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

Two Halves: Circles + Chapter 22 - Epilogue
Final Circle

The high priest of the sacred heart of Bordton smoothed down his ceremonial regalia as he lingered near the altar, waiting for the noon hour when the ceremony would start. His robe had been custom made for the occasion. Bordton was - at the moment - a fairly small town near the frontier between Sanq and Lin, in rolling heather-filled foothills. Since it was now lying in the middle of a region designated for Lin's expansion, and there was talk of making it a secondary capital for both royals who were getting married here today, the high priest had high hopes that the status of the town - and his own - would soon improve. Which was why he'd spent so much effort on his robe, to reflect what he felt would soon be his new position in the world.

It was so heavy with gold inlay, semi-precious stone insets and embroidery, he was probably going to have to be helped to the altar, or possibly wheeled.

This was his moment to shine, to show King Zechs, Prince Heero and the King of Lin, who would also be his new boss shortly, that he was a man to be counted on, and had a certain weight in the temple hierarchy (twenty pounds give or take, according to his grumbling assistant who'd helped him on with the robe).

As such everything today had to go perfectly! There was no margin for error. When the royals arrived in less than an hour, the ceremony had to go like clockwork to demonstrate - what in god's name was that?!

The high priest didn't stagger back in shock (robe...) but glared in horror and fury at the- the common street creature who was leaning against the clean white cloth of the altar. Flipping through the sacred text of the ceremony! And- and sipping the sacrificial wine!!

The high priest croaked, then spun - his robes remained facing in the same direction - to look for help. He was the leader of the temple, it wasn't his duty to throw wretches out. Especially dangerous looking ones; the man was dressed head to toe in well-worn black leathers - definitely a bad character - with long hair tied back in a braid and gleaming eyes that were almost purple. Maybe - the thought flickered briefly through the high priest's head as he glanced back fearfully at those eyes....he'd heard of the recent invasion of fiends that King Zechs has successfully repealed. Maybe one of them had gotten away...? Where was help when you needed it!? Ah, a guard!

"You! Get that ruffian away from the altar immediately!" He hissed at the guard; one of Zechs' soldiers, dressed in basic leather armour adorned with the Sanq symbol on the shoulder. The man had a plain sword handy at his side and a nasty no-nonsense look about him. Just the kind to kick out the creature. He was giving the high priest an unreadable look that made his eminence pause. But before he could pull rank, the guard walked towards the altar. The high priest sighed in relief.

Then stared in horror as the guard merely leaned against the altar in very much the same pose as the creature, eyes on the sacred texts.

"So, what's it look like?" A callused hand reached caressingly down the black-clad back to bring the braid around. As the high priest started to choke, the guard absently pressed the bound hair to his lips and leaned over the wretch's shoulder.

"Nothing to it." The ruffian said, tossing down the last of the wine. "It's all mumbo-jumbo. What matters is the circle, the exchange of blood, and the exchange of gifts. You bring me anything?"

The guard's eyes gleamed in the light spilling through the decorated glass windows of the temple. "My life? My soul? My body? My heart? Which one do you want?"

Violet-blue eyes slowly turned to plunge into cobalt pools. "Oh, all of them."

"Greedy bastard." The hard planes of the face softened in a slight smile.

"Well, I'll give you all of mine in exchange, is that fair?" Eyes locked.

"Deal."

"Will you two please stop this sickening display before I lose whatever appetite I have for the nuptial feast?!"

The high priest nearly fell over - which would have been a disaster unless the royals minded that he conduct the ceremony lying down where he'd fallen - as a rusty old voice snarled the words a few feet away from him. He stared at the scruffy wild-haired elderly man who was glaring at the vagrants as if personally insulted. A thin, scarred nose seemed to dip down and berate the two like an admonishing finger.

"Can you please go fetch the temple guards?" the high priest hissed at him. "I am the high priest of Bordton and I demand-"

"Are you now? Nice robe. Shiny." The man answered without even looking in his direction.

"What?...I order you to go fetch the guards! We must get these creatures removed before the two royals appear!"

The long nose hesitated then swung in his direction. "...say what?"

"Hurry man! The guests are about to arrive!"

