By: Lyssira
Disclaimer: The boyz aren't mine. The writing is. You play nice and I will too. Deal?
Warning: Shounen Ai. AU. Magick. Angst Deathfic (erm...sorta)
Pairings: 1+2+1 3+4+3 (Wu is the odd man out, AGAIN)
Spoilers: Err....no
Genre: Romantic-Fantasy-Drama
Note: First and possibly only AU. Luath means ashes in Gaelic.
C&C: Pwease?

Luath

[ The Phoenix is always born again. ]

Wraiths that had once been mighty, towering trees stretched their spindly limbs outward, reaching for the graying sky though they would never touch it, twisted in tortured, painful positions by time and nature. They were surrounded by the forest's ever present mist, then appearing even more phantomlike in the shadows. Nothing stirred within the center forest, not a leaf shifted on the wind nor any creature ventured through the brush. It was barren.

Heero traced the scars along the bark cooly with his gaze, wondering what tragedy had befallen this place. There were stories; there had always been stories but they were borne out of fear. He found no truth in the babbling of cowards. The dark haired assassin, clad head to foot in dark wool and skins, might have been the first man to step inside the boundaries of the once vibrant forest in a hundred years.

His people, mostly peasants, superstition bred in their very blood, never dared to journey within a mile of this place. It was cursed and it was sacred. Which is why the King had hired him to tread its lifeless paths. Only a mercenary could be forced there. His coin-purse was far more important than any faded, campfire legend. Heero would fulfill his mission or starve, as he had since first leaving the close-knit village that had raised and forgotten him.

It would only be a matter of time until his prey arrived. This was their only haven, a small clearing in the exact middle of the trees, told to be a faerie-circle, a gathering place for the immortal children to speak peacefully among themselves. He would wait outside of the ring of magic for them to arrive-better not to take chances with the circle itself-until then, there was only silence to accompany him.

+

Trowa glanced passively at his onyx-eyed companion, whose stony glared fixed on the stones ahead, irregular white pillars leaning haphazardly around the circle's borders. The changeling had been decidedly irritable that morning, more so than usual. His scowl might've frozen the very air itself. Even the prince felt a need not to disturb his guard's solitude, neither uttering a word until the clearing was upon them, announcing it's presence to all fae.

"Trowa," Wufei murmured softly, "Keep on your guard. The forest feels of danger. No telling what they might do if you're discovered.. Why I allow you to-"

"Because you know I feel," the young dryad interrupted, his jade eyes glowing faintly, "You know he won't betray me."

"I know," his companion nodded once, in farewell, though an undeniable sadness flickered through his scowl as he melted into the mist.

Trowa shook his head briefly before returning his attention to the circle. Across it's welcoming embrace there was a soft glow of light, warm and comforting like the sanctuary itself. It grew brighter as he approached, light silver caressing the burnt flesh of the forests's trees. Yet, unlike most things, they did not heal under Quatre's guidance. This place had remained wounded despite the magic of all it's creatures, despite the strongest of his kind and his lover's doing everything to bring back the life and magick from times past.

All thoughts of Wufei forgotten, the prince crossed the threshold between forest and circle, feeling an immense pressure lift from his being. The shielding of the clearing was ancient, as was its magick, borne from the earth itself, said to be Her very spirit guarding them. Across the way stood one of the most beautiful creatures to grace the world, at least in his humble opinion. Gossamer spun wings hung down the slight young man's back, accenting his slender grace, the same pale gold as his hair. Aqua eyes glimmered like jewels from a pale setting, matching the royal colors of the faeries he would rule one day.

His breath caught as he stared, all of a moment slipping by before Quatre wrapped his wings around him, starkly out of place in Trowa's earthy-brown shrouded arms yet not. The blonde pressed pale lips against the other's, Prince of Dryads retaliating with just as energy fueled by separation and caring. Air and Earth had joined for the first time in millennia, as though somehow the automatic hatred between the two elementals had skipped that generation. Peace might be achieved with their gaining of thrones, a war might be ended through their union. Yet, they both traveled to the circle in secret. It was the only safe place for them.

The spell was only broken by a sudden chill on his cheek. Trowa pulled away gently, staring with wonder at the tears flowing from aqua orbs, raising a disbelieving hand to the damp crystals glittering on his own flesh. Tears?

"Quatre?"

"I was so worried Trowa...I thought...what if..." delicate lithe arms flung themselves around his neck, the faerie's shuddering form pressed against his own.

"Me too. It hurts knowing I can't protect you from them...But, we can't change it, Quatre," he whispered to him, rubbing circles against the muscles of his back, feeling the life beneath cool satin and nearly colorless skin.

"We can," grim determination crept into his voice, "We'll change it for the future."

