see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Halves: Circles + Chapter 8
Heero stood, mage-blade ready
if useless, staring up into his death, and there was precious little he
Something hit him between the shoulder blades and he fell just as the
fiend let loose a roaring spear of flame straight at him at point blank
The weight on him was of a warm, familiar body instead of an avalanche
of burning death. The later recoiled off of Duo's wards as the sorcerer
sheltered him with his body and cursed him thoroughly.
"-damn it you're always doing that, if this guy doesn't
kill you I will, by the lords of the eleventh circle of hell, so
help me if you ever-"
"I guessed it changed its mind about wanting me alive." Heero muttered,
as the lance of flames slowly flickered out.
"You ass, you never believe anything a hellspawn fiend tells you, that's
the first rule of summoning! The second one is, don't piss them off by
poking holes in them!"
The flaming death subsided and they glanced up, Heero twisting around
and squirming up onto his elbows.
The fiend was floating higher, and it seemed to be gloating.
So little mageling, what are you going to do now?
"That's your Majesty to you, you bastard. I'm a lord of Lin and we eat
things like you for breakfast!"
You've never met a thing like me. You may be a Lord of Lin, boy, but I
am a Lord of Hell!
Heero saw Duo's face suddenly go blank as it watched the fiend ascend
higher, stretching a leisurely hand out to blast them again. Then his
cousin put a hand over his head and ducked back against Heero.
"You're also the Lord of idiots... " Duo muttered.
Heero stared at the fiend poised to blast them, probably strongly enough
to disperse even Duo's wards. And gasped.
Two, then three lances of dark power caught the fiend sideways, slewing
it across the sky.
The thing screamed as fire erupted, it dodged one lance only to be caught
by another. Then Duo reared up, coughing through the smoke, lifted his
hands, and let loose with all he had.
The fiend, pinpointed by several sources of major power, let out one final
shriek and disintegrated into a shower of flame and ash.
Outside the fiery barrier...
"So, G, what kind of monster is dumb enough to create a repulsive barrier
like that, then floats up above it so we can conveniently knock his ass
out from under him?"
"I don't know, Jay... a hot-headed one?"
"... That was bad even for you."
"Well I'm worried about Duo."
"You're not the only one."
The escort was frantic. The fire that had magically separated them from
their charges had set the forest alight; horses were panicking, men swearing,
trying to beat out flames and get nearer... Amon, Duo's second in command
in matters of sorcery, was staring white-faced at the barrier. He'd helped
the doctors nail the fiend, but this...
"If we blast that-"
"It will collapse inward, and kill them. Assuming they're still alive."
"Duo is, I'd recognize his power signature anywhere, he let fly at the
bastard." G rubbed his long nose and glared at the fire. "I hope he's
got enough power left to rupture it from inside. He's too dodgy at teleporting
to get them both out without a landmark. Any other ideas? Anything we
"I'm thinking... " Jay growled, his face tense and worried, staring at
Wufei who was scorching the air with swearwords from his native tongue
as he tried to get near enough to the barrier to help, however futile
"Duo, are you okay?"
His cousin was coughing and gasping. The air was getting terribly thin
and poisonous. We have to get out of here soon, Heero thought anxiously,
as he glared at the barrier, which showed no signs of disintegrating along
with its creator.
"Shit!" Duo gasped, following his line of thought. "I thought it would
be gone! I'm tapped out."
Heero felt cold sweat trickle down his back. "Your wards?"
"Still have those, so we -cough!- won't burn to -gasp- death, until we
choke that is."
Heero felt the air singe his lungs, his voice rasped. "Is there anything
you can do? Duo!" His cousin was getting a glazed look in his eyes. The
exhaustion of burning up all that power with the lack of oxygen and the
fumes were overcoming him quicker than Heero.
Heero glared around the clearing, then put an arm around Duo and helped
him to the centre, where some air was hopefully left. It didn't help much.
Heero tensed his own powers, looking at the barrier. He grimaced and lifted
"Don't bother." Duo's voice was soft, barely heard over the flames. "You
know how to seal dimensional breaches just fine, but your blasts are pitiful.
You don't have the power. It will die down now that the caster is dead."
"It will? When?!"
"Well that's the question... " Duo wheezed, a strange smile on his lips.
Heero hesitated. Duo was panting against him, coughing once in awhile.
The smoke was bearable here, but the air was terribly thin, Heero felt
his head spin, his hands tremble as they supported his cousin. He let
them both sink to the ground, on their knees, evading some of the smoke.
The heat was getting oppressive.
He could try it, in a minute or two, if he had nothing else to lose. If
he exhausted himself, well, it would only kill him faster at that point.
"Heero, just wanted to let you know, I realized something... "
Damn it, why were the others outside not doing anything? The doctors could
teleport - no, not blind, of course, and with the fire and smoke, they
could misjudge... but surely they could-
"I don't love you like a friend... "
- blast their way in! His head was spinning so badly, they didn't have
much time to-
"What?" Heero blinked down at Duo who was staring at him in a vague way.
"... not like a brother... "
"What are you-"
Duo grabbed him by the vest, put a hand behind his head, pulled him down
and kissed him, lips gentle, slightly parted. He tasted of wood smoke
and burning fire.
For someone with uncanny reflexes, Heero took a few long seconds to react,
the lips a mere warm pressure against his. Unsure how to react. In that
instant of hesitation and uncertainty, it was as if someone else, who
was not the perfect warrior Jay had forged, was leaning in slowly, wrapping
arms around Duo and- tilting his head to- parting lips gently and-
The explosion sent most of the remaining horses shooting away from the
woods in panic, and some of the lighter guards staggered.
"That was Duo!" Wufei shouted over his shoulder as he bounded towards
the clearing, which was becoming visible through hazes of smoke, the barrier
around it blown away from the inside.
"How do you know?" Trowa asked reasonably, though he felt a surge of hope
that his friends were still alive as he followed the oriental youth.
"Duo and explosions go together like your two blades."
The forest wildfire the barrier had started crackled and leapt around
"Sally, stay back!"Wufei barked.
Sally's answer was a greater tribute to her soldier's training than to
her feminine qualities. Behind her, Amon blushed.
"There!" Wufei leapt over a burning branch, and, gasping at the smoke
searing his lungs, staggered into the clearing.
Wufei, Sally and Trowa ran towards the two prone figures near the center
of the clearing who were, thankfully, beginning to stir.
"Duo! Yuy!" Wufei quickly knelt by his king. Two soot-stained faces looked
up at him, they appeared unharmed but nearly unconscious from smoke inhalation.
But they had enough strength to gasp as one: "What happened?"
Wufei stared at them, then decided he didn't much care where the liberating
blast had come from, in the circumstances, and he and Trowa dragged them
away. Behind them, a broken down hovel was finally burning to ashes in
the center of the clearing, closing a final chapter to its history without
anyone noticing its demise.
[chap. 9] [back to