Author: Maldoror
Disclaimer: The usual, Gundam Wing belongs to it's owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off of them. Not a single peanut.
Rated R for language, lots of violence, sexual content
see chap. 1 for more notes

The Source Of All Things + Chapter 14
Wing and Shenlong

Onyx eyes travelled slowly and unhurriedly up and down Heero’s frame, lingered over the hard, stubborn face. Finally, the Dragon smiled, a small movement of the lips that didn’t reach the ebony pupils.

“I’d give you one last chance to hand over Wing but I don't think I'll bother.” He said, and his mecha roiled and rustled over his skin, forming another dragon head on his left wrist. “I’d be wasting my time. There’s only one way this is going to end, isn’t it?”

Heero glared at him and balled his fists, but made no other move to prepare. Wufei stared at him for a few more seconds, analysing, then-

Both dragon heads shot off of his wrists- which he’d not even cocked or aimed- to arc and home in on Heero from two different directions, the crests of two waves of force that crashed into the dark-haired man and hurled him forward to meet a hard fist punching towards his gut as the Dragon launched himself a second behind the power surges and rammed into his adversary with practiced brutality.

Duo had been expecting something but his jaw still hit the ground at the intricate, deadly move- and at the fact that Heero, though knocked onto his back several feet away, was still gamely climbing to his feet, a hand rubbing his abdomen gingerly. This time Duo had seen it; a slight blue-white flicker in the air, like static snow, that had erupted briefly at the points the Dragon had struck. Wing was shielding Heero, had been even when it was quiescent, when Wufei had first attacked him. Interesting.

Wufei had made no move to follow through; he appeared intent on studying his adversary. Which meant, Duo realized with a shudder, these might not be serious strikes but mere probes to judge Heero’s abilities.

“Imp?”

“Master?”

“...grab onto me, ‘kay? It suddenly occurs to me we might need to bug out of here very quickly if that Dragon really loses his rag.”

Imp glomped his wrist whole-heartedly and continued to stare at the contest before them.

Wufei was circling Heero slowly, eyes dissecting him where he stood. Heero glared back at him, but seemed in no hurry to attack. Maybe he doesn’t know how to, Duo thought suddenly. He can beat up rocks real good but he might not be sure how to fight someone who’s armoured like himself.

The Dragon’s restraint surprised Duo. They weren’t known for it. In fact, they were rather known for the ‘nuke it first and scrape it up later’ approach to fighting. Unless...Duo suddenly wondered if the fact that Wing had apparently accepted Heero as its owner had changed the fight’s meaning for the Dragon, from the quick extermination of a thief to a combat among equals. Dragons duelled for social rank ­and possibly for the sheer fun of it, they were kinda weird, Duo sniffed internally- and they had set rules for that sort of thing. The fact the Dragon had given Heero his name indicated this might be a proper duel in his eyes. Chang might also be afraid of damaging Wing, although considering all that the mecha had been through before getting this far, it would take a frightful amount of force to dent it. All this might give Heero a little bit of an edge. Or it might just mean he was going to die slowly and painfully instead...

Wufei lunged forward and launched a quick flurry of punches at Heero, who finally began to react. So far all he’d done was dust himself off when getting back up again. Now he was dodging a bit, eyes intent on his opponent’s movements.

Duo remembered the fight with the bandits. Heero wasn’t one to take the offensive, you normally had to touch him to set him off. That could be a problem...

The Dragon was still probing, but his intent was lethal. A punch slipped through that would have crushed Heero's temple if Wing hadn't shielded. Heero staggered, balance lost. Wufei followed through smoothly and without hesitation, fist punching into his enemy's groin -Duo winced and Heero nearly fell to his knees- then swinging his other fist up and over and down towards the nape of Heero's neck to finish it, the killing blow applied with almost clinical detachment. Duo was on his feet but he needn't have bothered; Heero fell straight towards the ground under the blow as if he felt it coming, rolled swiftly away from an instinctive kick to his ribs, rose smoothly to his feet, and fell back into a defensive posture.

The Dragon snarled, fell back, eyes narrowed. A flicker of blue ran over his armour-

“Nai No Kami turn me into a worm!” Duo suddenly hissed. “Did you see that, imp? Did you? The light on Chang's armour?”

Imp found itself ripped from the sleeve and squeezed in a fist, thrust towards the scene of battle.

