+ Part 12
Heero's head was down and he was suffering, but he wasn't deaf to the odd bird whistle on the wind. His ear cocked in that direction, the only sign he gave and an involuntary one.
"There," Duo pointed out. "That peak. Two miles and then it's down towards the Savannah."
Despite himself, Duo sounded excited. Heero grimaced as he breathed with aching lungs and tried not to blame him. Whatever the circumstances, it was Duo's home.
"Don't eat tonight," Heero warned, the barest sound.
Duo looked at him with a frown, wondering, perhaps, if he was ill.
"Shh," Heero told him to forestall any questioning. "Just do as I say."
Une looked back at them, tail twitching, but her weres were making too much noise for her to have heard anything.
Heero wondered what his fate would be once he reached the Savanna. Would Zechs kill him outright, ransom him, or use him to buy Duo's loyalty? He had given away his title and his throne. He doubted that his people, or especially Warden J, would pay to have him back again. If Duo was powerless, then death seemed a certainty. That left many things undone and unsaid and very little time to remedy it.
Duo looked at him, purple eyes worried.
Heero swallowed hard. Where to begin? What to say, exactly? He had never been tactful, diplomatic, or one to dance around words. Heero steeled himself, as if he were going against one of Wu Fei's best defenses, and said, "I think... I think that I care for you, Duo... deeply. I needed to say that before-"
Duo was suddenly nose to nose with him. It was hard to tell if he was angry at such close range.
"I'm sorry," Heero stammered. "I know it's strange... a were wolf and a were lion, but... it's true. I won't die and not tell you... how I feel."
Duo chuckled, low and throaty. "You didn't need to tell me, Heero. We both feel the same way."
Duo's eyes were Heero's world, glowing and wide, and then they were kissing, licking, and rubbing together. It was brief, a stolen moment of heat, and then they were apart and panting. Duo stood closer as they began walking again.
"It's not wrong," Duo said firmly.
"No?" Heero managed, dazed from interrupted passion.
"We... We are the same, remember? We saw..." Duo said with a bit of embarrassment. "How can it be wrong when we can..."
Heero stopped and crouched, ears down, and body reacting very strongly. His scent filled the area and Duo's own scent was quick to join it. His warm body pressed against Heero and his thrumming sound was in Heero's ears. Heero began to circle Duo's waist with his arms, ready to pull Duo underneath him and do something about the heavy heat between his legs.
Cold water doused them both and they separated, spluttering and shivering. Une capped her water flask with a scowl as she stood over them.
"You should be glad that I did that," Une sneered as they both recovered and looked furiously at her. "If you were to take my were lion prince that way, kittens would be the last thing you'd get."
Duo felt his face go red and he looked down. Heero knew, that as much as he hated her, she was right. Duo wasn't a female. Heero had to control himself and not let instinct take over. He wasn't sure how he was going to accomplish that, though. His body didn't feel under his control when passion overwhelmed him. He still wanted Duo. Heero could feel his arms and hips twitching, wanting to mount, wanting to get rid of the fire still raging inside of him.
Une looked at Duo and warned, "Entangling yourself with this were wolf is a mistake. You know that. It won't be tolerated. Zechs doesn't have a use for a perverted prince. He needs to appear strong and he needs to be seen as having bred normal children." She looked around at the other weres. They were looking excited, nostrils flaring at the heavy scent on the air. "I should point out another danger. These weres haven't been near females for some time. Scenting the area, you may find more lovers than you bargain for."
Duo laid back ears fearfully, but then he was growling, refused to be intimidated. "If they try it, they will die," he promised.
"Don't make that necessary," Une retorted, annoyed that her tactic hadn't given her the desired result.
They were left to walk again and Duo said to Heero apologetically, "Sorry. I shouldn't have done that. It's ... hard... though. I want... " He blushed and ducked his head.
"I do too," Heero replied, staring hatefully after Une, but then his look softened as he rubbed noses with Duo briefly and promised, "We will have our time together. We will do things right. I won't hurt you."
Duo grinned and the tips of his sharp teeth shone. "No, you won't," he replied and it had a threat as sharp as those teeth, but he softened it with love a moment later as he pressed his body along Heero's. His long tail whipped around and Heero felt it caress underneath his tail. It was brief, and he could almost call it an accident, except for the gleam in Duo's eyes. They were apart again, almost at once, and mindful to stay that way, though it was difficult now that they knew, for certain, what they were feeling for one another.
"Tonight," Heero muttered under his breath and hoped that Wu Fei's plan worked.
Nothing seemed to happen at first. Heero complained of stomach upset and Duo ignored his food when one of the pig like weres put it in front of him. Une frowned, but she didn't reveal her thoughts as the other weres ate noisily, brawled, and laughed until it was time to bed down for the night.
"We'll hunt fresh meat in the morning," Une said to Duo before seeking her own bed. "You will need your strength for the climb down into the Savannah."
She walked away and Duo exchanged a look with Heero. Une thought that they weren't eating because the meat wasn't fresh any longer. Heero hid a smile.
"You're confident," Duo grumbled as he settled down beside him. His tail was lashing with his nervousness. Heero caught it and held it still.
"It gives you away," Heero whispered.
"And yours doesn't?" Duo snorted.
Heero's tail was bristled. Heero made a conscious effort to relax it as he covertly watched the weres around them. He began to wonder if Wu Fei had not been successful in his plan after all.
"Sleep. I'll watch," Duo told him.
Heero smiled, kissed the end of Duo's tail, and allowed his exhaustion to overcome him at last as Duo reclaimed his tail with an irritated growl.
