AUTHORS: Mel &
Christy (and their muses)
WARNINGS: Language? Violence! 'They Might Be Giants' songs! Collateral
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.
of Justice + Chapter 4
Happy Christmas (War is Over)
The village was in chaos.
First, they'd been attacked
by masked raiders. The grain fields had been set alight to draw most of
the men away; then the soldiers had ridden in, cut down the few remaining
defenders, and snatched three teenage girls. When the hastily-assembled
rescue party had marched off in pursuit, nobody had expected them to come
back successful. Some hadn't expected them to come back at all.
Still, they had returned, unhurt, bringing with them two of the kidnapped
girls, the body of the third...
...and a demon.
A very large demon.
The three men with horses had
ridden on ahead of the rest -- partly to warn the village what was coming,
and partly because their mounts were determined not to stay anywhere
near the metal monster -- so nobody ran away as it walked carefully
into the village square at dawn and knelt to lower its burden to the ground.
It was a close thing, though; mothers clutched children to them as they
peered out windows at Naiya and Rami, stepping off the giant hand. They
seemed all right...
Rami's mother wept and babbled
in relief as she clutched her only child to her breast, dogs barked hysterically,
Dena's mother and sisters started to keen as Derrin brought her body to
their house, babies cried, old men waved hoes at the demon and shouted
questions at the rescue party; the boldest children began to dart forward
to touch the demon's feet, only to be shrilly scolded back by their mothers
and clouted around the ear. Nobody could make sense of just what questions
were being thrown around, much less make their answers heard; and over
it all the demon towered, looking down calmly at the chaos around its
Wufei leaned back in his chair
and watched the hysterical mob on his screen.
I don't think I'll come out just yet.
He yawned tiredly, and propped
his head on one fist to wait.
Finally, some semblance of
order was imposed. Royce, the village headman, hadn't been making much
headway on calming everyone down until Cord added a leather-lunged bellow
to his efforts.
Dozens of pairs of eyes stared
at him in the sudden silence.
"I'm thanking you,"
he said graciously. "Now, I think Royce was after having something
you, Cord." Royce raised a grizzled eyebrow at the huge hradani and
got an innocent look in response. "Now then! There's nothing to be
gained from everyone yelling at once, so if everyone could just be quiet
while Naiya and Rami tell what happened, I'd appreciate it. And I see
you sneaking over there with that spear, Manten! I'll thank you not
to start anything with the demon until we know what's going on!"
"It likely wouldn't do
any damage," Cord commented as the teenager sulkily put the boarspear
down. He exhibited his huge axe, now with the edge rather crushed and
bent. "That lad's armour is tougher than anything I've ever
forged or seen, that's for sure!"
Royce turned to the two girls.
Rami blinked huge blue eyes,
and her bottom lip trembled. "I-- I-- I was so scared!"
Bawling, she threw herself into her mother's arms.
"I guess that leaves me to tell it," Naiya said dryly. She was starting
to act almost sensible until she got back with her parents!
[ Some time later... ]
Royce scratched his head. "Well...
I think we can say for sure this demon's not one of Sharna's get."
Naiya nodded wearily from her
perch on the demon's foot, where she'd settled down half way through her
explanation. "The priest looked awfully surprised when he appeared,
like he wasn't what was expected. And he did kill the priest!"
"Well, now, I've heard
that all demons hate their summoners for binding them, so that's not such
a good sign of its intentions; but leaving the two of you alive, that's
not something one of old Demon Breath's creatures would do. Let alone
destroying the altar and burning the canyon clean! No, that priest made
a mistake somewhere. Still, the question is, what is it? What does
it want? And what do we do about it?"
"All I know is, I'm sure
he isn't evil," Naiya said, emphasising the pronoun pointedly.
There was a low grumbling sound,
and the demon shifted its weight slightly. Naiya jumped down off its foot
and backed away to stand by her father as the people who'd sat down around
the square to listen stood up nervously.
"What's it doing?"
Royce whispered as the demon settled down on one knee.
"I don't know! Maybe his
feet are tired! Mine certainly are, and I wasn't walking all night,"
Naiya shot back under her breath.
The light in the demon's eyes
died out, and then there was a soft 'pssht!' sound as a section of armour
on the demon's torso swung downwards. Another piece of armour, just behind
it, slid up into the chest--
--and a young man walked
out to stand, arms folded, staring arrogantly down his nose at the gaping
* * * * *
'Why are you watching the clock? Trowa's going to be waking
him up, not you.'
'Oh, was that another touch of jealousy?'
Why should I be jealous? There's nothing between us.
