Prologue



Summary: Salem is Duo's new brother and new in town. Duo doesn't want him hanging around, so he ignores him. During school, he see's Salem getting bullied. Salem thinks that Duo hates him, so he runs off, and now, Duo needs help to find him.


Duo walked out of his cool room and to the hot house. Cursing Tokyo summers, he walked over to the stairs, and started his decent down to the mass of people below, his trademark braid swinging behind him. The indigo blue suit he wore might've complemented his strange amethyst eyes, but it was also incredibly uncomfortable and very warm for the poor nine year old. Sighing, he stopped fiddling with the collar and went in search of his father.

Duo's dad was getting re-married. He met the lucky girl when she had a flat tire and he helped her out. After that, they kept running into each other, and eventually fell in love(gah1). Duo had heard this story over and over and it amazed him that, only a month later, they were getting married. Duo, of course, had met her, and she was really cool, so Duo was okay with everything.

Duo finally found his dad and walked up to him. He was dressed in his black priest cloths, and…wearing sandals underneath… clever. He turned to him when he approached and he smiled sweetly at him. Bending down to his eye level, he scrutinized him thoroughly and then patted his head.

"Well, well, Duo. Don't you look formal. I never would've thought I'd see you in a suit. At least not until you married someone." he teased, winking to soften his blow.

"Yea well, its really uncomfortable. And I can barely move, and its really hot." Duo complained, as he tried to shift and winced as the collar dug deeper into his neck.

His dad stared at him in pity before covering it up quickly. "Duo, would you mind doing a favor for me?"

"Sure, what is it?" Duo looked up eagerly.

"I know you haven't met Veronica's son yet," he began(2!)and pointed to a boy standing alone, "but, he's standing in the corner over there and he's kind of shy. Would you talk to him? Try to be friends?"

"Well…" Duo started, he wasn't so sure.

"Please Duo. He's going to be living here too, so you at least need to say 'hello'." he pleaded with him, using the puppy dog eyes.

"No, not the eyes…arg, fine. I'll go talk to him." Duo grumbled and started to walk over, but was stopped by a hand grabbing his arm. He turned to his dad once more.

"Be nice, ok." he said sternly.

"Yea, yea." Duo brushed off and walked over to the boy.

When he reached him, he took in full stock of what he'd have as brother for at least half of his life. He didn't seem to be much older than himself, and not that tall either, at least not as tall as him. He wore a green bandana on his head, and had long ebony hair flowing out behind him. His jaded eyes appeared to study the crowd, as if searching for potential danger.

'Hmph, as if.' Duo thought and continued his scrutiny.

The boy seemed hot and uncomfortable in his own forest green suit, and looked bored as well. Probably cause Duo was the only other kid here and he didn't know him.

Assessment over with, Duo walked over to the boy…who immediately stared at him and seemed to look for a way out of their encounter, as if Duo was going to cause trouble for him.

'Well, not yet at least.' Duo's evil mind supplied and he inwardly chuckled at the thought.

Duo stopped in front of him and smiled. The boy sighed and reluctantly returned one of his own.

"Hey there, the name's Duo. Duo Maxwell. You're mom's gonna…"

"She's not my mom, she's my aunt." Salem interrupted.

"Wait, my dad said that she's your mom though." Duo asked confused.

"She's my aunt. She took me in when my parents died, and I guess she just adopted me." Salem explained.

"…Right, as I was saying, your aunt is going to marry my dad and we're gonna be half-brothers. Isn't that gonna be nice. I only had a brother once before, but he died in the war. But that was a long time ago and besides you're my age so you aren't gonna up and leave anytime soon." Duo rambled on, but stopped when the boy just stared at him strangely, like he'd grown another head or something.

"Oops, sorry. I ramble sometimes when I'm nervous or bored. I guess now is one of those times, huh. Well…" Duo started up again.

"Salem. Salem Smith." Salem interrupted, smiling slightly and holding out his hand.

"Nice to meet ya half-bro." Duo replied and shook his hand. Afterwards, an awkward moment came and they just stood there and watched the adults. Duo finally decided to say something, and turned to Salem, only to stare as a relative ran into him, knocking poor Salem down.

