see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Halves: Circles + Chapter 16
Fourth Circle - Answers
"... binding yourselves to finding solutions together, working together
for the common goal, and never leaving the other with an unsolved problem."
Jay's voice was stolid as he read the sentences quickly and efficiently
out of the book he held. Besides him, G was nodding off again. Heero couldn't
blame him. The small sorcerer hadn't slept much in the last three days.
Heero glanced down at the traditional gifts on the pedestal beneath his
and Duo's joined hands. The two crowns glinted in the hash desert sunlight
breaking through the thin windows near the ceiling of the whitewashed
room. Heero was glad that they had chosen Kespar for one of the wedding
circles. It signified the importance the king of Lin and the prince of
Sanq accorded the wizards of the order of Crossroads, a debt that they
intended to never forget for the vigilant men and women who guarded the
breaches to the circles of Hell with their lives.
Also, since Jay was de facto master of ceremony, there was a lot less
crap to put up with. The procedure was short, sweet and sober, Heero found
Heero and Duo were standing in a simple circle of white sand, and there
were only a dozen people present. The meal afterwards would be unostentatious
and probably more enjoyable than the last few occasions. The spouses would
be sitting with Quatre, a recently recovered Trowa, Wufei, Sally and Zechs,
as well as the two wizards, and only a few others. Heero found himself
looking forward to it.
"... and so your are bound by this circle. Wake up, you senile old crow,
your snoring is hardly part of the ceremony." Jay snapped, nudging G awake.
The small wizard opened a bleary eye and glared. "And yet I warrant it's
more pleasant than hearing you rabbit on about this superstitious load
"I'm sorry you feel that way about this solemn ceremony." Jay hissed.
"Particularly since it's your turn to read the next bit, you loudmouthed
They shuffled their respective positions and G squinted at the words of
the ancient ritual that Jay handed him.
"Damn this is written small." He muttered in what might have been a discreet
whisper if the room wasn't so small. "Do I really have to-"
"Yes. Stop talking, start preaching." Jay hissed again.
"Well don't blame me if I only make sense one word out of three."
"Don't worry, we're used to it."
" 'By this covenant you both-' say what?"
Duo and Heero studiously avoided each others eyes to avoid spoiling the
'solemn ceremony' even further. Gold and jade glinted beneath joined hands,
catching Heero's glance. Duo had stepped in and intercepted the gaudy
designs for the crowns that both countries had thought appropriate. Instead,
the crowns were two simple gold circlets. Heero's had a rectangular piece
of upright jade inset into the gold, and Duo's had two thin pieces of
slanted ebony. Heero grudgingly decided he might even be able to wear
G stumbled over the simple words and stifled a yawn. Duo grinned at him
in sympathy. Heero remembered the conversation with the exhausted sorcerer
a few hours before the ceremony...
"Well, we've done our best." G grumbled, eyes small and red in a sallow,
shrunken face, from which his nose seem to rear out as if trying to escape.
He was standing at the center of Jay's rarely used lab, leaning bonelessly
against a rough stone altar. On it lay a broken chain, the one that had
first touched Duo. It was dark grey with black streaks of dried liquid
"Good, tell us and get to bed." Duo ordered, looking at his mentor worriedly.
Heero thought Duo looked just as exhausted, he'd been assisting the man
almost continuously, but he had the energy of youth to allow him to bounce
back. Heero was still going to insist he take a few hours nap before the
"Bed? Oh yeah, that thing." G muttered. "So, Heero, you figured it out
"Treize is alive." Heero ground out. "I got that much."
"Well, 'alive' is a very relative term." G picked up the broken chain
spattered with a dark substance. "If he were alive, this would be his
dried blood on the links. As it is it's barely recognizable as human.
He's apparently been through considerable... changes."
"But it's still effective in a blood spell." Heero glowered at the coils
of chain. "That's how he's cutting off our power, by giving a blood spell
talisman to his fiends. When we come into contact with it, it-... Shouldn't
it only affect-" He caught himself quickly.
Jay glanced around. "I'm sorry, could I ask you to leave, Quatre? And
the honourable shaman?" He added with a grin and a mock bow.
