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

Two Halves: Circles + Chapter 3
Doctor's Orders

"I don't care of you're king of Lin or my aunt Bernize, Duo, I said strip!"

On the desk four feet away, a pile of papers spontaneously combusted.

"Oh well, that's real mature! What kind of sorcerer sets things on fire at every upset?!"

"The kind you shouldn't annoy?" Duo muttered, his cheeks flaming red, though it was more embarrassment than anger.

"Ha! I've battled fiends from the thirteenth circle of Hell, boy! You don't scare me! Now off with your clothes!"

Now in a perfect word, an irresponsible and unmentionable part of Duo's mind whispered, it would be Heero saying those words (in a nicer tone of voice). Duo shuddered. He wasn't... ready to face that thought in any shape or form. And the fact it was Dr G who was barking at him, his long thin nose an inch from Duo's chin... the reality and the thought crashed headlong with a mental crunch that was enough to make him take a vow of celibacy.

The problem was, Heero was present - he was prosaically dumping a jug of water on the flaming papers on the desk- as were Jay, Quatre, Trowa, Wufei just outside the door, and probably half the kingdom of Lin in the hallway outside, eavesdropping.

"Maybe we should give Du- we should give Dr G some room to examine Duo in peace." Quatre suddenly said. Duo tried to look like he didn't care, but inwardly he was so relieved he could have made the young blond a diplomatic plenipotentiary to the country of his choice. With bells on.

"We'll be just outside the door." Trowa said over his shoulder as he took Quatre's hand and left, snagging Wufei in passing. Wufei grumbled a bit - he had been very put out when he heard about the fiend, taking it as a personal insult- but as a private person himself he probably realized what Duo was going through.

Unfortunately, not everyone left. Jay's presence was bad enough, he was standing a few feet away from Duo staring at him from behind the thumb-thick glasses. Heero hadn't left either.

"So, er, Heero, you probably have something better to do, right?" Duo asked casually while he unlaced his vest.

Heero glanced up from the desk where he was trying to rescue some of the papers from the effects of fire and water. "Nothing is more important than finding out why your powers vanished, Duo."

"I should say so!" G humph-ed. "I've been studying magic longer than either of you have been alive-"

"Cumulatively at that." Muttered Jay.

"-and you're no spring chicken either, you relic. But neither of us have heard of a spell that can stop a mage from casting. You sure it just wasn't a really tight spell-ward or anything?"

"No G, I couldn't feel any power moving at all. It was as if something had nailed it down." Duo shivered as he remembered that strangely cold, unmoving feeling as he tried to call upon the reserves of power that had been both his blessing and curse for the last six years.

"Hmm. But it's back now, I see. Don't worry, those papers were only the results of several weeks of work, nothing to worry about." G grumped. "Yet your wards were working?"

"Yes, I could feel them around me distinctly. Fat lot of good they did."

"So your powers weren't completely gone... somehow sealed... ?" The man's bright intelligent eyes glowed. "It's interesting that the fiend had summoned a weapon's ward when it was about to attack a sorcerer. It was obviously expecting the effect, and so is the likely cause, however it did it. Strip, boy."

Duo took off his leather vest and black shirt, and quickly hopped up on the laboratory bench, hoping that would be enough for G. He didn't know why he was embarrassed. Heero and he had grown up together, after all. And he might not be a steely-armed swordsman like Heero, but he wasn't weedy either. He just didn't know how he'd react if Heero looked at him and laughed. Well, smiled (this was Heero, it would take a crowbar to pry a laugh out of him). And yet it would be somehow worse if Heero looked at him and showed absolutely no feelings whatsoever.

Or didn't even look at him at all...

"You did what?!"

Duo suddenly chilled as Jay's voice reminded him that there was something more serious to worry about than G poking at him.

*

Heero scowled. It came easily to him.

"I used the smallest force I could."

"You shouldn't have used any!"

"Wait a minute." G called from where he was examining Duo. "I thought the kid here killed the creature."

"No." Heero spoke in precise tones without any hint of feeling. "I did."

"But I thought you said Duo blew it up."

"Yes. But it was already dead."

G humph-ed again."Duo, my lad, you have the worst temper I know of. Remind me not to get you angry."

Heero thought he heard Duo mutter 'Too late', but concentrated on Jay's glinting eyeglasses. He could feel his mentor scrutinizing him.

"The creature had a weapons' ward, and Duo couldn't use his magic. It was the only way I could see-"

"I knew it was a bad idea to let Maxwell teach you the rudiments of black magic!" Jay snapped. "The lust for it is in your blood, it'll be harder and harder to resist the temptation to-"

"It won't be hard at all!" Heero snarled, then caught himself, cursing inwardly. His control was shattered this morning. Mainly because he'd been unable to sleep the night before, even when Duo had relieved his watch; his body, mind and soul twanging and aching at his use of a little magic to kill the creature.