"Sorry kid." They said behind their shoulder and continued on their way.

"Jerk." Duo mumbled and blinked when he heard a hiss. Turning to Salem, he noticed that he was standing and brushing himself off. Salem glimpsed Duo watching him and he stared right back.

"What?" he asked.

"…Nothing. Listen, I just want to tell you that, I'll help you get your blue school uniform, and I'll also show you where your classes are, but when you're finally able to go to school, don't hang around me."

Salem stared at him in confusion before asking, "Why not?"

"Because I don't want a half-brother to be nagging me, ok. It'll be embarrassing, and I'll be hanging around my friends."

"Sure…ok, no problem." Salem answered, turning to Duo's dad who was making his way to the front of the room.

Duo sighed and shook his head. He was about to respond when his dad began speaking. Turning his attention to him, he never caught Salem sighing and joining him.

'The wedding's soon. I hope I can trust this human man and his son.'


"…And then he said, 'We didn't lose, we just ran out of time.'" Duo joked, laughing along with his friends as they walked up some stairs and down the school hallway.

"Hey Duo, I heard your dad got married again." Dorothy said, flipping her hair over her shoulder.

"Yea, he did. And Veronica has a kid too, about my age. He was home schooled before, so this would be his first public school." Duo mumbled out, looking out the window as they passed.

"Really? He's a fourth grader? Then why haven't you introduce us?" Sally asked, as she stared at him.

"Because I told him not to hang around me." Duo remarked, staring when she gave him a disapproving glance.

"What?"

"Duo, he's new here and doesn't know anyone. You could've at least shown him around." Heero finished for her and shook his head, walking past Duo to stand beside Dorothy.

"Hey, I'm not totally heartless. I did tell him where his first class was."

"And let me guess, you ran off to find us afterwards." Quatre confirmed as he followed them.

"Well, yea. He can take care of himself, you'll see." Duo assured as they turned a corner, then gasped and stopped dead at the sight it held.

There in front of them was Salem, being bullied by some eighth graders. They were the "Welcoming committee" for new students. The one holding Salem was called Butch. The other two, who were pummeling Salem's stomach, were Ronnie and Don. When they heard Duo's gasp, they stopped and Butch threw Salem into some lockers, emitting a sharp intake of breath from the body.

Duo just stared at Salem in shock while the eighth graders decided he wasn't worth it and started for Salem again…their actions bringing a crowd forth.

Standing behind the bullies was one Trowa Barton and Shuichi Minamino, who both frowned venomously at them. Behind them, was another eighth grader by the name of Zechs Marquise who had just come from class, who also frowned at the bullies actions to the new student.

Ronnie grabbed Salem's bandana to pull him up, but instead, it came off and they gasped in shock. Then chuckled vilely as Salem desperately tried to hide his head.

"Well, well, well, it seems as if we have a F.R.E.A.K. among us. Check this out, it seems like a half-FREAK too." Don stated as he hauled Salem up to show everyone two black cat ears.(3)

Gasps let loose from all through the hallway. The gossipers already spreading the news. All but four did nothing but watch as the eighth graders laughed aloud.

"I bet he has a tail to go with it too." Ronnie said and spotted it, disguised as a belt, and grabbed it, yanking it out to show everyone and drawing a yelp from Salem.

Salem growled low, he'd had enough. He jumped up to his captor to startle him, and when he looked down, he was immediately greeted with Salem's claws.

Screaming out in agony, he dropped Salem and grabbed his face. The moment Salem touched the ground, he crouched and tripped the others, making them crash into each other and topple to the ground.

Wiping blood from his nose, he looked up and saw everyone staring at him. The whispers grew and soon they were pointing or sneering at him in some way. Humiliated, Salem turned to run, but stopped at the site of Duo standing there and just…staring wide-eyed at him.

Upset, he ran to a window and jumped out the 2nd story. Landing gracefully on all fours, he darted to the school entrance, and ran from them all.

"Whoa. Hey, Duo, you ok?" Quatre asked, touching Duo's arm.

Duo blinked and shook his head, looking around dazedly. 'What the Hell…' Duo thought as he watched the student's different reactions.

