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

Two Halves: Circles + Chapter 2
The Wedding Night. Somewhat.

Wufei's katana sang out of its lacquered scabbard instinctively, and dipped only slightly as he realized who was holding the mage-blade aimed at his throat.

"Yuy! What is the meaning- Duo! Are you okay? I heard an explosion!"

Duo quickly reassembled the dressing robe he'd been wearing over his clothes when he'd been jumped, its high neck hiding his bruised throat. The rents and tears in the soft black cloth would be hidden by the darkness in the room.

"What is going on here?" Wufei's voice was very dangerous.

"Nothing. Go away." Heero replied, with the charm and tact that characterized him.

"Nothing?! What's that smell! There's smoke in here! Put away your sword, Yuy, or I swear-"

"Fei!" Duo didn't want to step between them because Wufei would only get excited if he saw what state Duo was in, and also because the air between the two swordsmen was scorching enough to make his braid combust. "Fei, I'm okay. I was... " Damn, he didn't lie!

"Duo was showing me a spell and it got out of hand." Heero completed calmly, since lying wasn't a problem for him. Unfortunately Wu Fei knew this, all too well.

"Duo?" His voice was still dangerous.

"Leave us alone. Now." Heero's voice was downright menacing.

"I am the head of Duo's personal guard!" Wufei snapped. "You can't-"

"I'm his husband, and though I won't order you around anywhere else I can damn well kick you out of this bedroom if I want to."

Both Wufei and Duo gaped at the somber heir of Sanq. Duo cursed the darkness, he really wanted to see Heero's face right then. That had sounded... well, right on the limits of what a political marriage implied.

"Husband?" Wufei chocked. The fumes were clearing slowly but were still causing their eyes to sting. "Since when?!"

"Since this afternoon, actually." Duo finally managed to intervene. "The council finally signed the agreement."

"Wasn't there supposed to be some kind of ceremony? I thought this thing was going to last for months!" Wufei looked aggrieved.

"It is." Duo sighed. "But as far as the deal goes, it's done and dusted. The ink's dried on the paper." It was all very romantic. Heero and he had been in different countries at the time. Then he remembered his husband's -he'd been practicing the word for the past five hours- roadworn clothes. And the bottle and glasses, fortunately still intact on the mantelpiece.

"Wufei, go." Duo tried to keep his voice calm and polite but he reaaally didn't want his friend there right this minute. "I'm fine, as Heero said, it was just a little spell that got out of hand." Well that was true enough.

Wufei glowered at Heero as he put his katana away, nodded to Duo and turned towards the door. He stopped as he was closing it.

"Oh, congratulations, Duo." He glanced at Heero. "Yuy." He added, in a tone that wasn't so congratulatory, more along the lines of, hurt him while I'm anywhere in the vicinity and I'll rip your heart out and feed it to you. The door shut softly behind him and they heard him explain things to the nervous guards who had gathered outside.

"Well... !" Duo lit a candle with a flick of mageflame, and looked hopefully at the bottle, then at Heero, who was putting his sword away slowly, his eyes fixed on the door.

"He doesn't like me much, does he... " Duo was finely tuned to Heero's voice now, so he knew that the unemotional tones were tinged with anger and also regret.

"Well, Wuffie is stubborn. Once he gets his ideas set... he took the whole Heero-Yuy thing quite badly. The way he sees it, you betrayed us both, lied to us both, and whatever the aim, that was dishonorable in his view. He thinks in straight lines." On which point you could be identical, so no wonder you don't get along all that well, Duo thought.

"Hn." Heero turned towards him, and gently lifted the robe's collar away from Duo's neck, angling his head to catch the candlelight. "That looks nasty. Can you... ?"

"I'd better. The creature was right on one point, your white magic stinks!"

"It'd be more accurate to say it's non-existent."

"Well you have many other talents. Certainly caught it by surprise! Erm, are you okay?"

"I am not about to go insane, no." Heero replied sarcastically.

