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
AN: Whew, I'm sooo busy, but still managed to squeeze out this chapter.
Thanks to Sol for letting me bounce the 3+4 conversation off of her and
to the rest of the War Room for support and random insanity, and thanks
to all of ya who are reading this fic, hope it's still fun to read as
it is to write!
Source Of All Things + Chapter 22
Resonance and Consequence
Quatre picked up a stunned
jackdaw and absently smoothed the rumpled feathers. It had been standing
on the crook between two leaning stones, defending its nest against the
danger it had felt but not understood. It had been knocked clean out,
and all but one of the eggs in the nest was broken.
Trowa and Heero were looming over Svale like two mean bookends, glaring
down at the diminutive form.
"You should have warned us, Svale." Quatre said accusingly.
Svale looked ornery for a few seconds as if she was going to try to bluff
her way out of it, then she shrugged gracelessly.
"I'd have warned you if I'd seen it coming, kids. I didn't think the chain
reaction would get away from me like that. It was a hell of a lot easier
to trigger than I thought it'd be."
"Trigger what?" Trowa asked through
"Um...let's go sit down and have a drink." Svale suggested, trying to
pat down her static-filled hair. "I think better when my blood stabilizes
at 1% alcohol."
"Very well but you're not allowed to slip into an ethylic coma until you
tell us what you did." Quatre muttered. In his hand the jackdaw suddenly
revived, healed, and flew away in a crash of wings that sounded terribly
loud in the ringing silence around them.
"Trowa, you and Rabbit know that this is no ordinary Jishin Sanctuary,
right?" Svale declared then looked sideways at Heero. He stared back,
impassive, giving no indication that he'd ever had any thoughts on the
matter. Svale shrugged and knocked back the contents of her cracked mug
in one shot. Many of the mismatched dishes she'd accumulated over the
years had not survived the vibrations but fortunately for her mental stability
the bottles in their boxes of straw were mostly intact.
"It's why you live here and study this one." Quatre said patiently. "You
always said this was the principal one on Centre."
"Yes. There are a few Jishin mounds and sanctuaries on many a planet,
where the Tricksters played mischief with the local population or did
whatever weird experiments they wanted. But Centre was a special case,
they knew the importance of this place of Sources. They created this sanctuary
particularly for Centre, and its unique design has always intrigued me.
Normally Jishin places are covered, secret. This one has a partially open
design and it's huge compared to others. It also has a complex connection
to a really old and subtly-powerful Source beneath it. No one knew what
it was for, it's been abandoned for centuries. The other wardens supposed
it was used as a portal to Imanohone, same as other sanctuaries. I always
felt there was more. I recently found...evidence that suggested - or rather
confirmed my suspicions - as to what that 'more' is. Damn is this bottle
"Svale, finish explaining before you get completely pissed." Trowa said
darkly as he stopped her from getting another jug of moonshine.
"Oh all right. Anyway, to cut a long story short...The Jishin were always
wary of Centre and its Sources. They were smart enough to recognize a
power greater than their own and be suspicious of it. They studied this
planet for a long time, in fact for a while Centre was almost a second
home to them, as they explored and connected to the planet in a way only
that race of creatures close to stone and earth could. This is the result.
"They wanted a method of restricting the sheer raw power that could come
out of Centre - and defend it against anything that might seek to attack
and control it from outside. They made Centre ready for battle. The fairy
mounds on this planet are bunkers. The Elsire trees in the sacred groves
were sentinel watches. And this sanctuary is the guardian node that connects
them all with Centre, and itís the powerhouse of their defence.
"This sanctuary's stones and leylines act as an amplifier for the power
of the Source below. Each Source has its own character, its own expression
of its power - that's why they tend to produce different kind of Gods;
aggressive, benevolent, destructive, creative... This is what you could
call a defensive Source. That's why it feels practically inactive, and
doesn't have a god. The power it generates expresses itself in the form
of defensive magic, closing it off to the outside."