"Duo, your half-brother is a FREAK." Heero stated as he stared at the window that Salem jumped out of.

Duo snapped instantly out of his daze and glared hard at Heero.

"So?! So what if he is, that's not your problem, Heero." Duo drawled out, suddenly enraged.

"I don't understand why you're so upset Duo. I mean, he's only a FREAK." Dorothy muttered, and instantly regretted it when Duo shoved his face too close to hers.

"Oh, and what's so wrong about them, huh? They're still people too ya'know." Duo practically hissed at her.

"People, ha. They aren't human. They're just mangy, genetically wronged, violent beasts." Butch said as he stood up and brushed himself off.

Seconds later found him back on the ground, holding his recently broken nose. Glancing up, he found Duo glaring at him, daring him another word.

"Duo, come on. You never act this way, what's wrong?" Sally tried to reason, but recoiled when Duo's eyes stared at her.

"Freaks we're called. What gives you humans right to call us that?" Duo hissed, and raced to the open window, jumping out landing on all four's gracefully like Salem, and going after him, hoping to try and…calm him down enough to talk.

What no one knew, was that three students watched on, wanting to help, but unable at the time. Two more so then the other.


Duo howled out loud and sat heavily on a bench. The cars driving by on the street. By now, school had let out and he would be walking home…if he had found Salem that is. Growling, he finally gave into frustration and punched the back of the bench, bending the steel.

Sighing, he relaxed against the bench and thought again of where Salem would go…Hell, he didn't even know Salem all that well. They'd only spent a few days together before school.

'Great. Now I feel so guilty. I should've just hung out with him. He is my brother now. Heh, now I'm sounding like I'm worried…well, maybe I am' Duo thought as he bit his lower lip, thinking about all the bad things that could've happened to him.

This was getting him nowhere. But he'd followed Salem's scent to that spot. To that very bench, and then he found out that Salem's scent had been caught in the wind, making it seem like he walked in circles before finally disappearing.

The sound of stopping footsteps drew his attention back to the present and he slowly lifted his head to see two of the students that went to his school. One was his age, with brown hair and a weird bang hiding one of his lime colored eyes, while the other was older, platinum blonde hair and baby blue eyes, possibly an eighth grader. Sighing he gave them a 'get the fuck away from me before I claw your eyes out' look.

"Um, are you still looking for your brother?" asked the older one. Duo growled and flipped him off, assuming he was going to harass him. Zechs just frowned

"We'd like to help you look for him, if you'd let us." The one Duo's age requested hesitantly, probably from the reaction Zechs got.

"Now, why would you humans want to help little old me." Duo sneered, staring at them cautiously.

"Are you…you're a FREAK too?" Zechs asked, slightly shocked at this news.

Duo growled dangerously, and brought out his panther ears and tail. Flipping Zechs off again with a clawed finger. "What do you think?"

"…We don't care who or what you are. Being picked on like that isn't right. We aren't like everyone else, we wish to help." Trowa said, holding out his hand to help him up.

"…Alright. But if you try anything, I'll wipe the sidewalk with you." Duo smirked, knowing they saw what he did to the bully.

"Very well." Trowa smiled, and helped Duo up, ready to start the search again.

"Are you still looking for that half-breed?" someone's smooth voice flowed over them. They turned and saw another student, Shuichi Minamino standing before them, seemingly interested.

"So what, Minamino? And don't call him a half-breed." Duo snarled at him, restraining from strangling him.

"Hm, you wont be able to find him before dark. Especially if its just you three." Shuichi smiled, with gold hints in his emerald eyes, red hair seemingly to shimmer.

"Oh, and you can do better?" Zechs questioned in an arrogant tone.

"Well, I am a youko." He boasted, walking up to them, "And please, call me Kurama."

Duo stood stock still, staring in aw at Kurama. 'A Youko, that's like, the best…wait a minute!'

"Hey, as a youko, you're kinda like a dog right, could you…umm, sniff out…Salem." Duo finished lamely, staring anywhere but at him.

Chuckling could be heard and Duo glanced up to see Kurama trying to stop himself. Duo hissed in embarrassment and blushed. After composing himself, Kurama turned to Duo with an amused expression.

