Author: 0083
Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3 so far
Warnings: AU, violence, angst, potty mouths, philosphical crap
Notes: thanks to snow for telling me that i'm not entirely insane just yet.

Evergreen + Part 4

If death is so final, why do we let ourselves die a little each day?

Wufei tensed up his legs and launched himself forward, his daggers in hand. His target went down under him, flailing his limbs and gave Wufei the perfect opportunity to plunge one of his daggers between his ribs into the heart. He checked on the others and saw that they were managing just fine as well, even Heero. In fact, Heero's addition into their pack had helped immensely as much as he hated to admit it. He was more than a competent fighter and he seemed to possess battle instincts that surpassed even his. If anything, watching Heero fight had made him believe that he was a god.

Soon, all the assassins that had been sent after them were dead. Wufei had killed two while Trowa and Quatre had taken care of the large and skilled assassin they had only known as the Bear. Duo and Heero, surprisingly, had fought well together as a team, taking down the other three assassins with uncanny ease.

Wufei walked over to Trowa who was busy checking out the bodies of the dead. Even on the run, old habits and rituals died hard.

"So, Trowa, know them or what?"

Nodding, Trowa proceeded to tell them who each and every one of them had been in life. The Bear was an assassin who was too big for sneaky work so he had killed in crowded streets or in fake bar brawls. He had been a dirty, large man and quite a hard kill for a slender witness and the small blond assassin. Wufei's two were the Twins, Mika and Mera, the brother and sister who had specialized in tracking, killing with a deadly swiftness that nearly emulated Duo in style. Duo and Heero's victims were Yaska, Songstress and the Gash, quite noteworthy assassins but still not skilled enough to take any of them down.

"These were no beginners," Trowa said with deep concentration, "but real professionals. They all have been in the job longer than us. Hell, Yaska was an assassin before any of us were born. The guild is not happy with us."

Duo smirked away Trowa's concern and continued to wipe blood of his knife blades. He tried not to notice the way Heero stared at him in mute concern, his eyes roving every surface of his body in an effort to find a wound or hurt.

"Well, if that's the best they can send, we shouldn't worry so much."

"That's no reason to let our guard down, however." Quatre admonished. Duo's smirk gave way to a sour grimace. Of course he knew that they couldn't slack off. If anything, they had to intensify their guard and be on their toes. Even though these guys had been the first assassins they had taken care of, there would be more. The guild would not stop until they were dead, even if it meant they had to send everyone in the guild after them. As Wufei would say, it was a question of honor.

Shrugging his shoulders, Duo sauntered out of the clearing that they had fought in, leaving his companions and dead bodies behind him. He wasn't going anywhere far, but he wanted to be alone. His life was definitely not what he had planned when he was younger. He had wanted to make enough money as an assassin, get out of the guild and set up a new, peaceful life somewhere in the grassy fields. Hell, he had even wanted horses and chickens. But now, he was on the run, perhaps for the rest of his short and miserable life.

"Shit. Why does my life always take the worst possible turns?"

"Perhaps that is your destiny."

Duo turned towards Heero. Heero was yet another part of his life that was complicating. They had been on good terms for the past two weeks of running, even talking for hours like old friends. In a way, he supposed that they were old friends.

"Destiny, you say? What is it about destiny that pisses me off so much?"

Heero cocked his head quizzically at Duo's bitter tone. He had been trying his best to get to know his beloved better, trying to get him to open up to him. His lover had issued an ultimatum and he wasn't going to fail, but at moments like this when Duo seemed introspective and cynical about life, he had no idea what to say. So he just let him speak.

"I know all humans have destinies. I know it. We are all supposed to fit in the lovely tapestry of the universe and all that. But damn it, what does that leave me? What the hell am I? A fucking puppet? Do I even make choices or am I just walking on a path that someone already laid out for me? Shit, Heero, you're a god. No one controls what you do. How does it feel to be completely free like that?"

"I don't know what you mean," Heero replied, "but being a god is no better. It's not about who has control. It's about enjoyment, isn't it? As long as you enjoy what you have, does it matter who chose it for you?"

Shaking his head, Duo sauntered over to Heero and clasped his hand onto his shoulder. Heero looked startled for Duo never voluntarily touched him. This was the first.

