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
Source Of All Things + Chapter 16
The drums rang out, an almost
palpable vibration bucking the air. Fire blazed and the dancers screamed,
voices enslaved to the beat of the man-high drums, rolling like thunder
from the four corners of the stone circle. The tramp of feet and wild ululations
seemed to push the drummers, stripped to their waist and sweating and grinning
like fiends, to greater efforts still.
"Are you sure?" Quatre read the movement of lips more than he heard the
"No, Trowa, but you go ahead and dance. I'll stay here with Heero." He yelled.
A shake of the head and an arm gently pulling the healer against his hip
was the only answer the shaman gave him. Quatre started to protest and the
arm squeezed, tender and warm. He felt a bit guilty. He knew Trowa, quiet
and retired though he seemed, enjoyed occasionally cutting loose and turning
his body over to something other than his fine-tuned control. But Quatre
also knew that Trowa didn't enjoy doing things for pleasure if it didn't
include him. Quatre could insist all night, but Trowa would just smile and
hold him closer. It did look fun... the healer wished he wasn't so... shy
about moving like that. His eyes lingered on a gyrating figure at the centre
of the ring.
"Duo seems to be having fun." He spoke loudly to be heard over the drums.
Trowa leaned his chin against Quatre' shoulder and snorted. "If he has any
more fun he'll be causing a riot."
The slender black shape was... Quatre thought he knew what dancing was,
and this wasn't it; it was more like taking the music and doing something
highly intimate to it. And very alluring. Quatre could never in a million
years do anything like that. Which, considering the number of people circling
and staring at the writhing, swinging figure, was probably a good thing.
Duo was already good enough at getting into a mess by himself, he didn't
need the healer adding to the display. It was a good thing Trowa insisted
Heero stay with them, because this might eventually turn into a fight.
Heero turned and glared at yet another person - a woman this time- who'd
asked the sombre one for a dance. He wasn't getting into the spirit of things.
It was a wonder he accepted to stay. But he rarely did things of his own
volition if fighting wasn't involved, so he passively stayed where Trowa
had parked him, leaning against a stone pillar. His eyes flickered across
the packed ring full of dancers with sublime indifference. The woman hesitated,
glanced at Quatre -who smiled weakly in embarrassed sympathy- and left with
Quatre's eyes turned back to Duo. He was wearing his customary black leathers
and boots, and a black velvet ribbon was knotted into his braid instead
of the usual thong. He was grinning like a demon. As the healer watched,
he flexed his knees, back straight and hips slightly forward, and started
to sway, hands on his ass, in a swinging motion of legs and braid that made
Quatre's face blaze and his eyes twitch away. Never in a million years...
but then again, with Duo out there, no one would be looking at him, Quatre.
And... well, he'd seen Trowa dance a few times before, and, well... damn,
any amount of embarrassment would be worth seeing that again!
Quatre's eyes drifted from Trowa's strong profile, caught in flickering
fire light, back to the ring. Duo was dancing pretty much as before but
a bolder dancer had broken through the circle of curious or admiring watchers
around him and was dancing with him. A tall light-haired man, fairly muscular,
in a shimmering green shirt and riding leathers, one of the nomads who used
this break in the tundra for rest and recreation in their long travels.
He was grinding against Duo's backside, matching the black-clad one move
for move - Quatre's eyes flinched away and he wondered if his hair was going
to catch fire. But he found his eyes dragged back reluctantly to the scene.
Duo had his hands on the front of his hips now as he let his knees flex
lower then straighten again in a twisting move so graceful it seemed to
embody the wild drumbeats and flickering flames. He was grinning at his
companion over his shoulder, a feral smile matched by the other. Damn, there
was really only one way that Quatre was going to get through the evening
without looking at that any longer!
"Okay, let's try it." He shouted, and Trowa looked down at him with pleased
surprise that made the healer grin. "I just need to go change my shoes."
The tramp of beating feet was almost as loud as the drums; he would swap
his thin sandals for his riding boots and avoid having to heal his own toes
before the evening was out.
"That's okay, stay here." He added, as Trowa made to move with him. He let
his eyes flit towards Heero, and Trowa nodded reluctantly. They didn't want
to leave the unpredictable fighter alone. That was why they'd dragged him
off with them when they decided to make sure Duo didn't get into any trouble
during the night's festivities.
