Pairings: Darren/Steve, one-sided Gannen/Steve, some Canon Vampires/OC Vampaneze

A/N: Wow, I wrote this over a year ago, which is kinda hard to believe. Right now I'm coming back and looking it over, correcting mistakes and improving it overall. Please keep in mind that this fic is still ongoing. But enough of this, on to the fic!

x x x

Night had fallen quickly, but Steve wasn't happy about it. He was bored. Well actually, that was an understatement. He was bored to death. He and his guards had arrived in the town where the Cirque Du Freak was currently playing about a week ago, and had quickly taken residence in an old, abandoned mansion.

Steve and crew had been trailing their hunters for weeks. At first every time they finally settled down Steve was glad. He loved to explore new towns, possibly buy some clothes and weapons, and terrorize a few lowly humans. But after a while all that got tiring. Even his victim's reactions got old.

Steve used to think it would be cool to have servants following him around, obeying his every order, but now he knew better. His guards were always with him whenever he went out. They could take no chance in the hunters finding Steve alone and killing him. Of course, Steve protested, saying he wouldn't be killed, and didn't they think him capable of defending himself? But it was no use. The vampaneze just couldn't take the risk of something happening to Steve, no matter what he said. Thus, because he didn't want to be around them every time he wanted to go out, the Vampaneze Lord had taken to staying in.

At the moment, Steve was standing at the window of an upstairs room, staring out into the night. The sky was clear of clouds, making the stars shine ever the more brightly.

There were voices somewhere in the distance, talking in a quick, sharp manor, and Steve guessed his guards were somewhere around the mansion, arguing with each other again. The Vampanze Lord didn't really give a damn what they did, as long as they were far away from him.

Steve glared out into the moonlight, letting out a soft, longing sigh. He wanted to be out in it, not trapped in this old, stuffy mansion.

Wanted to feel the crisp cool air, slight breeze blowing around him, not too chilling, but cool enough to be refreshing. He had stayed inside far too long, breathing in this stale air.

Wanted to stretch his legs, as they were beginning to ache after staying cooped up in here for so long. Even though this was a mansion, the space was still limited and, unless you wanted to walk back and forth, staring at the same lamp again and again, not very good for cardio activity.

And, most of all, wanting to get a bit to drink. Blood. He hadn't had human blood in a week. That was longer than he usually went without drinking. He could just taste it, warm and smooth, the flavor differing from human to human.

The Vampaneze Lord growled angrily to himself and began to pace around the room, probably creating a great deal of noise for those below him. He didn't care. He wanted out!

Suddenly, in a moment of realization, he stopped dead in his tracks. His guards weren't with him at the moment. If he could get by them, he could leave the mansion without them even knowing! And, since they really didn't check up on him when he was safe inside concrete walls, he could be back before they even noticed he was gone!

A devious grin spread across Steve's face. God, how could he have been so utterly stupid? The answer was right in front of him all along! Though the vampaneze had advanced hearing, much better than those of humans, Steve knew of a way to get out easily without them knowing. He was a professional schemer, after all.

Slowly, Steve lifted the window and smirked. He was on the top floor, but, because of his extra strength due to being half-vampaneze, that really didn't matter much. As long as he was careful and didn't land too hard on an ankle or something he would be fine.

The half-vampaneze moved until he was sitting on the window ledge, staring down at the hard ground below him. Then, with one final glance at the closed door behind him, he tensed his muscles and sprung out into the cool night air.

Steve landed like a cat, using both his legs and arms to take the blow so it didn't put too much strain on his lower body. Standing, he looked around, just admiring the beautiful moon and star filled sky for a minute, filling his lungs with the night air. Soon he started walking, enjoying the gentle breeze that blew his way and ruffled his long silver hair. Where to go? He really didn't care, for now just content to be outside without the presence of his guards.

x x x

Darren was restless. The Cirque Du Freak had just finished with a night show, but he hadn't really participated, just choosing to sit and watch. Normally he loved seeing his companions perform, but for some reason he just couldn't focus well tonight.

Now that the show was finally over, he wanted nothing more than to take a long walk under the moonlight. He hadn't really gotten a chance to explore the area where the Cirque was camped yet since Mr. Tall had kept him so damn busy.