+

Heero watched with uncaring eyes as the two boys, appearing not to be any older than himself, held each other tightly, exchanging kisses and inaudible reassurances. They were fae, the enemy to all mankind. They could not be allowed to form a strong union between races. Divided they could be conquered. He needed the money besides. A dull cramp his stomach, prolonged starvation, reminded the assassin of his true purpose for being here. Morals be damned, he wanted to survive.

He raised a dart to eye level, admiring the deadly tip with an appreciation he graced upon little else. The drug was painless and quick, ending his target's life within a second of the first impact. He'd been told that killing the life-mate of a Dryad proved deadly for the spirit itself, the same effect as if one had destroyed its focus of existence, a tree. They'd claimed eternal partnership. . .this strike would ruin both dynasties. Chaos would decide upon creatures of Air and Earth, alike. Man would dominate in their everlasting conflict. He could go home again.

The dark haired man raised his weapon once more, aiming at the exposed skin of the faerie's neck, a perfect target for his strike from the shadows. He could practically feel the blood pounding through his victims veins, hear the beat of his heart, each breath echoing in Heero's own lungs. This was the moment, the kill. Predator's instinct slowly took over his mind, aiming. . . ready to launch silent death. He almost did, would have, had a cheerful voice suddenly not rung through the forest like a choral of bells.

"I'd not do that, were I you, Heero," called an oddly familiar voice from above. His gaze immediatly flew to the trees, to the lean creature balancing on one extended branch. A long chestnut braid hung jauntily over one shoulder, violet eyes peered down at his confused state. This new boy wore a dark scarletcloak, the fabric billowing around him in a bloodied cloud.

His only ornamentation, unlike Quatre's masses of moonstone-set jewelry or Trowa's emeralds, was a single flame-hued feather tucked behind one ear. He dropped down next to the assassin, landing lightly as if it had been a mere hop rather than fifty-foot fall. His lips quirked in a mocking grin, regarding Heero with a certain mix of amusement and pity. He glanced meaningfully at the couple now approaching, stirred by the great racket he'd made. Privacy was not necessarily silence and it would've been foolish to ignore the physical world completely. Trowa pulled his long sword from it's sheath, Quatre his bow. Magick was only used when necessary, for fighting other magicians, not weak mortals who occasionally wandered too close to the forest.

Heero had not released the deadly needle, still directing it at the blonde, more stubborn than any had ever given him credit for. The intruder frowned faintly at this, resting his own hand over the assassin's, pulling his weapon downward.

"You can't," he admonished quietly, bowing in respect when the two princes reach them, not hiding an insolent smirk as he did so.

"I will, " Heero growled in return, yanking his wrist away, preparing to end two lives, royalty or not. Fay or not. He was surprised to find he could *not* pull his hand away, wincing as a burn flashed through his skin. He glanced the newcomer in surprise, wrestling even more to pull away now. More magick.

"I should execute you," he was met with the blazing eyes of the Dryad Prince, glaring back just as harshly. The tip of his blade, silver not poisonous iron, pressed against the hollow of his neck, a visible threat he ignored.

"You should," Quatre smiled regretfully,"But you can't. He's Duo's now."

Raising an eyebrow at the braided man from beneath his bangs, Trowa nodded in agreement. The sword was removed, slid back into it's sheath once more. He wrapped one arm around his blonde lover, holding him protectively away from Heero's line of sight.

Dishonorable humans, using their underhanded tricks, were the cause of his mother's death. He'd not the let same fate befall Quatre under any circumstances. The dark haired boy continued to struggle, aware of what they'd determined his fate to be. Death by another creature? Enslavement? No telling what those barbarians might do to him. Yet, the hand circling his wrist was in no way painful. His captor was being surprising lenient, considering how many times he'd attempted to land a kick on the cloaked figure.

"Let me go!" he growled, unsure of how someone so fragile in appearance could be that strong.

"I'm afraid I can't," Duo shook his head briefly, slipping a pair of shackles from beneath his cape, "We don't take assassination attempts lightly. Just consider yourself lucky I found you first. You'd be dead by now otherwise."

"Go ahead and kill me, then," Heero snarled, trying to evade the shackles, also silver, but not succeeding.

"I have no reason to, nor a wish," Duo shrugged, pulling his prisoner along through the woods. Quatre and Trowa had vanished, probably reuniting under Wufei's watchful stare in the circle once more.

"What will you do? Have me follow you around like dog for the rest of my days?" He tried to tug against the firm grip leading him away from the faerie-circle, only succeeding in tripping himself on a rock. Gentle hands supported him until he righted himself, though the other boy's low chuckle only served to annoy him more. A key materialized from the thigh-length braid.

