Author: 0083
Disclaimer: i don't own gwing.. my bad. again.
Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3, wufei's single, ladies!
Genre: AU, fantasy, aka no spoilers
Warning: this is for all the parts, generalized. look out for language abuse, strange philosophical rants, random tidbits and above all, ANGST ANGST ANGST
Notes: i didn't have time to get it betaed or even reread it, so please excuse plot holes, grammatical ickiness and other unforgivable acts of desecration.

Evergreen + Part 7

Death comes to us all, but life only comes to those who seek it.

The crispness of the autumn air was more biting than refreshing to the wearied travelers walking on the barely maintained dirt road leading to the capital city. The sun was up, but it did not warm anyone with its weak rays and the wind was picking up considerably as time went by. It was nearly the end of the third month of running for this particular group of eclectic travelers and each showed the wear and tear of the harsh life they had suffered.

Duo and Heero walked hand in hand, their digits clinging to each other more for comfort and support than warmth. The weather was a far cry from the humid heat they had met under; the heat had given way to this chilly weather nearly two weeks ago. But they had grown closer, so much more than anyone in their group had expected. In the time of stress, their relationship had blossomed until the love they felt for each other seemed a tangible and solid thing.

Behind them walked an equally tired couple, also holding hands. Trowa's bangs which had defied gravity and tornado gusts now hung in limp dregs, the brown locks having lost their rebellious nature sometime during this harsh journey. Next to him, his short blond lover trudged on in silence, his sunny disposition long put to rest. However, their dismal situation did not put a damper on their soft and glowing love, but strengthened it like tempered steel.

Bringing up the rear to this weary pack was an unlikely trio of Wufei, Sally and Hilde. The two women flanked the lone boy like bookends, eyeing each other over his tired head in silent communication. There was no love lost here, not since the day the two women had walked into their private world by the firelight nearly three months ago. It had been Wufei who had most strenuously objected to their alliance, citing numerous logical reasons and some idiotic ones. Ever since then, these three had been on edge with each other, none giving in to compromise.

The trees shed their bright and colorful leaves, letting them dance on the breeze. Had it not been for their extreme exhaustion and the running, they would have appreciated the beauty of the nature surrounding them. But such was not the case and it was only with great effort that Wufei managed to sound civil.

"How long are you two going to hover over me?"

His low growling voice did nothing to intimidate Sally, but Hilde shrank back a couple of inches.

"How long are you going to be a grumpy priss?"

The growling rose a couple of decibels at Sally's pert and teasing comment. It wasn't that he did not like Sally or Hilde, but they somehow found ways to get on his nerves. He had no idea how they did it or why, just that they did it so regularly that it was becoming a ritual.

"Why did you come with us again?"

"Because," Sally replied to the question Wufei asked her every single day, "we don't want to die."

Silence fell again as their verbal sparring ended. Not that it mattered, but Wufei rather enjoyed having someone to talk to who wasn't mired in a deep relationship. Although his friends did not ignore him and he was quite happy for them, it was different. Duo was so in love with Heero and had finally realized it. His friend had thrown away all reservations and mistrust of the ex-god and had whole heartedly admitted his love to everyone by the camp fire in that one fateful night. And then Quatre and Trowa had finally admitted to everyone what everyone had already known.

That night had been filled with so many confessions, revelations and just plain new information that Wufei had felt his brain burst a major artery. Gods, Fates, allies, love and fear. Take them all, mix in a bag and shake vigorously to achieve complete chaos.

Wufei grumbled under his breath as his thoughts took him back over the past three months. It had been hectic at first with the planning and integrating the new members to their group. But then it seemed everything had conspired against them and nothing had worked out.

Heero and Duo's plan to confront the Fates had not borne any results so far, none of them having even glimpsed the elusive gods in their long trek over mountains, rivers and gods know what else. They had been jumped numerous times by both the assassin and the murderer guilds, chased around by the police and the army and had been chased out of more towns than they could clearly recall. Even though Heero assured them often that Relena was doing all she could to help them out by rethreading their destinies to match Duo and Heero's intentions, it had not been easy. The running was taking a severe toll on everyone.