"Don't call me that!" Wufei snapped. "And I'm not leaving Duo! I was forced
to agree to this 'picnic' insanity-"
"And you played your role very well." Duo said smoothly. "You screamed
so loudly about it I'm sure they heard you all the way to Linheights.
The spy certainly heard about our solitary midnightpicnic."
"So we went ahead and used you as bait, but we didn't even manage to capture
a fiend, and we still haven't figured out who the spy is yet."
Wufei ground out. "That means you're still in danger!"
"Well, as for the spy, we now know we need to check the wizards of Treize's
acquaintance. Amon is compiling a list of Kushrenada's old allies, we
just need to decide the best way to tackle them. Do you think you could
check with Amon about that for me?" Duo smiled kindly as Wufei glared.
"I'm perfectly safe here, Wuffee, don't worry."
"Wufei." Onyx eyes glared at him, then rested briefly on Heero
as the oriental man spun and left. Heero felt that he'd been put in charge
of security. Someone else would have laughed at the intent, but he took
"Right." Jay closed the door after the pair. Quatre was already gone,
eager to get back to his lover's bedside. Trowa was still resting after
the reading into the future, which had exhausted and strained him without
showing much as a result. Under the influence of Jay's magic he had said
something strange, about a child's shield and the joining in darkness.
But mainly, the result was just that something big and nasty was likely
to occur in the near future.
They'd all guessed that much.
"So, Heero, your question was going to be, why is Duo affected by contact
with the blood spell when you are Treize's son?" Two hard pieces of glass
measured Heero, once the door was closed and the spouses and the two wizards
"We're not sure. But I find it hard to be surprised. Duo's dark magic
is entirely inherited from Treize, through you. Granted, a blood spell
shouldn't follow that kind of logic, by the books, but what you two share
is outside of any book I've ever read so we're making it up as we go along
"Great. So there's no way to counter the effect."
"Not without getting rid of the source of the blood." G grinned ghoulishly.
"And what have you learned about that?" Heero's eyes flicked between the
two mages and Duo, impatient for information. The prince of Sanq had taken
over the search for the spy and finishing the preparation for the circles
to let his husband work with G; he didn't have much to contribute to the
arcane side of things anyway.
"Well... " G sighed, and suddenly looked his age. He'd known Treize, and
though he'd not approved of the man's militarism, he'd admitted to grudgingly
admiring his courage, his perseverance and his power. "It's not good,
I'm afraid. And we still don't know just how bad it is. But in a nutshell...
Thirteen years ago, when Treize tried to rip open the breach, and the
spell backfired... it didn't just kill a lot of people, it apparently
pulled Treize and anyone near him into the various circles of Hell."
"I thought nothing human could live there."
"We're still not sure about how they survived. If you can call it that.
It's as if Treize and his fellow sorcerers became... integrated into the
circles. But they remain partly human as well. Which allows them to survive
in our world, and escape spells that can control fiends. And use human
magic like teleportation, and blood spells and such. It's a pretty powerful
package. I'm really not liking what we're up against."
G stared blankly at the bare stone wall, rich with dust that had crept
in from the wastes around Jay's compound for the many decades he'd been
there. It speckled the light coming in from the small windows high up
the wall. The scene was too bright, too clean and simple for the subject
they were discussing. In the corners shadows crawled.
"The thing is... " G continued, as if he didn't want to hear his own words.
"There's something here we don't understand. For Treize and his followers
to escape into our world, and survive with their fiendish powers intact,
there has to be a breach open. Somewhere.
"I know you sent guards to double-check the Gap of Sevring, Heero, and
it seems a very likely candidate, but I'm pretty sure it's not there."
G's eyes were unfocused, and he was talking almost to himself. "I went
there several times myself since we got rid of Septim's wards and sealed
the breach, to check it and to honour Hess."
"Who?" Duo glanced up from the small stool he'd been occupying, to stop
himself from pacing around like a cat looking for its kittens.
"Master Hess... He was the guardian of crossroads at the Gap of Sevring
when Treize arrived there. The man Treize murdered to get to the breach
and tear it open. He was... a friend of ours, as well as a colleague."