"Actually, I thought I'd simply let you go," Duo shrugged, unlocking his bindings, eyeing where the clearing loomed behind a cluster of scraggly willows.

Heero stared at his freed hands, then at the violet-eyed fae, then at his hands again. That same low chuckle interrupted his numbed state. Where was the torture? The pain? In his land assassins were maimed and publicly humiliated. Trowa had threatened to kill him. But this boy. . .had just freed him. As if it were nothing. Shakily, Heero met that amethyst gaze.

"You okay? I said you could go," the brunette cocked his head curiously, positive the mortal would've run off like a wild animal released from a trap after that. But all he did was stare, gaping. His appearance was wild enough, unruly, untamed curls rumpled in every direction. Blazing blue eyes were angry, almost savage. He seemed about to flee.

"How did you know my name?" he asked instead, his wondering tone far different than his demands so far. The boy sounded younger, purer, when he spoke that way.

"Magick," Duo smirked, " What else?"

"Why have you set me free? Why didn't you kill me?"

"Do you prefer being tied up, mortal-child? I thought I was doing you a favor," the braided boy scratched his head. Still, Heero made no move to leave.

"It might've been kinder to kill me," he remarked bitterly, dropping his gaze from the shining violet one that focused on him.

"Oh really? Why's that?"

"I failed. That was my last chance to earn anything. It's over."

Duo's head jerked up at those last words. Over was something incomprehensible to his kind. Life was something that continued forever. This mortal's conviction was foreign to him. Heero was foreign to him. Over? There was no such thing.

"What if I pay you to leave Quatre and Trowa alone?" he smiled cheerfully, taking a slow step towards him, slender fingers spread elegantly. Heero stared for a moment, a flicker of a smile washing over his face before he agreed, clasping his own hand around the fae's.

"Mission accepted," he nodded, feeling the predator rise within him again. Duo's hand was warm in his own, life-energy practically coursing through and from the braided boy's veins. Heero felt himself drowning in the in the overwhelming feeling of power that surrounded him, more than he had ever sensed from any creature. He'd encountered no one like Duo before.

The boy plucked something, from inside his shirt this time, out into the open, a small, golden necklace. It shown with inset gems, rubies and garnets casting their wine-colored glow upon the surrounding air. Heero's eyes widened. That kind of jewelry was worth uncountable amounts of gold, more than his entire family line had seen in all their lifetimes combined. Duo tossed it to him.

"Take it," he smiled sadly.

"I couldn't..."Heero's voice almost froze in his throat. Money was everything but...

It wasn't.

"How did you know my name?" he asked, again, looking at Duo strangely. He knew him...somehow...That necklace...he'd seen it before.

"I told you," the other boy shrugged again, realizing Heero had not yet released his other hand.

"You didn't. You lied..."

"I don't lie."

"How did you know!?!?" Heero glared.

"I just did, okay?" Duo's voice wavered.

Flashes flared behind Heero's eyelids stunning him.

This boy...

*The necklace, held out by Duo. An offering, a gift.*

*The fae again, smiling at him, joking with him.*

*Watching Duo, loneliness settling in.*

*He and Duo, together, kissing in a way that sent shivers down his spine.*

*Lives passing in milliseconds, all with Duo, but all ending alone.*

"You knew...and I know...I remember...Duo!" he yanked the fae against him sharply, Prussian eyes shining with confusion as he pressed his lips to the boy's, touching soft lips in a way that was disturbingly familiar to him. He leaned into the embrace, hesitation fleeing. It seemed so natural. It was natural. They separated quickly, shocked amethyst eyes meeting his own.

"You do remember," he whispered, in awe. Heero smiled weakly in return.

"A never ending circle. We're together again," he laughed, trying not to cry at the same time. A glow enveloped them both, also familiar, the color of fire.

Flame sprung from Duo's booted feet, licking his calves then the tops of the braided boy's thighs. He suppressed a sigh and extended one glowing hand to stroke Heero's cheek. Tears wavered in his eyes. The end had come again.

"Time to go, love. I missed you," he trembled, feeling the fire surround his waist. Heero shook his head violently denying what would come next. What had come every lifetime he'd met Duo. Instead of running this time, instead of weeping or screaming, he held his ground, wrapping black clad arms around the slender boy, sharing his last breath with Duo as the Phoenix's fire consumed them both.

They vanished in an explosion of light, bound together as the flame devoured their lives, ash dusting upon the soil. A wave of light sprung forth from the blast, shining over the forest, green energy flowing through it now, as the light touched it, the trees healed and the woods became alive once more.

+

A hand slid forth from the ashes in a year, stretching through the moss and into the world. Another followed. As time passed two young men sprung from the earth, boys clinging to each other in birth as in death.

Together.

~Owari~

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