"The sanctuary is casting a shield spell, powered by the Source?" Quatre
asked abruptly. "It was made to defend the Jishin here, so that they could
have a fortress to fall back on if something really ugly crawled out of
"Yes and no, Rabbit." Svale's eyes looked distant. "That's what I always
thought, but the shape seemed so...grand for just that purpose. And the
sanctuary seemed so keen to drag and collect leylines to it...Then I...er,
had a moment of insight a few days ago. The sanctuary isn't what is supposed
to cast the spell. It's a transmitter that will pass the spell on to the
planet's magnetic field so the -"
"The whole planet resonates with the spell!" Quatre gasped, surging to
his feet staring at the old crone.
"You got it, kiddo. Can I go have a drink now?" Svale looked at the box
full of lethal liquor longingly.
"Wait a minute." Trowa said firmly. "The spell or whatever the sanctuary
cast only lasted a second. Though I grant you it feels like it went right
around the planet." He added. His bones were still aching, and, through
the sanctuary's usual interference, he could feel strange echoes run up
and down Centre's leylines. Something pretty massive had happened. Massive
but very brief.
"Yeah, I'm still looking into that part." Svale said, and Trowa, who knew
her well, realized she looked worried. "I didn't want to have this test
get out of hand today, actually. The whole planet rang like a fucking
gong. You can't hide this amount of power, however briefly it lasted."
"This will have been a warning shot to Juusan." Heero said unexpectedly.
His eyes were focused inward and he ignored the startled looks of his
"He don't say much but when he talks he occasionally makes sense." Svale
grunted, absently reaching out to grope Heero's thigh. A hand like a steel
vice caught hers and put it back on the table with a smash that left imprints
in the grain.
"Jusan? This shield could stop the Scourge?" Trowa asked softly.
"Yes." Svale rubbed her wrist with a grimace. "Shield is actually not
the right word, kiddos. This spell is a fucking mind-job for mages. It
eats power and accumulates it. So the harder you punch it, the stronger
it gets. It also acts as a power dampener in its containment area - which
is the whole bloody planet - so the more power you have, the more it will
reduce it to -"
"It will remove Jusan's power when heís on Centre?" Trowa said, hardly
daring to believe it.
"I wish. It will slow him down.
How much remains to be seen. Only a Jishin could really tell us that and
he wiped them out a few years ago. He knew he might be in a position of
weakness coming back here, maybe it was a pre-emptive strike. I don't
know if the Jishin would have opposed him, they were getting pretty detached
from the affairs of the Galaxy but the Scourge isn't known to leave anything
that could even resemble an enemy alive."
"This could give us a chance." Trowa murmured. Besides him, Heero nodded
"That's the idea! But for it to work we need to figure out how to get
the planet resonating with the spell for good. And then we can batten
down hatches and get ready for some real fun and games."
"What do you mean?" Quatre asked sharply.
"The reason the Jishin didn't just turn on their shield and leave it on
and forget about it is because it has...side-effects." Svale said morosely.
Trowa and Quatre stared a her, at the tremble of danger in the air, and
were almost afraid to ask.
" You see, the resonance shields the planet from outside attack - which
is nice 'cause it means Jusan can't just wipe out all form of life, from
Great Wyrms to earthworms, with a flick of his fingers. It also dampens
magic within. But the way it works, the resonance is going to cause a
lot of havoc to reality inside the shield. It's like Centre is a pressure
cooker and the shield is gonna put on the lid and everything inside it
is gonna stew. Powerful mages and creatures will find their magic reduced,
that's the whole point. The stronger they are, the more affected they'll
be. But ambient magic will be overall more prevalent, easier to use, and
the barriers between the arcane and the physical are going to disintegrate.
Magical creatures will be able to feed off Sources directly, which will
make them both powerful and quite frisky. And Gods...well, Gods will be
walking the earth, kiddos. Or at least making day-trips away from their
"It sounds like Armageddon, not salvation, Svale." Trowa said tightly.
"It will make life very interesting, but at least we'll be here to enjoy
it." Svale pointed out gnomically. "You prefer Jusan's option? Once he's
rejuvenated, he won't even spare the bacteria."
"Can we turn this shield off after we put it on?" Quatre eyed Svale suspiciously.
"Erm...that's open to debate." Svale managed to dodge them all and grab
a bottle from the box.
"Wonderful." Quatre sighed, and Trowa nodded.