 “Wh-what, master? His armour is flickering like Heero’s-“

“Yes! It should only be doing that when someone strikes it!”

Imp stared up at Duo’s jubilant features. The hand gripping it ground it in tense excitement, then banged it distractedly against the rock as another of the Dragon’s strikes impacted on Heero and sent him reeling back; imp was thankful that it wasn’t a living creature that could actually feel anything. It would be tough to be Shinigami's servant otherwise.

“Don’t you get it, imp? This Shenlong he’s wearing...it’s unstable! Damaged!”

Imp didn’t know if it liked the sound of that. “Is it going to blow up, master?”

“No! Well...I hope not.” Duo amended. He didn’t know that much about Dragon Scale armour. “But it does mean he can’t use it at full potential! Heero might have a chance!”

“Why isn’t he using it master?”

“Er...”

Duo brought his attention to the fight again, in time to see Heero step back from a flurry of very expert blows, one step, then another. Wing spat and flickered under the assault.

“Come on, Heero...don’t space out on me now.” Duo muttered, worried. Wing’s energy shield protected Heero but it was more like padding than an aura of invulnerability. Heero had to be feeling those blows, and hurting. Despite the tension, a small part of Duo couldn’t help but be fascinated with the skill and grace the Dragon exhibited as he took Duo’s designated champion apart with smooth, deadly blows. Chang Wufei was young but he’d obviously been a warrior since the earliest age. He still wasn’t taking any risks, stance ready to defend even as he backhanded Heero ­ the brown-haired man staggered- then spun and swept his leg up in a vicious kick to his side that sent him crashing into the ground.

Heero scrambled up again gamely. Imp felt the rocks that composed it grind in the grip of its master.

Heero stood up again. Hands by his side. Head slightly down.

Wufei hesitated. It looked like Heero was giving up, his pose was completely defenceless. The Dragon’s fist twitched; it wasn’t pity but slight disgust that was holding him back, he normally didn’t attack and finish off the weak. And despite Wing’s amazing display, the man had visibly not mastered it, didn’t even know how to fight...Too bad. Wufei snarled and hurled himself at the thief, intending to finally finish it. His fist hammered into Heero full-force.

Behind his rock protection, Duo’s hand shot up in a hopeless attempt to cast some kind of shield, knowing that even Wing wouldn’t resist that blow-

There was a solid hum and a shower of small sparks ­ and a ripple of force around the Dragon’s target.

Heero collapsed to one knee under the force of the downward blow to his head but...he was alive. Duo stared in amazement ­and so did the Dragon.

Heero’s head was bowed almost to the ground and he was shaking it slightly but by all rights he should be dead. Duo blinked, trying to process what had happened. He'd seen a glow, felt a wall of force surge around Heero, it had-

“You...” The Dragon was staring, and he seemed to know what had happened...

Heero slowly lifted his head, but he didn’t look at the man standing dangerously just above him. He negligently wiped the trickle of blood running down his chin, and stood. Wufei fell back a step, eyes narrowing, armour crackling and spitting like a cat.

“Hn.”  The grunt sounded satisfied.

The Dragon snarled. On his wrist the metal dragon head suddenly pulsed with power and Wufei sent a propelled fist straight at Heero’s chest.

There was a solid noise tinged with the skittering crackle of Dragon Scale energy.

Heero had moved like lightning and was holding Wufei’s fist a few inches away from his heart.

The sombre man slowly lifted his head ­he hadn’t even been looking, Duo thought, dizzy ­ and finally stared at his adversary.

“You are very good.” He said. It wasn’t a compliment, it was a statement of fact.

Wufei tried to rip his fist away but it was caught in a steel trap, Heero’s hand squeezing slowly. The seasoned warrior didn’t even blink; the second dragon head warped the air around it with a surge of power as the left fist shot out towards Heero, quicker than the human eye could really follow-

Another crack.

Heero had caught the second fist, almost casually.

Cobalt blue eyes stared into deep black. “But I have what I was missing now.”

Muscles beneath Wing’s partial metal protection suddenly flexed and Wufei staggered slightly.

Heero smiled.

“Now it’s my turn.”

