Okay, so this part seems just as pointless at this point as the one before it does. DON'T PANIC! I'm writing the next part as we speak, and whether or not it really seems like this, this part is incredibly valid for what's going to happen next. So pay attention, minna-san. And by the way, I *really* did not mean to end it like this. I swear. Blame the muse. <points> He's decided you all like cliffhangers.
Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: I'm in denial. They're all mine. They don't want to be, but still they're all mine.
Warnings: yaoi, OOC, another cliffhanger, and NO DEATH SO DON'T GET WORRIED!
Pairings: 1x2 in this part.
Archive: If you don't know where this things is archived you haven't been paying attention. <blows raspberry>

*frogs* = thoughts/emphasis

Pleas note that fish has changed to frogs. Evolution has run its course, and we have now progressed on to amphibians. Or are frogs reptiles? I think they're amphibians... Oh, I don't know...

Past Encounters
Part Twelve: If I have to die

Having seen Duo and Heero fight before, even if he had watched the battle not knowing who each was, Treize knew that the fight between them was likely to go on for several hours, possibly even into the night.

At least, Heero thought sourly, he supposed that was the reason the guards had woken him up and frog-marched him through the halls of the palace before the sun was anywhere near the horizon. He absently tested the manacles on his wrists and concluded that while they were sturdy, if he concentrated for a bit he would get out of them one way or another. All he had to do was find the weak spot in the chain connecting them, and once they were separated it would be simple enough use one of the numerous techniques J had taught him for breaking out of chains.

He smirked to himself, wondering whether Duo would pick the locks.

Eventually they came to a room where the guards took the manacles off his hands and shoved him inside, locking the door after him. Considering the opulence that usually infested the palaces of all the four monarchies, this room was particularly bare; a simple mahogany table sat in the center of the room while no portraits adorned the red-and-gold-leaf walls. It was the table that caught Heero's attention instantly, however -- or rather, what was on it.

Two unsheathed swords lay across it. One he recognized as his own; the other he could only assume was Duo's. He reached out and ran his fingers over the familiar plain hilt, noting all its familiar grooves and ridges.

A door on the opposite side of the room swung open, and Heero looked up in time to see several more guards shove a beautiful braided man through the door.

"Hey! Watch where you're shovin' me, man!"

Heero felt his eyes sting as he watched his lover yell at the closing door, braid flying around him in a whip-like motion as he pivoted. He had struggled with himself long after his father had left his cell last night, wondering how he was going to suppress the instincts he had trained into himself for so many years. Only to find there was no other solution than time, time he didn't have.

"Hmph. Fine, ignore me then."

Duo was scowling at the door. Then he stuck his tongue out at it and swung around. His eyes widened momentarily when he saw Heero, but then narrowed on the swords he stood beside.

Slowly the other boy moved forwards, for once all trace of jocularity gone from his face. He ran his finger up the flat of his blade, coming to stand beside Heero, still staring at the swords.

"It's really happening, isn't it?" There was a kind of wonder in his voice.

Heero had to clear his throat, since it felt suspiciously hoarse. "Yes, Duo," he said.

"One of us is going to die today."

Heero flinched.

"Don't be like that. You know it's going to happen." Duo fell silent for a moment, then sighed. "I did a lot of thinking last night."

"Me too."

"I . . . I'm not sure how to say this. I was never really comfortable with sappy stuff... Oh, what the hell. I'll go ahead and say it anyway. I love you, Heero."

Heero watched his lover with almost frightened eyes as he spoke, wondering warily what this was about. He couldn't be . . . he couldn't be saying goodbye, could he? No, he couldn't say goodbye, he couldn't Duo wasn't going to die today -- -- or, knowing his training, was he? No words would come to the blue-eyed man as Duo continued speaking.