"They're already here." Another man drew level with the short long-nosed one, glass spectacles gleaming. "Why are the boys staring at each other like that, G? They having a fight already?"

"If only. Then the only things flying around would be harsh words and a few metaphorical fireworks. Not real ones. Duo, Heero, break it up already! This is a nice little church, let's not accidentally raze it to the ground because you two couldn't get your hormones under control!"

Violet eyes blinked and twitched in the speaker's direction. "G!!"

"What?"

"I think they rather wanted to keep that little problematic detail of their private lives private, you senile old fossil." The taller man with the long moustache and strange glasses smirked, though he looked more amused than reproving.

"Ah, who's going to hear? Apart from the raving magpie in the heavy suit over there, and he's a priest, he probably didn't catch my drift anyway."

"And how about all the rest of the guests?"

The long-nosed man - and the horrified high priest - suddenly realized that the church had picked up a few additions. Men at arms for the most part. The priest stared at them in turn. There was a tall man dressed in green bearing a long-suffering air and white-gold hair fading to silver, a sword at his belt. In fact they were all armed! Behind him stood two young men, a palace guard in brown leathers with strange unruly bangs and a golden haired boy in light chain mail; a pair of wicked looking short-swords hung on both their belts. They were - the high priest gaped - holding hands. Next to them was the only person who seemed to take any notice of the high priest. A dark-haired man with a tight pony-tail, dressed in Lin guard leathers. He was glaring at the priest as if disapproving of the man's inspection of the ragtag multitude. In fact, he looked fairly dangerous - the priest managed to shuffle one step back under the ebony glare - until yet another Lin guard put a hand in his and he turned towards her with a surprised start. He stared at her for a few seconds as if planning to snatch his hand away, but instead gave the priest one last challenging glare that made his eminence swallow hard, and turned his black eyes firmly towards the front of the church as if planning to look straight ahead of him for the rest of his life. The female guard smiled sardonically at him but as she glanced down at their linked hands the smile became private and gentle.

A few more people had gathered at the back, a mixture of Lin and Sanq nobility - the real guests starting to arrive! This was a disaster! An unmitigated - had that man called them 'Heero' and 'Duo'?!

The tall blonde man was staring at the high priest. "Well, get a move on, your eminence! I know we're early but the boys want to bypass the pomp and cut things short, and for once I'm inclined to indulge them." His voice was regal, as was his bearing under the simple green tunic. The high priest felt the floor of the church open beneath him to plunge him into horrified confusion.

"Oh, we don't even need glitter-boy over there." The black-clad ruffian - Duo Maxwell, King of Lin!! - said. "We just need someone to say the words, spill a bit of our blood and do the honours. It can be anyone."

"Well thank the gods for that!" The long-nosed man said with a huff. "He looks long-winded, and I'm starving."

"Be polite, both of you!" His bespectacled friend rasped. "This is his temple after all. He's an important member of the community. You'll have to deal with him in the future, Duo, once you and Yuy build an estate here."

The long-nosed elder and the King of Lin ignored this. But the prince of Sanq slowly turned from his contemplation of the braided man to cast a long, threatening look at the priest who'd called his husband a 'ruffian'.

The high priest took the best option available to him and quickly fainted.

---

The crash of twenty pounds (give or take) of robe hitting the flagstones distracted G for a few seconds. Once Sally assured them that the man was still breathing, he returned to the business at hand.

"Well, now that the windbag is out of the way, who does the ceremony? And don't say me, I've already gone through the stupid song and dance once."

"And the last thing anyone wants to see is you singing and dancing." Jay affirmed. "Zechs, you're the closest to them here. Do the honours."

"Me?" Zechs stared back. "But what do I have to-"

"Go up, read out the words Maxwell points to you, make a small cut in their hands with the dagger on the altar, join them together, say a few - a very few - deep and meaningful words to mark the occasion, then we can finally call an end to all this rigmarole. Easy."

"Easy." Zechs muttered but did as he was told. Heero and Duo stepped into the circle. Zechs read awkwardly through the arcane words in the text, cheerfully ignored the rest of the long ceremony, let them exchange ring tokens as the traditional gift, then fetched the dagger from the altar.