Besides them, Heero was scowling at something only he could see.
The room throbbed with restrained power. The boy was hanging in midair,
nearly naked, eyes closed in concentration, sweat trickling down taut
muscles, his mind pooled and almost entirely closed in on itself in an
effort to keep a mental grip on his growing armour.
The creature, known to the bags of mortal meat around it as Juusan, stretched
out a tendril of thought and brushed away a few shivers of pain and stress
from the mind before him. It was an idle gesture, like a man picking lint
from his cuff. Though the repairs were complex, it didn't require all
his concentration. Nothing ever did.
While parts of his intellect maintained his physical body - every atom,
molecule, cell, vessel and organ functioning correctly - and another part
made sure the ship and its crew followed his orders, part of his mind
concentrated on Shenlong. And part of him was free to speculate. What
would he do once Wufei became his war leader, and took back the direction
of his race? The Dragons were useful, even in their reduced state. But
would he allow them to make more armour?
Had the Dragons he'd destroyed even realized the potential of what they'd
created? Probably not. But one day, they might. To an immortal creature,
one day or one century or millennia was all the same. The instant the
Dragons had developed Wing, and he'd seen that they were capable of it,
he'd destroyed them. Because of Wing...and of the armours and the warriors
who would surely follow, today, tomorrow, next century, one day, and all
in Juusan's time-span. It had been as immediate a threat as a direct attack.
Too bad the Dragons had not realized it...A small part of Juusan hovered
over Wufei's mind, watching the ripples of thought and feeling beneath
the steel-like concentration. The boy still hated him. He would always
hate him. That was inevitable. Oh well...Wufei's hate was always a hundred
times more interesting than the fawning adoration of some of the other
sycophants who had commanded Juusan's forces yesterday, last year, last
century, once upon a time...
Juusan concentrated on a nexus node in the armour. Gundanium...the metal,
extraordinarily rare and so difficult to refine and use, had the most
wonderful properties, which only a race of mechanists like the Dragons
could have fully appreciated. Each atom by itself was just an ordinary
metal. Join two particles together and they triggered each other's energy
levels, in a way that resembled radioactive disintegration but was far
more useful and less harmful...to those who harnessed the reaction. It
was a minute speck of energy, but the reaction amplified with each additional
atom. What was really interesting was the way the energy generated this
way could harmonize with the human psyche.
That was where the Dragon armour had crossed a dangerous boundary in Juusan's
Juusan could feel it here and now. To dominate his growing armour, Wufei
was using a mental program like meditation that bordered on the mage trance.
Of course Dragons despised the arcane so they hadn't realized this was
the direction they were heading. Most of their armour and their men did
not have the refined abilities to do more than make sure the metal and
its mechanical components meshed properly. But the higher Dragons and
Wufei's mind and his body's energy were triggering and controlling the
chain reaction rippling around him as the gundanium expanded. Although
the armour looked like solid metal, in fact it was only the thinnest crust
of gundanium over a mix of carbon and energy pockets, making the whole
thing tough and more cohesive than any metal had any right to be. And
that was just the start. The waves of energy, controlled by Wufei's considerable
willpower, danced in Juusan's vision of the world. The real armour, invisible
to the mortal eye, cloaked the boy from head to toe, or would once the
armour's gundanium particles were re-energized to their appropriate levels
of excitement. Shenlong sang in the boy's mind, helping him control and
express his mental powers, and Wufei's will boosted the armour's energy
and fields, refining his control. It was a cycle that, theoretically,
might never end.
Mechanised magic. The unfettered will of the human mind assisted by the
power of a nearly sentient machine.
Dangerous boundaries indeed...
Juusan's power touched the boy. It would be so easy. A flick, a thought,
and this strange mortal who had never been afraid of him would be dead,
and the danger his harmony with his all-too-intelligent machine would
no longer be...what, a threat? Wufei wasn't a threat. But his descendants
might be...A threat to Juusan and above all to his task, his sacred duty.
If they were to be a threat, then he'd cull the descendants when the time
came, he decided. Juusan didn't deal with individuals - for one living
in the timelessness of immortality, entire races were what he considered
to be his peers, if far beneath him. Yet for all that he didn't want to
kill the boy, not unless he had to. It was important to keep Wufei around.