It didn't seem long before Duo was waking him again. It was still dark and Duo's eyes were orbs of purple fire in the moonlight. "Your dragon is here."
Heero sat up and felt stiff and dizzy. He blinked around them and saw the dark mounds that were sleeping weres. "How...?" he began but a scaly hand on his arm was as familiar as his own skin. He grinned at Wu Fei, who was crouched by his side and looking less than pleased. Trowa and Quatre were ranged behind him, smiling in greeting.
"Quietly, my prince," Wu Fei whispered. "I don't see the were tigress..."
Heero and Duo looked quickly about them and Heero felt a chill of trepidation. In the moonlight, she could be a few feet away and invisible, but Wu Fei could sense her heat.
"The others are sleeping," Wu Fei assured him, "but all of us together may not be a match for the were tigress if she attacks."
"Why should I attack?" Une's laughing voice said from the darkness. "Prince Duo will go where I wish, with or without my escort. I will go ahead and announce his arrival to King Zechs. Until then."
Wu Fei gave a cold look to Duo and then said to Heero, "Come, the sleeping potion will not last long."
"Go," Duo told Heero sadly, but there was determination in his voice as well. "Une is right, I still must go to the Savannah." He came very close to Heero, touched noses, and then rubbed along the side of Heero' cheek with a soft rumble of frustration. "I don't want you to leave me, but it's my home, Heero, and it means death for you if you follow me there."
"Enough!" Wu Fei snarled in anger. "My prince, you know where your duty lies and where your home is. This were lion is speaking sense. Listen to him. There is only death at the hands of your enemy if you pursue this course."
Heero reached out and cupped Duo's cheek with his hand. He brought him close and kissed him, not caring who saw them. "In your land, you believe in destiny," Heero told Wu Fei as he broke the kiss and looked at him. "You've told me often enough that your destiny was with me. Because of that, you've been loyal to me for all of these years. I'm feeling the same way, Fei. I know where my destiny lies, and I can't deny it, no matter what might happen. Take Quatre and Trowa back home. I have to go with Duo."
Wu Fei was very quiet for a long moment and then he exploded, "Madness! I can see that my arguments will not make any difference. You are young and foolish and you are not a fit Prince for the throne."
Heero bristled, but the accusation was a true one. He didn't have anything to say that would counter it. He ducked his head and then admitted, "I was born to it, but, you're right, I'm not fit and... I don't want it. I've burned my bridges already."
Wu Fei said, with an irritable twitch of his crest, "Rumors are rumors and they can be dispelled if you are there to deny them... without your were lion."
"For how long?" Heero wanted to know, "How will I marry? How will I have children? My people will know the truth in the end."
"And if Warden J and G lead your land into disaster?" Wu Fei asked.
"I wanted to keep J from the throne because I disliked him, but I don't think that I am a better choice," Heero growled. "I'm not a leader."
Wu Fei sighed. "No, I've known that. You are a soldier, the best soldier I've seen. With maturity and more training..." He looked around them at the sleeping forms and then back at Heero. "Enough talk. It's a waste of time. Your decision is made. Lead on, my... Heero."
Heero didn't expect that to hurt, that final stripping of his title, but he knew that he was truly following his heart and his destiny at last. It took a moment before he registered exactly what Wu Fei had said.
"You're going with me?" he asked in shock.
"Of course," Wu Fei hissed angrily. "You are following your destiny and I must follow mine. It is with you, at your side, whether you are a prince or not."
Quatre chuckled. "Now that we have that settled, may we go before we are all captured? I for one would like the warm Savannah after so many days of mountain cold."
"I've been enjoying it," Trowa said.
Quatre snorted, "Then you can stay and keep our enemy company."
Trowa grimaced and nuzzled along Quatre's shoulder in reply. He wasn't going to leave his were fox.
Duo was astonished, looking from one to the other, and then he snarled, "You are all fools! It is death for you, where I am going! I don't even know if I will be safe."
"Duo's right," Heero agreed. "You must all return home. I won't allow my decision to lead you into disaster."
"You are not a Prince any longer," Wu Fei reminded him. "We don't have to follow your orders."
Heero scowled and Duo looked frustrated.
Quatre smiled and said. "Both of you, don't try and fight our loyalty to our friends. You won't win."
Duo looked up at that, surprised that Quatre considered him a friend.
"Come, we need to go at once," Wu Fei commanded and took the lead with an air that didn't allow for a challenge to his authority. The others followed obediently.
"I know who should have been a prince," Heero chuckled under his breath, but he was worried as well. He looked back, wondering how long their enemy would sleep and why the were tigress had not been affected by whatever Wu Fei had done to them. That begged another question.
"How did you make them sleep?" Heero asked Quatre.
Quatre grinned. "I'm quick and I'm a good throw with desert hunting darts. Wu Fei prepared a sleeping herb and placed it into cloth packets. I tossed them into their food." He frowned. "The were tigress didn't eat."
Heero nodded. "I think she was waiting for fresh meat. She was planning on hunting in the morning."
"She is so sure of me," Duo said, disturbed. His tail lashed nervously, almost in Heero's face. He caught it and used it to pull Duo back to him. He hooked an arm around Duo's waist.
"She is sure of me as well," Heero said. "She knows I'll follow you. She doesn't have to risk herself taking us to the Savannah."
"We are all fools," Duo grumbled.
"Yes," Trowa agreed as they made their way through the rocks, picking their way in the moonlight, "but it is our choice to be fools."
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