"It does to me."

Violet eyes trapped cobalt in an intense fire and for Heero, there was nothing else but Duo's eyes and his voice.

"If I love you, I want it to be because I chose it. Not destiny, not fate. I don't want to be destined to love you. That takes out all the things I hold dear, doesn't it? If I was destined to love you, I would do it no matter what. Whether you were a total asshole or a fucking prince charming, I would love you because I had to. I don't want that. It's all about me, you see? I want to. I choose to. Me. And that's what I hate about this whole fucking situation."

"What do you mean?" Heero said, his voice no more than a raspy whisper.

"I mean, my soul cries out for you. Something in me is compelled to love you. Ever since I saw you, it has been there, telling me that you are my destiny. But I don't want that. I don't want to love you because my soul in another body loved you thousands of years ago. I don't want to love you because the Fates decided that I should. I want to love you because you have beautiful eyes, a stoic sense of humor, a poetry about you. Do you see?"

Heero nodded slightly without breaking their eye contact. He could understand what Duo was saying. It was admirable of his love to want to be free, to break out from the chosen path. But at the same time, it was frightening. What if he did escape destiny? Then would he love him at all?

"Duo, if destiny didn't control you, would you still want to love me?"

"I don't know, Heero. But I would like to see if I could. I like you. You are a good guy, if a bit off your rocker. And you chose to love this soul of mine for a long time. That does mean something, whatever I say to the contrary. But tell me, Heero, when you think of the one you love, do you really think of the soul?"

Heero almost blurted out yes. He had meant to, but the answer never made it to his lips. He did love the soul, of course. His love's soul had been the most beautiful thing, pulsating with warmth and life that seemed endless. Duo had that soul in his body now, with the same glow, the same intensity. But the more he thought, the more he realized what he missed in his love. He had loved those green eyes filled with joy, the red hair that glinted like copper under the sun, the pale skin that showed hints of blue veins beneath. He had loved the touch, the feel, the taste of his love as much as the brightness of the soul. He had longed to hear his uninhibited laughter, undisguised excitement in his voice. He had wanted to bask in the glow that was his love's warm and encompassing personality.

He had loved so much more tha
n just the soul. He had loved the entire being.

"No answer, eh, Heero? Then try this on for size. What do you love about me?"

"I.. I.." Heero stuttered, stunned by the question. What could he say? He knew that he loved Duo, but was it really only because he had been chasing his past lover through time without knowing the full import of love? Heero thought hard as he stared into Duo's inquisitive yet sensitive eyes. Then without conscious thought, words flowed out.

"I love the way you smile when you talk to your friends. It begins slowly at the corners, tilting only until your teeth barely show. Your eyes light up and you seem to glow. I love the way you talk, all crude words and harsh language that try to hide how deeply you think and how intelligent you are. I love the way you challenge me, making me come up with answers to questions I never asked myself. There is more, too much more for me to say."

Duo released a breath he had been holding. When Heero wanted to, he could really knock his mind for a heady loop. No one had ever said anything about him even close to what Heero had just told him. Not his parents, not his friends, not his victims begging for their lives. It touched him to the heart, each word embedding itself firmly into his brain. Smiling, Duo tugged Heero towards him and then they were leaning into each other in a tight hug, reveling in the sensation of being held by each other for the first time.

"Heero, I think you love me," Duo whispered into Heero's neck.

Heero tightened his hold on Duo and buried his head into the rich, brown hair. He was finally getting a small inkling as to what love really should be. Fifteen hundred years of pining and suffering had taught him nothing, but the past two weeks with his active beloved had given him a new view on love.

"I think so, too."

And for now, that would be enough.

+

Trowa nudged Quatre lightly with his knee under the table, eliciting a shy smile from the blond. They were flirting with each other subtly, trying to drive one another crazy during dinner without alerting the others. It was hard work, trying to keep their romance subdued during these desperate times, but it was also adventurous and fun. They were so absorbed in each other that they missed Wufei rolling his eyes at them.

"Do you two mind? I'm trying to eat here."