Jay nodded minutely. "Several members of our order have visited the place
he died in the past few months, to pay their respects. None of them reported
any signs of activity of the breach, and they would have noticed. It's
definitely sealed. Treize and the breach are somewhere else.
"I don't know where though. I don't know HOW, and why it's not allowing
other fiends in, and how Treize is involved in all this. I'm afraid we
came up a bit short." G showed his fatigue by the dull edge to his voice
and the way his shoulders slumped.
"But we can guess why Treize wants us." Heero felt an ache in his shoulders,
the tension of the last few days eating into him. His father, his father
all along... As if living with the heritage alone wasn't bad enough. "Since
the world hasn't gone to hell yet, we can assume something is wrong with
the breach, it's not fully open or something. So Treize wants Duo -and
me- for the same reason Septim did, to use our powers to rip it fully
open. As the last fiend said, 'you will serve him and then you will be
the first to die at the clutches of our masters'. Can... can Treize force
our cooperation through the blood spell?"
"No." Jay's voice was categorical. "What a trip to hell has done to him
is anyone's guess, but blood spells obey human laws. He can influence
you subtly, he can block the power in your blood, he can bring you more
bad luck than a sackfull of black cats, but he cannot rule your fully
aware will. He can try to break it though... I don't need to go into details
about that, do I?"
Which translated loosely as: We need to find that spy, we need to learn
where Treize is, and we need to kill him. Badly.
* End Flashback *
" '... walk along the path, side by side, until fate itself ends'. Okay,
let's go eat." G closed the book with a clap. Heero and Duo smiled at
each other as they let their hands drop, and turned towards the exit where
people were already starting to stream towards the dining hall.
Somebody caught Heero's arm. "A word, Yuy." Jay grunted.
Heero nodded and turned towards Duo to apologize, only to see his spouse
being dragged away by G.
"Did something else come up?" Something to make it even worse, if that
"No, I just thought this would be a good occasion to have a chat." Jay
ground out the last word and Heero glanced at him in surprise. Jay had
been known to go for a whole week without saying a single word; a 'chat'
was very unlike him.
"The runt has a theory." Jay's greying moustache twitched in direction
of G. Heero saw him and Duo talking earnestly off to one corner, well,
G was talking with a smirk on his tired face and Duo was listening with
a look of... utter embarrassment, Heero realized with surprise.
"He's been studying the bond between the two of you, trying to figure
out why the blood spell affects Duo. He came up with something else instead.
He could be wrong, and I don't care either way." Jay said with his usual
charm, before getting to the point.
"He thinks the wedding circles might have some effect on you and Duo after
all. It's not supposed to, but he thinks it's combining with the particular
bond between you two. G thinks it might have a rather strange effect on
the way your magic behaves. When you are using it together that is."
"We don't use it together. We haven't since that time at the Gap."
"Which, considering the level of force you unleashed, is a wise decision.
G was thinking more along the lines of accidental leakage, slips of control.
Not... entirely conscious, due to... the heat of the moment." Jay looked
like he was chewing glass.
Heero realized what the Lin wizard might have been referring to. "Ah."
He glanced back at G and Duo. The king of Lin's cheeks were still flaming
but he was now listening attentively to the leering mage.
"If it's the wedding circles that are causing the problem, why is it not
getting worse?" Heero decided not to deny or dodge the statement. Maybe
the masters could help.
"It's not? Well that's a relief. The circles are only amplifying the problem."
"Yes, this bloody bond between myself and Duo." Heero ground out, thinking
how many times his involuntary abuse of the link forced in their earliest
childhood had cursed him and Duo.
"That's the motor of the problem, I grant you, but it's not actually the
cause either." Jay was glaring at the graceful clepsydra against the far
wall as if he could boil the water with a glance. "The root of the problem
is in your two characters, part of which I am to- the cause of."
"Characters?" Heero stared at him uncertainly.