"Just checking, just checking!" Duo put a hand on his throat and let healing powers flow into the bruises, repairing torn flesh and vessels, dissolving pooled blood.

Heero was frowning. "Do you have any idea what that thing was? Where it came from? And what it wanted with you?"

"No, no, and gods I'd rather not know."

"I wish you hadn't blown it up. Jay could have told us something about it."

"Well next time a fiend like that jumps me, I'll pickle it and preserve it and present it to Jay with- with a ribbon on top!"

Heero gave his volatile friend -husband, that is, husband, he was having a hard time getting his head around the concept still- a careful look. Duo was understandably upset, it was normal. It was also normal for an upset Duo to accidentally set things on fire. It was just something his friends - his friends and now his husband!- had gotten used to in their association with him.

Distraction was key. "Hn, bottle's not broken." Heero said, turning towards the mantelpiece and so missing the sight of Duo's scowl instantly turning into a smirk.

Duo's victory was short-lived as Heero took up the wine and glasses and turned towards the door.

"Where-?"

"Trowa put my things in the guest room two doors down from here." Heero explained.

Duo just stared at him. Now that was harsh. He didn't know exactly what he'd expected on his wedding night, but being jumped by fiends and finding his husband sleeping in the guest bedroom was a bit-

Heero was holding the door open, though. "Come on, Duo!" He snapped impatiently.

"Wh-what?"

"You aren't going to sleep here, are you?" Heero glanced at the fiend laminated against the far wall, and the acrid smoke still curling like cats around the room. "If nothing else, it's no longer safe. Come on, the guest bed is comfortable." He seemed momentarily puzzled by Duo's sudden good mood as the king of Lin bounced through the door, but shrugged it off.

In the guest bedroom, Duo lounged against the bed, stretching cat-like, though not as certain about things as he seemed. He was only mildly surprised and disappointed really when he saw his husband sit down in a chair, his cloak over his knees.

"You're gonna be sleeping there, aren't you." It wasn't even a question.

"No." Heero scowled at him. "After what happened, I think it's best if I keep watch. I'll wake you in four hours and you can take over."

"Yeeeah." Duo sighed, looking at the ceiling. "So what's with the bottle?"

"Oh, yes, Zechs sent this. It's one of two he was saving for our respective weddings, for the last thirteen years."

"Eh, he's just saved himself a bottle then!"

"He'll give it to us during the final ceremony."

"Oh yeah. Erm, could I have a glass?"

Heero hesitated, then rose from the chair and sat on the edge of the bed. He dug the cork out with his dagger -Duo, who had been slightly more acclimatized to courtly behavior than his cousin, winced- and poured the liquid into the glasses which, Duo realized as he held his, were fine crystal, also from Zechs' reserve.

He took a sip and grinned.

"Wow, remind me to thank Zechs! Nice gift!"

Heero tilted his own glass, which was only half full, and leaned back against the bedpost. "That reminds me, thank you for the sword."

Duo had leaned back at an angle against the cushions, one leg dangling off the bed. "Sword?" He glanced at Heero's plain mage-blade, hanging from his hip like it had every day since Odin had died.

"The one you sent me with the marriage contract."

"Oh that. The council had that made for you." He vaguely remembered a ceremonial sword heavy with gold fauchon and semi-precious stones, with an edge that might cut butter if given a good push. "I'm not terribly hurt you're not wearing it."

"It's meant to be exposed, not used. The robe we gave you though-"

Duo yelped, his head shooting up from the pillows. "I'm supposed to wear that? What's the idea, giving me a dress anyway!"

"It's a robe, not a dress, idiot. And I told the foreign minister it was a stupid idea. But your council hinted very strongly that this was the appropriate gift for you. I think they're trying to get you to change your wardrobe." He glanced down at Duo. The black dressing gown he was wearing had been slipped on and tied over his normal clothes, exposed by a fall of the cloth. Slim black leather pants and, Heero was ready to bet, a vest to match. He twitched his eyes away from the folds of the robe, suddenly ill at ease.

