Okay, so as promised in this part all is revealed! Yay! But, no folks, it's nowhere near the end yet. Sorry.
Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: I'm in denial. They're all mine. Right now they might be happy to be --; just.
Warnings: yaoi, violence, OOC, sap, little bit of language.
Pairings: 1x2 in this part.

[frogs] = flashback speech

Past Encounters

Part Thirteen : Ever

Stripped down to breeches and undershirts for freedom of movement, Duo and Heero faced each other in front of the throne, bare swords in their right hands. Both of them were making a concerted effort not to look at Treize, smirking to the side, and trying to memorize what the other looked like before the fight began.

The royal families of the four kingdoms sat in their thrones around the room, attention focused on the two nobles standing in the center. Relena kept sobbing into a handkerchief, her brother alternating between comforting her and glaring daggers at Heero. Odin kept his face impassive, while the other monarchs not so personally involved with this trial looked on with bored faces. It was a little unnerving to have all those people staring at you, Heero thought.

King Treize stood, still smirking, and addressed the two men. "Remember as you fight that whoever wins is considered absolved from the crime of treason, while whoever loses . . . well, their life is forfeit."

He sat down again, then said, "You may begin."

Duo lunged at Heero instantly, and his lover barely managed to dodge a potentially fatal thrust in time. He responded with a well-practiced stroke that aimed for Duo's unguarded midsection, only to have it parried with the inhuman speed the braided nobleman was known for.

There was something different about this fight when compared to the others they had had. When wearing full armor, they had to contend with the weight of that was well as the claustrophobia it tended to induce, and that would wear the fighter down more quickly than the actual fight itself. When they had fought in fencing garb, the thickly padded cloth restricted their movement and slowed the reflexes, while heating up so much that the duelers were more likely to drop from heat exhaustion than a good riposte.

But now they fought in clothes which did not impede movement. They had only one layer of cloth between them and the elements, and that layer allowed them to move freely and cool more quickly.

The results of this was that not only could they fight for longer, but they could fight with their true skill.

Even to those who had seen the battles between them at the tournament found themselves gaping in awe once all hindrances were stripped away. Duo's incredible speed and reflexes came to the foreground, as did Heero's endurance and the advantage his longer reach gave him. Equal in strength, they danced back and forth, exchanging thrust, parry and riposte with an ease many people who studied all their lives would never obtain. Several hits were scored; minor grazes and cuts along the skin, but nothing that would really hinder the other's performance in any way.

It went on for hours. Treize ordered a buffet table to be placed at one end of the hall behind a screen so that the hungry monarchs could gather their food and return to their places to continue watching the battle. King Odin was almost going crazy trying not to puff up with pride at the skill his son displayed. In the fight itself, Heero slipped into his soldier mindset despite trying to fight it. Parry the thrust, carry through to a riposte, return the stroke, look for an opening. The first three were done with excellent precision and skill, but Duo never gave him an opening, which the part of Heero that lived and loved and never wanted to fight again cheered at.

Tactics came into play. He tried to back Duo up into a corner; Duo ducked and swung away, leaving him to follow. He tried maneuvering him to trip over the uneven parts of the stone floor; Duo kept his balance. He tried to move so he could grab the braid and use it as leverage; Duo never let him anywhere near it. Despite fighting it as hard as he could, Heero felt the soldier getting stronger, taking over more and more and focusing on the mission: killing Duo. He tried to retain as much control as possible without taking his concentration away from the fight and leaving an opening, but that was just plain impossible. Heero watched out of the back of his mind as his body took over and began battling all the more ferociously. He held his breath, but Duo never faltered.

And as the sun was approaching the horizon and casting long red-orange shadows in the hall, it all came to an end.

Duo gave an opening.

The soldier yelled in triumph as he saw it. Duo had swung his arm for a slash at Heero's midsection, which had been easily parried and his sword arm knocked powerfully to the side, leaving his entire torso exposed. Taking nearly all his strength, Heero reversed the direction of swing of the four foot sword and swung it towards Duo's neck, intending to cut through flesh and bone and send the head with its beautiful violet eyes and chestnut braid falling and bouncing to the floor, letting the body crumple as blood poured from the stump that was once its neck --;

NO!

The Heero who loved Duo made a final last effort, slamming his way into the forefront of Heero's mind and using all the remaining strength in the body to halt the swing of the sword, letting it come to rest just beside Duo's neck, as though it had been laid to rest on his shoulder.

Chest heaving, Heero stared at Duo, watching as that small, sad smile made its way onto his face and his sword arm, still clutching the blade in its hand, fell to rest at his side.

Slow clapping sounded in his ears.

