Author's Notes: This is a sort of 'sequel' to my old GW fic, 'Without the Moon.' It's still a fusion with Sailormoon - GW characters with their 'talents'. But I don't think you'd need to have read the other one to follow this one. For those who *have* read it, this one will have less 'fighting' and a deeper (twisted) plot - with more of an adult storyline. It's also, as of right now, a crossover with YYH and Inuyasha. The 'home' cast remains GW, but there will be focus on the other anime characters as well. For YYH, this is an Alternate Universe fic, for IY it takes place shortly after they meet Miroku and is a TWT thereafter. Fair warning - I expect to develop the shonen ai pairings (1x2, 3x4) that I started in the first fic, as well as the new ones, so this one will have more explicit content.

P.S. - If you recognize the title from a certain famous book about a certain jungle and a certain insane man, good for you. I stole it. ^.~

Category: Anime, Gundam Wing fusion with Sailormoon, Gundam Wing/Yu Yu Hakusho/Inuyasha crossover, Yaoi

Warnings: will contain lime content, violence, angst, sap, humor, and anything else I throw in

Pairings: 1x2, 3x4, KuramaxHiei, Inuyasha/Miroku, and the canon R+1, Hilde+2, Kagome+Inuyasha

Author: Arigatomina

Email: arigatoumina@hotmail.com

Website/Complete Archive: http://www.geocities.com/arigatomina

Heart of Darkness

Part 1: Intrigue

If Duo had made a buzz on his first day at the school, it was a murmur compared to this. Sure, he'd looked a little strange with his long braid of hair that reached past his hips, but he'd been nondescript aside from that, and rather quiet. In fact, he'd been as well behaved as possible considering his penchant to ramble off to anyone willing to listen. He'd gotten his share of looks, most admiring from the female students, but nothing to the point of making a splash. This was almost ridiculous. The moment the redhead stepped into the hall, girls were flocking around him. Duo barely caught a glimpse of a tall red-haired figure before the person was engulfed.

"Shallow," Duo said. He sniffed at the crowd of chittering feminine voices and raised an eyebrow at the boy beside him. Quatre smiled.

"He must be very interesting for them to be so bold," Quatre said. The blonde boy had a sparkle in his eyes that denied the calm way he passed off the behavior. And he couldn't quite get rid of the smile that played over his lips. "I've never seen them that excited."

"Yeah, well I guess they don't see many redheads around here." Duo shrugged and looked for a good angle to push their way through the throng blocking the hall. A discreet cough near him caught his attention, making him turn. A faint bashful expression immediately passed over his face. "Hi there, Cathy."

"What was that about redheads?" Dorothy asked. The girl raised a dark eyebrow and flicked her pale white-blonde hair back over a shoulder. "Cathy's been here for years."

"She's a girl," Duo said. "I meant guys with red hair."

"I doubt it's his hair that set them off," Catherine said. Her voice was calm enough, though she did eye the crowd of girls with a little more distaste than usual. "Rumor has it he's been spotted a few times around town. They're excited because he's actually going to school here."

Dorothy nodded, looking at Catherine with a wry smirk. "Even Relena took notice of him." The longhaired boy beside her straightened at that, and she gave a quiet laugh. "Don't get your hopes up, though. She just pays attention to gossip. I really doubt she'd forget Heero that quickly."

Duo sniffed again, his face wrinkling into a little scowl. Dorothy was probably right. After all, if seeing Heero kiss him right in front of her wasn't enough to drive the girl off, then nothing would be. But thinking of her persistence reminded him of his own problems. He was no closer to understanding Heero than he'd been two weeks ago, when the rough boy pushed him against the wall of Wufei's temple and kissed him senseless. It had sure looked like the beginning of a relationship to him, but so far it was an isolated incident. Heero didn't exactly ignore him, but he definitely hadn't invited him to meet in private to so much as talk about 'them.' Duo was starting to wonder if there even was a 'them' to talk about.

"There's nothing to worry about," Quatre said softly. He could see the torment scrawled over Duo's face, and he put a light hand on his shoulder. "Heero has never been interested in Relena."