"Did someone think of disinfecting that thing?" G's mutter echoed from the vaulted stone ceiling.

"Shh, you old fool! This is supposed to be a solemn occasion!"

"If they die of blood poisoning, their funerals will be a bundle of laughs."

"Good point. I'm not going through all this circus again. I've had to play bloody matchmaker to get peace in this forsaken region for the next few decades, I'm not putting it all back on the boiler. Zechs! Heat the dagger in that torch over there."

"Hey!" Two voices rang out at once.

"And then let it cool down a little. Wimps." Jay added under his breath.

Zechs rolled his eyes to the vaulted ceiling and did as he was told once more. It would be a relief when the two crossroad wizards went back to their respective holes and left him to rule his kingdom by himself.

He pricked the strong hands held out to him, remembering two pairs of small grubby fists reaching for his knees to hitch a ride on his legs, or tug at him for comfort. Damn, he was proud of the way his boys had grown into two fine men and rulers, but he didn't have to like it! The growing up part that is. And of course, no grandchildren...Heero would have to adopt an heir, hopefully he'd choose a young child. The warrior-king of Sanq wouldn't mind having someone hitch a ride on his legs once again...

The two hands joined, blood mingled. Everyone looked at Zechs for a few solemn words to conclude the ceremony.

Zechs glared at his heir, a stern pillar of strength, and the king of Lin, intelligent warm eyes dancing as they caught his. Two fine men...

"Watch each other's backs! If either of you screw this up, I'll tan your hides like you were ten years old again! Now give each other a hug or whatever and let's go eat."

"Ah-" G said suddenly.

Heero and Duo grinned at each other, eyes locking.

"Actually, Zechs-" Jay started.

Grins faded into something else, and the two spouses leaned towards each other slowly.

"That might not be a good idea-" G said quickly.

Heero's free hand reached for Duo's shoulder, tugging his husband into a firm embrace.

"Boys!"Jay barked.

Lips touched, lightly at first, a quick brush like a moment of recognition. Then Duo's hand slipped around Heero's neck and pulled the prince of Sanq into a slow sensual kiss.

"Shit! Jay, put up some shields!"

"And what good would that do if the roof caves in!"

"Break them up!"

"What are you two goats going on about?!" A scandalized Wufei barked, glaring at wizards. "Leave them alone!"

The kiss deepened, bodies meeting and melding, eyes closing...

"... okay, maybe break them up a little bit, this is getting embarrassing." Wufei muttered, putting his free fist on his hips and glaring at his boots, his face reddening. Besides him, Sally rolled her eyes but then gave him a smile that warmed the cold stones of the temple.

Behind the guests, the tall white candles flared and melted abruptly, and the tapestries twisted in a sudden breeze that didn't come from outside but - the two embarrassed wizards concluded - that was apparently the only result of the kiss. Familiarity had taken some of the control-jarring shock from the act. But, from the way the spouses were clinging to each other, the magic was still there...

"Well fortunately for us, the negative effects appear to be fading... " G muttered defensively, rubbing his nose and glancing around, discomfited. Jay was already half way out the door with a firm step and a sour look, intending to get away from all the smooching and back to his quiet Wastes.

Heero and Duo broke the kiss, though they remained pressed together. Duo whispered something into Heero's ear.

"Er- can you set up a-... here?" Two small points of bright color appeared on Heero's cheeks.

Duo grinned and, eyes still lost in mesmerizing blue, threw over his shoulder: "Hey, G! Can I borrow your room at the inn and your magical supplies for, say, a few hours?"

"My-What?!Don't you dare-"

"Thanks!" Duo was already pulling Heero away, with a cheerful wave at the guests. "We'll see you all later. Maybe. Have fun at the feast!"

The two spouses nearly bowled over a grumbling Jay at the door and disappeared into the sunshine outside, hand in hand.

- OWARI -

*sags in relief* Wow a total of 50 chapters for both Two Halves fics. This was the first fic I put online, and its been with me from the start, I feel all funny now that it's over. Well, thanks for reading, that's all I can say! It was fun to write, and the feedback you all sent me helped shape the story and the writing style considerably. Thanks again!

[chap. 21] [back to Maldoror's fic]