It reminded Juusan that he could destroy humans but he could never entirely
control them, or disregard them, or even understand them. They were so
fragile but they had depths that he could never fathom, a strength that
was puny compared to his yet refused to admit it. A will to fight, to
survive for just a short handful of years more, and then to reach for
what immortality they could, through their genes or their actions...that
frantic effort he could never understand, never share, left Juusan baffled...and
ever so slightly envious.
He was the shepherd. He dealt with entire herds, leading them to green
pastures, or slaughtering them if necessary.
He smoothed another ribbon of pain from Wufei's stressed mind - the boy
was making almost inhumane efforts to keep up with the pace Juusan had
set for the repairs, even he was impressed...
He was the shepherd and his charges were many but he allowed himself to
keep the occasional lamb as a pet.
A smile flickered across Juusan's materialized features. He couldn't grasp
much about how individual humans thought, for all he could read them like
a book, but he knew enough to know that he should never, ever, ever refer
to Wufei like that to the boy's face. Oh dear, no.
He teased a few more gundanium particles with his mind. He was restoring
their energy levels, in essence irradiating them using magic turned into
chemistry - another boundary but as the shepherd and the one who'd set
the lines in the first place he did not worry about crossing them himself.
Once the gundanium was restored in each section the more mechanical parts
of the armour could be repaired. Shenlong was still a machine, it had
mechanisms and programs to help its owner control it, and assist him in
battle. Juusan was looking forward to repairing those parts, he loved
technology, precisely because it was so alien to him; but first the gundanium
that linked and powered the armour's mechanisms had to be restored. It
was a slow process. Not for Juusan who could re-energize a ton of gundanium
with a twitch of his mental fingers, but he had to go slowly to allow
Wufei to keep up, integrate each newly energised particle into the whole,
so that the Dragon could control and manage the chain reaction, merge
it with his thought patterns. It was a huge mental effort, and the stress
would have already exhausted a lesser creature. Juusan petted away a few
more quivers of pain and then pulled his mind back from Shenlong and let
the boy down. Wufei staggered and went to lean against the wall, but his
glare was indomitable.
"Why did we stop?"
Because you need a rest, you stubborn-..."I need to think about the configuration
of the left wrist guard. I'm not familiar with this design."
Wufei grunted. "It was broken a year ago." In the confrontation between
Wufei and Juusan's troops, or perhaps when the boy attacked Juusan himself.
Neither of them commented. "I cobbled it together with the parts from
another mecha and rewrote the program to integrate the two."
Juusan was impressed. "Did you now? By yourself?"
"Then we will look at this together, once I've restored the gundanium,
and we'll see how you want the mechanism repaired." Juusan said, and let
a mental hand linger in the pleasurable tingle of Wufei's sudden relief
at being given a part in the repairs, a speck of control.
He materialized a chair for the boy, and thought it a good sign of their
improved relations when Wufei sat down with a tired grunt. Juusan's muscles
were powered by a will that could destroy planets but he'd picked up a
lot of human habits in the aeons of his stewardship and so he accompanied
the boy and took his own seat. He watched clinically as a bead of sweat
trickled down Wufei's chest, noted the slight slump to his shoulders,
and decided it was time to start chipping away at the boy's stubbornness
"You'll be able to rest tomorrow, and the day after I think. I will have
other work to do..."
Wufei's eyes widened though they stayed fixed on the floor. It was obvious
he wanted to shout and protest but he knew where Juusan was coming from...and
"Such a pity you refused my offer to become my herald, Wufei." Juusan
had never mastered the art of subtlety.
The delicate lips, the colour of sandstone, twisted. The eyes slowly rose
to pin Juusan with a glare. The creature thrummed a bit in the heat of
Wufei's anger, though he noted the slight lessening of the intensity,
the beginning of a crumble in the stone-hard front.
"It puzzles me...as my war leader, you would almost be expected to do
"...not your war leader yet..." Wufei muttered in reply, but his shoulders
were slumped in fatigue. Really, he should ease up on the boy. Humans
were so fragile.
"And when you are? Will you accept to be my herald then?"