Powerful arms jerked Wufei forward and down, and Heero’s armoured knee rose up to ram into the Dragon’s torso. Wufei had twisted instinctively but his movements were limited by the captured fists and the blow still landed true. The Dragon did not make a sound though. He continued to coil, knees bending then springing back, and a savage twist wrenched one fist out of Heero’s grasp ­ cobalt blue eyes widened in surprise- and the arm swung up and around to hammer into Heero’s. Wing spat and flickered, and Heero staggered forward under the blow to his forearm. For an instant his grip on the second fist loosened and the Dragon hauled it away.

Duo watched, mouth dry and slightly open, as the opponents fell a few feet back, eyeing each other warily. Wufei was rubbing his abdomen, and his body language spoke of pain. Heero was the same as always, though Duo thought his stance looked slightly...cautious. Apparently the Dragon had surprised him. The look was dousing the slight flicker of hope that had started to burn in Duo’s heart. Heero...Heero was a lot better than he'd thought, and very impressive but...but this was a Dragon, a born and bred killer - warrior, Duo corrected himself, as a slight feeling of admiration, completely unwelcome, flashed through his mind. Even damaged, his armour was a part of him and he could use it to full capacity.

“You’re trying to mesh with Wing.” The Dragon’s eyes were fixed in hate on Heero. “But you are not one of us. How dare you!”

Heero cracked the knuckles of one fist, eyes fixed on the Dragon. “Wing wants me to.”

“What?” Wufei sounded more puzzled than affronted.

But if the Dragon wanted a better explanation-

Heero leapt forward, fist swinging. His opponent fell back a step, arm shooting up to block instinctively. The blow caused a cascade of white sparks from Shenlong and shoved Wufei back a foot, boots scoring the hard ground. The Dragon dodged the next two blows, and took another on the shoulder as his own fist swung at his attacker - Heero spun and his leg snaked out, crashing into Wufei’s side and driving him to one knee. Heero - who probably didn’t know what fighting fair meant - continued in the momentum of the spin and brought both fists, locked together, hammering down on the bent form-

A burst of sparks and light and the Dragon wasn’t under that terminal blow but a few feet away, hovering- Duo stared, jaw hitting the rock below - hovering a few feet in the air, energy pulsing under him, before flickering out and dropping him to the ground.

“Dragons can fly?” Imp squeaked, surprised.

“Only the best...oh man! If his armour wasn’t damaged Heero would be cat food by now!” Duo stared, violet eyes wide in anguish. Then he caught himself. Heero didn’t appear to be in any danger actually...

Heero dropped into an aggressive stance, but seemed to be waiting for the Dragon’s next move.

Now if it had been Duo fighting that relentless machine in Chang's place, he’d have turned tail and run at that point. Duo was fully conscious that his life was very, very important in the scheme of things, and however powerful he was - the extent of which no one else was fully aware of - he knew from first hand experience that there were things stronger than he was out there. He wouldn’t have attacked an unknown quantity like Heero without thorough investigation first. In short, he’d have used his usual tactic - run and hide - then watched. Analyzed. Then, as discreetly and quietly as possible...destroyed, in the most subtle and underhand way possible, staying in the shadows and giving his enemies no clue as to the full extent of his abilities. This was instinctive to him, ground into his very bones by five years of careful plotting, observing, hiding, preparing...He could only stare in bemusement as the Dragon smiled, nodded in slight acknowledgement of the challenge, and leaped at Heero like a bullet.

Brave...stupid, but brave...

Blows rang, armour spat and crackled, the two figures dodged and weaved in a growing cloud of dust that was rising on the crest of the static generated by the Scale. Duo’s eyes tried frantically to follow the moves ­his fist squeezing poor imp who put up with it good-naturedly ­ and decided that...despite everything...Heero was definitely holding his own. He hadn't even used his sword yet, Duo realized. He still had that to rely on if he felt pressed.

Heero dodged and retaliated viciously and the Dragon went staggering back several feet, hand clutching his shoulder.

Duo started to grin, the Shinigami smirk.  “He’s got a chance! He’s actually got a-“

Heero leapt forward, fist swinging again and, before the Dragon could fully recuperate, the blow went crashing into his chest.

Shenlong screamed  - its owner still stoically silent- as the fist ploughed through its barrier and scored open the flesh beneath, blood and shards of armour peppering Heero’s arm. Wing's master immediately struck again but the Dragon managed to dodge that blow and fall back again.

“Heero-“ Duo’s face was tense, eyes shining like beacons of excitement and hope. “Heero, if you win this, if you can win this...I’ll worship you! I’ll...I swear by my oath, if you are the victor you can even claim my body as your prize!”