Wufei watched his words swim over the two love-bird's heads as they inched closer to each other. He could not believe that they thought they were being subtle. Moreover, they were in a public setting, trying to blend into the dinner crowd at the small restaurant they had deemed safe enough to eat. Unfortunately, his friends were not trying to blend at all. With a long suffering sigh, Wufei eyed the other pair at the table. Unlike Trowa and Quatre who were too sweet for words, Duo and Heero gave off waves of heat. It was almost too intense for him, the way they would just stare at each other without words.

When Heero had first shown up, Wufei had disliked the idea of him following their rag tag team. Now that Duo seemed to be warming up to him, he didn't mind the idea so much. He had to concede that Heero was a good fighter and not much of a liability when it came to defenses and running. More than that, the guy was a god. Not only was he incapable of dying, he probably had powers that Wufei had only dreamed about. But all that aside, Duo seemed to genuinely enjoy Heero's company. They talked all the time when they were alone, or so Duo had told him, and Wufei had sensed a change in Duo. He didn't glare at Heero with mistrust in his eyes anymore. Instead, there was a soft light in his eyes that changed his intense violet eyes to clear amethyst. The biggest change, though, was that they touched.

Before, Wufei had to keep Heero away from Duo in an effort to keep the errant god from accidentally brushing up against his best friend. It had been Duo's request. Then, little by little, Duo had let Heero come closer to him until one day, Wufei had caught them holding each other. Neither knew that he had seen them in their intimate pose, but it had warmed Wufei's heart to see Duo held so tenderly. It seemed that Duo was finally accepting the love Heero had so arrogantly and selflessly offered.

"I wonder if they even know that it's so obvious that they are in love."

Wufei started from his revelries and glanced at Duo. He was staring at Trowa and Quatre who were still cooing at each other with amusement glinting in his eyes. He also had his left hand resting on Heero's right hand, holding onto the fingers loosely. Wufei smirked and wondered if Duo knew how obvious it was to others how he was beginning to feel about a certain cobalt eyes god.

"I don't think they care. I mean, look at them. Do they even know we're talking about them?" Wufei countered.

"We hear you perfectly fine."

Duo chuckled at Quatre's rather annoyed retort and saw that Heero was trying to conceal his smile. Wufei laughed outright, not bothering with tact.

"Then stop the madness before I get sick! There's only so much a guy can take, you know?"

With Wufei's gentle jab, so began the evening repartee among the four boys and one ex-god. The other patrons in the restaurant watched them indulgently, all of them thinking how it was wonderful to be young and in love.

+

Hilde watched from the shadows, her face buried deeply into her cloak. Her table at the restaurant was in the far corner where many could not notice her, but with a good view of the table with five boys. Her companion sat next to her seemingly interested in her stew, but she was also looking at the five boys.

"Sally, you are sure that we're only supposed to kill the two."

"That's what the guildmaster told us, but how are we supposed to kill just the two and let the other three live? I'm sure they'll try to defend each other. Look how close they are."

Hilde nodded in agreement. Their assignment had been to kill Duo and Trowa, otherwise known in the guild by their work names, the God of Death and the Silent Watcher. She could not understand how they could have failed in their assignment. They had the reputations as the best in their guild, always succeeding even in assignments that others had deemed utterly impossible. But orders were orders, and the guild had offered them a hefty sum after the previous group of assassins had failed to return alive.

But there had been conditions, of course. She and Sally were forbidden from killing the Angel or the Warrior. She had no idea what their real names were, but the that's what they were known as in the guild. The Angel was a green rookie from what she heard, all blond and nice, probably their weakest link. The Warrior, however, was almost as legendary as the God of Death himself in combat and skill. He would not be easy to keep alive if he chose to fight. And the fifth guy, they had no idea who he was or what he was like in combat. He just seemed very, very close to Duo.

"Our best strategy," Sally began in a low voice, "would be to separate Trowa and Duo from the rest of the group, but from what we have seen, it would be nigh impossible to get blue eyes away from the God of Death and the Angel seems attached to the Silent Watcher."

They had been following the group for three days now and still they had no viable strategy. All the constraints on not killing the Angel and the Warrior complicated a relatively simple if not completely dangerous assignment. And they had no idea if that fifth guy was expendable or not. The miracle was that the five of them had not yet recognized the fact that they were being tailed. Hilde was good and Sally was one of the best in tracking, but they had been apprehensive that they would have been noticed long before now.