"Hey," Wufei called out when the silence became unbearable even for him, "it"s time to rest. I think Hilde is beginning to sleep on her feet."

Only a slight wince indicated that Wufei had felt the indignant stab of Hilde's elbow into his ribs, but his pain was well worth it. Immediately, everyone halted and agreed with him on resting. Wufei looked at his traveling companions and realized that they had all been waiting for some excuse to rest; for that, he was doubly glad that he had suggested it.

Seven weary bodies slumped to the camp ground only a half a mile off from the road. They dug into the bags for food and water, but there was not much of anything. They had not gone into a town for a few days in fear of endangering innocent people and their supplies were running low. Even with their daily hunt for food, it was not enough.

"Shit. There's a colony of fuzzies on my bread.."

Duo's complaint washed over everyone without making a single dent. All their food was like that, none of it in perfect condition. It was just barely edible, but it was all they had for now.

"I can't believe that after three months, we still can't find the fucking Fates. Why can't Relena find them?"

Quatre shrugged delicately at Duo's non-too-polite inquiry as he pondered the same question. Relena had assured them that she would do her best to hinder her sisters and help them out and so far, it seemed to have worked only partially. None of them were dead, none of them had betrayed Heero or Duo to the authorities and nothing too ugly had happened in their little group. In fact, it had been Relena who had threaded Sally and Hilde into their group. However, they were no closer to resolving their problem than they were three months ago.

"We have to be patient, Duo. Gods are elusive creatures."

A crude snort was all Heero received as response from Duo. He understood that Duo wanted to find the Fates and straighten out this mess one way or another as soon as possible, but there was nothing they could do to facilitate finding their whereabouts. Even when he had been a god, it had been impossible to find the Fates if they did not want to be found. Also, he was quite sure that Dorothy and Noin were avoiding Relena as much as possible as well, knowing that the future weaver was not on board with their plans.

"I'm sorry, Heero," Duo said contritely after a moment, "but I just can't stand all this walking and not knowing. I want to figure this shit out fast, not only for our sake, but for our friends. I mean, look at them! They all look like death dragged them over a field of pointy and sharp rocks."

"Thank you for that lovely description," Sally replied rather tartly in Heero's place, "but I disagree with you about how I look. I'm still quite lovely. And we chose to come with you so it's not your fault that we're all tired."

Duo let out a laugh and spoke to Sally without disguising his frustration.

"Oh, you chose to come with us? Haven't you learned anything? None of you chose anything! Relena did. The only people who chose to do something are me and Heero."

"That," Sally said scathingly, "means nothing to me. I'm here to help. Whether I chose it or not, my sentiment does not change. Even puppets can sometimes think on their own."

Somehow, it was Heero who defused the situation.

"Sally, Duo does not mean to demean your choices. In fact, we appreciate your company quite a lot. My love is just tired and a bit cranky."

"Cranky? What, am I a kid with the colic or something? Couldn't you have at least said irritable or something?"

"Miffed," Trowa jumped into the fray without batting an eye, "would be my word."

"Cantankerous." Wufei said without cracking a smile.

"Bitchy." That was from Quatre, the well spoken one of the bunch.

"Crabby." Hilde didn"t even miss a beat.

"Ornery." Sally finished with a flourish and a triumphant grin.

Five seconds later, everyone was laughing, including Duo. The tiredness seeped away a little and their short but much needed moment of hilarity took over. For a short time, they verbally sparred with each other light heartedly, forgetting about Fates, destiny and their moldy bread.

For a while, the world seemed beautiful again.

+

Heero looked around the dark forest, trying to discern where his lover was. After their dinner of rabbits and more moldy bread, his lover had taken off from their camp site with a feeble excuse about wanting to be alone. Heero had caught that cautious and gentle look his lover had thrown at him just before he had disappeared into the darkness and had followed. His lover wanted to be alone with him and he would not disappoint.

The steady footsteps took Heero farther from the camp site until he could no longer make out the flickering of the fire. He walked softly, but made enough noise to let Duo know that he was out there. With assassins and the police out looking for them, it would be downright dangerous and stupid to sneak up on his lover. A few more yards later, he heard Duo's voice, gently singing into the dark night.

"Lost beyond the horizon, I search for you.."

