AUTHORS: Mel and
Christy, plus various random muses and characters from other fics who
stuck their heads with unsolicited (and unwanted) advice.
WARNINGS: Yaoi, angst, sap, some OOC, AU...
PAIRINGS: 1x2, 3x4, 5x?
DISCLAIMER: 'Gundam Wing' and 'Oath of Swords' are not ours. Their characters
are not ours, either, and we aren't even going to seriously pretend they
are, no matter how tempted we get... *ahem* anyway. 'Monsters' is copyright
Something for Kate, and 'Everybody Knows' is copyright Leonard Cohen.
(If you haven't heard them, go find them and listen! Now! Well... after
you've read this, anyway.)
FEEDBACK: Please. It'll reassure us that the huge delay since the last
chapter hasn't cost us too many of our readers!
minor scene change (from person to person at the same place, etc): ----------
major scene change (at another place, some time later, etc): * * * * *
flashback or dream starting or ending: ~*~*~*~
thoughts (and the occasional sound effect): *Tadah!*
some more sound effects (little ones!): -tadah!-
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>
of Justice + Chapter 24
Relena saw Heero's smile and
knew she had made the right decision. The love and hope in that _expression
were clear... now that she was actually looking for it, not expecting
to see it aimed at her.
Heero handed over her coffee and immediately turned to Duo, perching carefully
on the edge of the bed. Momentarily ignored, she watched as Duo smiled
up at his friend-- no, boyfriend, he said it and I can admit
it now --watched as Heero's hand lingered on Duo's as the second cup
was handed over, and nodded to herself.
This is right, she thought. It feels right. They belong together.
Somehow I don't think I would have been able to drive them apart, no matter
what I did... and now I'll do whatever I can to support them and be their
friend. Duo is right. Real friends are hard to find, and you can
never have too many. Maybe I can't have the sort of 'happily ever after'
I was trying for, but this sort of happiness might even be better--
A touch on her shoulder made her jump, and she looked up from her coffee
to see Heero eyeing her curiously. "Are you all right, Relena?"
"I'm fine... now," Relena replied, managing a smile of her own, feeling
more hopeful than she had since the war started. "I was just thinking."
"Oooh, deep thoughts from a pretty lady," Duo chuckled. "Care to share?"
"I wouldn't call them deep, exactly," she said, trying for an airy tone
of voice and almost making it. Telling the truth about what she'd been
thinking would tell Heero entirely too much about what she'd confessed
while he was out of the room, so she cast around for a quick distraction...
Ah. "And I don't really know if I should share them, Duo. Your
scary boyfriend, here, might take offence if he knew I was contemplating
stealing you away from him and locking you up in my castle--" She broke
off, hiding her face behind her coffee mug and hoping she hadn't gone
Heero snorted, nearly spitting out his coffee, and Duo broke into peals
of laughter, poking the Japanese teen in the ribs. "That was a good one,
'Lena!" Duo sputtered, before catching sight of Heero's expression and
snickering again. "Heh... Off the cuff, quick, and funny as hell. There's
hope for you yet. Come to the Dark Side, Pretty!"
Recovering his composure, Heero lightly swatted Duo on the head. "I wouldn't
corrupt her too far if I were you. Remember, she bought all your furniture
and still has the receipts. What if she decides to start playing pranks
and replaces it all with pink stuff?" He smirked slightly at Relena,
and she nearly wilted with relief.
It's okay, I didn't ruin it, she thought. They're treating me
like any other friend joking with them... Looking at Duo's horrified
expression, she broke into giggles of her own.
"You wouldn't do that, would you, 'Lena?" the braided teen begged desperately.
"No pink, please... promise me?!"
"Ooh, I hadn't thought of that! Leverage! Hmmm..." She paused, one finger
on her bottom lip, feigning indecision. "Well, I suppose. No pink, I promise,
on one condition."
"Anything, I swear!" Duo said dramatically, hands clasped to his chest.
The pose was rather spoilt by the mock glare he shot in Heero's direction.
"You had to bring up the P-word, didn't you?"