"I could put a sleeping potion in their drinks and we can just kill the two while they are all asleep, but they don't ever drink out of the same cup twice or the same pitcher. They know all our tricks. And since the God of Death knows you and the Warrior knows me, we can't just saunter up to them like girls looking for a good time either."

Hilde nodded and pondered the situation. If they didn't kill the two soon, it would be they who would have to run. The possibility did not sit well in her stomach – she hated running.

"So what do we do?"

"Watch and wait. That's all we can do for now."

So they sat in their dark corner, sipping their wine and eating their stews, waiting for someone in the group to make a mistake.

+

Relena sighed as she felt her lovely leather boots sink into the mud and soak into her silk stockings. The town was a miserable, little place filled with vermin and other unpleasant bugs, but she had to warn Heero. She had to tell him that her sisters were plotting against him and his lover. She imagined her sisters would not be happy with this course of action either, but after everything that had happened, it did not matter. She could not stand idly by as her sisters once again ruined Heero's life.

Walking delicately through the mud, she looked up at the door. The lacquered wood was chipping at the corners and showing signs of age, the hinges rusted by many a rainstorm. Why Heero had chosen to come this way, she did not know, but she had never understood some of his idiosyncrasies. She looked at the door in distaste. The letters saying 'Mishia Restaurant' were almost all scraped off, the red paint practically bleeding in the incessant humidity. Breathing out through her mouth to avoid the stench of the mud and whatever else was mixed into it, she opened the door with one delicate hand and stepped into the restaurant.

At first glance, she did not see Heero because the lighting was dim. There were random lanterns and a fireplace in the middle with a pig rotating on it, but they did not help with the lighting. When her eyes adjusted, she saw Heero at one of the tables near the spit, his hand wrapped in another's. He looked reserved, but she could sense that his pain was considerably less than the last time they had spoken.

He had not sensed her presence, but he was a mortal now, so it was to be expected. Gathering her courage and her skirts, she walked over to the table where Heero was, her steps measured and careful. When she was close enough to the table to reach out and touch Heero, he suddenly turned his head and saw her. She saw his eyes widen in surprise and she began to smile warmly. There was no trace of malice or the previous pain in those blue eyes, but a long missed look of quiet contentment.

"Heero, I have some news for-"

Relena never finished her sentence for as soon as she had opened her mouth, the one holding Heero's hand had bolted from his seat and grasped her by her upper arm. One of the others at the table had also stood with a disbelieving and wary look in his one green eye uncovered by his long brown hair while the other two merely stared at her like she was a ghost. Heero was watching with confused interest, not quite knowing why Duo and his friends were acting so strangely.

"You!"

It was a hissed whisper filled with venom and Relena flinched from the sheer force of anger behind the word. The grip on her arm tightened and she tried to shake her arm out of the bruising hand, but it was firmly grasped. She was about to use the last resort to pull out of the situation when Heero stood and separated her from her assaulter.

"What is the matter with you?" Relena spat out from the relative safety provided by Heero's shielding body. "You can't just grab a lady like that!"

"Fuck you! You hear me? Fuck you. You fucking dead woman! You are the reason why we are like this! So.."

Heero saw what Duo intended to do, but he could not stop it. His love was a professional assassin and moved faster than he did, especially now that he was a mortal. He watched as Duo reached around him to yank Relena out from his protection and bury a blade between her eyes. The restaurant patrons watched in horror, much like his companions at the table as the apparent murder of a lady took place. Heero did not notice the two darkly garbed figures at the corner of the restaurant make a hasty exit. He only saw Duo with rage blazing from his eyes digging the blade deep into Relena's startled face.

Suddenly, everything seemed to move faster. While the restaurant goers still gawked and gaped, Trowa and Wufei grabbed Duo by his arms and dragged him out as quickly as possible while Quatre gathered their belongings. Heero picked up Relena's body and followed them, ignoring the stuttering crowd behind him.

There would be a whole lot of explaining to do by both Heero and Duo when Relena came back to life once again.

+

[part 3] [part 5] [back to 0083's fic]