'And after that performance, I'm not surprised! If I were Duo,
I'd never forgive you.'
Heero winced internally at
'That's a point for my side, I believe.'
The insistent little voice
fell silent as Trowa rose wordlessly and went upstairs.
"Duo? Duo, you have to
"Why bother? I give up."
Duo's voice was dull, listless.
There was the rustle of bedclothes
as Duo rolled over, then a soft sigh from Trowa.
Outside in the dark corridor,
Heero flinched. The defeat and hopelessness in Duo's voice... He waited
for the little voice to speak up, to claim another point, but there was
nothing but silence.
* * * * *
Wufei looked down at the throng below, open-mouthed faces staring up at
him. Well... they aren't going to understand this, but I have to start
Drawing in a deep breath, he
hoped he didn't look -- or sound -- as nervous as he felt.
"My name is Wufei! And
He grimaced inwardly as he
realised he'd spoken in Japanese, not Chinese; but he'd been speaking
Japanese and English almost exclusively for two years, and habit is a
"Ore no namae wa Wufei!
The villagers exchanged blank
looks and shrugs.
"Well, that last bit sounded
like a question..." Royce muttered. He glanced briefly at Cord and
Naiya, but the hradani just flicked their ears and shrugged; so he swallowed
and stepped forwards. The new demon's unnaturally dark eyes were on him
"Ah... begging your pardon...
sir," he bowed tentatively, "but we don't understand. Do you
know this language?"
The demon frowned slightly,
and said something in what sounded like a different language; then a third,
surprisingly musical and sing-song.
"Sorry... sir. We don't
understand that either." Royce turned and looked at Cord again. "I
know you know a couple more languages; want to try?"
Cord shrugged. "None of
'em sound anything like that lad's tongue, but I'll try." Stepping
forward, he spoke first in one of the hradani dialects, then something
Royce thought was Sothoii; he recognised a few words when Cord tried Axeman.
The demon listened intently
as the hradani spoke, but showed no signs of understanding. When it was
clear nobody was going to try any more languages, he seemed to sigh, slumping
slightly; then he jumped to the larger demon's knee and down to the ground.
Stepping forward to stand before
Royce, he pointed at himself. "Wufei." Then at the giant behind
him. "Nataku." Then at Royce, raising an inquiring (and arrogant)
"Well, I understood that,"
Royce muttered; then he pointed at himself. "Royce."
The demon smiled wryly and
bowed, hands held out to the sides. "Royce. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu."
"Er... pleased to meet
you, I'm sure, Wufei. Welcome to our village."
* * * * *
When morning came, Heero hadn't
slept, though he'd gone to his room to lie on the bed for a while. He
was pretty sure Trowa hadn't either; after all, he'd been waking Duo up
He stalked downstairs, cold
blank mask firmly in place, to check his laptop for the results of the
searches he'd been running.
calm voice came from the chair in front of the TV.
Has he been there watching the news all night?"Nothing relevant...
there's some data on Wufei, but it's all old stuff. Speculation, mostly.
A note to field commanders when his colony was destroyed, warning that
he might be more likely to try a suicide attack... that sort of thing.
Trowa shrugged slightly. "They
now know the explosion was the result of a battle; there's been helicopter
footage of the site and a surprisingly accurate estimate of OZ losses.
Normal OZ procedure would be to keep reporters away from the area and
issue a statement about 'colony aggression beaten back with minor casualties',
but not this time. The aerial footage of the battlefield showed people
moving around, but without organisation; I didn't see any signs of strong
Trowa's laptop beeped.
Heero watched intently as Trowa
opened up a message and scanned it, then closed the laptop. "Mission?"
"No. The doctors want
complete battle logs from all four Gundams, plus reports on the systems
problems we experienced after the explosion."
"I'll get Wing's and Deathscythe's." Heero badly wanted to ask Trowa 'how
is Duo', but stayed silent. It's none of my business.
'It could be. It should be, even if you only care about his
fitness for missions.'
He ignored the voice, and went
to get the data.
Quatre woke up, feeling much
better than he had the day before. Lying in bed, he tried to remember
what had happened; it was all rather blurry after the first shattering
realisation that Wufei was... gone.
Was I in shock? he thought, determinedly blinking away fresh tears.
I suppose so... Sitting up, he glanced over at the other bed, and
was surprised to see a knot of blankets with a long braid trailing out
Duo? He was hurt... I suppose they put us in here together to keep
an eye on us both. He considered calling out, but there was a definite
feeling of pain and 'keep away' echoing in his heart, so he got out of
bed as quietly as possible and made his way downstairs.