"The link between you doesn't have to be any more destructive than the
bond between Quatre and Trowa. The extreme polarity of your characters
is what's causing problems- and I'm not asking what kind of problems or
in what circumstances, I'm not that interested! You see, Duo can barely
control his magic at the best of times, as we both know. While you...
you're very good at suppressing and controlling your emotions and instincts,
including your magical ones. I'm... very proud of the work you put into
that, Heero, and it allowed you to drag the world back from the brink
of Hell. But now I think it may be harming you."
"Going insane will harm me a lot more." Heero said tightly. Why were they
talking about this, about something that couldn't be changed...
"Agreed. But maybe that doesn't need to happen."
Jay stared at Duo through the thick glass of his specs, face unreadable.
"He's got a strong soul and a stronger heart. I think he can help you,
if you let him. Perfection is a cold thing, Heero, an image etched in
glass, frozen in time. It's not meant for anything human. I thought you
would die at the Gap so I made no effort to think of how it would affect
you in the long term. Neither did you."
"I can keep it up." Heero said, glacially, though he feared the implications,
particularly in his relations to Duo.
"You might be able to. Whether you should is another question." Jay's
voice had dropped to barely a whisper. "You're a living, evolving human
being and a young one at that. You are bound to run into situations that
you cannot predict, that your control cannot anticipate. And when you
let your control slip... that's when things happen. Your control fails
completely, over your emotions but also your magic, and this crashes into
Duo's natural lack of restraint, and sparks fly. Or worse.
"You need to learn to follow your emotions, get familiar with them, and
let them run without losing the reins on them. Then your control over
your power will remain. That should take care of the problem."
"But the madness-"
"Is mainly linked to the use of magic, so as long as you avoid that...
trust Duo's strength for the rest. Trust your own for that matter. It's
"But... the risk... "
"Is part of what living is all about. Don't make us both regret you didn't
die at the Gap, boy. You deserve better. Now come on, let's go get something
to eat and then I am going to collapse and sleep until tomor-"
"Wait, what about the-... the accidental magic problem."
Jay glanced back at him, scowling. "No idea, not really my domain. G's
not sure either. But... I'll say one thing. If it seems to be getting
better, then maybe you're already adapting to these new emotions by yourself.
Seems reasonable, you are a quick learner after all, and so is Duo. So
the more you... ah, put yourselves in the circumstances where you can
become familiar with the feelings, with the unexpected reactions, the
better it will slowly get."
"Really?" Heero's mouth had gone dry and his heart rate had unexplainedly
"That's the theory. Er, do me a favour and don't try it out around here?
I don't want to have to rebuild my compound because you two decided to
Jay stomped off, muttering about 'sentimental hogwash' and 'consider that
a wedding gift because I'm damned if it becomes a habit' under his breath,
following G and a flame-faced Duo who'd already gone to the feast. Heero
Follow your emotions? Oh right, after years of suppressing them, that
was going to be a breeze. Not. And what was that about... practice? Heero
felt his own cheeks flush a bit. How the hell were they supposed to do
that? He didn't know about Duo but personally having things blow up around
him didn't put him in the mood for flirting.
Later. They'd have time to think about... experimenting these new feelings
and sensations later, hopefully without destroying anything too important
in the process. There were too many other things to worry about first.
And 'later' also went for him learn to follow his emotions. Because right
now they were trying to tell him that in putting this off indefinitely,
he was robbing Duo and himself of something so precious as to be unquantifiable,
and his heart ached with feelings he couldn't explain or ignore.
The chaotic creature writhed and flailed, screams ripping from the various
gaps and openings that served as mouths whenever they appeared in the
constantly changing flesh. Anguish rang through the howls.
It's definite. Chain is gone. I'm sorry.
The voice of ice was as compassionate as it could be, which was very little
It seems we've underestimated them again. Your son is quite resourceful.
Him and... Zechs' child. I still can't get over that. Fate has an irony
worthy of the deepest circle of hell.
We can't send the tortured one, I can barely restrain him here. Hunger
won't stand a chance. Decay can't do anything without a supply of corpses...
If only we could have found the last two... or if Fire had survived. What
do we do now?
"NnnNN!!Nnnn... we waiT."
Wait? What for?
"For my s0n and tHe other To f1nd Us."
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