Duo's voice held a longing and a heartbreaking kind of love as he softly sang the words to an old ballad. Heero recalled this one rather clearly. It had been written perhaps a couple centuries ago by a lovesick bard about a coldly beautiful princess. When he had first heard it, it had seemed to be filled with pain of unattainable love. Yet, Duo made it sound like a true love song.

"Following the fading starlight, I drift to you.."

Heero walked closer, knowing that Duo heard him. Sometimes, it seemed that Duo did not need these tell tale sounds to know that he was near. Ever since the day Duo had found out that he was free from destiny, he had unabashedly loved him, showing him affection and joy even through the tough times.

"Through this vast desert, I travel to you.."

Heero found himself standing directly behind Duo as he sang the final verse, his eyes trained on the twinkling stars above. Heero could never tire of his lover's eyes, the shade of violet that was so uniquely his. Even though they had not made love, they were as close as destined lovers could be, perhaps even closer. After all, they loved each other by choice, not by mandate.

"Lonely and dying, I thirst for you.."

The song ended and Duo turned to Heero, his eyes visibly reflecting the silhouette of his lover in their darkened irises. Heero lost himself for a moment, staring at his own reflection in his lover's eyes.

"I can't imagine how I ever thought you were the same as my former love."

The words were out before Heero could think about them. Too late, his eyes widened and he stared in horror at his lover. But Duo surprised him yet again.

"Can you tell the difference between me and him now?"

The panicked horror receded from Heero's eyes as he realized that Duo had not taken offense at his careless remark. Instead, he was asking earnestly without a hint of malice or resentment.

"I think," Heero replied with feeling, "that I knew you were not him from the beginning. I knew it, but I was blind to it by choice. For so long, I wanted what was lost, not what I could have. He was my past and you.. you are my future."

"I'm glad you finally see me, Heero. I love you for that, you know. I know it's hard to give up on a dream that you have had for so long. Instead of him, you got me."

Duo was surprised when Heero put his arms around his waist and drew him close. He felt Heero nuzzle his neck, breathing him in and sending shivers down his spine.

"I'm glad that it is you I have. I finally let go of a ghost and found something real. This is perfect, more so than I ever imagined."

"Really," Duo said, his voice tinged in laughter, "so it's your ideal to be running for you life with a bunch of vagrants?"

"As long as it's with you."

A small chuckle followed Heero's declaration. Both realized that they sounded like a cheap romance pedaled by bards across the kingdom, spouting words of love and commitment that seemed clich'd and trite. Yet, neither minded that they sounded like every other lover portrayed in books and poems because their words rang true.

Heero drew back slightly from Duo and met his eyes, letting the dim light of the stars shine between them. Slowly and carefully, Heero leaned in closer, his lips hovering scant hair's breadth away from Duo's. The small space between their lips tingled with anticipation and desire, the electric heat of their mutual love crackling in the air.

"Love you.."

Duo closed his lips upon Heero's after his softly spoken words, letting his mouth fit to Heero's in perfect harmony. The electricity that only hovered in the air now jumped through their bodies, jolting the two with intense desire. The kiss escalated with their mounting need, their hands now roaming the contours of each other's bodies in frenzied journey. Breathing became harsh and almost an obstacle to their need to be with each other and their bodies ground together until their bones creaked beneath the pressure.

Using self control that was almost inhuman, Heero managed to break away from the kiss for a moment, trying vainly to catch his breath. It was for naught, because every time he took much needed oxygen into his system, the heavy scent of passion and his lover flooded his senses. He could hear Duo's hitched breathing as well, just fueling on his desire to be with Duo more.

"We.. we haven't yet.."

Duo understood Heero's question without it finishing. It was true that they had not done anything more than desperately kiss and grope each other when time and circumstances permitted so far. It was hard to find time alone enough together to do anything more than that. Always, something interrupted or time just ran out on them. This time, in this small moment of solitude and desire, Duo wasn't about to let anything get in their way.

"About time, don't you think?"

Heero just crushed his lips to Duo's in response, knowing that his lover was as impatient and needy as he was. Tonight, they would make the time. Tonight, they would finally be together in body as well as in heart.

+

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