"Yeah, I know." Duo gave a weak smile to the blonde boy and did his best to appear cool about the entire thing. It must have worked because Quatre turned to look at the people blocking their way. He stared at his friend's profile for a long moment before looking away as well. Quatre was sweet and caring, but the simple fact was that he didn't have the same problems Duo did. Yes, Heero had kissed him only after Trowa did the exact thing to Quatre. But Trowa was definitely inviting a relationship when he did it. The two lovebirds were together almost all the time. Then again, they had been since he'd met them, so that might not be a sign of anything. Still, Quatre was far too happy looking. If he had the sort of doubts Duo did, then he wouldn't look like that.

"Why are you scowling?"

Duo blinked in surprise, his blue-violet eyes widening. The boy might as well have pinched him. "Wufei, don't do that."

The dark-eyed Chinese boy gave him a bland stare before shrugging. "I had to raise my voice to be heard over that."

There was no need to follow his friend's nod, the voices were still chittering merrily. Quatre nodded a greeting to Wufei before giving a little sigh. "Do you think they'll make way for us if we try to go by them?" he asked.

"They'd better," Dorothy said sharply. "Classes start in eight minutes."

"Plenty of time," Duo said. He gave a dramatic sigh and promptly sagged on a sputtering Wufei. "In that case I'll just take a little nap while we wait."

Turning red at the pretty boy lounging with an arm over his shoulders, Wufei growled. "I am not a post. Don't lean on me."

"Can't help it," Duo sniffled. He was mostly behind his friend, so it was simple to lay his head on Wufei's shoulder. "I worked late last night. If we're going to stand here, I might as well rest myself."

"Not on me!"

Dorothy snickered. She stepped to Duo and tapped a finger on the boy's shoulder. "As much as I enjoy seeing Wufei with his feathers ruffled, I don't think it's a good idea to take your nap there." Wide eyes turned to her and she smirked, tilting her head to the side and dropping her voice. "Heero doesn't look like he's enjoying the view. Did you know his left eyebrow twitches when he's jealous?"

Duo flushed, not quite daring to follow her nod to where he was sure Heero would be standing. "I hadn't noticed," he muttered quietly. With a fake yawn, he quickly straightened. "Well, if we're not going to nap, we might as well start pushing our way through that crowd." He turned as if to include Quatre in the statement and did a doubletake. "Heero! Didn't see you there. Good morning."

The mussy-haired Japanese boy had a blatant scowl over his face and didn't respond to the greeting. Dorothy smiled at him, tilting her head to the side. "Did you have a bad sleep?" she prodded. The boy snorted, barely giving her a glance. With an apologetic shrug to Duo, she looked back to the girls blocking the way. She was just in time to see something that had her grinning. "There's a brave one."

Hiding his disappointment at Heero's cold reception of him, Duo turned to see what she was talking about. And he smirked as well. A short boy was trying to push his way through the throng and not having much success. He was a good head smaller than the girls in front of him and Duo was pretty sure they didn't even know he was there. "Heh, sad. But he has the right idea. Let's get through them before Poe has our heads for being late."

"You should have thought of that before you took a nap on me," Wufei said. He shot Duo a light glare but ended up rolling his eyes when the boy gave him a hurt look.

"What is this? Be mean to Duo day?" Not getting a response to his pout, Duo frowned. "Whatever. Let's just get to class." He didn't wait to see if the others were following. Once he got to within a few steps of the closest girls, he could hear the voices better. It sounded like a mass 'introduction' session or something. If he hadn't been in a cranky mood thanks to Heero, he might have laughed.

"Idiot females."

The low growl made Duo pause, and he raised an eyebrow at the short male he'd spotted before. The voice was much deeper than anything he'd have expected from someone who barely reached his shoulders, considering Duo wasn't that tall himself. But the boy was completely new to him. "First day?" he asked. Red eyes turned up to him and he blinked quickly. The color wasn't the only thing odd, the boy's eyes were wide and almost catlike, with very small red irises.

"Hn."

He'd been staring. Duo winced, his hand lifting to brush at his neck. "I don't think I've seen you before," he said. "Sorry if I stared a little." The boy turned away without a word, barely sparing him a glance. It was such a rude thing that it immediately reminded him of Heero. Duo glared. Maybe it really was be mean to Duo day - even strangers were treating him like crap. The boy stepped away from him, and Duo watched him stop behind the girls. He gave a dark smirk and vowed to enjoy watching the boy get ignored.

