AUTHORS: Mel & Christy (and their muses)
WARNINGS: Language? Violence! 'They Might Be Giants' songs! Collateral Damage!
PAIRINGS: 1x2, 3x4, 5x?
DISCLAIMER: They still aren't ours. We tried theft, but the security systems were too good. Wufei was slightly injured during the making of this fic, and Duo got a concussion, but they got better. (And Trowa just brushed his bangs back into order.) No money is being made from this fic, and if there was we'd just spend it on more tapes, so that's OK.

Demon of Justice + Chapter 16
He's a what?!

Heero sat quietly for what seemed like a long time, staring out the window and turning Trowa's words over in his mind. It wasn't really that long, however; when he heard Quatre coming up the stairs, he sat up and automatically checked the clock, and was startled to see that it wasn't two in the afternoon yet.

"I made lunch," Quatre said quietly, edging into the room with a laden tray. "Is Duo awake yet?"

"Whuzzat?" Duo responded, propping himself up on one elbow and scrubbing at his eyes. "Sucky pillow," he mumbled, then blinked his eyes open and saw his 'pillow' looking back at him with raised eyebrows. "Oh. Hi, Trowa."

"Hi yourself," Trowa said, dryly amused, rolling off the bed onto his feet and stretching.

Looking up, Duo saw Heero and smiled sleepily... for just a second, before returning memories made him drop his eyes, smile fading.

Oh shit, Heero thought, heart sinking. Trowa was wrong. He's still mad--

"Sorry, Heero," Duo muttered.

What?! "No!" Heero blurted out, reaching towards him without thinking. "I mean-- I'm the one who should apologise! I promised not to act like that. You had a right to get mad at me."

"Yeah, well, maybe I did," Duo said awkwardly, rubbing at the back of his neck, "but I shouldn't'a blown up at you after you'd apologised, the way I did. That wasn't fair."

Heero swallowed past the sudden lump in his throat, smiling shakily. "I'll forgive you if you'll forgive me."

"Deal. ...Hey, Q, what's for lunch?" the braided teen said hastily, sitting up and whacking his pillows into a good shape to lean back on. "I'm starved!"

Heero shot Trowa one brief, thankful glance, and got up to investigate the contents of the tray.

* * * * *

Somewhere that didn't really exist as a physical location, Sharna stalked along a dim corridor. Small spits of angry green energy crackled around his fists, occasionally zapping sideways into the wall.

"Fine," he snarled under his breath, turning a corner. "So one demon wasn't enough. I'll see how long those two last if I send three--" Turning another corner at speed, he yelped as he slammed into something solid and staggered back.

"Going somewhere, little brother?" Krashnark enquired silkily, leaning casually against the corridor wall.

Fear flickered in Sharna's eyes for an instant before he straightened up, tugging jerkily at his clothes. "What do you want?" he growled, eyes shifting away.

"I asked first."

"I don't see that my business is any concern of yours!"

"No?" Krashnark pushed away from the wall and took a lazy step forwards, smiling thinly at his twin. "I'm not so sure. If you were planning to do something more about that new little human-demon, it's very much my concern. Our lord father said you could send one demon."

Sharna snorted, forcing his chin up. "Our lord father will reward what works! He won't care that I've sent more demons when I show him that piece of filth lying in a pool of his own guts."

"Not this time," Krashnark almost purred, smile widening. "He's placed the matter in my hands."

"What?! He can't do that! I want that whoreson dead by my hand--"

His brother lunged forward and caught Sharna by the throat, driving him back against the stone. Green and red light flared around them for an instant; then Sharna sagged, whimpering, and the green light died.

"Chang Wufei is my meat," Krashnark whispered, red fire dancing in his eyes. "I'll have him on his knees in front of one of my altars within a year, so you can forget about your revenge. It's not going to happen. If I find out you've taken an active part against him," he continued, hand slowly tightening, "I might just find out if our father can do without you. Understand me?"