The slightest flinch across the lean frame. Juusan sighed internally.
This very resistance was what made Wufei so strange, so foreign and yet
interesting to the Scourge. Lesser men would fear becoming his herald
because there was always a possibility it would destroy them. But Wufei's
strength of mind and will were great enough where the risks would not
be considerable. Yet those very qualities were what was making him refuse;
what a conundrum. Like the boy himself, really.
"I don't...I will not give myself over to you, Jusan." Wufei ground out.
Did he sound a bit less positive? A touch less angry?
"I know you fear the risks-" Juusan didn't know much about humans but
he knew some of Wufei's buttons.
"Blow the risks! I won't let you make me your puppet!" Wufei snarled,
surging to his feet, fists bunched and body rigid.
"My herald, Wufei. My voice, my fist, the bearer of my power-"
"I'd be an empty husk and you'd be using me!"
"No, you'd still have all your mind and senses." Juusan corrected, not
bothering to point out that they would be a hiccup in a hurricane.
"But they'd be under your control!" Wufei snarled.
"Your opponent on Centre might be stronger than you. He wears Wing-"
"I'll defeat him!"
"Without your help!"
Juusan steepled his fingers, staring at the young man burning before him
like a flame, darkness and fire, anger and passion. He didn't doubt for
an instant that Wufei would defeat this Heero or die trying, if he could
do so unopposed.
"But what of this man's allies?" He asked smoothly. "The ones who are
trying to cast this shield, and protect themselves against me? They might
have other tricks up their sleeves. Treacherous little vermin that they
are. Wouldn't it be a pity if you succumbed to some backstabbing little
spell without even getting near this Heero?"
Wufei snarled and spun around, kicking some curio near his feet. A tiny
fraction of Juusan's mind caught the object, repaired it and returned
it to its place.
"We could always compromise..." The Scourge murmured.
An ebony glance from the corner of almond-shaped eyes, quick, reluctant.
"We could send you down there with a patched-up Shenlong and let you try
to defeat this Heero...but you would have the herald's link to me, and
I could be at your side in a heartbeat, at the slightest call- " he'd
nearly said 'for help' but caught the warning ripples in the familiar
mind and instead said: "- for backup against any pernicious sorcery they
throw at you."
Wufei's lip curled. He could probably feel Juusan manipulating him; he'd
been with the Scourge for five years or so and his kind learned fast (when
you only lived a scant century or so, you certainly had to learn fast
before it all ended, poor creatures). But the truth of the matter remained:
Juusan needed a herald on Centre as quickly as possible. That shield nonsense
they were trying to cast wouldn't do much more than slow him down, of
course, he wasn't particularly worried about it; but it was an annoyance,
an insult really. He wanted a herald down there as soon as possible, before
it was finished and cast. He thought he had a couple of week's leeway
before that happened.
A herald had to be strong to stand the might of Juusan's power and mind
using him as a channel, a conduit to act directly on the planet he was
still several months away from reaching. Most men would be destroyed with
only a fraction of Juusan's power, and would be useless to him. A strong
body and mind like Wufei though...he'd be able to stand a considerable
portion of Juusan's power and remain intact. Mostly. Juusan had absolutely
no intention of harming the boy if he could possibly help it, but there
was always a risk.
"If you can defeat that usurper of your race's armour by yourself, I will
be the first to applaud you, Wufei." Juusan murmured and meant it. If
there were no real danger down there, if those plotting wretches were
just playing with forces beyond them with no comprehension, as was likely,
then he did not want to take risks with the boy's mind, the delightful,
intriguing mix of anger, pride, arrogance and intelligence, sprinkled
with vulnerabilities like a tangy dash of spices...no he wouldn't want
Wufei to summon him unless things got out of hand.
But if Wufei did summon him...then the Scourge would kill everything that
moved on that planet and quite a lot that didn't.
Juusan didn't take lightly to being opposed in any shape or form by anything
that might have the slightest ability to actually hurt him. His task was
too important for that.