"My condition is this," Relena said regally, stifling a giggle at the
equally fake innocent look Heero returned Duo's glare with. "You follow
the doctor's orders. You take me wardrobe shopping as soon as you can
get around, and you let me take you and Heero out to dinner, and
you invite me to your house for dinner and a swim in your pool. How's
"That's 'one' condition?" Duo asked sceptically.
"There are all sorts of shades of pink, you know," Relena said sweetly.
"Rose. Shell-pink. Baby pink. Blush. Fuschia..."
"Uncle!" he yelped, snatching a tissue out of the box by his bed and waving
it like a flag of surrender. "I give! Total capitulation! I'll meet your
terms, just don't torture your prisoners!" Grinning, he dropped the tissue
and stretched. "They're easy enough terms, anyway. I already said I'd
take you shopping -- Trowa and Quatre say the furniture and stuff is good,
so you've got colour sense, Pretty, you just don't apply it to yourself
-- and we'll get Trowa to cook something different for dinner... I know!
Something like tacos or mmfmphm..."
"You know, if OZ had worked out your secret weakness, Duo, Une could have
taken you out any time with a mediaeval catapult and some pink paint bombs,"
Heero said casually, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his hand had
somehow found its way over Duo's mouth. "Considering the number of times
you threatened to repaint the rest of the Gundams -- and the two times
you did -- I think that would have been poetic justice at work."
Duo raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly down towards the offending
hand, then looked directly into Relena's eyes and winked. She stifled
a giggle at the wicked gleam in the blue-violet eyes--
"OW! Duo! That hurt!" Heero yelped, snatching his hand back and rubbing
at the bitten part of his palm, glaring impartially at the offender and
the laughing girl.
"On that note," Relena said, standing up, "I need to go. I have an early
meeting tomorrow, and hours of research to get through first. Ah, Duo...
may I come back tomorrow afternoon? I'm going to need some advice. If
we manage to unify the nations, we're going to need a single peacekeeping
force. I'll have more information then, and maybe you two can help me
sort it out? Quatre and Trowa too, if they can be here?"
Duo nodded, ignoring Heero's frown. "Sure, Pretty. You know when visiting
hours are; just pop on in."
"That would be wonderful, thank you. I'm free from two onwards, so if
you could arrange things with the others...?"
"No problem, Relena," Heero said. "I'll call them in the morning and ask
them to come here at three or so."
"Perfect," Relena sighed, walking towards the door. "I wish all my meetings
were this easy to schedule." She paused in the doorway, glancing back.
"Duo... why do you keep calling me 'Pretty'...?"
Duo grinned. "Because it suits you, Pretty. See you tomorrow!"
Heero tucked Duo in under the covers again, kissed his forehead, and was
turning to move to his own cot when he felt a tug on his arm.
"What is it, Duo?" he asked quietly.
The braided teen hesitated for a moment, face serious. "I just wanted
to say thanks," he blurted out. "And sorry..."
Heero blinked. "Thanks and sorry for what?" he asked, honestly puzzled.
"Umm... thanks for how you acted with Relena. For going along with it...
She's really not a bad person. I think she can be a good friend, now that
she's over the whole obsession thing." He sighed. "And sorry for forcing
it on you without talking it over with you first. It's fair enough if
you don't want to be friends with her just yet, since you're the
one she's been stalking. And sorry for biting you... I didn't mean for
it to hurt that much. It was kind of-- well, I wanted to let her--"
Heero nodded, brushing Duo's bangs back out of his eyes. "You wanted to
make her feel comfortable. Included. Like she was a part of the group,"
he said, a tiny smile appearing on his face when Duo's eyes widened in
surprise. "I recognised what you were doing; you did it to all of us at
the beginning of the war, after all. As for the bite, it really didn't
hurt that much. Like you said, I was going along with it." He frowned,
sobering. "If you think things will work out this way -- Relena as a friend
-- I'll back you up. But if she hurts you..."
Duo blushed, eyes glowing above a crooked smile. "I'm really glad you're
here, you know that?"
"I do now," Heero replied softly. "Now, go to sleep. There's a lot planned
for tomorrow and you need your rest."