Sharna managed to choke out a vaguely affirmative noise, and Krashnark dropped him.

"Unlike you, dear little brother," he said, turning away, "I don't promise things I can't deliver. Remember that."

* * * * *

"How many did he give you?" Naiya asked, voice hushed as she looked at the pile of huge gold coins in front of Royce.

"Twenty," Royce said, just as quietly.

"And one coin is worth two quarters' tax."

"More," Royce told her. One finger flicked a small stack of silver and copper coins, tipping it over; a single tiny gold coin showed at the bottom of the pile as it fell over. "We got change."

"So that's ten or eleven years' worth of tax there?" Gwent asked, pointing at the remaining coins.

"No."

"No?" Gwent looked puzzled. "But--"

"One coin is over two quarters' rent if you go by its weight," Gunnar told him, leaning on the table next to Royce. "If you sell them as incredibly fine examples of foreign-minted coinage -- really foreign! -- they're worth a lot more."

"How much more?" Royce still hadn't taken his eyes off the glittering pile.

Gunnar shrugged one shoulder. "Don't ask me; I just spend money, I'm no expert at valuing it. My sanitharlahnahk is a goldsmith, though, and a good one. I can send him a message if you want." A wicked grin appeared on his face. "You probably have enough money there to buy your own village somewhere, plus a good big tract of forested land, and set up as an independant borough. There's lots of places that would be more than happy to have you, too."

"What's a sanith-- sanithar-- what you said?" Rami asked, while the rest of the villagers were busy absorbing Gunnar's statement.

"Sanitharlahnahk?" Gunnar blinked. "The way you'd say it, it means... er... my brother's wife's sister-in-law's second cousin on her father's side. We're practically brothers; if I say there's something here he really should see for himself, he'll come."

"'Practically brothers', he says," Cord muttered, rubbing at his forehead. "Dwarves!"

Cameron pushed through the crowd of villagers, still limping slightly on his wrenched knee. "Gunnar? Sir Uthmar's talking to Wufei, out behind the forge, and wants you there."

----------

As Gunnar came around the corner of the forge, trailed by Cord and Naiya, Uthmar was showing definite signs of frustration.

"Why can't you just keep 'borrowing' Karthan's language skills? It'd make traveling with you a lot simpler!"

"And it makes everything else a lot less simple," Wufei snapped back; Gunnar was interested to note that he was using the 'speaking to equals' form of Spearman, just as fluently as he'd used 'superior to inferior' mode when talking to Lord Yithar.

So he figures we're superior to Lord Pisspot? I knew that boy was bright... Sidling over to Karthan, Gunnar whispered "Traveling?" and raised an enquiring eyebrow; Karthan nodded, but held up one hand to indicate 'later', attention fixed on the arguing Champion and demon.

"What do you mean?" Uthmar asked.

"For one thing, if I have the link open enough to borrow Karthan's skills, we start seeing out of each other's eyes, which is very distracting," Wufei said, folding his arms across his chest.

"Oh yeah," Karthan muttered under his breath. "Definitely. I didn't know it went both ways, though..."

"For another, if I'm wounded when we're in contact, it passes over to Karthan as well," the demon continued.

"We're not likely to run into anything serious on the way--"

"I don't think it was very likely that a huge screaming green blob-demon would dig its way here and attack us, but it happened," Wufei snorted, cutting Uthmar off. "Apparently this 'Sharna' person does things like that to people who've annoyed him, and since it didn't work the first time he's likely to do it again. Next time could have worse consequences than a few cuts and bruises," he muttered, shooting a mildly apologetic, ashamed glance in Karthan's direction. "I will learn to speak the language myself."

"For another thing, he's a very private person in some ways," Karthan whispered to Gunnar. "He really doesn't like the idea that we can poke around through each other's memories, and would like to keep it to a minimum. Can't say I disagree with that point of view, either. From what I've seen, some of his memories are much worse than mine. Some are just... private." He blushed slightly, looking away.

