Author: Maldoror
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Two Halves: Circles + Chapter 17
Magic

Wufei's katana made a sound like brushed velvet as it flickered out of the lacquered scabbard and towards Heero's throat.

"Yuy!" Wufei barked, momentarily forgetting his agreement to use Heero's given name. "Don't sneak up on me like that! Do you want to get your head chopped off?"

"Hn." Heero shrugged an apology. He had been sneaking a little, trying out Wufei's guard, and he was grateful to see the man was taking it more than seriously, even here, in the middle of the Linheight's council compound.

"Is Duo in? He sent me a message-"

"Yes, he's waiting for you down in the lab." Wufei nodded curtly at Trowa who had appeared behind Heero. "He said he wanted to see you alone, and that I was to kill anyone else who came near the place, though I don't think he was serious about that last part."

"He's been in a bad mood." Heero said, a bit defensively. They'd both been, the pressure of finding Treize, of stopping the breach opening, of everything... "I'm okay, Trowa, I'll-"

"-find me waiting right here when you're ready to leave." Trowa said, in his usual calm tones, though his gaze was firm.

"I can walk back to my room by myself."

"I wasn't suggesting I carry you, but I will wait for you and watch your back."

Heero glowered, then shrugged, pushed open the door to Duo's tower and took the steps down to the lab.

Duo was a fairly unconventional king for Lin. He preferred the comfortable quarters in the palace, he scorned robes, and he didn't have much use for his tower. In fact Heero had been surprised to learn he had one, though every high ranking sorcerer did. It was a place attuned to their magic where they could keep their more secret books, sleep safely, conduct their research and isolate themselves from Lin politics when they wanted to. And it always held their lab, safely tucked away in the basement.

Duo didn't use the lab much. Most of his magic was explosive in nature and his studies were conducted on a firing range. Heero had seen the lab once. It had been inherited from Treize, the former king, and the lab was... Heero had seen more pleasant torture chambers. He was puzzled Duo had asked him to come to this of all places. Maybe he had something to show him, something that could lead them to Treize.

Heero stared as he entered the lab.

"What have you done to the place?"

Duo glanced up from a scriptern where he was leafing through a thick text while consulting a smaller book. "Oh, jollied it up a bit, it was giving me the creeps."

All of Treize's grim equipment had been removed, the vaulted room was almost empty now. The dark and ominous altar in the center of the room had been replaced by a thick red rug and a very wide low couch with decorated cushions and covers. The colours glowed under the light of candles. A fire warmed the air a few feet away in the firepit, formerly used to heat hot irons. A few books were piled up in the corners, instead of the... instruments that had previously lurked there. The most ominous thing there now was a straw dummy hanging from a noose in one corner which Duo used for target practice with his spring-loaded dagger.

"Are you actually going to use this place?" Heero asked curiously, looking at his spouse who was poring over his books.

"Sure." Duo nodded without looking up. "Grab a seat -there's just the one so far, I'm afraid, not much in the way of furniture yet. Get yourself something to drink, I'll be there in a sec."

Heero walked towards the couch, glancing curiously at the paint marking the floor in obscure geometric shapes. He hated magic with as much passion as he could wrench from the iron jaws of his control, but he should probably learn a bit more about it. Duo could teach him...

A large tray with wine, fruit and cheeses rested on the carpet near the deep couch. Heero wondered how long Duo had been here, studying. Heero had been busy, but now that he thought of it, Quatre had said he'd not seen Duo in the last two days. The couch was very wide, deep enough to comfortably use as a bed, and the cheese looked like it had been picked at. Heero shook his head. If Duo had been here all this time, he'd make it his duty to drag him out into the sunlight sometime tomorrow for a proper meal and some exercise.

"Right." Duo slammed the big book shut firmly and turned with his usual energy. Heero put the glass of wine back on the tray and looked up expectantly as the sorcerer bounced over and flopped into the couch, the smaller book still in his hand.

"What did you want to see me for?" Heero scowled inwardly, that hadn't come out right. He shouldn't need a summons to want to see Duo. He'd been so busy these last few days, hunting for the spy, putting troops around possible breaches, investigating old acquaintances of Treize... He was tired, and that made him even more abrupt than usual. He turned towards Duo, trying to formulate some kind of apology.

Warm lips pressed the corner of his mouth, then parted gently-

"M-whoa!" Heero caught Duo by the shoulders and pried him away. Fortunately nothing had blown up, though he had felt his heart skip a beat or two, which normally lead to something noisy happening.

"What are you trying to do?" Heero barked, feeling Duo lean into his grasp.

"Just trying to see if the boom thing is still happening." Duo said in a reasonable voice, then grabbed Heero by the back of the neck and squirmed through his hold to press in for another kiss.

Heero's heart rammed against his chest when he felt Duo's lips part and a sensual tongue flick over his lower lip. Fingers were tangled in his hair making his skin tingle and Duo's chest pressed against his. Oh gods I hope nothing catches fire, was the last thing like reasonable thought that crossed his mind.