"Move."

One word, very sharp and deep, and the girl closest to him jumped around. "Excuse me?"

"You're in my way."

"Who do you think you are?" the girl asked. Her blue eyes darkened in annoyance and she gave the boy a disdainful look, taking in his odd, spiky black hair and small stature. "New students should be more respectful."

"We are blocking the hall," the girl beside her said. Her voice was much softer, not at all hostile, and sounded more than a little sheepish. She looked back and abruptly blushed when she caught sight of Duo. "Good morning, Duo."

"Hilde." It was a little awkward now that the girl knew he was interested in Heero, but Duo still liked her. She was just good-natured. Relena on the other hand... Duo couldn't help but smirk as he watched the blonde girl glare down at the rude boy. As much as he'd been annoyed at the stranger, he couldn't help but enjoy the fact that he was being even ruder to Miss Priss. Nice.

"Move or I'll move you."

While delivered in the same seemingly calm voice, that made Duo's eyes widen. A threat? He was threatening Relena? Unheard of. Remarkable. And very very foolish. Oh, this wouldn't be good.

"How dare you?!" Relena's face darked in embarrassed anger and she straightened, glaring down at the shorter teen. "Do you have any idea who I am? No one-"

"Excuse me," a soft voice cut in. "Is there a problem here?"

Relena turned, her mouth twisted to give a scathing reply, and stopped cold. Hilde's eyes widened, a faint blush tinting her cheeks pink. And Duo nearly died trying to keep from laughing at the two of them. The guy was good looking, sure, with that wavy red hair falling nearly to his waist, and those big green eyes. He looked downright exotic. But to stop Relena cold? No way was he *that* cute. The girls definitely thought so, though. That tight crowd had parted like water for him, and Duo nearly snickered at the adoring looks most of them were wearing. Pathetic.

Relena caught herself much quicker than Hilde. She had Heero, so there was no need to give into the gorgeous student. Besides, now was her chance to actually meet the boy all the girls had been talking about. That was, after all, what she did to retain her status at the school. "Hello," she said, her voice only a bit breathless. "My name is Relena Peacecraft, and it's a pleasure to meet you."

"Kurama Minamino," the tall redhead said. His voice was a calm, light tenor, and he gave a half nod to Relena. That simple movement made a few of the girls behind him sigh, and Duo couldn't hold in his snicker. Green eyes snapped up to look at him. "And you are?"

A flicker of dislike passed over Relena's face and she sniffed. "That's just Duo."

"Duo Maxwell," Hilde supplied. Her voice was softer than normal, and she couldn't help but be torn between looking at Duo and Kurama. In the end, she gave the redhead a weak smile. "I'm Hilde-"

"Class is about to start."

That deep voice made Hilde jump a little, and Relena bristled. Remembering the insult he'd given her, she glared down at the rude boy. "And who are you?" she asked, her voice biting. He didn't so much as look up at her.

"This is Hiei," Kurama said. He gave a warm smile when Relena looked stricken at his familiar tone. "A very close friend of mine."

"Oh." The blonde girl's mouth closed abruptly, a slight sickly color coming to her face. There was no way she could put the rude teen in his place if he were friends with *him*.

"Yes, and Hiei is quite right. We should be getting to class." With a nod to Duo and Hilde, the polite redhead turned away. The black-haired boy snorted at Relena's expression before joining him.

The 'ocean' of girls parted again, and Duo waited until the two were out of earshot before laughing. "Wow. Relena, you looked just like you'd shoved your entire leg down your throat."

"Oh, be quiet," Relena snapped. An angry blush swamped her cheeks and she might have added to that if she hadn't looked past Duo. Her expression cleared as quickly as if she'd flicked a switch. "Heero! When did you get here?"

"Not now," Dorothy smirked. "We have to go to class as well. Besides, you were far too interested in the new boy to notice that we've been standing here the entire time." Her friend paled at that, and she shook her head when Relena sent a worried look at Heero. It just didn't register. Ever. Heero would probably have to have sex right in front of her before she'd realize he just was not interested. Of course he wasn't jealous that Relena was talking to someone else. If anything, he looked like he was still angry with Duo. Definitely the jealous type, just not jealous over Relena.