Imp wrinkled its minute brow. “I thought he didn’t want it, master.”

There was a few seconds of tense silence. Imp slowly lifted its eyes to meet a solid amethyst glare and winced.

 “...A guy can dream, right?” Duo muttered, then turned back towards the action.

Something like a shot rang out and Wufei gasped, as an intercepted blow cracked Shenlong’s plate along his forearm. His face had paled as if the bone had been shattered instead of the armour but still he didn’t cry out.

Duo’s smile flickered slightly.

Heero pressed the attack, relentless. The Dragon managed to dodge and send a blow crashing into Heero’s thigh, and the sombre one staggered almost to his knees ­ Wufei sent the second fist flying, aiming to break Heero’s neck but an arm solid as the bones of the earth shot up and blocked and barely shivered under the strength of the blow, Wing’s slivers of light dancing briefly. Heero shot up to his feet and struck the Dragon twice, Shenlong blocking some of the force but enough got through - Wufei staggered and this time was unable to fully dodge the two-handed blow that crashed into his shoulder. He went down with another pained gasp but still...no cry.

Duo’s face twitched slightly, eyes wide. The trademark light-hearted grin seemed painted on; the eyes were like glass.

Something was happening to Wing. Even without any blows, energy was rippling up and down Heero’s arms, and suddenly his punches were even fiercer, quicker. Wufei, dazed, on the defensive, could only block and let Shenlong soak up the damage, but it was obvious even to Duo, who didn’t know that much about mecha, that it couldn't do that for long.

Heero stepped back two paces, air warping around him, and lifted his arms -

- for an instant the scene froze, and Wufei looked up at those hard fists aiming at him with something like acceptance and Duo felt even the smile slip ­

- and raging force erupted from Wing’s wrist guards, picking up the Dragon and sending him hurtling fifty feet away, to crash into the rock face on the side of the road. Dust bellowed as the form slumped, though a hand still scrabbled at the ground, in reflex-

“Mother Earth! Those things are hard to kill!” Imp gasped, amazed, but glad that against all odds its master’s candidate had apparently beaten his foe.

Dust rose like a funeral bonfire as Shenlong crackled and its energy field whipped the air futilely...and died.

Heero was staring at his wrist guards in surprise. Duo realized that the surge of power had been instinctive, born of Wing’s programming and his desires, and had taken him more by surprise than it had the Dragon - the memory of a look of acceptance, almost of peace, flashed through Duo’s mind -

Heero looked up and his eyes narrowed at the form in the billowing dust. He slowly raised an arm.

Quatre isn’t here to stop him this time, Duo thought. And it wasn’t Heero’s nature to let a fallen enemy live. It was more thoroughness than cruelty, but it was just as implacable.

Imp suddenly found itself plastered against Duo’s jerkin as its master shoved it against his shoulder, freeing his hands. “Hang on, imp. Things are about to get noisy.”

Imp clung on for dear life, and felt the brush of a teleport field. Good! They were obviously not needed and it was high time to get out of there before something blew up in their vicinity.

Power rippled along Wing’s plate, and Heero’s eyes widened at the response...and he smiled again. His eyes were hard and uncaring as they centred on the still form ­ and fired.

- The teleport field  - feeling strangely warped - wrenched imp twice and nearly shook its hold but then they were gone -

Smoke and rock dust flared out from the blast area and Heero took a step back, coughing. Then he moved forward swiftly. And stopped.

He heard footsteps behind him and turned quickly. Trowa raised his arms and flinched, but Heero dropped the fist he’d raised instinctively and nodded in recognition.

The shaman approached slowly, eyes still wide. He was glad Heero was alive but...he rather wished Quatre hadn’t been witness to that display. They’d dragged the horses and the vardo behind a rock outcropping some distance back, and had caught the tail end of the fight. When Trowa saw where the lines of battle and fate were going he’d tried to get his young lover to concentrate on the horses but the healer had still seen the cold execution of Heero’s attacker.

Er...Or had he...

“Where- where’s the body?” The shaman came up to Heero’s level and stared at the rock face, blasted and partly melted and blown into the road in lumps from the size of his head to smaller than his fist.

There was a lot of rock, but no bloodied, mangled remains...

Heero looked as puzzled as he was.

*

The whoosh of displaced air caused ripples on the surface of the cold water near Duo’s hide-out.