"True," Duo said ruefully, stifling a sudden yawn. "Damn the power of
suggestion, anyway! I didn't feel sleepy until you said that..." His arm
snaked out again, stopping the Japanese teen as he turned away. "You can
sleep here, you know. If you want to..."
"Duo... are you sure?"
The braided teen nodded, starting to shift over so there would be room
on the bed for Heero next to him. "Maybe I'll be able to sleep better
if you're here. Please, Heero?"
There was no way Heero could refuse after that. The nightmares must
be getting worse, if he's willing to mention them even obliquely... "If
you turn on your side and curl up a bit," he offered tentatively, "I can
slide in behind you without bothering your knee, I think."
A little more adjustment was required before Duo was comfortable, including
placing the thin pillow from Heero's cot between his knees so that the
brace wouldn't cause bruises, but it didn't take long before Heero was
carefully settling against Duo's back and wrapping his arm around the
thin waist. "Is this OK?"
"Yeah, s'good. 'Night, Heero..."
"Goodnight, Duo," Heero murmured, firmly telling his mental 'alarm clock'
to wake him before the nurses made their rounds in the morning. He was
just dozing off, more content than he could remember ever being before,
when a sleep-slurred voice got his attention.
"Don' think this means y' c'n boss me 'round an' make m' decisions f'r
me, Heero. Y' still got making up t' do."
"Mm-hm," Heero sighed, tightening his arm and snuggling closer as he followed
his boyfriend into slumber. "All my life, if you'll let me..."
* * * * *
Once again, Wufei found himself in a foul mood, stalking through the bustle
that attended setting up camp; but this time the reason behind his bad
temper was different. True to his word, Krashnark had stopped nagging
him... but he hadn't stopped watching him, and whatever sense it
was that let Wufei tell when the god was hovering over his shoulder had
been working overtime all day. Several hours of piloting Nataku at a frustratingly
slow pace, senses and sensors alert for any sign of an attack, unable
to conveniently talk to anyone and with the skin on the back of his neck
prickling at irregular intervals, had not been particularly restful.
Actually, the reason -- reasons -- are precisely the same as last time,
he thought without any trace of humour. A variety of frustrations,
including what I can only term homesickness, damn it, aggravated
by Kr-- his behaviour... and this time I can't even legitimately
yell at him about it.
Not that I particularly want to yell at him, or talk to him
at all, but it might be cathartic...
"Another bad day, Sir Wufei?" Uthmar asked from behind him.
And I HATE the fact that something as petty as this is making me lose
my composure enough for it to show! Wufei thought viciously.
Several deep breaths later, he thought he had a reasonable chance of answering
the question without anything... unfortunate... happening. To either of
"You could call it that, Sir Uthmar. It's nothing you need to concern
yourself over, however."
"Ah." The dwarf champion smiled sympathetically. "Problems with him?"
he said, more a statement than a query, pointing upwards.
"Actually... not particularly," Wufei admitted, suppressing his first
impulse to snap back. "I can tell that he's there, but he's keeping to
his promise and not actually bothering me."
"Well, that's something at least," Uthmar grinned. "So, if you don't mind
me asking... what is bothering you, if it's not him?"
I do mind. Wufei considered actually saying that out loud for a
moment, and then discarded the idea. It would hardly be either polite
or fair. And besides... what is really bothering me?
It didn't take much thought to work it out.
"I have no way of telling what is happening to my... friends," Wufei admitted
quietly. "I didn't come here deliberately, you know; I'm still not sure
what happened, but I was somehow pulled out of the middle of a battle.
A battle my side was in danger of losing. And since we were in
trouble even with all five of us present and fighting..." He broke off,
looking away, and Uthmar winced.
"You're stuck here, wondering if your friends are even still alive," he
sighed. "I... see. My apologies, Sir Wufei; I didn't realise--"
The Chinese pilot snorted. "You haven't done anything that requires an
apology. I'm the one who's behaving like a bear with a sore head... as
Duo would say."
"I wouldn't go that far. You haven't bitten anyone yet, or even growled
A faint, breathy laugh escaped Wufei. "That's also something Duo would
say. Thank you."
