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 9

Everything must go to chaos for that is where everything began.

Prince Milliardo poured two glasses of vintage red wine into crystal glasses, being careful not to splash any onto his white jacket and shirt. His guest sat quietly by the table three feet beyond the bar, demurely tucking her legs underneath the full skirt of her blue and silver dress. He watched her through the reflection upon the wine glasses, assessing her short bluish black hair, clear blue eyes and full red lips without betraying his perusal. She was a beautiful lady, all poise and culture, exuding nobility as if it was a subtle perfume.

She had shown up when he had notified the right parties that Dorothy's quarries had been captured, telling him under no uncertain terms that she was the one in charge of the situation. Apparently, this lady outranked Dorothy and had more authority to help him to the throne. He would tread carefully around this beautiful woman; as his father had said so long ago, beauty blinded a man to the true dangers of a woman.

Turning with two glasses held in his gloved hands, Milliardo smiled politely and made the short walk to the lady to offer her one of the glasses. She took it in her soft but firm hands, nodding at him as if he were a servant. However, Milliardo did not show his irritation at her condescension. It was time for diplomacy, not rank throwing.

"My lady, may I say you are the most elegant creature I have ever seen."

The first rule to dealing with a high born lady was the flattery. No matter how hard or calculating a woman was, compliments always broke the ice nicely.

"Do not patronize me, my young prince."

This time, Milliardo did grimace a little. She was not open to his friendly overtures at all, even disdaining the much oft used charm of his.

"I apologize, my lady, but you are stunning. But we are here for business, not flattery."

"Yes," the lady said, "I'm here to get the two you have captured. Please, would you escort them to this room?"

"Of course, my lady. But before I do, may I please have the wondrous pleasure of knowing your name?"

A short laugh taunted his most charming request and set Milliardo further on edge. He did not like being laughed at, even by ladies as beautiful as this one before him.

"Call me Noin."

"Lady Noin," Milliardo said keeping his voice calm and smooth, "it is with pleasure that I present you with your wishes."

He signaled the guard at the door to his room, giving him a silent command to bring the two boys to the room. The guard left quickly, leaving him and the lady Noin alone in silence. Milliardo sipped his wine to give himself something to do. It seemed that the lady was not fond of small talk, or any kind of conversation for that matter.

When the two captured boys arrived bound in chains, it was with some relief that Milliardo greeted them. He had never been at a loss for words, especially when dealing with the fairer sex and they provided some release from the silent tension.

"Welcome to my sitting room, gentlemen."

Duo snorted at the urbane greeting, letting Milliardo know exactly what he thought about the whole situation. Heero, on the other hand, had been alive far longer and knew how to deal with shallow civility when the situation called for it.

"Well," Heero drawled out in thinly veiled sarcasm that made Duo proud, "we're more of the prisoner types than actual gentlemen. And, we're not sitting. And we're not welcome."

"How.. droll."

Heero whipped his head to the lady who sat and watched them with a hint of amusement and fury lighting her blue eyes. Recognition was instantaneous.

"Noin. It has been.. ages."

Noin stood and walked up to Heero, completely ignoring the other mortals in the room with a contempt that was no longer veiled. The closer she got to Heero, the more she could feel her rage at the whole mess at hand. When she was no more than an arm's length from Heero, she stopped to calm the fury in her heart.

"Heero.. you certainly.. don't look different, do you."

"Mortality isn't as much of a burden as you thought, Noin."

The two of them stared at each other like mortal enemies, their eyes shooting off sparks that could have set the room on fire. Duo watched warily, never having seen Heero so viciously antagonistic of anyone. Milliardo could only frown at his lady guest and his unusual prisoner in curiosity and confusion, knowing that there was a history between the two that ran deeper than oceans.

"You just had to cause all this trouble, didn't you. Couldn"t let things be."

"I did what needed to be done."

"Oh really," Noin said with deep disdain, "you thought it fair to trade the order and well being of the entire universe for your little mortal. I always knew you were selfish, but this goes beyond selfish."

"Look, lady," Duo broke in, not able to keep his mouth shut at Noin's insulting comments, "if you have ever been in love, you would understand."

The icy look that Noin threw at Duo would have made lesser mortals quail in their dirty boots, but Duo faced off against her like an equal. It only infuriated her more.

"Love.. what a trite little emotion. An excuse to act the fool, an emotion to sow discord, a feeling to inspire pity."

As if wanting to get a foul taste out of her mouth, Noin swallowed the wine in her glass in one large gulp, foregoing the ladylike sipping in which she usually indulged. She stared hard at this mortal Heero had chosen in disgust, wanting nothing more than to make him suffer for the chaos he had caused within the pattern. But she could not do anything to him yet. The time was not right, he was free from her and she could not strangle him with her hands.

"Foolish mortal, foolish Heero.. In three days, you two will cease to exist. I will be rid of you two."

"You are welcome to try, but you will not succeed. Do you think I'll lose Duo after finding him, after all that we've been through?"

Noin laughed.

"Heero, when did you become so.. melodramatic? After all you've been through? It has been less than five months since you used the Pendulum! A sliver of time! You have become a mortal completely, haven't you. I do pity you."

The glower that Heero graced upon Noin did not phase her one bit and she brushed it off before turning on her heels, facing away from him. With sardonic amusement marring her smooth voice, she continued to berate Heero.

"After your first folly at loving a mortal, I thought you knew better. After all that trouble we went through to free you from that mortal, you still couldn't let go. Now, you're mired so deep in this mortal that you can't even think like one of us anymore. It's sad, Heero, truly sad to see one of my family fallen so low."

"Shut up, Noin. Don't you ever talk about.."

Duo glanced at Heero's face and saw the lines of pain and rage that he had not seen since the first moments of their meeting. Something Noin had said must have set him off, made him remember something so unpleasant that the pain he had banished was coming back. But before Duo could yell at Noin for her insensitivity or question Heero about it, Noin signaled to Milliardo to take them away.

+

The dungeon was like any other dank, musky hole in the ground, bad odors permeating every last damp brick. Duo sat against the wall facing the bars, his head resting on Heero's shoulder and his hand rubbing lazy circles around Heero's tense thigh. He was replaying the conversation that Heero had with Noin in his mind, dissecting and piecing together various pieces of information that he had gathered along with what he remembered of his past life. He could feel the memory tickling him in the back of his mind, dancing and lurking for him to bring it to light.

"Duo, what are you thinking of?"

The gentle touch of Heero's hand against his face did not stop his trains of thought ,but it did distract him for a moment. Shrugging his shoulders, Duo let out a noncommittal sound that could have meant anything.

"You're okay? Not nervous about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow?" Duo said absently.

"Yes, remember tomorrow? We're getting out of this dungeon as per the plan?"

"Oh yeah. No. Not nervous."

Heero watched his lover answer him in short phrases, not even brothering to hide that his thoughts were far away. His eyes were distant, looking past the dungeon and the bars, seeing things that were not before them.

"Heero.. something.. I know there is something I have to remember.."

Tightening his arm around Duo's waist, Heero asked him without words what it was that had him so troubled.

"Something happened to you and your past lover.. something that really hurt you and made me resent you. I keep seeing the cave, lit in rose colors and.. you, I see you with sorrow etched onto your face. Why is that? What happened?"

Heero was silent, his face grim and thoughtful. He had thought that Duo's soul had forgotten about that experience, that it would never have to be mentioned again. But Noin had to jog his memory as well as give Duo a hint to the past that should not be recalled. Heero looked at his lover askance, debating whether or not to refresh his lover's past self's recollection of that final moment in the cave. If told wrongly, it could be very damaging to their relationship now, something that he could not allow.

"Must you know, Duo?"

"I want to," Duo replied quietly, "but you don't have to tell me if it's that bad. Maybe some things are best left alone."

Heero could tell that Duo wanted to know badly, that he wanted to hear what had happened. As much as Duo told him over and over that the past did not matter, that he was not that person from fifteen hundred years ago, he wanted to know everything about him. To Duo, anything that had to do with Heero was worth knowing, whether it was bad or good. Sighing in defeat, Heero decided that Duo had a right to know, perhaps even a right to hate him.

"The cave.. was where my past lover died."

Although Duo had suspected as much, it was still a shock to hear Heero say it with such regret and loss in his voice. It was as if it had happened yesterday, not all those years ago from the amount of pain in Heero's tone. It bothered Duo that someone else had mattered so much to Heero, even if he had been dead for a long time and the soul within him was the same as the past incarnation. It was petty, Duo knew, but he could not help the little bit of jealousy that welled up every time that Heero talked of the past lover.

"Did he die hating you?"

"Yes."

Duo waited for Heero to continue. It was a long while before Heero could put words to the events from that cave.

"We.." Heero cleared his throat and began again, this time in a stronger voice devoid of any emotions.

"We were just having fun, he and I. Then we went to that cave.. he wanted to see the rose quartz in there, how the lights played off the rocks to make this beautiful light show. But, when we went in, Noin was waiting for us."

Duo could almost see it in his mind. The joyously innocent redhead bouncing into the cave with Heero in tow only to be stopped dead by the cold blue eyes of the woman they had encountered in Milliardo's room.

"She was there to tell me that I had to choose. Relena had fated him to die that very day, but Noin had made it worse. Noin gave the choice of death to me. She said that he would die that day no matter what, but it would be up to me to choose how he would die. There were so many possibilities, each death seemingly more painful than the last. I pleaded with her, begged her, yelled at her, but nothing would sway her. He would die and it was only out of familial ties that Noin would let me choose his death."

Heero felt Duo grip his hand tightly, crushing the bones of his hands together and cutting off the circulation to his fingers. He did not know whether Duo was giving him support or just expressing his anger, but he could not stop now.

"So I chose to let him die in the least painful way possible, for him to just slip away. Just like sleeping. But he could not understand why I could not save him, why I could not just whisk him away from the terrible fate before him. He.. he could not forgive me for giving into Noin. For letting him die. He really did hate me before he died, I think. He thought I chose the Fate's will before him. And you know, I did choose Noin's ultimatum. I didn't try hard enough to keep him alive. So, I couldn't forgive myself either. I never have."

The words faded and Heero looked down onto his lap, waiting for Duo's reaction. What would he do? What would he say? He could not raise his head to meet Duo's eyes. He was too afraid to see condemnation in his beautiful violet eyes. When Duo said nothing for a long time, Heero closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable. Then he felt Duo put his arms around his shoulders and draw him close. In shock, Heero laid his head against Duo's chest and listened to his lover's voice rumbling in his chest.

"Heero.. Heero.. I never imagined.. I.. how can I deserve you after that? How could my past idiot self not understand your pain, your heart?"

It was shocking to Heero that Duo was not blaming him for his past actions, that he was not even considering being angry with him for choosing his death for his past self. Did he not say that he felt the resentment deep within his soul? Wasn't that what had made Duo hate him at first, that and the fact that he could not choose?

"Are.. are you forgiving me, Duo?"

"You idiot," Duo replied, burying his head deeper into Heero's hair, "you total fucking idiot.. there is nothing to forgive. The Fates really fucked you over, like they did me. Even though you weren't in their control, they played with you and made you suffer. It's unforgivable. What they made you do.. I don't even have the words to tell you how sorry I am that my past self caused you so much pain."

Heero tightened his hold on Duo and felt his lover doing the same. They clung to each other in a desperate attempt to erase the sorrow of the past.

"I love you so, Duo Maxwell. More than that, I finally understand what it is to love you."

Smiling, Duo responded by placing a small kiss on Heero's lips.

"Love you too, Heero. More than I wanted to, less than I should."

As they held each other and whispered words of love to each other, they finally buried the past in the darkness of the dungeon, letting go of the painful past and opening themselves up fully to the possibilities of the future.

+

"Noin, I never realized that you were so unkind. How could you say that to Heero? How can you be thinking about using the Raduleum on him?"

Relena paced up and down Milliardo's sitting room, her agitation showing too clearly in her aggravated movements. Her sister merely sat and watched her as she moved about, showing that she did not care much for Relena's opinions.

"I never even considered that you would use the Raduleum. It was forbidden to even us by the family! It's not right and you know it, Noin."

A bored and feigned yawn was the only response Relena received from her older sister and it infuriated her even more. The level of her anger was so high that she could not even speak, but just stare maliciously at her sister.

"Relena, my dear," Noin said when it was clear Relena could not continue, "you are not looking at the bigger picture. Again. This is for the universal order. I did not decide this casually, but with much regret and hesitation. I will not enjoy this, but some things must be done."

"Get off your high horse, Noin. You are just doing this to salvage your pride! You just can't let it go, can you?"

"My pride? Mine? What of yours when you gave Heero the Pendulum? And what of Heero's when he just decided to use it for the love of a foolish mortal? How dare you speak to me of pride when it was you and Heero who began this mess!"

For once, Relena surprised Noin by stalking up to her and physically grabbing her by the shoulders and giving her a rough shake. Relena had never resorted to violence of any sort and Noin had never been treated so badly. In fact, Noin was one of the very few gods who had never been killed.

"Shut up, Noin! We began this by killing Heero's lover! We made this happen. I set the path to his death out of jealousy and you made Heero choose out of vanity. We are the ones to blame. Heero and Duo.. they are just victims to our pride."

"How prettily you argue, Relena. But none of that really matters now. The tapestry must be brought to order. They must be erased. It isn't about vengeance or pride anymore, Relena, but about the world."

"I don't care!" Relena spat heatedly, "and I will do everything I can to stand in your way, dear sister. Know this, Noin and don't forget to inform Dorothy. I am against you. I will not allow you to harm Heero or Duo. I will make sure the Raduleum fails."

Relena did not bother to stay to hear her sister's reply to her threatening promise and stomped out of Milliardo's sitting room. Noin sat in her chair and watched her sister go in anger and determination, her face twisted in disappointment. It would not do to have in fighting at this stage of the mess, but that was exactly what she had. In frustration, Noin threw her empty wine glass onto the floor, letting the delicate crystal shatter into a myriad of pieces on the marble.

"Damn it. Damn it all."

Having had enough frustration for one day, Noin shimmered out of the room in a display of her godly powers and into her own sanctuary deep in the mountains of an unknown country. She had to make the Raduleum work. Nothing could go wrong.

With that in mind, Noin busily set the threads of fate spinning, trying to outmaneuver her own sister's chosen paths. She would make sure that all mortals affected by the chaos of Heero and his mortal dance the tune she set.

+

Furtive movements within the shadow failed to register in the hopelessly tired minds of the palace guards and two assassins slipped through the outer layer of security of the castle. Sally maneuvered her body between the shadows, flitting in and out of darkness with practiced ease while Hilde followed at a much more sedate pace. They had to be in position before daybreak for as soon as the sun broke over the horizon, Heero and Duo would be freed from their dungeon.

Once again, Sally ran the logistics of the castle grounds through her mind, letting the training she received from the guild wash through her. She and the others had all pooled their collective knowledge about Milliardo's castles, memorizing each layout and planning routes for them. This castle that Heero and Duo had been brought to was one of the ones they had not fully known about and Sally did not know exactly where the dungeons were. The plan was getting hazier by the moment, but it was too soon to give up in despair.

A short pause brought Hilde back on pace with Sally and they moved together to yet another dark shadow within the courtyard. Their black clothes covered them perfectly in this dark and moonless night, but the total lack of light from the sky was limiting their vision. Torch lights were too bright and inconsistent, giving everything a rusty and rough look. This was no good. They had very little vision, a sketchy at best idea of the castle and daybreak was fast approaching. And still, they were nowhere near the dungeons.

Signaling to Sally, Hilde moved ahead of her, using her smaller and more agile body to slip into a crack between the walls to reach the other side of the courtyard. Sally waited tensely for Hilde's return, standing very still in the dark while her partner scouted the other side. When it seemed that time was running short, Hilde returned and shook her head in a sad negative way, telling her that she had not found a way into the dungeons from the other side.

Stifling a sigh of frustration, Sally motioned to Hilde to follow and then they were off again, making their way across the castle grounds, looking for a way into the castle without giving off an alarm. No matter what, they would not fail Heero and Duo.

+

[part 8] [part 10] [back to 0083's fic]