Imp dropped its death-hold on its master’s leather jerkin and flew unsteadily to a nearby rock.

“That was noisy! But at least your candidate won, mast-...Master?!”

Imp nearly shrieked as it turned around and saw that Duo was still kneeling, carefully holding to his chest the still form of the bloodied Dragon.

“What are you doing, Master! I thought Heero had killed it!”

“Yeah, well, that would be a pity, right?” Duo’s hand ghosted over Wufei’s head in the crook of his shoulder, feeling the deep wound in the black hair freed by the shock against the rock. Then he scowled at the injury in the sturdy chest. Shenlong had absorbed some of the damage but the Dragon was still in bad shape.

“But-but-...” Imp was buzzing around like a fly on caffeine.

“Damn this is bad.” Duo muttered, his hand back on Wufei’s head. “Come one, Ryu, don’t croak on me.”

“...do you want to kill him slowly later?” Imp hazarded, clutching at straws.

“What? No!”

“But he tried to kill Heero!”

“But he didn’t, he wasn’t able to.” Violet eyes gleamed like cruel, cold jewels as Duo carefully lay Wufei down on the pallet and applied his hands to the chest wound. “So even if he comes back, he won’t be a problem for Heero. And in the meantime...” Duo glanced down at the still, slender form beneath his hands, hair loose and glittering like torn raven feathers, beautiful onyx eyes closed. “I’m sure I can have some use for a Dragon. He’s the last of his kind, imp. He’s unique. You don’t carelessly throw away something this rare.”

Imp landed on the Dragon’s shoulder cautiously, and watched Duo’s hands apply healing magic to the gash. Its flint-black eyes were sad. Last of his kind, unique...was that why Duo wanted to save the Dragon? Imp shook its head. It wasn’t its role to try to understand Shinigami.

“I can work on this wound, master, if you want to concentrate on the head injury.” The little piece of sentient rock said quietly. It was rewarded with one of its master’s rare real smiles.

*

Wufei was dead. He knew that. Darkness saturated everything, a texture in and of itself, muffling him, he was drowning in it. He was almost grateful...

“Come on, Dragon...”

Hm?

“Don’t give up on me...”

No, not fair. Not fair! He was dead! Someone couldn’t still be counting on him for something!

There was the slightest glimmer of - not light, but another current in the darkness. Like black velvet reaching out for him, caressing his skin. Something that wasn’t part of death, though it was a close relative.

No. Enough. Don’t want...

“You can’t give up...come on, pretty Dragon...listen to me...”

Pretty?! Okay, he might be dead but he was still going to find the person who’d just said that to him and kill him.

“That’s it. Come one. Man, Heero sure did a number on you. It’s hard to believe...but he might actually have a chance against Juusan.”

Something wrenched in Wufei’s soul and he tried to wrap the darkness of death around him like a cloak, not wanting, not that, not any more...But the touch of velvet and the scent of rocks and earth that seemed to accompany it, clean and warm, wouldn’t let him.

“Hey, snap out of it!...Hmm...I can’t heal this from the outside, my beautiful Dragon.” Damn it! Stop calling me that!

The velvet curled around his arm, slipped up sensuously to his neck, cradled his aching head, trying to soothe away the pain.

Pain? Damn it, maybe he wasn’t dead after all...

“Shhhh...”

The voice made him angry, but was also...soothing. Warm. There was something else in that voice, beyond that...something that made him want to reach out, comfort and be comforted in turn...

Okay so he wasn’t dead but he was probably dying, and definitely delirious.

“Shhhhh...listen to me...”

No. Go away.

“I can help you...I can take the pain away, I can fix you and give you another chance...your only chance as a matter of fact...”

...take the pain…away? All the pain…?

The velvet curled around his aching forehead. A hand, he realized, soft and gentle like that of his barely remembered mother, calm, caressing...

“But for that you have to let me in, my striking, terrible Dragon...Let me in...I only want to help...I’ll only heal your injuries, I promise...I’ll make it all better...”

Wufei found himself sinking into that touch, that voice...it promised him....he didn’t even know what anymore but he wanted-...

“Let me in...”

A soft feeling on his forehead as lips brushed his skin, a gentle kiss...

Let me in...

Wufei opened the door and let himself sink into the different darkness with tentative hope that maybe the promise in the voice would make it really all better...some day...

[chap. 13] [chap. 15] [back to Maldoror's fic]