With a smile, the young Vampire Prince started out of camp and began to walk slowly toward the forest close by. He had always loved the forests. They were so quiet, so serene. Perfect places for thinking. And boy, did Darren need to think! He'd been having nightmares about the Lord of the Shadows ever since he'd come back from the Lake of Souls with Harkat, and he didn't quite know what they meant. Yes, Evanna had told him the Lord of the Shadows would be a monster in the future and it would be either him or Steve, but she hadn't said any more than that. He wished she'd given him some kind of hint, advice on what to do next. Surely if the vampires won the war he wouldn't become a monster, right? Not him! He couldn't!

"Oi! Darren!" came a loud voice, startling the prince out of his deep thoughts. He turned to see Vancha running toward him, followed by Harkat. It seemed, unfortunately, that he wouldn't get much thinking done tonight.

It wasn't that he didn't want the company of his friends; he loved their companionship and the three had been getting even closer since Mr. Crepsley's death. When Vancha had come back from Vampire Mountain after telling the other princes all that had happened, the trio had tried to spend as much time as they could together, though it was hard since they all had different tasks at the Cirque and Mr. Tall wasn't one to let them slack off on their jobs. No, he definitely enjoyed the company of his friends, it was just that he wanted to be alone tonight, to think. But oh well. There were other times for thinking. Forcing a smile, he waited until the others caught up with him, and they began walking together.

"It's a nice night," Harkat observed as he looked up at the cloudless sky, the stars shining brightly.

"Aye," Vancha agreed, running his fingers through his dyed green hair and following Harkat's gaze to the sky. "I never really took the time to enjoy the beauty of clear skies and full moons," he added thoughtfully, lips curling into a slight smile. "I guess I should more often." Darren nodded, though he found it hard to believe the gruff, wild, nature-loving prince had never observed the sky before, given he preferred to be out and about all the time other than under a roof.

The trio walked in silence for about five minutes, enjoying the calmness of the quiet night, the only sound being the occasional chirping of a few crickets. As they got deeper into the forest however, they heard what sounded like the cracking of a tree branch somewhere to their right. They immediately froze, heads turning.

"Who's there?" Vancha growled, drawing a shuriken and holding it in front of him, ready to launch it if necessary. There came a loud string of vile curses, and someone stepped out of the shadows. Darren's eyes widened, breath catching in his throat, hands starting to sweat.

It was him.

Steve Leopard.

Mr. Crepsley's killer.

Lord of the Vampaneze.

Darren's worst enemy.

x x x

The minute Steve heard footsteps coming toward him in the forest he knew he was in trouble. For some reason he wasn't able to convince himself it was a harmless human that he could easily drink its blood and kill. Should he run? Hide? No, they already knew he was there. And if they were skilled, he most likely wouldn't get away.

Heart pounding so hard he was sure it could be heard miles away, Steve stepped out into the open.

Now his heart almost stopped all together. His suspicions were correct. This was just the thing his guards had warned him about. Of course the thought that they had been right all along didn't cross his mind at the moment though. He was too busy eyeing his familiar enemies, and really, he would never admit they were right anyhow. Pride was something Steve Leopard definitely wasn't lacking in.

The Vampaneze Lord focused on his enemies, not taking his eyes off them for a second. He had a knife on him, but that was all. He hadn't thought to bring one of his arrow guns, for he had been so sure he wouldn't meet any trouble. And this was where his damn stubbornness had gotten him. He was surrounded, three to one. However, though he was in mortal danger, it didn't mean he was going to back down, be killed willingly. Oh, no. That was definitely not his style. That was for the weak, not the strong, brave, dashing Vampaneze Lord.

"Well, well, well, look who it is," Steve sneered, leering at the vampires and Little Person. "A grey, sewed together freak who doesn't belong anywhere but where the dead are, a dirty, arrogant prince, who obviously doesn't know what a shower is, and," he turned to Darren, his leer now turning into a full glare, "a weak, scheming traitor."

Steve smirked, shaking his head. "It looks like I've got my work cut out for me," he growled, voice laced with sarcasm, though the statement was true; it would be extremely hard to beat the three. Another thing he'd never admit.

Knife in front of him like a dangerous sword, Steve looked from one to the other. They all looked about to pounce, but Vancha was the fastest.

With a low growl, the prince shot toward Steve, tossing his shuriken aside, ready to fight hands-on. It was pure luck that Steve stepped to the side just in time and Vancha missed him by a hair.