"When I was younger, when my parents died, I thought that I would never find someone else who I would love as much as them. I mean, they raised me differently to all other nobles -- I never had a wet nurse, I saw them every day, my father taught me more than etiquette . . . but they died. And they were gone, and nobody else cared. I had to learn to be tough, not to let my feelings show, to hide behind fake smiles and diplomacy. I hated it. And then I met you, in a rather unusual manner, I might admit. And . . . I didn't know who you were, but you didn't follow the rules. You made a perfunctory bow in the direction of them and then went right on and did what you wanted... And you helped me do the same thing. Even when we were apart, you still kept on helping me, and I... Aw, hell, Heero, this is getting sappy as syrup... "

Duo shut his eyes briefly, never once having looked directly at the man staring at him, and then opened his eyes and deliberately raised his head to Heero's gaze. For once, his face was completely open, showing the fear there, and the love, and the knowledge that no matter what they'd done it had all been for nothing. Tears stood in his violet eyes, but did not fall. His hair was messy and falling out of its perpetual braid. The small smudges of dirt on his cheeks and brow confirmed Heero's suspicions that his treatment had not been as kind as the Prince of Ylloh's. There was something indefinable swimming around in his eyes as well, something that sent shivers down Heero's spine and made Duo look like a young soldier saying goodbye to his family before going to war and an old veteran coming back from the horrors and a young would-be lover just after telling their crush of their feelings.

To Heero, he had never looked more beautiful.

Then Duo said, without the hesitant tone that had laced his previous speech, "If I have to die by anyone's hand then I am glad it is yours."

"Fuck no! You are not going to die!" The sentence jerked Heero out of his temporary paralysis while listening and watching the only person he had ever truly loved speak.

Duo smiled sadly. "You really think so?"

The question was loaded, and looking at him, Heero suddenly realized that Duo knew. How he knew, the other boy did not know, but he knew. He knew Heero's soldier mindset. He knew that he lost himself in battle. He knew that no matter how hard the Heero who loved him might try, most likely it would not be enough to stop the killing blow.

Heero implored him with his eyes not to give up when his mouth would not come out with anything. And Duo looked straight back, and smiled.

"I'm not giving up without a fight," he said softly. "But I wanted you to know that whoever wins, I love you. And that I expected to die in a fight, at the hands of some other soldier. And you know what, Heero?" He tilted his head to the side. "Even before I met you, I had heard about you. I had heard the name 'Heero'. Funny how I didn't connect the two of you until you started speaking about Quatre and Trowa. But even before I knew I loved you, I wanted to die at your hand, in a battle somewhere, not at some peasant's with a pike. I figured it would be the most glorious end I could get. So what I wanted to tell you is that, whatever happens, I don't regret any of this. Not even this fight." Suddenly Duo stepped forward, and his arms went around Heero, nuzzling his head into his lover's chest. Heero automatically crushed him close. "Whatever happens, I love you," Duo said, his words muffled by the other boy's chest.

Heero stared at the far wall, clutching his lover close. What Duo had just said... It was more than he ever could. It was more than he ever deserved. "I love you," he whispered hopelessly, knowing with blunt certainty that one of them would be dead before the sun went down.

++

GYAAAHH! I did it again! I am *soooooooo* sorry! I swear, I don't keep meaning to end on cliffhangers, I just . . . do! I promise, I *will* have the next part out ASAP. This one WILL contain the fight and its result. I swear!
A note: you might think it odd that I haven't made Heero stronger than Duo in this fic. The reason for this is simple: I believe Heero was genetically manipulated (although that would involve having to clone the originally Heero and muck around with the zygote before the cells differentiate -- unless Heero's original parents were mad scientists) so in the series that's where he gets his strength from. No possibility for genetic manipulation -- poof! no extra strength. So while Duo's a bit faster, Heero's a got a longer reach to even it out.
Another note: also, I mentioned in here that Duo's upbringing was very different to those of other nobles at the time. I wasn't kidding, folks. Nobles in the Dark Ages and Medieval times relied on servants to raise their children for them and only paid real attention to them when the time came to either have them inherit their birthright or get married off. That Duo was raised totally by his parents with no intervention from servants of any kind (not even a wet nurse!) would have been almost unheard of among the nobility.
PS: As a preview, if you read the warning list on the next part you will see that nowhere within it does it contain the word 'death'... I'm not that cruel! Plus I've got enough planned out to make this an epic!  

[part 11] [part 13] [back to Anria's fic]