"I think I'd like meeting this Duo person, though we might regret it if
he and Gunnar had the chance to conspire together. Are you hungry? Terrin
caught several rabbits, so we have fresh meat, and Naiya said she was
going to show our cook how to prepare them 'properly' -- I don't think
she's been particularly impressed with the meals so far."
"Judging by the few comments I've overheard her muttering to her plate,
I think you're right," the Chinese pilot said dryly. "If it's all right
with you, I'll eat later; now that we're closer to the temple, I should
make sure Nataku's sensors are working properly."
Uthmar shot a glance up at Wufei from under raised eyebrows, making it
perfectly clear without words that he recognised the excuse for what it
was, and then smiled. "Certainly... but if Naiya gets offended because
you let her cooking get cold, you'll have to do the explaining."
"I thought Champions were supposed to be brave?"
"Brave, yes. Foolhardy, no."
Of course, I could always have told Uthmar the truth; he certainly had
no problem working it out for himself. It wouldn't have sounded particularly
good, though. Wufei told himself bitterly. 'Actually, I'd rather
sit in Nataku's cockpit and sulk than run the risk that people will ask
me questions and I'll reveal more of my feelings than I already have...'
The check of Nataku's sensor systems had taken less than five minutes,
as he'd known it would, and he was left with nothing to do except slouch
in his chair and randomly switch views on the screens.
It's debatable how useful the sensors will be, anyway. This whole area
is dappled with that foul green energy, and I still haven't found a way
to get Nataku's computers to do a detailed reading on it without them
suffering a cybernetic nervous breakdown. Which means I can't run a detailed
scan on anything else in the same area without risking a software
conflict. Whether it's just left over from that blob demon passing through,
or has been deliberately spread around, it's acting like an annoyingly
effective jamming screen...
He made a few more half-hearted attempts to find or design a scan mode
that would look 'through' the interfering mess, but gave up in disgust
when his best idea turned out to be unworkable. Programming his sensors
to ignore any energy (whether infrared, ultraviolet, radiation or unidentified)
that wasn't actually moving had seemed to work for a little while, until
he discovered that small patches of the sickly green whatever-it-was were
randomly seeping and trickling from place to place, triggering his sensors
to 'look' at them again... and sending his analysis programs back into
fits of electronic hiccups. It took him several minutes just to break
them out of the recursive loop that was making the main screen flash 'ANALYSING
-- UNKNOWN -- RESET -- ANALYSING -- UNKNOWN -- RESET' faster than a strobe
light, and he was swearing under his breath as he shut the programs down
If anyone on Earth ever comes up with a way to reproduce that effect,
I don't care who or what they're going up against; they'll probably win...
Well. That was a truly spectacular failure. Now what?
Almost without thinking about it, he reached to one side and opened one
particular storage compartment, pulling out Duo's bag of CDs. "If I'm
going to sit here trying to give myself an ulcer by worrying about a situation
I can't get any information on and couldn't affect even if I did," he
muttered, "I might as well really wallow in it." About to start
flicking through the jewel cases, he reconsidered; the last time he'd
picked a song at random it had had good results, so why not do that again?
One quick slap to the bottom of the padded cube shifted several of the
CD cases upwards a centimetre or two, and he pulled out the one that was
protruding the most, opening the case and feeding the disk into the right
slot on his console without looking at the label. After a quick check
to make sure the volume control had been returned to normal levels after
the previous day's 'musical exorcism', he hit the 'play' button and reached
for a different set of controls, calling up a listing of all the video
and image files stored in Nataku's computer memory.
I was hanging upside-down from
waiting to discover something about the world
Wufei blinked, looking back at the speakers next to the disk slot as if
he expected to see the singer there. That's a very 'Duo' sort of line,
he thought, a slow smile spreading across his face. A very appropriate
choice, I think.
Turning back to his screen, he listened to the music with half his attention
as he began winnowing through the files, selecting some and queuing them
to be displayed, dismissing others from the list on screen. His first
cull was swift and decisive. Nothing that was dated before he joined forces
with the other pilots; nothing from after he'd been pulled out of his
own world; and nothing from battles that he remembered as being difficult,
or where any of the Gundams had taken serious damage. He might be expecting
to worry about his friends, but he didn't intend to be completely
masochistic; he wanted images of the other pilots that wouldn't pull him
further into the depressed state of mind he was hovering on the edge of.