"I was just welcoming him to the school," Relena said. She was looking at Heero, worry blatant on her face. The Japanese boy looked right through her.

"Don't stand there," Heero said, his voice directed at Duo. He gave the boy a light touch on the shoulder before passing him. "Class."

Duo blinked in surprise at the nice gesture. He'd never understand him. Heero looked angry, like usual, but now he wasn't sure. Either way, he was right. With a bright smile, he waved at Hilde. "He's right. We'd better get going. I'll see you guys at lunch."

"You..." Wufei glared, waiting until the girls were gone before growling at Duo. "You invited them again! Must they sit with us every single day?!"

"Oh, don't be like that," Duo smiled. "They aren't all that bad. Besides, you know Relena would invite herself if I didn't, so it doesn't matter." The boy glowered at him, but he didn't mind. Duo turned to smile at Quatre. "See you later." The two moved to go to their own class and he was in a much brighter mood when he resumed his following of Heero. If nothing else, that little fiasco had given him a nice distraction. And Heero had touched him. Yeah, he was a little pathetic himself. He just couldn't help it. The boy had given him the kiss of his life and barely brushed hands with him since. Of course he'd get a spirit boost from a little shoulder touching. With Heero, that seemed to be a big deal.

Duo was set to give a careless smile to his would-be boyfriend, but he ended up stopping in his tracks once he entered the classroom. Those two new students were in his class, and while the girls weren't crowded around the redhead, they were certainly staring at him. What was worse, the two were sitting in the seats in front of Heero. In his seat. Duo frowned as he moved to them. He'd just have to tell them about their mistake. The only problem was that the rude black-haired one was sitting in his chair and he was sure it would be easier getting the polite redhead to relocate. "Hi again," Duo said, nodding to Kurama first.

"Duo," the redhead smiled. "So you're in this class as well."

"Yeah," Duo said. He sent a look at the red-eyed boy and felt his smile tighten. Being rude to Relena was something he didn't mind, but the guy wasn't going to act like that around him, especially when he was sitting in his seat. "You know, that's my-"

"Sit here," Heero said. His dark blue eyes didn't give anything away, but he waved a hand at the empty seat beside him. The other students still left empty chairs all around the boy as if he were some scary thug. Right now that seemed to be coming in handy. Duo stared for a moment before giving a bright smile.

Sitting beside Heero would be much nicer than sitting in front of him. Duo nodded and actually flashed Hiei a smile as well. "Nevermind." With lighter spirits than ever, he sat beside Heero. It wasn't just a nice change, it was great. Now he could sneak glances at him all through class without having to turn around. Yep, it was a great change.

Heero gave a look out of the corner of his eye and blinked at Duo's expression. The boy suddenly reminded him of Wing when he gave the cat an extra helping of tuna. It was a little unnerving how much he liked even that smirk. All it took was a simple smile and the boy's violet eyes lit up until he wanted to stare at them for hours. The thought made him scowl at his desk again. Maybe having Duo beside him wasn't such a good idea after all. He was already irritated enough just being attracted to him. Having him so close was bound to be a horrid distraction. And he didn't need anything extra to make him think about Duo. He did that even when the boy was no where in sight.

His glare flicked briefly to the dark-haired boy sitting in front of him, but he couldn't make himself tell him to sit somewhere else. They'd introduced themselves earlier - at least, Kurama had introduced them - and asked if the seats were taken. Heero had told them they weren't. It was his idea to have Duo sitting beside him, so he had no one to blame but himself. That was usual. Since he'd kissed the boy he seemed to be stuck on driving himself crazy about it. He wanted more, and then he didn't want more. He didn't want to be attached to Duo, the very idea made him shiver. He'd go insane if he opened himself up to him, he was sure of it. But he wanted him so much it ate at him. Just seeing Duo tease Wufei earlier had made him want to growl at his friend. He was already feeling possessive and like he had no self-control. He could just imagine how much worse that would be if he actually tried to make a relationship with Duo. So he wasn't going to.

And that was a direct contradiction to what he'd just done by fixing things so the boy was now sitting right where his traitorous eyes could sneak peaks at him all through class. Yes, he was already driving himself crazy. He didn't need Duo to help him with that.

Determined to look at anything but Duo, Heero set his eyes forward. And he raised an eyebrow when he noticed the two students in front of him. They were both looking over to the right side of the classroom. Following their gazes, he frowned at the girls sitting there. They were whispering to each other, but soft giggles reached him more than whatever words they were saying. One of them, the black-haired girl seated in the middle, glanced over and blushed. She was obviously the receptor of their looks. Heero sniffed. He couldn't remember her name, and he didn't see anything special about her. It figured. A guy comes into the school with all the girls fawning over him - including Relena - and he settled for someone else. Heero should have known better than to get his hopes up. No one was going to just show up and take the Peacecraft girl off his arm for him.

Duo had already started watching Heero from the side, but he was distracted when their teacher walked in. Ms. Poe was a nice enough woman, happy to help those who had problems in her class. But she was also a stickler for the rules. He could still remember his first day very well. He'd been on his best behavior, not wanting to get on her bad side right from the start. Now he found himself looking at the new boys and wondering if the rude one would show as much effort when they introduced themselves to their new teacher. But Ms. Poe glanced around the classroom and started her lecture without so much as a look at the two teens. Quite a few people turned to stare openly at that strange behavior.

Heero was frowning beside him, and Duo looked at Ms Poe for a long moment in confusion. It might have been that she'd simple failed to notice the new students. But considering they were sitting in the formerly empty part of the classroom - those seats around Heero - her gaze should have been drawn right to them. It wasn't just odd, it was weird. And the two new students definitely noticed the slight. Duo could see Kurama glancing around at the light whispers, and he felt a wash of sympathy. He was sure Ms Poe hadn't ignored them on purpose, she just wasn't the sort of person to do such a thing. But being new, Kurama had no way of knowing that. The redhead turned to look at his short friend and Hiei shrugged. For a moment, Duo wondered how the boy felt now that someone else was being rude to him, but he stopped himself. This wasn't just someone, it was a teacher. There wasn't much excuse for a teacher to behave that way. Not sure whether to feel sorry for the two of them, or to be worried about Ms. Poe, Duo turned to stare at his teacher. She looked normal enough, she was just acting like the two new students were regular attendees to her lessens. Strange.

* * *

By lunch time the school was a-buzz with talk about the new students. Evidently, Ms. Poe wasn't the only teacher to ignore their presence. A rumor had it the two were a special case that the professors all knew about. One or two people were even saying that Kurama was the son of a diplomat and that the teachers were trying not to bring added attention to the boy. Duo wasn't buying any of it. The fact was, the teachers were being weird and he'd seen Kurama during their first class together. The redhead had been as surprised by the lack of attention as the rest of them. If it were some conspiracy, surely he'd have known about it.

Duo had decided to invite the two to the table he shared with his friends after that first, strange class. Now he waited a few feet away, shaking his head as he watched Kurama turn down a little cluster of blushing girls. It wasn't just the teachers behaving oddly, the female students acted like he was a rock star or something. The two finally detached from the girls, and Duo followed them to the lunch line. Kurama was talking quietly to his friend.

"You could have been a little more discrete," Kurama said. His tone was light, a small smile belying the reproach.

"Ch'. It was your idea."

"I never said to-" Hiei turned sharply, and Kurama cut off his words, following his gaze to Duo. "Oh, hello again. Duo, wasn't it?"

"Yeah," Duo nodded. "I thought I'd invite you two to eat lunch with me and some friends of mine."

"That's nice of you," Kurama said. "We'd be happy to."

Hiei was staring up at the redhead as if he'd just volunteered him for janitorial labor, but Kurama's smile seemed genuine. Duo shrugged. "It's no problem, really. We have that table pretty much to ourselves, so there's plenty of room."

And there was more than enough room when the three moved over to the table. Only the look Heero gave him wasn't exactly inviting. Duo flashed a smile in return, waving a hand to his new friends. "Guys, these are Kurama and Hiei."

Wufei looked the two over for a moment before sniffing and scowling at Duo. "What? It wasn't bad enough you had to invite the girls? You'll have every female in the school trying to sit with us." He glanced past the three and glared at the many looks they were getting. Just as he'd warned, most of them were female. The last thing he needed was for that mess in the hall to repeat itself at his table.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Don't be like that." He sent a quick smile to Kurama, noting the way the boy was raising an eyebrow at him. "Wufei has a thing about girls. But you're probably safer at our table than anywhere. The only girls who come over here are-"

"Us." Dorothy smirked, her hands on her hips. She winked at Wufei, who was immediately scowling at her. "We didn't get a chance to meet earlier, but you did meet Relena and Hilde."