"I will help you, but only because he is your family and you can't find him." Kurama finished and changed himself into a fox. After sniffing the ground for a few seconds, he gave a yip and charged down the sidewalk. Duo, Trowa, and Zechs all stared at each other before taking off after him.

Kurama had to keep stopping so they could catch up, but then he'd take off again and they'd have to chase after. Kurama finally stopped at an old black gate and waited for the others to get there. When they finally showed up, Kurama wiggled himself through the bars and ran about ten feet, then waited again.

"You guys should probably wait here. I don't mean to be insulting or anything, but I doubt you could follow us any further." Duo remarked and studied the area. There was the gate, and a lamppost. Duo ran to the gate and jumped as high as he could, then rebounded off, leaped off the lamppost and flipped over the gate. A few seconds later, Trowa appeared by his side, startling him.

"Wha?!" Duo gasped in shock.

"I just followed your movements. I am an acrobat." Trowa answered, and turned to Zechs. "Although I know you can't make it, so you should wait here."

"Alright, if you need me for anything, just give a holler." Zechs replied, distressed about not being able to help properly.

"Right, thanks Zechs." Duo shouted behind his shoulder as they once again started following Kurama.

They eventually found themselves going into some woods, the ground dampened, and then, Kurama stopped. They looked around, but didn't find anything, and turned questionably to human Kurama.

"I can't smell him in this place. Too many other smells counter out his own. I'll give him this though. When he doesn't want to be found, he really doesn't want to be found." Kurama growled in irritation, and flipped his flaming red hair out of his face.

Suddenly Trowa stepped forward and ran his hand against the bark of a tree. And then snapped out of it and smiled at the two.

"I have a feeling I know where he is." Trowa remarked and started forward. The other two just shrugged and followed.

"You see, when I was younger, I used to go into these woods to hang out. It was the perfect spot to camp or build forts. Its only a little bit further now." Trowa instructed, and before they knew it, they walked through the clearing.

Duo and Kurama looked on amazed at the place. It was just…too great for words. As they looked, Duo saw a blue uniform sticking out of an alcove in an old tree by a hill.

"Salem!" Duo yelled and raced forward, trying to get to him. The body tensed and tried to move in deeper, until they couldn't see him anymore.

"Salem, come on out. Why are you hiding?" Duo asked, trying to coax him out. A hiss was all he got in reply.

Duo turned to the others helpless and asking for help. Kurama sighed and pushed Duo out of the way. He crawled forward a little bit, and tried to squeeze inside. A clawed hand swiped at his face, but he evaded it and crawled into the little room. There, cuddled into a corner, was Salem. He glared at him, but the effect was lost from the tears that fell from his eyes.

Kurama stared, slightly in shock, slightly in pity, at the boy in front of him. From what he'd overheard from Duo, he wasn't used to people, and after what happened today…no wonder he didn't trust a whole lot of people. Well, better get started.

"Its ok, come on out. Duo's here to take you home." Kurama coaxed soothingly.

"No he's not, he's just gonna yell at me and make fun of me. He's not gonna help at all." Salem snapped trying to get further away from Kurama. "Told mom to just let me stay in home school." He whispered so quietly, only a youko could hear.

"He's not going to do that. You should've seen him after you left. He broke one of the bullies nose. Then jumped out the window and went looking for you. If not for some help, no one would've found you." Kurama tried for the guilt this time.

"I would've come out later. I just wanna be alone." Salem glanced away, now attempting to curl into himself.

"From what I hear, you're always alone." Kurama whispered to himself, then, louder. "But this is your brother, and your family will be worried about you, so…"

"Humans…my whole family is a bunch of humans, why would they be worried." Salem whispered, his tears falling faster.

"Ah, shows how much you know about them." Kurama went on, holding in his smirk as Salem stared at him curiously.

"What do you mean?"

"Duo is also a…well, he's different, like you, but full-blooded."

"…You're different too ya'know. Like a youko." Kurama looked shocked for a minute, then composed himself.

"…I am, but how did you…"

"I could smell ya, did you go in full form or something?"