The boy was shaking his head, but Juusan could feel the slight lessening
of resistance, the faint horror at the sense of his own defeat. Wufei
would know that if he refused, Juusan would stop repairing Shenlong to
go and try to prepare some other miserable minion to be his herald, which
would demand considerable work. He'd not have time to spend on Wufei's
armour until the matter was resolved. And someone else would go to Centre
before the Dragon did. Someone else would kill this Heero, with Juusan's
power at his command there would be no doubt. Someone else would touch
Wing before Wufei did...
Juusan's mind curled in a smile. He could force millions to obey his will,
obliterate armies...but manipulating a stubborn Dragon was much more challenging
and many times more entertaining. When his herald returned to him, after
destroying their enemies on Centre, he'd let him have Wing, and the boy
would be his war leader, and hopefully keep him challenged and entertained
for as many years as the mortal pet had yet to live...
The door closed with a whisper that made Quatre tense nonetheless. He
forced himself to relax before Trowa could pick up his reaction, and instinctively
smoothed the lines of his own body like straightening out rumpled sheets.
Soft shuffling, the sound of lacings being untied, boots pulled off...Quatre
hesitated, then turned his head on the pillow to look at the shaman undressing
in the small fraction of starlight and a sliver of moon.
"What was all the fuss about?" He whispered.
Trowa didn't turn around and his movements continued smoothly as he removed
his jerkin from his shoulders. "I threw Svale in the horses' water trough."
"She sober now?"
"Is she ever? But she was conscious enough to call them."
"Yes. We'll need their help if we're going to get this to work." Quatre
watched the leather pants slide off the long legs and firm buttocks and
wished he could fish some desire from the morass of information and output
zero was feeding him.
The spell was pricking his mind, trying to integrate the wardens and their
role in the strategies that were unfolding in his mind. He knew Svale
was one of a very small group of powerful beings that Centre had created
to keep a sentient eye on the potentially dangerous land of Gods and Sources.
He didn't know what they were like though, or their abilities. If Svale
was a typical example, well, even zero would have a hard time integrating
them into any kind of sensible strategy.
"What are they like? Have you met them?"
"Once." Trowa grunted as he slipped under the cover.
"They as bad as Svale?"
"Nothing is as bad as Svale." Trowa muttered, and Quatre remembered the
shaman had just had the unenviable task of sobering her up against her
will. "As individuals they're okay, I guess."
"As a group, it's like dealing with six cantankerous tomcats."
"Oh." Quatre was silent for a second, then grimaced. "I've just thought
of half a dozen Svales, please tell me-"
"Not that bad."
Quatre felt the shaman settle, partway on his side and turned towards
"They'll think of a solution for this shield. It's their job." Trowa's
voice was calm and factual. "They are the minds of Centre, an element
of her defence against the dangers that could threaten her."
Quatre nodded in the near-total darkness. A planet as rich in Sources
as Centre was, was bound to become nearly sentient after awhile. Every
weird and wonderful life-form, every god and demi-god, every Nightwalker
and warden was a part of her, as well as the rest. Trowa had explained
this to Quatre way back in his small room in the tiny clinic near the
swamp. Quatre had been aware - he'd been warned - before Trowa even became
his lover that the man was not entirely his own master but a piece of
something greater. It had not impacted their lives greatly at first. Quatre
felt a sharp pain in his gut as he remembered that first year of wandering.
Sometimes the vardo headed in the direction Centre dictated and other
times they went where they wanted, it really had not mattered because
they were together. It wasn't as if Trowa's duties, if you could call
them that, were involving. Most of the time the shaman simply had to go
where the lines led him and that was all. Quatre had been nonplussed at
first; the shaman didn't actually do anything most of the time. He just
went to one place, stayed there for awhile, then left again.
Now Quatre had been wrenched from the tapestry and could see the grand
design from above. He could see how his lover and others who served the
sentient planet of Sources were like nerve endings, their very presence
triggering an effect that kept the planet aware and dreaming its deep
dreams. Quatre could even see - very faintly - the awareness of the planet
now focusing on his lover. Trowa was no longer just an identical piece
of the planet's nervous system. When Centre, through Svale, had asked
Trowa to follow the line that had led him to Heero, he'd become one of
the nodes at the heart of something big. And Quatre was one of them too.
He brushed the tapestry curiously, looking at the many threads he was
tangled in; Centre, Duo, Svale, they all had their strings tied to him
and were playing him, more or less intentionally. Zero could show him
the snarl of connections that tied him down to the present situation,
though it couldn't cut him loose. Because -
"May I hold you?"
Because the strongest thread of all was tangled around his heart and soul.
A part of Quatre watched, helpless, as his mind splintered under the effect
of that gentle, almost hesitant whisper.
I love him.
He's trying to limit me.
It's because he loves me. Deeply, entirely, intensely.
It's holding me back.
Then I don't want to go forward.
Then I'll be a puppet again. Duo made me shoot the one I love more than
my own soul, and he made me weaken the bolt because Trowa is still useful
in his schemes but I couldn't stop him!
It won't happen again!
How will I stop it? I'm weak.
I'll get stronger.
I let it happen.
I'll get stronger!
He won't let me.
Because he knows he could lose me.
In the world outside his mind, Quatre saw the lines seize around his silence,
could see how, if he did nothing in the next three seconds, Trowa would
catch a hint of the screaming internal debate, would be hurt at his lover's
hesitation. Options expanded in the healer's mind like a deck of cards
fanning out, he chose the best solution quickly, scooting over to move
into Trowa's arms, while turning away slightly to press his back against
his lover; a carefully calculated gesture that was an acceptance of contact
with a gentle refusal for anything further. Warm arms folded tenderly
around him, pressing him to the firm chest. Comforting, restraining. Loving,
smothering. Trowa was not one to force a conversation, he was giving Quatre
time to work it out; he was being very tolerant and understanding...without
understanding anything at all. But then, Quatre wasn't explaining anything
to him either...
He knew Trowa and himself well. In his zero-enhanced mind, the conversation
where he'd try to explain his needs and desires to Trowa branched out
like a tree. Each word Quatre could use was lined up with the predicted
response from the shaman, with a statistical calculation weighing each
path. And each branch of the tree ended in conflict. Quatre squeezed his
eyes shut as if that could stop him from seeing the arborescence of probabilities
that zero was gleefully drawing out for him.
Trowa loved Quatre. And the person he loved was changing, becoming someone
different. In essence, Trowa would be losing Quatre. Zero was pointing
out to him every instance of affection and words of love from the shaman;
it dissected Trowa's past actions and words and laid the result out on
display. The shaman was attached to Quatre's gentleness, kindness, his
loving nature, his tenderness. Quatre could see each one of those qualities
being shed like dead petals in the future zero promised him. But he had
to lose them. They were weaknesses he could not afford if he wanted to
defend what he had, and do something to affect the tapestry rather than
being a hapless thread. But he didn't want to lose Trowa in the process.
Zero couldn't help him with this. Well, that wasn't quite true, the spell
did in fact have a solution, and was getting rather pushy in trying to
get Quatre to accept it. Zero was a weapon of war, and as such it didn't
place love very highly as a goal to achieve. It didn't even fully understand
it. Love was equated to a weakness, something holding Quatre back from
becoming what he could be. So zero was trying to push him to accept one
more change, one more mutation of his mind, adding on to the others he'd
already reluctantly accepted. This one would allow him to dominate, even
eliminate his emotions. Break right out of the internal debate raging
in his mind, hampering his growth. Cut the last thread binding him helplessly
to his fate. Make him the master of himself as well as his destiny.
Quatre's hands clasped Trowa's arms and drew them tighter around him like
a blanket, drawing the warmth to him like a shield. The shaman tightened
his grip, pressed a kiss like the brush of a tear against the nape of
Quatre's neck. The healer instinctively noted the strands of the shaman's
lines; he was worried, but Quatre felt pretty sure that Trowa could only
sense the edge of the struggle. He probably thought Quatre was still confused
by the new vision he'd been given. He wouldn't believe Quatre would have
the strength to cope with anything more.
Above all, he would not understand that Quatre would want more.
Best to stay silent. Hide this from him. Quatre would fight this out between
his conflicting inner desires, alone.
Hopefully this would not stop him from doing what had to be done, or the
only winner of all of their struggles would be Jusan.
[chap. 21] [chap. 23] [back
to Maldoror's fic]