Quatre ran lightly up the steps of the stone ring that had been built generations
before by the nomadic people of the tundra for their regular reunions and
festivals. He glanced back. He could see Trowa smiling after him, body swaying
ever so slightly, gracefully, to the wild drumbeats. Heero looked bored
besides him. They'd have to keep an eye on him, even if they wanted to have
some fun. Or maybe Duo could-... Quatre looked for their young friend who
surely had to be getting tired after two straight hours of pounding the
ground and flinging himself around like a maniac. He caught sight of him
at the edge of the group of dancers, disappearing into the darkness followed
by the young nomad he'd been dancing with. So much for keeping an eye on
him! Or him keeping an eye on Heero. Quatre was surprised, but then he smiled
gently. Oh well at least he'd be having some fun. It was high time Duo gave
up on Heero and started meeting other, more approachable people.
Quatre took his light steps towards the vardo. The darkness was mapped out
by torches lit at various points, road signs in the mutable huddle of caravans
and tents that surrounded the festival ring.
They'd been travelling for two days now and would arrive tomorrow. Howard
had made quite a fuss about their travel plans; it was true the planet hopper
could deposit them at Fen's doorstep in less than an hour. But Heero wasn't
the only one who didn't like technology. Quatre and Trowa preferred to take
the vardo and follow the lines of the earth, on Centre it was still the
safest mode of transportation. The arcane planet of sources was unpredictable
at best, and its natural background magic frequently interfered with the
working of technology. They could ill afford to be caught in a freak EM
storm or whatever lethal surprise the planet might come up with, especially
if they were carrying a very dangerous arcane device on the way back. It
wasn't as if time was a major issue. Jusan wasn't going to arrive for months
yet. They had time to get this 'zero system' the safe way, while letting
Heero practice against the occasional monster or bandit they met on their
Quatre found their caravan and ran up the steps. He wasn't sure he liked
the sound of this zero thing they were going to get. Howard had mentioned
it a month ago, shortly after the fight Heero had had with that strange,
dark-haired young man who had inexplicably landed right in front of the
vardo. It sounded interesting; an arcane device that would allow Heero to
use Wing a lot faster (that was what Quatre had taken from Howard's long,
technical and downright boring explanation). Svale had been curious until
she heard who owned the thing, and then she'd put her foot down. Quatre
tugged absently at his bootlaces, remembering the argument.
"No! No way! Fen's a nice guy, we're not going to bug him for this! Especially
if he's doing research on it!"
"But Svale!" It was, strangely enough, Duo who took up the fight as Howard
hesitated, looking almost relieved at the objection. "If he's a friend
of yours, why should he mind if we-"
"He's a very old friend. We go way back." Svale snapped.
"So... he's very nice, and very good with arcane research, but... he can
be a bit fuzzy about... details... "
"He's so senile he doesn't know which day of the week it is." Duo translated.
That got him a rap of staff on the head.
"You'll respect your elders, boy! Fen's a good man, but he's very eccentric
about his research. We're not going to bug him and that's final!"
"But Svale-... " Duo rubbed his head and glared at the crone who'd turned
back towards the centre of the cirque. Svale had started reactivating
the Jishin Sanctuary, and life was getting very interesting for its inhabitants.
Walls and doors and windows had the strange habit of disappearing overnight.
Floors too, on three memorable occasions. Hazy blue and green lights were
starting to shine from the various stone circles and doorways, though
they always disappeared as soon as someone went to investigate. The stones
marking the ley lines around the Sanctuary would move like iron fillings
following a magnet - once more, when no one was looking. You would turn
around and they would look as solid and immobile and innocent as only
stones can, despite having shifted ten feet away from their previous position.
Trowa was getting massive headaches from the shifting lines around the
buildings, and would glare at the stones until Quatre feared he would
pass out. As soon as he distracted his lover, the blighted things would
Svale would dodge any questions - either by bopping the speaker with her
staff or groping him, depending on who it was - and let everyone assume
she was in perfect control of the situation. They had their doubts. It
was true that so far no one had gotten hurt, and nothing very menacing
had happened. But the strain was telling on them; Duo in particular looked
like he could use a good night's sleep. For some reason Quatre couldn't
fathom the awakening of the Sanctuary was apparently stressing and exhausting
him even more than Trowa. That was probably why he took the unusually
aggressive step of standing between Svale and the cirque's hearthstone.