He was struggling in Duo's hold. He had been for the last minute. Considering how much stronger he was than the sorcerer, he'd visibly not put enough effort into. He'd been a bit distracted...

He gasped as he finally managed to separate them without hurting the slender body in his grasp.

The room was completely innocent of ringing echoes of explosions, or smoke, or any other sign of natural or magical disaster.

"Huh, would you look at that." Duo glanced around. "Seems like that didn't have much of an effect." At least as far as the room was concerned... .Duo's cheeks were quite red.

"I- I'm sorry Duo!" Heero's heart twisted in his chest. "I- we've been looking non-stop for the spy for two days, I'm exhausted." Duo was looking at him now with wide, violet eyes. "I, I probably wasn't concentrating. I mean, not concentrating. I mean, I-" It certainly felt like he'd lost himself in the kiss but since nothing had blown up... Now Duo was going to think his husband didn't enjoy, truly enjoy whatever closeness-

"Ye gods, it's always your fault, isn't it?" Duo rolled his eyes. "So you're saying that little smooch wasn't enough to get your blood flowing?"

"Duo, I'm sor-"

"Well we'll just have to take it up a notch. Tell me when we're getting somewhere."

"Wha-mf!"

Heero had instinctively scooted back a few inches on the smooth material of the couch, trying to put their usual distance between them. Duo used the space available to practically throw himself on the prince of Sanq, and three seconds of breathless squirming later he had a knee on either side of Heero's lap, arms fastened around his neck, and lips and tongue playing percussions across the helpless man's senses.

Heero realized, a faint lingering alarm flashing a fin from a very long distance away, that his arms were around the slender waist and he was pressing the lithe body against his own, as he twisted his head and parted his lips to claim more of that touch, that primal contact. A moan echoed across his sanity, he couldn't tell which one of them had- all senses belonged to the man in his arms, the warmth of the hard body against his own, the smell and taste of his skin and the sound of blood crashing in his ears. The room could be on fire and he wouldn't notice. Just please, don't let the roof cave in, he prayed as he felt himself sink beyond thought.

Duo was leaning against his chest, gasping for air in his ear. Heero felt every muscle turn to water as he slowly came back from whatever place he'd been wandering in.

The room persisted in its complete absence of explosions or burning material.

"Okay what the hell is going on here? Why is nothing-"

"Oh." Duo purred against his neck, sending shudders along Heero's frame. "So you're willing to admit that that was kinda exhilarating. I'm glad I can still elicit a spark. So to speak."

Heero struggled -not too hard actually- to disentangle himself from the form half-curled up on his lap, and felt something sharp and awkward dig into his shoulder. It had been doing so for, well, how long had the kiss lasted anyway? Heero growled and twisted his hand around his back to grab the thing. Duo's book. Heero caught himself in the act of throwing it away as the title caught his attention.

"What?! 'Of The Summoning Of Fiends From-'?! You don't think we've got enough problems with these guys already, you want to conjure more?" He struggled to lower his voice as Duo leaned back - the sorcerer's body shifting against his in a new and very distracting position- to give him a long steady gaze from violet eyes.

"You know I don't practice that kind of magic."

"So why-" Heero waved the book around, unable to complete his sentence. His cheeks were burning, his body was aching for something he couldn't even define, his control seemed to be completely shot. He suddenly remembered Jay's words; it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, to slacken the control over his emotions, to follow his feelings. As long as he remembered not to strangle his husband.

"I only read the first chapter." Duo said quietly. He sounded subdued but Heero noticed a curl of feral smile on the corner of those lips. Tempting... lips...

"What, you only summon small ones?" He snapped, bringing his attention back to where it belonged.

"No, dummy. The first chapter is how to create a summoning circle, to protect the conjurer from a fiend's natural magic." A small kiss landed lightly on Heero's mouth.

"Why are we even talking about summon-" Another kiss interrupted him, a gentle brush of lips on lips with the slightest caress of tongue that made him forget what he was about to say.

"It's a spell to create a small enclave in the caster's lab where magic doesn't work." A third kiss like a feather falling from a dove's wing.

"... "

"Ah, he understands."

"It... it doesn't work at all?" Heero cast an incredulous eye at the paint marking the floor and the ring of candles in their tall holders, all centering, he now realized, on the circle containing the couch.

"Not a squib. Which is why nothing is burning right now. Well, nearly." Duo lifted his braid from the back of his head and flicked the collar away from his flushed skin. Heero had a close-up view of the picture and felt his mouth go dry and his heart rate double.

"Wh-why? I mean, why now? And this isn't a solution, it's just a-... " Heero felt like a miserable bastard, thinking and finding problems at this point. But the violet eyes on his were steady.

"I know you will find the spy soon, Heero, and you'll choke Treize's location from him, and then it's going to be like that time at the Gap. It went okay last time, apart from the bit where we almost both died, but we're up against Treize now. And he can apparently block our magic. I'm not stupid; I know it doesn't look good.