I couldn't get with the program
and I couldn't listen to them,
it was like trying to think in reverse
And I don't want to slide into apathy,
and I don't wanna die in captivity,
but these monsters follow me around,
hunting me down, try to wipe me out...
wipe me out... wipe me out... wipe me out...
His hands paused for a moment, hovering over the keyboard. "Too
appropriate, perhaps," he murmured softly, refusing to look at the speakers
again. "I never did get around to asking Uthmar if this world has a god
Shaking his head, he forced his attention back to his self-imposed task,
reading the note files attached to a series of videos. Just a coincidence,
he told himself stubbornly, ignoring the hair lifting on the back of his
Yeah, I was hiding away underwater,
waiting for distance and buying some time,
trying to be two hundred thousand years younger,
so I could excuse myself from humankind
'Cause I don't wanna be a container,
or a bastard with a ten-page disclaimer,
but these monsters spin me around,
get me down, just trying to shut me out...
shut me out... shut me out... shut me out...
It wasn't a particularly long song, but he'd found a number of good video
clips and pictures to look at by the time it ended. Most of them were
marked as test files, taken while he was performing routine checks on
Nataku's cameras as part of her maintenance; if one of the other pilots
was nearby, he'd usually film them instead of some random piece of wall,
and then save the file instead of deleting it when the test cycle was
I didn't realise I had so many, though!he thought, feeling rather
embarrassed as he looked at the list. The long list. I suppose
I was using them to fend off loneliness even then... I hardly ever looked
at these files, but I knew they were there if I wanted to. And I played
some of them, when I was on missions that required a communications blackout...
Does everyone feel this way when they can't contact people who are
important-- all right, people who they care about, I admit it-- and they
know they're in danger?
Are they all right?!
The first song's last chords died away, and there was a moment's silence
before the player changed tracks. His first thought about the new song
was that it was a completely different style of music; he must have picked
one of the CDs Duo had burned himself, a compilation of songs from different
artists connected by some theme that might be obvious only to the braided
pilot. Then a deep, cynical voice came from the speakers, launching into
the first verse.
Everybody knows that the dice
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The song cut off as Wufei's hand lashed out at the control panel, connecting
with the 'pause' button more by luck than aim. He stayed frozen in that
position for several breaths, head down, arm trembling with tension as
he pressed the heel of his hand onto the button hard enough to make the
console creak. The light on the panel below the button flickered on and
off several times as the continued pressure confused the signals; finally
the player gave a sort of hiccup and started switching back and forth
from 'pause' to 'play', burping out the same half-syllable over and over
again until Wufei carefully drew his hand back and it fell silent.
"I don't need to ask Uthmar about a god of Chance," he whispered, slowly
massaging away the red mark the edge of the button had left imprinted
in his palm. Part of his mind calmly filed the information that his hands
were trembling. "I need to ask him about a god of cruel jokes. Or possibly
one called Cassandra..."
After a while, Wufei moved again, reaching down to pick up the CD's case
and look at it curiously. The handwritten label said 'Depressing', and
he snorted with a sort of black amusement as he put it back down.
"Well," he said, straightening up, his voice surprisingly loud in the
silent cockpit. "I said I was going to wallow..." The wry smile on his
face twisted as he reached out and tapped the 'play' button again.
As the player whirred quietly, spinning the disk back up to speed, he
was bringing up the video files of the Gundams' last, massively outnumbered
--stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
He's tearing himself apart, Krashnark thought worriedly, 'hovering'
intangible behind Wufei's chair. He's not the sort of person who can
just accept that there's nothing he can do about a situation, and he's
already blaming himself for leaving his friends behind to fight without
him. As if he had any choice in the matter! I could wish he had a less
highly developed sense of personal responsibility...
Well. Perhaps not. It comes from his equally overdeveloped sense of
personal honour, after all, and that's what made him attractive to me
in the first place... and made him refuse me. Hm. I may be just as masochistic
as he's acting right now, the Dark god mused, watching as the video
on the main screen ended in a burst of static and then returned to the
beginning of the file.
If Sharna's worshippers put up any sort of a fight tomorrow, while
he's in this state of mind, he could very easily be killed. There's nothing
ordinary mortals can do to him while he's in here, but will he be sensible
enough to stay in here? And I may have scared my worthless little
brother out of intervening personally, but his priests aren't completely
powerless by themselves. I don't think Wufei would ever be suicidal, exactly...
but he might be feeling guilty enough to do something stupid.
If he just knew, one way or another, what was happening to his friends,
I think he could handle it. Even if the news was bad. Whatever he's imagining
inside his head is almost certainly worse than the truth.
There was a long pause as Krashnark considered his options. The video
on screen ran through its fifteen minutes of intense violence and started
again; then the god raised an invisible eyebrow.
That might work.
It's not going to be particularly easy, of course, but I think
I can do it. There seems to be more than enough of his world's energy
still clinging to him to give me a trail...
Now all I have to do is wait for him to fall asleep, and hope he doesn't
do anything stupid before then!
It had been full dark for some time when Nataku's hatch finally opened
again, and Uthmar looked up from where he was discussing tomorrow's tactics
with Arwen with a relieved smile. "I was beginning to wonder if he was
going to stay in there all night," he said softly, watching Wufei swing
downwards on the lift wire, dimly visible in the firelight. "Judging by
what Karthan said about the little room he sits in when he's in Nataku,
it wouldn't be a comfortable place to sleep!"
"One seat and a metal floor with no room to stretch out?" Arwen nodded.
"Unless he's immune to cramped muscles, it'd be a very bad idea."
"I doubt he's--" Uthmar's voice trailed off as he watched Wufei walking
slowly towards them. "Damn. Whatever he was doing in there, it hasn't
cheered him up."
It was obvious that the small human/demon was not, to put it mildly, happy.
It was equally obvious that he was doing his best to hide it, but even
though Uthmar had known him only a few days, he was learning to 'read'
his moods... better, probably, than Wufei would have liked if he'd known.
When he closes himself off like that, with a completely blank expression
and stiff movements, he's hiding strong negative emotion. I won't be able
to tell whether he's angry or sad until I can see his eyes, but--
=*Krashnark is still shadowing him,*= Torframos put in suddenly.
=*He's shielding himself enough to hide his presence from you, I think,
but he doesn't seem to be bothering to hide himself from me any more...*=
"Are you expecting trouble, Lord?" Arwen murmured, barely moving his lips
as he glanced sharply in Wufei's direction.
=*...No,*= Torframos replied thoughtfully. =*Just be aware that
anything you discuss with Wufei tonight will be heard.*=
"Wonderful," Uthmar sighed, then smiled and waved Wufei over to their
fire as he paused. "Naiya's gone to sleep," he called quietly, keeping
his voice down out of deference to the sleeping armsmen around neighbouring
campfires, "but she saved you a helping of rabbit stew. It's amazingly
"I wouldn't let her hear you say that if I were you," Wufei said, equally
softly. He was smiling as he sat down, but it didn't reach his eyes. "She
might be insulted -- after all, of course anything she cooks is
going to be good, so there's no reason for you to be amazed..."
"I don't think she's quite that... er... arrogant about her cooking skills,"
Arwen protested mildly, hooking the small iron pot holding Wufei's dinner
out of the ashes at the edge of the fire with a stick. "Although quite
frankly she'd be justified if she was."
"I know, but if you spend more than a couple of months around Duo you
soon find yourself jumping on any ambiguous phrasings, just so he
can't--" Wufei cut himself off, face carefully blank again as he looked
"You're well equipped to deal with Gunnar, then," Uthmar said cheerfully,
pretending not to notice Wufei's sudden silence. "Arwen and I were just
discussing our plans for tomorrow, but we haven't thought of anything
that needs changing; do you have any thoughts on the matter?" I don't
see any reason to try to hide those plans from Krashnark, he thought
hastily, glancing upwards. It's not as if we're going to be trying
anything particularly devious, after all, and if he's been watching Wufei
he probably already knows. Besides, even if we were contemplating
something sneaky, I doubt Krashnark would want to warn Sharna about
There was a chuckle of agreement in the back of Uthmar's mind as Wufei
accepted a bowl of stew and bread from Arwen and shook his head. "No...