"It seems you and Gannen are even more different than I thought," Steve taunted, smirking. "He can fight. It seems you fail miserably at that."

Vancha's teeth clenched at the mention of his brother, and he ran at Steve again, this time colliding with him head on and sending him tumbling forcefully to the ground. Still Steve smirked, managing to get an arm free and jabbing his knife at the prince's shoulder, managing to draw blood.

Before anything else could take place though, there was another person there, looking down at him. "Let me do this," Darren said quietly, looking at Vancha, eyes hard. "I need to do this."

Vancha glanced at the young prince for a minute, studying him carefully, then nodded silently and stepped away.

Steve took this moment to jump to his feet, tackling Darren. The two rolled over and over in a dizzying mix of arms, legs and knives, trying to stab each other, using all their strength and looking for openings.

Then it happened. How, the Vampaneze Lord had no idea, but it happened. Steve, who was below Darren at that moment, felt a sharp, searing pain in his side. Gasping for breath, he managed to pull the knife out of him, blood soaking his hands. He glared weakly at Darren who stared back at him, expression blank, before everything went black.

x x x

Darren looked at Steve's limp body for a couple moments before picking the bloody knife up from where it lay on the ground. Hands shaking, he held it over Steve, imagining bringing the tip down hard, puncturing his heart.

Killing him.

Making sure that the vampires won the war.

Getting revenge.

Ending this whole thing, here and now.

But something stopped him. Steve's face suddenly looked so calm, so peaceful. None of the rage that had possessed the Vampaneze Lord before shown. He looked... almost normal. While staring at his enemy, Darren saw in him the Steve from long ago.

The person who used to be his best friend.

The person that he once... no, he mustn't think of that. He never loved Steve, just thought he did. But still he didn't stab.

"What's taking so long?" came a gruff voice from his side, and Darren turned to see Vancha frowning, hands on his hips. He had almost forgotten the other prince and Harkat were there.

"I..." Darren took a deep, nervous breath, then looked Vancha in the eye. "I can't kill him."

Vancha stood there for a moment, frozen in shock, then shook his head. He walked over and knelt beside Steve, hands positioned to twist the half-vampaneze's neck.

"No!" Darren shouted suddenly, and Vancha glanced up at him, surprised. "I don't want you to kill him," Darren said, quieter this time. "I want... I want to take him with us."

Darren stood behind his statement, even when he saw Vancha's face contort with rage.

"That's insane!" the older prince growled, glaring up at Darren. "We need to kill him! For the clan! You're a prince. Whatever feelings you have must be put aside! You cannot be selfish. You need to do what's best for the clan. And don't you want revenge after what he did to Larten?"

Darren was, of course, still very angry about what Steve had done to Mr. Crepsley, but he wasn't thinking about that now. "We can kill him later," he argued. Grabbing Steve's arm, he dragged his old friend back, away from Vancha. "If you want to kill him now you'll have to kill me too." Darren didn't know what had come over him as he stood there, heart pounding in his chest, but he felt the overwhelming need to protect Steve.

Vancha, features incredulous, stared at Darren in amazement. Then he stood up, spitting angrily at the ground before stalking away towards where camp was located.

Darren glanced at Harkat, wanting advice, but the Little Person just shook his head sadly and followed Vancha.

Great. Now what was he supposed to do? He'd gotten himself into a huge mess without even thinking about it, and he had absolutely no plan.

Letting out a sigh, Darren picked Steve up, hoisting the other onto his back. It was getting colder out and if he stayed here too much longer he was afraid he would freeze. There was only one place to go, Darren thought as he began to carry Steve back to the Cirque Du Freak. He didn't quite know what he was going to do with the Vampaneze Lord, but he would think of something.

The prince's feelings were all mixed up. He was no longer the angry, hate-filled vampire he had been when Steve had first appeared. All the anger he had felt seemed to have drained out of him. Still, he certainly didn't like Steve after all that he'd done, all the pain that he'd caused. He couldn't. Right?

The half-vampire shook his head. He didn't quite know what he felt towards Steve. All he knew at the moment was he didn't want to kill Steve yet. It felt right to let him live, at least for just a little longer. Vancha and Harkat obviously didn't feel the same though. But he would find a way to get the others to listen to him. Somehow.

x x x

A/N: So, that was the first chapter! I'd love to know what you thought! (: