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 6
Three Interludes

*

Interlude: Dragon.

Terrifying beauty...

It was the only words that came to Quinze's mind as the last one of his men fell to the ground in a boneless heap.

"Right... " The slender young man turned towards him. He walked over to where Quinze sat ­with two broken legs, it wasn't like he had any other option- crouched over the fallen man, and leaned against the wall, hands on either side of Quinze's head, his face inches from his own.

"Now all I want to do is ask you a question. I want-"

"What?" Quinze wheezed. "You just wanted to ask me a question?"

"Yes."

"But why-" Quinze made a small ­and prudent- gesture around them. He'd been the proud commander of a group of mercenaries renown for their fighting skills (though not for their mercy, or their habit of leaving people alive behind them). The White Fang was now just a series of corpses scattered around the barracks.

"Oh that?" Velvet black eyes glanced around, as if remembering all the bodies. "Efficiency."

"What?!"

"I wanted to save time. I was going to ask you a question, you were going to refuse to answer, you were going to be rude, you were going to taunt me, then have your men attack me, I was going to kill them, then ask my question again, and this time you were going to answer to avoid retaliation. So I thought I would save time for everybody concerned and skip forward to the part where you answer my question to avoid getting slowly ripped limb from limb."

"I wouldn't have attacked you." Quinze said, though he was probably lying and they both knew it.

"Yes you were."

"Wh-why?"

"Because of the question. You would have realized that after you answered I was going to kill you all anyway."

"Why?"

"Because I believe in justice for anyone who insults my people, and I believe in exterminating thieving rodents, and by a happy coincidence, you happen to be both."

Quinze licked his lips. "What's your question?" He was beginning to suspect he knew.

The young man smiled, a slight movement of the lips which made his face so exquisite it almost distracted the mercenary.

"Where's Wing?" The voice was a mere whisper out of seductive lips the colour of sandstone.

Quinze swallowed. "... I thought you were all dead... I thought Jusan-... "

The lips twitched. A definite warning.

Quinze's mouth twisted into a caricature of a smile.

"I know where it is, yeah, but we don't have it anymore. I'll tell you where to find it, but you have to give me your word that you will let me go!"

Every so slightly, the beautiful man shook his head.

"Why-why should I tell you then?"

The shapely almond eyes fastened on his, then dropped to his broken legs.

The Dragon smiled.

"If I tell you, will you kill me quickly?" Quinze's voice was a hollow whisper.

A moment of stillness, then the dark head nodded once.

Quinze's lips twisted. "I sold it to someone on Centre. I don't know who he was exactly, except that he was very rich, and pretty scary for someone so young. He-"

The young man was standing. Quinze licked his lips, the rasp magnified by the fact that it would probably be the last pleasant sensation in his life. "Don't you want to hear how to find it?" He found himself trying to prolong his existence by whatever scant seconds he could.

"Wing is on Centre. I can find it with Shenlong." The young man extended an elegant hand, palm down, as if to demonstrate. Something clicked and rustled, and a curl of metal danced around the arm, delicate, twining vines fastening on it and twisting up to the wrist, before gathering above the hand and blooming into a small flower shaped like the muzzle of a gun.

"Beautiful... " Quinze whispered, before the shot rang out.

*

Interlude: Crone

Svale was sitting on the apex of the old temple roof, watching the moon sailing high above. A bottle and a small cup were being put to good use.

She didn't glance around at the slight noise behind her, as Trowa vaulted onto the roof.

"We safe here?"

"Hmm-m." Svale's wrinkled head bobbed several times. "I reinforced all the wards. Besides, they're all asleep. Including Rabbit, now. You ride that boy hard, Trowa!" She burst into a cheesy cackle.

"Svale, I asked you before not to spy on Quatre and me." Trowa's voice was merely weary as he sat besides her.

"Well sure, remove one of life's last pleasures for this old lady!"

"Svale, please get your hand off of my knee."

"Can I put it here instead?"

"No."

"... no fun... I can't even curl up next to one of those studs you brought back."

"Heero might find a way of actually hurting you if you provoke him too much. And Duo... he might as well... So?"

"I can't tell you anything about Heero, and I doubt I'll be able to even after you tell me the rest of the tale." Svale swirled the liquid around the ceramic cup. Some of it splashed and started foaming and eating through the ancient grey stone. "It's like looking into the ocean, trying to see a glass of water. No doubt it's what we were supposed to find. But bugger me with a broom if I know what it is exactly. I'll examine him a bit better over the next few days-"

"Watch out for that right hook." Trowa murmured, only partly joking.

"I'll see if I can tell you more by next full moon."

"What can you tell me about Duo?"

Yellow old eyes narrowed as they glanced at him. "He's beautiful enough to break my heart?"

"More precisely."

"Why should there be more to say?" Svale hedged.

Trowa was silent for a moment.

"Well? Why's he got your breeches riding up your backside? You didn't see anything when you Walked his lines or you'd have shaken him off, not brought him back here."

"Correct."

"So? Animal instinct?"

"No, that I trust. It's rather a kind of logic, which I trust a whole lot less." Trowa said drily. "He was in a strange mess when we found him, we've been in trouble since then ­though I can't see how it could be his fault- he's seen Heero in all his glory, he knows I'm a Nightwalker, and he's not run away screaming yet. Instead he seems intent on sticking it out with us. Despite your little display this evening. What can you tell me about him?"

"He's nice, he's young, he's cute. He's got reflexes and strength, more than he's showing. He could be hiding something, but I can't tell you what or if he's dangerous or not. As long as you don't mess with his hair." Svale looked suddenly serious, and thoughtful. "I'd say... watch him, Trowa, my boy. There is something there... but be it hidden talent or hidden danger, I'm not sure." The look passed as she swallowed some more alcohol and her eyes crossed. "I can get rid of him for you, if you want."

Trowa stiffened. "What... did you have in mind?"

"Well, if he found me snuggled up in bed with him in the altogether-"

"Oh right. Well, we'll resort to extreme measures if we need to. In the meantime, we'll take him at face value; he's just an overly curious, adrenaline-seeking young man who's got an above average resistance to lecherous old ladies. He's fast, he's smart, he knows his way around the Reg and other places, he might be useful."

"You mean I can keep him?!"

"No, Svale-" Trowa's patient words trickled out under the moonlight. Five minutes later, he was lifting Svale's hand from his knee again.

*

Interlude: Shinigami.

Perched high up on the tallest ley-stone and cloaked in night, Duo listened to the conversation between the Nightwalker and the crone with some embarrassment. Damn, he'd been right in his conclusions (the ones he'd drawn later, on reflection, not while Svale was pawing him), it had been some sort of test. And he'd almost failed. He almost sent the old lech catapulting into orbit when she'd grabbed at his headband, and he would have if she'd gone for his braid. Which would have been the next logical target, and he should have been ready for it.

Duo shook his head. Trowa was more on the ball then he thought ­ and so was the old goat for that matter. He couldn't underestimate either of them. Fortunately they were still far off track as far as he was concerned. If he was careful, they wouldn't get any nearer. In fact, he could use Svale, now he realized her place in the scheme of things.

He slowly backed out from her wards ­they were really quite good, just not quite good enough- and started to teleport. He heard her voice drifting on the wind, something about giving Heero a close physical examination tomorrow. Duo's lips curled in a smile that of cruel amusement. Well, well, well, something to look forward to then. He teleported out to find imp and see what could be done to make things even more interesting in the days to come.

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