"Yes," Kurama said. "It was a little hectic this morning."

That was about the most diplomatic way to put it, as far as Catherine could tell. She actually managed a smile for the redhead when they introduced themselves. But once they were all seated, her gaze moved to Quatre. "Where's Trowa? He wasn't with you this morning. Is he here today?"

"Oh. He had something to do this morning, so he said he'd be late. But he's here. I saw him earlier." Quatre turned to look over the crowded lunch room and gave a bright smile when the boy appeared, almost on command. "There he is."

It didn't take a moment for Trowa to join them, and another minute to introduce him to the new students. That done, they settled in to eat while Relena played interrogator to the new boys, specifically Kurama. Heero seemed to settle some now that he could see a benefit to having the strangers join them. At least she wasn't making his food taste sour. And Wufei was sullenly ignoring everyone, probably pretending the girls weren't there.

"Did you just move here?" Relena asked. Her eyes were locked on Kurama, as if to draw every bit of information from him. "Is your family here? Rumor has it your father is a very important man. What sort of work does he do? Is it true that you're a model? Don't you think it's a little bold of a student to do that sort of thing? Are you really engaged? I didn't believe that, but it seems-"

Duo's eyes widened at the rapid questions being fired at the redhead. He was actually surprised. Relena could be forceful, but he didn't think she was the sort who could give such a pressured interrogation. And Kurama was merely looking at her with the same small smile he'd had when he accepted Duo's invitation. He waited until the blonde girl took a breath before answering.

"You shouldn't believe rumors," Kurama said kindly. He added a smile to help soothe Relena's stricken expression and turned away. A glance found Duo looking at him doubtfully. "None of that's true, of course. Except for moving here, it's all speculation."

"I figured," Duo said. He looked over at Hiei, who had been absolutely silent since he sat down. No one had spoken to him at all. And as angry as he'd been about the boy's rude treatment this morning, he had to admit they were being pretty rude themselves by ignoring him like that. "Not eating?" Red eyes flicked up to him and he was answered with a shrug. "I can't say that I blame you. The food here isn't worth half what they charge, and tastes like it comes from a vending machine."

"Be that as it may," Kurama smiled, "it's good to have a little something during the day." He took the labeled juice from his tray and opened it, setting it down in front of Hiei. The black-haired student wrinkled his nose in visible distaste. "Don't argue, just drink it."

The last bit was given in quite a different tone from the one he'd used before, and Duo raised an eyebrow when Hiei sighed. Despite his expression, the angry looking boy did exactly that. In fact, he didn't stop until he drained the can and handed it back with a taunting expression. The exchange took less than a minute. Duo blinked. "Thirsty, I take it?"

"No."

Kurama laughed. "Yes." He didn't seem bothered by the stare Relena was giving him, and focused his gaze on Duo instead. "And stubborn as well."

"Are you two related?" The question obviously came as a surprise because the two students rounded with wide eyes. Relena scowled. "Are you?"

"They don't look like it," Dorothy reminded her. "Why would they be?"

"Because," Relena said, "they moved here at the same time. And they obviously know each other well. Are you cousins?"

"We are not," Kurama answered. "For which I am dearly grateful."

"Ch'. Like I'd want to be related to you."

Relena obviously took insult from the mocking tone, but Kurama smiled pleasantly, looking back to his friend. "The feeling is entirely mutual."

An elbow pushed against Catherine's side, and she turned to find Dorothy smirking at her. The girl gave a significant look over at Trowa and Quatre, then to the two new students. Catherine frowned in disbelief. Surely not. Following her friend's gaze, she stared at Kurama and tried to see what had tipped Dorothy off. She didn't see anything more than someone teasing his friend. Why was Dorothy always the first to notice those things? Her friend was watching her and she shrugged, telling without words that it didn't make any difference to her. She didn't even know them.

Since Relena was still watching him, Kurama gave the girl a curious smile. "Do you know everyone at this school?"

