats. He was looking down at his feet, and I just sat there, waiting for him to speak.

And finally, he began his story"

Again, very sorry for the long wait. Me and writers block, eh? Again sorry, and I hope that you enjoyed! Anyone see the lil' Final Fantasy connection there, hmm? *grin grin*

I think I pushed out Noin and Treize too fast... I dunno, does anyone want that developing more? Or do they maybe want Noin and Zechs, or even Zechs and Treize? Either works for me really ^_^