"Look, you old mummy, don't blow me off like that! I've got my word to
"And why is that, Maxie?" Svale's eyes could have cut diamonds. "Why are
you still here and not twenty parsecs away and still running? You know
who and what the Scourge is."
Duo blinked, caught off guard. Howard snorted though. "Svale, the kid
may be young and flighty - " Duo glared "- but he's not dumb, he realizes
that the effects of Jusan destroying Centre will be felt throughout the
known Ether. Our whole civilisation is on the brink of destruction, or
at least some massive restructuring. And if Jusan's the one in charge
of the remodelling, I, for one, would look on with interest but only if
I could find a cosy hole to hide in, preferably in the next galaxy."
"Yeah." Duo said, nodding sharply. "If this Fen guy has something that
can help us against the Scourge we should go all out to get it, kill the
bugger if we have to, and-"
"No!" Svale suddenly looked very dangerous, but it passed quickly, and
she bopped Duo's head with her staff. "You're a poster child for mayhem,
aren't you boy, and I'd loved to have that pinned to my wall - or the
original pinned to my bed-" Duo suddenly looked ill "- but Fen is not
the kind of person you can annoy with impudence, even if he is old. He
has-... means... look, it just wouldn't be a good idea. He's much safer
pottering around his ruins studying gods know what. And we're all safer
too." She added in a mutter, and refused to be further drawn on the subject,
even when Duo tried again two days later in cut-off shorts and a tank
It had taken a month after that to talk Svale around and get Fen's location
from her. Quatre didn't think she would give in at all, she was a stubborn
old mule. But this Jusan thing was bigger than, well, anything. As the
Scourge got nearer and the arcane readings and fortune casts started getting
very perturbed and weird, Svale's resolve had crumbled.
Finally she'd made them promise that they would do nothing more than ask.
Fen was a mage, he should be able to feel the disturbance in Centre as
well as anybody. He would probably not mind helping them and give them
a copy of zero. But if he did mind - Svale had drawn herself up to her
full height, which was hardly worth the effort - if he said no they were
to leave right away and leave it at that. She glared at Heero, then at
Duo who had looked like he was about to protest. They'd had to agree.
Quatre smiled as he pulled on his second boot. He was very glad that they'd
agreed. It would be nice to go somewhere with Trowa that didn't involve
bloodshed at the end of it. In the past month they'd been offplanet once
- Howard's ship could rip Ether if it had to - and to a techno exchange
fair and both times it had ended in a fight. It hadn't been much of a
challenge for Heero, who was beginning to scare Quatre just a little bit
in his unrelenting ability to cause havoc. The challenge was to stop him
before he killed the hopelessly outclassed bandits that had attacked them.
The vardo swayed and Quatre glanced up at the entrance in surprise. He
was expecting Trowa, but his smile was just as warm for the black-clad
figure who staggered in on the echoes of wild drumbeats from outside.
"I'm finally having some fun tagging after you guys!" Duo shouted, his
vibrant presence filling the vardo to the wooden walls. He crashed into
the small wooden chair near the window and grinned at Quatre.
"I'm surprised to see you." Quatre said, blushing slightly. "Where's your...
"Him? Good kisser, but I don't know, not really that interested." Duo
leaned his chin in his hands and glanced out the window, eyes on the stars.
"I think I've been spoiled, can't seem to settle for... well, that guy
"Still thinking about Heero?"
" ...maybe." A curious look crossed Duo's face as he stared at the stars,
then he shook his head violently, braid whipping across his back. "And
maybe I should get my head examined. It seems I like them hard to get.
Or impossible. Or not even worth getting in the first place."
Quatre stared at him uncertainly. Not worth getting? Duo was always drooling
over Heero as if he was the last breath of air in a vacuum. There was...
something strange about his young friend tonight. He was practically radiating
heat from dancing like a fiend, yet the only thing Quatre could feel from
him with his heart was... cold. It was surprising, yet somehow familiar,
as if he'd always felt it in Duo, but could only now sense it clearly.