"All right," Uthmar sighed, giving in. "Can we at least clear up a few things now, before we go back to acting things out and drawing pictures?"

A faint chuckle escaped Wufei, and he bowed. "I am at your service... for now."

----------

A short time later, they had established that Wufei had been fighting a war in his own world, for what seemed to be perfectly good reasons, and that he had very little idea of how he'd gotten into the void from which he'd been summoned. Explanations of how things worked in his world were a little trickier.

"If there's no magic in your world, how do you do all these things?" Gunnar asked curiously. "Cities-- countries-- floating where there's no air or heat or weight, weapons that can destroy a city in a second... it sounds like magic to me!"

"It is not magic," Wufei insisted, frowning. "It's all science, and machines. There just aren't any words in your language to properly explain it-- Karthan, are you all right?"

The dwarf was rubbing at his temples, grimacing. "I'm fine," he muttered through clenched teeth. "It's just... every time you try to explain something like that, there's a whole flood of information that comes up in your head, and in mine, and I understand it for just a second... and then I automatically try to put it into words. You're right, there aren't any, and it's giving me a headache."

"I'll close the link--"

"That's not necessary!" Karthan said hastily. "Just... can we change the subject?"

"There's something else I need to ask you, anyway," Uthmar said, flicking a quick glance upwards. "What's your rank?"

"Rank?" Wufei looked almost offended for a moment. "I hardly see that it matters here. Besides, I never had a formal rank; the Gundams started out working independantly, and there aren't enough of us for a traditional command structure."

"No, not military rank, that's not what I meant," Uthmar said, waving one hand in negation. "I meant, what's your social rank? Baron? Prince?"

"Oh!" The demon blinked, then shrugged. "My clan don't-- didn't-- use those terms. I'm just a warrior."

"You don't act like 'just a warrior'," Naiya pointed out.

Cord grinned. "Aye, you act like a lord is supposed to act."

"Well, I'm not a lord," Wufei insisted, flushing slightly.

"Maybe you haven't been called a lord," Uthmar put in with another glance upwards, "but I'm sure we can work out what your rank equates to--"

"Why? Again, I don't see why it should matter here."

"It probably shouldn't," Gunnar said, drawling. "However, it will. There are plenty of idiots out there who won't take you seriously unless you have a title of some sort to wave in their faces. Or they'll try to order you around, if they think you're a commoner. Do you want some Purple Lord or an Axeman noble to try to conscript you into his army? There are a few out there who are dumb enough to try it." His grin widened. "I'd like to watch that, but..."

Wufei scowled. "I have no intention of lying about it."

"You won't have to," Gunnar told him. "All you have to say is that your people don't use our terms of rank, but you've been told your rank is equivalent to our... whatever. Perfectly true."

"...I suppose so."

"Well?"

Wufei shrugged, looking away. "I am the only son of the head family in my clan."

The others all looked at each other and nodded. "Prince," at least three voices said simultaneously.

"I am not!"

"According to our standards and rank structure, oh yes you are," Uthmar said calmly. "It'll save you a lot of trouble, too; I'd advise you to just accept it."

"Fine," Wufei grumbled, looking mutinous. "Just do me one favour. Don't tell Rami. She already seems to think of me as a romantic hero; finding out I'm a 'prince' would make her completely insufferable."

"As you wish, Your Highness," Naiya said sweetly, keeping a straight face with an effort.

"If you start calling me that, I'll go back to calling you 'onna'," Wufei threatened.

"All right then, I won't... sir."

He gave her a dirty look, and turned back to Uthmar as she snickered. "I have a few questions of my own, if you don't mind. I still know very little about this world, after all."

"If I can answer them, I will."

"Thank you." Wufei thought for a moment, then nodded slightly. "First, I'd better know something about the person I seem to have as an enemy. Who is Sharna?"

[cont]