"Yes I did, that's probably why, but we're getting off track here. The point is, that Duo was, if not is right now, worried about you. And besides its getting darker and I'm sure your parents are worried as well." Kurama informed, holding out his hand. 'I know mine are about now.'

"…Ok, only if you promise." Salem stated cautiously, hand held hesitant above his own.

"I promise, now come on." Salem dropped his hand on top of Kurama's and they both crawled out of the small space.

When they reached outside, Salem was enveloped in a bear hug by Duo, who was demanding that he never do something so drastic ever again. Salem only nodded his head and apologized for being a brat.

"Well, you can be a brat now. I mean, I might've done the same thing in your position, but come on now. Mom and dad are probably really worried about us." Duo said, and Salem smiled up at him.

"Dang, that bully really did a number on you. Are you ok?" Duo asked concerned.

"I'm fine." Salem replied with a smile and walked with them, limping slightly. Trowa noticed this.

"Salem, are you sure, you're limping?" Trowa asked in concern.

"I'm ok." Salem muttered, and tried to keep from limping.

"Your leg is bleeding, let me have a look at it." Kurama instructed and started to do so.

"You don't have to, really." Salem blushed and tried to get away, but was forced to stay still in the end.

"You have quite the slice on your calf. You shouldn't be walking on it for awhile." Kurama evaluated, ripping his uniform to make a makeshift bandage.

"You didn't have to do that." Salem exclaimed, feeling guilty about Kurama's ripped uniform.

"Its alright, now up we go." Kurama lifted Salem onto his back and started carrying him piggyback style.

"Thanks for everything you guys, without your help, I might've never found him." Duo stated with a shaky smile.

"Its no problem, I saw how upset you were and had to help." Trowa explained, holding Duo's shoulder in comfort.

"And I knew that if you hadn't found him by then, you'd really need some help." Kurama tried and he hefted Salem to a better position.

"Thanks anyway. Hey, is that our parents?" Duo asked as he saw parked cars and people standing by the gate.

"Yes it is, I wonder how…?" Trowa started before he saw some platinum blonde hair. "Zechs!"

"Well, I'm actually thankful that he did that, I don't think we'd make it back to our house." Duo grinned and they got to the gate.

"Duo, Salem are you alright?"

"Shuichi, is everything ok? Why's your shirt ripped?"

"Trowa, is the situation stable?"

"Yea, we're alright. Salem was just…" Duo hesitated and glanced at Salem, whose head was turned away.

"We heard from the principal." Duo's dad said grimly, staring from one boy to the other.

"Uh-oh."

"Yes mother, everything is fine. My shirt is ripped because I used it to bind Salem's leg." Kurama explained.

"Salem's leg? Why, what happened?" Veronica interrupted.

"He just has a nasty slice on his leg and shouldn't be walking on it."

"…As you can see father, everything will be taken care off."

"It seems so."

After a lot of explaining and thank you's, everyone went their separate ways, but not before the kids met up once more.

"Hey Salem, you take care." Kurama smiled, ruffling his hair.

"Hey! Yea, you too, and thanks." Salem smiled at him.

"You know, if either of you want to hang out sometime, by all means, do so." Trowa invited, speaking to Duo.

"That would be nice. I don't think my old friends will appreciate the new me now." Duo spoke sourly.

"If you don't, mind, I would like to hang out as well, if its alright?" Zechs questioned, looking from one to the other.

"Yea sure."

"Well, see you guys at school." Kurama waved and got into his mom's car and drove off.

"I have to go too, see you guys later." Trowa mumbled and left with his dad.

"And my parents are going to kill me, so I'll see you two tomorrow." Zechs called out and ran down the street, catching up to Trowa.

"Come on guys, lets get home." Duo's dad advised, and they all piled in his car.

"Hey Salem." Duo whispered, scooting closer to him.

"Hm?" Salem turned in question.

"You know, if you wanna hang out with me, you can."

"…Really? Thanks Duo. I'd really like to hang out with someone I know." The rest of the drive was in silence.


Duo walked down the stairs and towards the kitchen. They got home about three hours ago, and Salem and Duo had gone straight to bed. Now, Duo was thirsty and traveled down for some water.