Relena fluffed up like a peacock, her eyes shining. "Of course. I make it my business to know."

"Do you happen to know a girl named Kagome? I hear she lives with her family at an old shrine near here." That question appeared to make Relena hesitate, and Kurama waited patiently, not quite glancing over to where Hiei was watching them.

"I know her," Relena said reluctantly. Was he interested in her? Why her? She had hardly even been to school lately, and everyone knew she had some sort of mysterious wasting disease. One day she'd seem perfectly fine. Then she'd be absent for days at a time. Oh, she had her loyal friends who stood by her, but most of the student body figured she was going to die by the end of the year - or fail from missing so many classes. Even when she did come to school, she seemed prone to sudden outbursts. People were starting to say she suffered from epilepsy. "Why do you ask?"

"I'd like to meet her," Kurama said. "Her family history is fascinating. Did you know she is a direct descendent from a famed Miko? The shrine her family lives over is the oldest one in this district."

"Oh!" Relena sighed, a relieved smile flashing over her face and making it obvious that she was a very pretty girl when she wasn't being annoying. "Are you interested in history, then?"

"Very much so," Kurama nodded. "Would you mind introducing me to her? I don't want to seem forward."

After all the girls who'd rushed him to introduce themselves that morning, it sounded like a moot point to Duo. But Relena nodded happily, offering to do it after school that day. Since he was still rather new himself, Duo had no idea what girl they were talking about. Hiei's gaze answered that question, though. The black-haired boy was staring at a girl across the room from them. Following the look, Duo recognized her as one of the girls in his first class. She was rather pretty, with her straight black hair falling down to her waist, and wide dark eyes. He couldn't tell the color from such a distance, but she was smiling as she chatted with the girls at her table. From all appearances, she seemed nice enough, but not too remarkable looking. It made sense if Kurama was interested in her history, rather than her. After all, unless the last few weeks had made him jump to conclusions, Kurama wasn't on the market. He hadn't missed the way the two new students had looked at each other earlier.

Sufficiently reminded, Duo turned his attention to Heero. The brown-haired boy had been absolutely silent during lunch, and he wasn't any different now. Dark blue eyes met his for a moment before Heero went back to eating as if he wasn't even there. Duo dropped his gaze, deflating where he sat. Why couldn't Heero be more like Trowa? It only took one look to see that he and Quatre were doing very well together. The two were engaged in a very quiet discussion that obviously blocked out everything around them. And he'd be willing to bet the lovebirds were holding hands under the table. So unfair.

Hilde frowned in concern from her place beside him, her voice a whisper. "Duo? Is something wrong?"

"What?" Duo blinked in surprise, looking over at her with a quickly placed expression of innocence. "No! Not really. I'm just a little tired."

"You've been working every day, haven't you?" Hilde asked. "Maybe you should take a day off. You'll wear yourself out like that."

Duo smiled and shook his head at her. "Oh, not me. I like to keep busy. And you know, aside from work and school, it's been pretty boring lately. I'm not used to being inactive."

"I forget that you've been doing that for longer than us," Hilde said. She sent a look over to where Kurama and Hiei were sitting and was careful not to say anything that would make them wonder. Though they seemed nice, they were still outsiders. "Just don't work yourself too hard."

"Don't worry," Duo smiled. It was nice to know at least one person cared, even if it was the girl he'd disappointed, instead of Heero. But that was depressing, and he wasn't going to think about it. There was no point worrying Hilde more than she already was. "As long as I can wake up for school in the morning, I'm getting plenty of sleep."

The pretty bluish-black haired girl gave a slow nod. Heero didn't move, still watching them from the corner of his eye. He had noticed that Duo seemed rather depressed lately. Some conceited part of him thought he was to blame, but he had to remember that Duo supported himself. The last two weeks should have been relaxing after their previous fighting. But Duo was probably working that much harder now that he didn't have to save energy for enemies. Baka. The boy turned a bit, and Heero's eyes snapped back to the tray in front of him. He'd just have to keep an eye on him for his own good. If he were working himself to death, he'd either get sick, or be in a bad position if some new enemy showed up. Neither one was going to happen. As much as he disliked the smug taunts he knew he'd get, Heero didn't see any option but to call in a tail for the boy, literally. Wing would love it.

* * *

TBC