Despite never taking his eyes off Duo, Heero could see King Treize rise to his feet, still clapping sardonically. "Well done, Prince Yuy," he said. "It appears you have won the battle. And now, to finish it: kill the traitor."

Heero's hand did not move.

Treize frowned. "What are you waiting for, Yuy?" he demanded. "Kill the traitor and accept your freedom. Kill Duke Maxwell."

Why . . . why don't I...

There was something off about his victory. Heero searched Duo's eyes.

I didn't knock your arm away that hard. You have the speed to stop me. I know you do.

Prussian stared hard into cobalt, searching for an answer.

And, suddenly, it came to him.

["If I have to die by anyone's hand then I am glad it is yours."]

He threw the fight.

He threw the fight!

He knew we were evenly matched! He knew this would have gone on until luck chose one of us and that person won! He knew there was as much chance of him killing me as me killing him!

So why did he throw the fight?

[". . . even before I knew I loved you, I wanted to die at your hand, in a battle somewhere... "]

Why aren't I taking his offering?

"Kill him, Yuy!" Treize was raging now. "Unless you don't want to live?"

Duo...

[". . . whatever happens, I don't regret any of this... "]

What would life be like without Duo?

["I love you, Heero."]

Suddenly, Heero was struck with a vision. It was a memory of a time before they had each known who the other was, before all of this had started, before their lives had turned upside down and inside out. Heero had woken up to see Duo's face above him. His hair fell all around them in a straight waterfall of chestnut, scenting the air with cinnamon. The morning sun had shone through his hair, giving the light a glowing russet tone. It had highlighted Duo's gentle smile as he looked down on his sleeping, and then waking, lover, had lit on the love that had shone through his face when he had let down all his masks. Heero had not known it as love then, but he did now...

He remembered raising his hand to Duo's cheek, cupping it as he thought that it seemed as though there was only the two of them in this world, shielded from everything else by Duo's curtain of hair. As though nothing else mattered but the person who nuzzled his cheek against his palm, briefly closing his eyes in pure contentment.

Heero remembered that that had been the first time in years that he had smiled because he was happy. And suddenly the memory dissolved, and he was left looking at Duo's tired, sweaty face, bangs sticking to his forehead in a tangled matt. And he was struck with momentary déjà vu, because that small smile on Duo's face was exactly the same as the one in his memory. Loving and contented.

["Ai shiteiru, Duo."]

["I love you, Duo."]

["I love you."]

And so, I cannot kill you.

Ever.


Slowly, Heero moved his sword away from Duo's neck. It fell to his side, the flat slapping his thigh, as he returned Duo's small smile with one of his own.

"What is this?" Treize's voice jarred through the aura of happy realization that surrounded him.

"What is this?" the monarch repeated, stalking over to stand some six feet away from them. "Prince Yuy, if you do not kill Duke Maxwell then you are forfeiting the fight to him."

"I know."

"So what are you waiting for? Kill him!"

"No." Heero smiled at Duo as he said that, watching his lover's eyes sparkle as he realized Heero knew why Duo had thrown the fight.

You cannot kill the one you love.

Ever.


"Then Duke Maxwell has won the fight," Treize said as though he tasted something bad. "Kill Prince Yuy, as he is so willing to die."

Duo's smile grew into a wide smirk as he turned, breaking the locked gaze. "Y'know, Treize, I've always wanted to say this to you," he said. He leaned forwards, as though confiding a deep secret. "Take your damned officious stuck-up head-up-your-ass attitude and shove it out with your shit," he said, loud enough to be heard by all those in the room. He straightened, grinning madly, and swung the arm holding his sword over his shoulder, resting the flat of the blade along his back. "Me'n Heero will be taking our leave now, kind sirs," he said into the shocked silence, broken only by Heero's muffled giggles. "We'll be seein' ya!"

They even made it as far as the doors at the other end of the hall before they came crashing open and the guards poured in.

Even as they fought the guardsmen off, clambering over dead bodies to get to freedom, Heero caught sight of his lover's manic grin and smiled to himself.

It didn't matter if they died fighting their way out.

It didn't matter if they were never truly free from Treize again.

All that mattered was that they had each other.

++

Okay, that's it for now! See, I told you there would be no death. You didn't believe me, did you? I don't think this part came out quite as it was meant to... Oh well. It'll do. It's close enough... The next part might not be coming out for a while. I've got a few more important things to work on and since I'm not really leaving you on a cliffhanger any more I figured I could leave it for a bit, but I promise, it will be out at some point! Then things start getting *really* complicated...

[part 12] [part 14] [back to Anria's fic]