"So yes. We should wait until we deal with the immediate threat. And then we should wait until the last wedding circle, until we're properly married. And maybe at that point we'll actually get around to finding out if you're interested in... me. And if you are, then we could look for a permanent solution and sort it all out calmly. I know all that. But... " violet eyes filled with pain as they dropped to look at slender fingers playing with Heero's collar. "But then I thought what might happen... I... I thought it might be nice to know what we have t-together now, in case... in case we-... well, we can just smooch, that's already a novelty for us, I- hey!"

Duo gasped and blinked up at Heero who'd pitched him onto his back on the couch and was leaning a few inches from him.

"Someone recently told me to follow my feelings." Heero whispered, a finger brushing Duo's face, lingering over his lips. "I have no idea where they're leading me but I know one thing. We're not going to do anything here tonight because of Treize or my problems with control or the fact that magic won't work here or because we could both be dead before we're fully married, or because of whatever else might happen tomorrow. Whatever happens right now is because I want to know just as much as you do what we have together when nothing is attacking us or blowing up around us. No distractions, no interference. Just you and me and what we share. Let's find out what that is. Is that... what you want?"

Duo nodded slowly, eyes incandescent in Heero's shadow, hands sliding up his husband's chest to curl around his neck in a sensual move that made him shiver.

"Good. Don't get in the habit of hearing me talk that much." Heero muttered, and let surprisingly strong arms pull him down into oblivion again.

*

Wufei's blade sang out again. He started as Trowa put a hand on his arm.

"It's Quatre." Trowa murmured reassuringly. Sure enough, his young companion strode through the shadows, a package in his arms.

"Hi guys." The two guards stared at pink cheeks and sparkling eyes. "I just thought I'd come and tell you... well, I was passing nearby a few minutes ago and I think you can both go to bed now, they're not going anywhere tonight."

"What?" Wufei asked, completely confused. He glanced at Trowa and caught a small, happy smile flicker on the stoic features.

"That's good." The Romany said calmly. "But I think Wufei will be staying here anyway, and I'll keep watch too, just in case. We don't want any... interruptions."

"Yes, I figured you'd say that." Quatre hoisted the package, there was also a basket hanging from one arm. "I brought blankets and cushions and some food and a flask of hot coffee from the kitchens. Can I stay with you guys for awhile?"

"Sure. Thank, Winner." Wufei grunted, as he reached for a cushion and blanket. He turned down the offer of food and drink, hoping he wouldn't offend them but mindful of his duties as guard. Neither of the others seemed to mind and Quatre snuggled against Trowa's side as he took a sip of coffee.

A pleasant, companiable silence settled over the three. Then Wufei tensed and looked down at his scabbard, tilting it left and right and catching the glow of torches on the lacquer.

"Hm, Barton?"

"Yes? Call me Trowa, Wufei, if you can manage it." The green eyes gleamed, he was in a very good mood for someone who'd just been handed an unexpected night watch, Wufei noted. He cleared his throat.

"We've known each other for well over a year now, B- Trowa, and I... I consider you something of a, well, a respectable and knowledgeable fighter, with considerable talents, you are a very honourable-"

"He means a friend." Quatre muttered into his mug. He ignored the glare from onyx eyes, hiding his grin in a sip of coffee.

"Anyway." Wufei gathered his thoughts. "It seems that in Lin they have a much simpler... marriage tradition than in my country or this stupid circles business. It's neat and sober and much preferable to- besides, if my clan learns about this they'll find ways of-"

"Wufei are you getting married?" Quatre shouted, surging from the blanket and Trowa's arms.

"Apparently." Wufei muttered, glowering at the lacquer.

"Oh congratulations!"

"Fine. But anyway, Sally says I need someone to stand by me during the ceremony and I was hoping you'd do me the honour of being my, whatever they call it, sword-bearer or something."

"Sorry, no." Trowa said calmly. He smiled slightly as hurt onyx eyes turned towards him. "I'm glad you'd trust me with this." He added, his calm voice making the words ring truer than any long protestations. "And I'll do it but only if Duo refuses, and that's not going to happen."

"Duo?" Wufei ducked his head again. "Duo is my king, he can't perform that kind of duty for a mere guard-"

"Good grief, man." Quatre stared at him. "Don't even think of finishing that sentence anywhere within a mile of Duo. If you don't ask him you'll be at the wrong end of a mage-bolt and Sally will be a widow before she's even married!"

Wufei grunted and glared out into the night. He looked cross and contrary but besides him Quatre suddenly grinned and leaned against Trowa, practically purring.

*

Most of the cushions had fallen from the couch. The blanket was tangled around two entwined forms.

"I... hope that wasn't too... boring compared to magic." Heero hazarded, whispering breathlessly into loose chestnut hair that seemed to have spread everywhere.

"Magic?" The sorcerer-king of Lin answered in a voice that suggested he'd be looking the word up in a dictionary as soon as he could be bothered.

Heero smiled, brushing a wandering bang from dazed violet eyes. He curled up under the smooth material of the blanket, drawing it over the pale skin of his lover's shoulder; held him close, and watched spellbound as eyelids fluttered and closed sleepily over beautiful eyes.

This following his feelings thing might not be quite as hard as he'd thought it would be...

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