I've nothing useful to add." He snorted quietly. "I studied mainly guerrilla
and suit warfare, not small-group tactics, and what I do know assumes
that your men will be armed with machine guns and grenade launchers, not
swords, axes and the occasional crossbow."
"But you use a sword," Arwen objected, startled. "Very well, too. If it's
not a common weapon, then why--?"
"In my world, it's an old weapon, Arwen," Wufei said dryly, one
hand lifting automatically to touch the sword hilt rearing above his shoulder.
"My clan values -- valued -- the study of old weapon forms as a form of
mental and physical discipline, that's all; trying to use a sword on a
'modern' battlefield will just get you shot as a madman. Carrying it into
battle was rather foolish of me, I suppose, though I did find one opponent
who was willing to meet me on equal terms..." His voice trailed off for
a second as he stared into the flames, caressing the hilt, then he shook
his head and seemed to refocus. "I may not be able to contribute to tomorrow's
plans, but there is something I wanted to ask about."
"Can you please tell me what the situation is here as regards the
gods? Every time I've meant to ask before, something's come up... Right
now we seem to have some free time, I can understand your language, and
hopefully we will not be interrupted by a screaming green blob or anything
Uthmar nearly choked trying to stifle his roar of laughter, and sputtered
into his fist as Arwen pounded on his back, grinning. "Oh. Ah. Yes. *cough*
Yes, I can see that you might be getting a bit frustrated, considering
the number of times we've started to tell you something about the gods
and gotten essentially nowhere... Well then. Where shall we start?"
=*With my father, of course,*= Torframos said in an amused voice.
=*He is the beginning of _everything_, after all...*=
When Wufei finally said goodnight to Uthmar and Arwen and curled up in
his sleeping bag, he expected it would take some time before he would
be able to assimilate what he'd learned and get to sleep.
It's not as if the information itself is particularly complicated,
he thought wryly, staring up at the cloudless sky. As pantheons go,
it's surprisingly simple, actually; only two factions, no ambiguity about
who belongs to which, and only one of the gods has a complicated nature.
Compared to the Taoist, Buddhist, or Shinto pantheons, this almost seems
like the 'bare bones' of a religious system, waiting to be elaborated
And then there's the Vedic gods, where they all have multiple
incarnations and manifestations... and voudoun... I'm very glad my tutors
didn't make me learn more than the absolute minimum about them. No, this
is a simple pantheon. Nothing to lose sleep over.
But... they're real. I've spoken to two of them -- yelled
at one! That makes it all far more... significant.
Gazing up at the stars, Wufei wondered if the goddess Silendros was looking
back... and if Norfram, the 'Lord of Chance', really had influenced
his choice of CDs.
Or Hirahim Lightfoot, he thought, mouth twisting sourly. He's
the practical joker, apparently...
He fell asleep wondering what Duo would think of a pantheon that included
a 'Laughing God', but no deity of Death.
* * * * *
He was dreaming.
It was perfectly obvious that he was dreaming; the real world did not
usually consist of a void stretching on seemingly forever, with drifting
banks of mist that occasionally flowed in and out of solid form.
This is undoubtedly one of those dreams that analysts would have you
believe is immensely significant and symbolic of something, Wufei
thought cynically, watching as a floating section of stone paving dissolved.
They'd probably say something like 'the lack of lasting concrete structures
and secure footing represents the subject's fear at being separated from
his customary support networks and friendships...' Feh. And I know what
that's symbolic of, he added, glaring at the huge, coldly handsome
face forming a short distance away. My stalker.
Hmm. If I thought his name now, would he show up in my dream?
Before Wufei could follow that line of thought any further, there was
a surprised yelp from behind him.
"Man, that was a sudden switch! Gotta say it's an improvement over before,
though... hmmm. The scenery for this dream is weird. When do the
penguins turn up?"
23] [part 25] [back
to Mel and Christy's fic]