It was a harsh feeling. And it hurt. Not just Quatre, but Duo too. Except
the cold had numbed him so badly he couldn't even feel it anymore. Quatre's
thoughts made no sense... He found himself staring into blue eyes, bordering
on violet, that were looking into his own as if they could read his thoughts
scrolling across the back of his head. The perpetual cheeky grin had changed
into something older and harder.
"I'm not a very nice person, you know. You shouldn't feel sorry for me."
But I do, thought Quatre, eyes fixed on the violet colour, tracking the
pearls of blue and grey in the irises, drifting into the pupils as if
pulled into a black hole. I do, Duo.
"You shouldn't. I've done some pretty bad things. Granted, I had a very
good reason. But I doubt that's much of an excuse in your books."
Bad things? Quatre couldn't feel that in his friend, he could only feel
the numbing, killing cold. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Duo's pupils
and he couldn't say anything but he wanted to.
"You're too nice Quatre. You try to reach out to everybody. Like you're
doing now. But you shouldn't."
I want to, I want to reach out, take away the ice from your heart, you
shouldn't have to bear that alone... that was the feeling that screamed
through Duo, gregarious, charming, affectionate Duo. A soul-tearing loneliness.
"You really shouldn't, because people can abuse that kind nature of yours
so easily. They're some really bad people out there Quatre. They'd hurt
you just because they can, just because you're so nice."
But you wouldn't, would you, Duo?
"No. I'm going to hurt you because I have to. And because you're so nice
you made it real easy for me. I couldn't get near Trowa, and I can't afford
to use Heero, so... "
Quatre couldn't see anything but the dark pupils until he realized that
no, he couldn't in fact see anything at all. The vardo's comforting interior
had vanished and he was hanging suspended in darkness and staring at the
world through two small holes the size of Duo's eyes. Through them he
could make out a few images, small and warped; in the tiny vision the
smiling young man leaned towards a golden-haired figure sitting, stunned,
on the edge of the bed. He saw Duo put his hands on either side of that
small figure, and whisper in his ear. Quatre strained to listen but all
he could hear was a distant beat of drums, light and thready and very
different than the wild percussions accompanying the dance only a few
hundred feet away. He couldn't hear what Duo said, couldn't feel the touch
of lips brushing his ear or the breath causing his hair to rustle. He
could only watch as Duo's hand lifted gracefully to caress his cheek with
the back of two fingers, carefully, like someone trying to calm a wild
bird that he'd caught and wanted to capture and cage without harm. Then
the fingers cupped his chin - he was still watching, helpless, even his
thoughts and feelings gummed up in the muffling darkness - and Duo smiled
at him, and there was sadness and slight regret behind the cruelty. A
slender finger in the low-cut black gloves rose to Quatre's forehead and
touched him there for a second. Then Duo grinned, something like his old
smile, and rose, dropping a kiss on Quatre's forehead as he stood, before
turning and walking away.
Quatre suddenly started screaming in the darkness and the vision cut out
and all was gone.
It had been less than ten minutes since Quatre had left. Suddenly Trowa
twitched and turned towards the stairs.
"Heero, stay- no, on second thought, come on, let's both go." Leaving
Heero alone here was not an option.
Heero stared at him in the flickering firelight. Trowa glanced down at
the dancers. He'd seen Duo pull his willing prey away, so there was no
point staying here, if Heero was willing to come with him, and... there
was no reason to feel worried, Quatre hadn't been gone that long, but
he felt a sudden urge to-
"Here I am!"
Trowa spun away from the dancers to stare at the lithe young shape clattering
down the stairs, out of breath from running from the vardo.
"Are you alright?"
The question escaped the shaman's lips before he could stop it and he
couldn't for the world understand why-... Quatre was looking at him quizzically,
and then he flashed the usual small tolerant smile he used when Trowa
was caught fussing over him. Trowa knew that he and anybody else would
find his worrying annoying but Quatre accepted it as the signs of love
they were with the depth of understanding and intelligence that was his
"I shouldn't have let you go by yourself." Trowa murmured, hand on Quatre's
arm. He knew his lover could handle himself in a fight - and Quatre knew
he knew this, Trowa had taught him after all- but Quatre didn't like confrontation.
Clear blue eyes looked at him in surprise as they caught his words through
a momentary lull in the drumbeats. "The tundra tribes have always treated
us like friends."