Duo grunted, sinking back into the cushions. "I might be king of Lin but I'm not wearing a bloody robe. They're just going to have to get used to it." He sighed as Heero stood up and went to sit back down in his chair, settling his cloak on his leg and drawing his sword. Some wedding night.

But it wasn't surprising, really. Duo... Duo didn't really know what he wanted, he couldn't begin to put a name to it. Well, he wanted this, he wanted Heero and himself together, and friends again, and soul mates... the rest... well... this was a political marriage, and nothing more, and since no one expected them to produce heirs, there didn't need to be anything more. Hells, what they shared already went far beyond most noble marriages. Heero had certainly not shown any interest in adding any kind of... physical element to their union. The closest he'd gotten was the vigorous hug that had interrupted Duo while he was trying to find ways to convince Heero they just had to be married. That had lasted a long time, mind you, but still, it was more friendly than... Duo shook his head. He didn't know what he wanted anyway, this was probably for the best. Right?

And they were close again. That at least was certain. The past few months had been hard, seeing each other only on occasion while the councils of both country fought out the marriage deal, and both of them organizing the defense against the remaining Gap fiends, and playing political checkers with every other kingdom around them... but they were still the happiest of Duo's life.

And that was a good thing, because the coming months would be difficult.

There had been exactly four people in all of the kingdoms of the continent who'd been happy for Heero and Duo when they'd announced their engagement, daring their respective countries to disagree. Trowa and Quatre had smirked quite infuriatingly, congratulated them, then wandered off laughing together. Duo had found that slightly vexing. And the other two were Jay and G who'd bickered over whose idea it was, before agreeing that at least it was a very good one.

The other reactions...

Sanq and Lin had been at war for too long, and the scars were still fresh. And the advantages that Lin was seeking from the alliance were far from negligible. Wiser heads and colder hearts agreed to the alliance between the countries on principle; but those people had taken one look at the apparently disparate couple and had emitted grave reservations. Normal people could ruin their lives with an unwise marriage if they wanted to, but in a political marriage, fights could go from the bedroom to the battlefield in no time. No one wanted to see that happen.

It was Jay -or maybe G, depending on who you listened to- who came up with the idea. It was an old one, when the use of magic in every day life was common, and warfare rampant. An antique ritual that would insure that the heirs of the two countries would be forced to abide by the conventions of their marriage.

The circles of bonds and blood...

*

Heero glanced up at the soft wheeze. Duo's glass was listing dangerously. Heero rescued it before the wine could spill from the tilted rim. He looked down at his cousin -husband!- with a smile of quiet affection that Duo would have loved to see were he awake. He put down both glasses on the low table near the chair, then lifted Duo's legs gently onto the bed and folded the blanket around him. His fingers drifted to the rents in the dressing gown's shoulder, and the smile flickered out. He would talk to Jay first thing in the morning, and to Trowa and Quatre as well. Maybe even Wufei, he grumbled internally. He respected the oriental man, however difficult he could be, and he didn't like to leave Duo alone without a guard who knew what to expect. What had the creature wanted?

Heero sat back down in the chair, frowning at the darkness hovering around the candle's light. He knew a bit about the politics of Lin. Despite the factions that Duo had beat to accede to the throne, no one was supposed to attack him for that once he'd succeeded. But fiends from hell and sorcerers from Lin went together like two gloves. Had someone decided to break the rules? It wouldn't be the first time, he knew. He'd talk to G as well, the man was more in tune with the factions of the court of Lin.

Someone had attacked Duo. They'd wanted him alive, or things could have been a whole lot worse then they'd been. Heero scowled, an expression that worked almost as well as his newly-learned black magic bolt. Whoever had done this... well, Heero didn't feel like taking them alive. His hand flexed on the mage blade's hilt. Unless it was to kill them slowly.

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