Jay was looking at him darkly, feeling him slip. It didn't matter what the cause. They both knew what would happen if Heero lost control. The prince took a hold of himself, closed off his feelings expertly. His frustration, his anxiety, his anger at seeing the faint remaining traces of bruises trailing like cruel flowers from Duo's white shoulder and neck. But one thing remained.

"Duo and I are united by marriage contract, and we are responsible for each other's safety from now on. If I had to do it again, I would. Whatever the consequences." Heero's face was like ice under the scrutiny of the cold flat surfaces of Jay's specs.

Jay's little slices of glass flashed in annoyance.

"Pah. This is why I never got married."

"You never got married cause you hate women." G threw over his shoulder as he drew a mystical rune on the chest of a twitching Duo.

"No I- well I do actually, but that's not-"

"You don't like men either for that matter."

"That doesn't mean-"

"Hell man, you don't even have any pets."

"Will you shut up you little runt! What's that got to do with any of it?!"

"Just trying to point out that you might be a good wizard but you know zilch about human relations."

"I know that the circles of bonds and blood will be no party favor for either of them if Heero's heritage drives him insane!"

"The only thing driving him insane is your nagging. One little blast is not going to make him grow a thin moustache, dress up in black and try to take over the world, you know."

"It will if he gets used to it!" (In the background, Heero muttered 'Moustache?' and Duo snapped 'Hey, I wear black!')

"I'm not going to get used to it." Heero said, voice as cold and precise as an ice carving. The reminder of the circles of bonds and blood had chilled him. He would never hesitate to use magic if there were no other way of saving Duo, but neither would he do anything to condemn his husband to sharing life and fate with a madman... or give the king of Lin the responsibility of stopping him if he took the path of his father, Treize.

He wished he'd managed to talk Jay and Duo out of using the circles as a marriage ceremony. Well, he tried to talk Jay out of it. The first words to Duo about it had resulted in the beginning of hurt in the violet eyes that had robbed him of words. Heero was well aware he was abrupt and couldn't express himself well. He didn't know how to convince Duo that the only reason he didn't want to go through with this was because of all the problems he might cause to Duo, not because he didn't want... He'd said nothing, finally, merely took it upon himself, as he signed his part of the marriage contract, to keep a tight grip on his control, his heritage, and never use magic.

That resolve had lasted the time it took him to ride from the frontier to Linheights and walk into Duo's room.

Life just loves its little ironies.

Heero ignored Jay's hectoring and cast a discreet glance at Duo, who was twitching and squirming as G drew another magical rune on his back. The faintest ghost of a smile haunted Heero's eyes. His cousin was still ticklish apparently. He wished... he wished he could be happy about this marriage, instead of worried about its consequences for Duo. He wished... he wished... the control finally settled completely in his mind, cutting out all whimsy, all weakness, all regret. He faced Jay again with eyes like flint. He knew where his duty lay.

Jay's cold panes put him under the microscope and the man finally nodded infinitesimally. No more words were necessary.

"Find anything yet? Or are you just having fun doodling on your king?" Jay turned and snapped at G.

G grunted, his hands slowly traveling an inch above his drawn runes. They glinted ever so slightly, and Duo twitched again, looking uncomfortable under their collective scrutiny. He seemed to be avoiding Heero's eyes.

"Nothing." G finally sighed, turning towards Jay. "I know Duo and his powers well, I trained him after all. He's pretty abnormal-" this got a glare from Duo who was trying to wipe the paint off of his chest- "because of the way he acquired his black magic, and the way it, er, cohabits with his white. You could make a very interesting sorcerer if you set yourself to do some serious studying, lad." He tossed in Duo's direction. "You're pretty much unique, I'd say. But as far as I know there's still no way your black magic should have been inaccessible to you at that point. So... next time, try not to blow your attacker up, right? And maybe we can find out where it comes from, what it is and how it did that."

Duo and Heero's eyes met, and they both frowned. Next time...

"Duo, I suggest you double your guard. And include some real sorcerers in it." Heero grimaced. "Wu Fei would defend you tooth and nail but he has the magical ability of a rock, and none of his picked guards are any better. You should have a sorcerer around you at all times, at least until we can figure this out."

Duo sagged a bit, he hated to lose what little privacy he had, but of course Heero was right. He sighed as he pulled on his shirt.

"Okay, let's get this organized. We also have to plan for the first circle, in a couple of weeks."

"Hn."

"Hn whatever, I'm not getting stuck with all the work, Yuy. Why don't you haul in Wufei and we can get things rolling."

Heero walked to the door as he made his own plans. Duo would not be vulnerable like that again. Wufei would hate him for interfering but he would make sure Duo's guard in Linheights was impregnable, by steel or magic. Duo could be cautious when he needed to be, he would stick to the palace. There was nothing, Heero thought with finality, that would get his cousin to leave Linheights, until they could figure out what was going on.

[chap. 2] [chap. 4] [back to Maldoror's fic]