"Yes, but there's a lot of alcohol flowing tonight, and tempers are running-"
he glanced at the ring where a few dancers took advantage of the changing
of drummers to disappear off into the darkness in pairs "- running a bit
Quatre grinned. "I didn't meet anyone intent of molesting my tender person.
They're all too busy having fun." The drums were starting again.
Strangely enough, Trowa found himself tracking Quatre's chakra lines as
the blonde said that, making sure he was alright. He couldn't do a very
good job without Walking, entering a medidative trance, but he could at
least see that Quatre was unharmed physically and mentally, his lines
of energy were a bit shaken - possibly from the anticipated embarrassment
of dancing soon - but no more. Why... why did he feel like looking deeper?
"Where's Duo?" Trowa asked, and he didn't know why that was the question
that escaped his lips either.
Quatre smiled as he blushed and dropped his head. "Erm, well, I think
he kinda left-" then the blonde was staring at something past Trowa's
shoulder. The shaman glanced around. Heero, who hadn't moved at all from
his position against the stone pillar, had lifted his arm to point.
Duo was in the act of snagging another dancer and insuring that every
inch of their respective bodies were properly introduced.
Quatre gaped a bit, then turned in confusion to Trowa. "I thought I saw
him leave with -"
"Mustn't have been his type." Trowa said. His eyes picked out the tall
figure of the nomad who had followed Duo previously. The man was at the
edge of the circle, having a drink and looking... dazed, but also happy.
Surely not-... not in ten minutes-... the man wasn't looking at Duo, it
was as if he'd forgotten his existence. He was too far for Trowa to read
his lines... maybe he was drunk...?
Quatre coughed and blushed as he stared at Duo's display. The braided
man ground his body against the shapely form; the healer caught sight
of a few feminine curves, wild black spiky hair and pale skin, and the
look of the devil in her eyes. "I- I thought Duo preferred men." Quatre
"Love, Duo prefers them with a pulse and that's about as picky as he'll
get." Trowa said into the pink ear beneath the blond hair. Quatre went
Trowa frowned slightly down at the dancing braided figure. He was keeping
a careful eye on the man, much more than he let on even to Quatre. Duo
was constantly defying analysis. The shaman felt pretty sure Duo had no
preferences when it came to desire. And he seemed to have the appetites
of a normal young man, or at least that's how he acted. But the only person
he'd seriously tried to seduce had been Heero, and he'd long since given
up on the sombre, dangerous man. Although Duo seemed to admire and flirt
with some of the people they'd met on their travels, like he was doing
tonight, he'd never gone through with it. Trowa had the feeling it was
something of a game for Duo... maybe even an act. Surely he couldn't be
that hung up on Heero? Either he was very, very picky... or he had something
else on his mind, something pretty important. Trowa had tried to draw
the young man out about this before. Duo had joked and evaded and pretended
to run after some hunk in the inn where they were staying at the time,
only to return quickly and quietly when he assumed Trowa had forgotten
about him, to go to sleep alone. It was... strange.
In the ring below, the braided man had grabbed another dancer, young and
slender, dressed like a caravan driver from the eastern lands. Duo's hands
rose to gather black hair out of oriental eyes as the man smiled at him
and let his hands linger on leather-clad hips. Quatre blushed, and Trowa
smiled. Well, well, whatever troubles hounded Duo they looked like they
were taking a break tonight. The way Duo was dancing now, Trowa thought,
the message was pretty clear. This one was a keeper; Duo was not going
to go to sleep alone tonight.
Trowa looked down at Quatre to share his thoughts, and forgot the slight
sense of wrongness he'd had about the healer, the mystery that was Duo
and just about anything else; Quatre was swaying his hips ever so slightly
to the new beat the drums were picking up, still soft but soon they would
be crashing and beating like their hearts during love-making.
"Did you say you'd not met anybody intent on molesting you tonight?"
"Yes." Quatre answered, distracted as his wide eyes followed Duo's sensuous
"Well we'll have to fix that." He whispered into the delicate ear.
Trowa's rare smile brushed his lips as he dragged his lover into the ring.
The night was young and the music made the blood pound, they could dance
to start with. Later... maybe Heero could be persuaded to go and sit on
a rock, his favourite hobby after fighting, and he and Quatre could put
the vardo to good use. No reason why Duo should be the only one having
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