"…See?! I told you that he should've stayed home schooled! This is what I was afraid of! This is why I did that, so he wouldn't be hurt!! But you made me change my mind, why Stanley(4), why?!?" Veronica ranted, pacing around the kitchen.

Duo stalked forward slowly and stopped outside the kitchen door, listening closely.

"Veronica will you please calm down? You're not going to help him by yelling." Duo's dad said quietly. After a few minutes, he continued. "I changed your mind because he needs the experience of a public school. Think, when he finally goes out on his own, he won't know good from bad…"

"I'll teach him!" Veronica interrupted.

"Let me finish. He will be tricked and he wouldn't even realize it. He needs to be street smart."

"But, because of what he is…he's just going to get hurt again." Veronica sighed.

"Why? Why are you protecting him like the baby he isn't?" Stan inquired.

"Because…I'm probably the only human he will ever trust." She whispered.

"And why is that?"

"Because humans are the reason his parents were killed."

"…You mean…?" he gasped.

"Yes."

Duo had heard enough and left. Back up the stairs and to his bedroom, thinking on what he'd just heard. As he passed Salem's room, he could've sworn that he heard sniffling. Opening his door, he hesitated. He heard the sniffling again, and walked in, closing the door behind him. Walking up to Salem's bed, and sitting down beside him. The sniffling came again.

"Salem, hey what's wrong?" Duo asked softly stroking his back.

Salem jumped and stared at him with a tear-streaked face. Then he lunged at Duo and buried his head in his shoulder, outright crying now.

"Salem…what's wrong?" Duo asked worried now.

"I..I never knew th..that my mom an..and dad were m..murd..murdered by hu..humans. I j..just never l..liked them." Salem sobbed as Duo tried to comfort him.

"Its ok Salem. Calm down now, big boys don't cry." Duo crooned. Minutes later, Salem calmed down enough to where he just had hiccups.

"Now, now. Lets get you back to bed now, huh?" Duo coaxed and laid him down. After tucking him back into bed, Duo got up to go, but his sleeve was caught. Turning, he found Salem silently asking him to stay with him.

Smiling softly, Duo crawled into the bed and comforted his half-brother.

"…You know," Salem sniffled, "that Trowa guy looked like he liked you."

Duo snapped his eyes open and blanched at his brother. Then he blushed furiously and hit his brother on his arm.

"He does not!!! You have no proof…do you think, really?" Duo asked intrigued.

"Uh-huh. By the way he was looking at you, I'd say so." Salem smirked through his tears and tried to lighten the mood.

"You're just saying that." Duo growled.

"Prove it! And why are you blushing like that? Do you like him?" Salem asked wryly.

"Why you…?!" Duo hissed and smacked Salem with his pillow.

"Hey!" Salem yelped and grabbed his own pillow, and joining the fight.

"You're one to talk, what about Kurama, huh?" Duo taunted and dodged Salem's throw.

Salem paused and was automatically hit from behind. He growled playfully and glanced up at Duo.

"That was a low blow."

"Yea, but it worked. So, you really like that Kurama guy?" Duo asked seriously.

"…Do you really like that Trowa guy?" Salem countered.

They stared at each other and gave an uneasy smile. They decided that it was time for some sleep, they still had school the next day.

"Hey, Duo." Salem muttered tiredly.

"Hm?"

"I don't mind if you like that huma…I mean, Trowa. I think you two make a good couple." Salem admitted, causing Duo to chuckle.

"Yea, well, same goes for me. Ya'know, for that Kurama guy. Now go to sleep." Duo spoke, closing his eyes, and allowing sleep to claim him.


(1)I cannot believe I wrote that down, ewww.

(2) Veronica is his fiancé's name…deal with it.

(3) F.R.E.A.K.s are…well, basically they're different, like demons, but genetically. Or something like that, just bear with the terribleness.

(4) its Duo's dad's name, deal with it.

(5) and, in case u were wondering, Kurama is like, maybe a yr or so older than Duo & them, Salem is a little young for a fourth grader as well. hence the treatment

Well, how do u like it? I know I have that other story, "Scattered Feathers" to do, but I just have the sequel to do on this, and I swear…hopefully, I'll get the other story finished…maybe…