"Trowa? Heero?" he
called quietly. There was no answer, but both their laptops were set up
in the lounge room and the TV was on, sound turned down low.
His eye suddenly caught by
the TV screen, he stared incredulously, then ran over and stabbed at the
<<Again, repeating our
footage of the announcement just made by Lady Une of OZ...>>
"Duo! Duo, wake up!"
Quatre threw himself into the room and tugged at the roll of blankets.
eyes peered at him out of a bruised face.
"Duo, the war's over!
OZ has surrendered! Kushrenada committed suicide last night!"
Quatre stopped, brought up
short by Duo's reaction. "...Duo?"
"Go away, Quatre."
Trowa and Heero walked back
into the safe house to find Quatre sitting on the sofa, holding the remote
control and watching TV. The sound was muted, but they seemed to be showing
a looped film clip of Lady Une... crying?
"Quatre! How are you feeling?"
Trowa stepped forwards, but stopped when his lover looked up with his
'boardroom face' on -- cold, professional, and without any sign of softness
"I have two pieces of
information for you, gentlemen," Quatre said coolly. "One; the
war is over--"
"--and two; Duo doesn't
care." He stood up and dropped the remote onto the coffee table.
"What did I miss?"
Heero's mask cracked for just
an instant as pain and doubt flashed over his face; then the cold unemotional
front was back. "Nothing important," he said curtly, sitting
down at his computer and handing two disks to Trowa. "Here; you send
As Trowa took the disks, he
flicked a quick look at Heero, then upwards to where footsteps were making
their way slowly down the corridor. "I'll explain later."
The muscles along Heero's jaw
clenched, and he hit the keys with more than necessary force as he started
a new search.
Quatre shot Trowa an 'Oh-you-just-bet-you're-gonna-explain'
look, then turned and smiled brilliantly as Duo limped down the stairs.
"I was just going to make breakfast; do you want anything in particular,
"I'm not hungry,"
he said flatly.
Quatre stared wide-eyed at
that, coming from Duo, and even Trowa turned around from
sending the data to the doctors. Heero's typing didn't slow down, but
he had to go back and delete several characters.
Duo glanced up at Quatre and
Trowa with dull, uncaring eyes. "...Thanks anyway," he added
as an afterthought. "I'll just make myself some coffee."
"O... okay, Duo,"
Quatre managed. "If you're sure..."
"Yeah." His eyes
lingered briefly on the back of Heero's head; then he turned away and
limped into the kitchen.
Trowa sent off the message
and reached for the remote, avoiding Quatre's eyes; he flicked the mute
button and brought the sound back up. Lady Une was unfolding a piece of
paper, slow tears trickling down her cheeks.
<<--left this note,>>
she said. <<"I intended to build a world fit for the soldiers
of the future, but it seems they have reached out and taken it from my
hands. I bear them no ill will; I wish them joy in the world they will
create, and only wish I c-could stay to-- to see its b-birth--">>
Both laptops beeped.
"A mission?" Quatre
asked, muting the TV again as Trowa read the message.
"I'll get Deathscythe
ready," Duo said from the kitchen door.
"Duo, you're hardly in
any shape to--" Quatre protested.
"The state you're in,
you'd just get in the way," Heero snapped. "Trowa and I will
Duo's eyes, which had been
showing a tiny spark of life, went flat and dead again. "Oh, that's
right; I'm useless," he said. "Thanks for reminding me, Heero.
I forgot for a moment." And he turned around and shuffled back into
Trowa shot a cold glare at
Heero as he stood and picked up his computer. "Nice work, Yui. First
you stab him, then you twist the knife. What are you going to do for an
Heero rose and stalked out.
As Trowa glared after his retreating
back, a small hand grabbed the front of his turtleneck and dragged him
down to face Quatre's furious blue gaze. "What the hell happened
last night?!" the smaller boy snarled.
Trowa swallowed nervously and
motioned 'quiet!', glancing towards the kitchen. Quatre's voice dropped
to a hiss, but he didn't let go.
"Tell. Me. Now."
"Um... short version..."
Trowa took a deep breath and talked fast. "Duo was concussed, thought
he was dreaming, and kissed Heero last night when he went to wake him
up; at least, I think so, since Heero told me to wake him up the next
time, and he nearly kissed me thinking I was Heero. Then I made
Heero go to wake him the next time -- I thought it would force him to
face how Duo feels about him and vice versa -- and I don't know what
happened, but something went badly wrong. Duo came downstairs after him
and yelled at him for 'trashing him in his sleep', and then just... gave
up." Trowa's voice dropped even further. "Quatre, I'm worried!
I've never seen him so... defeated. Could you look after him while we're
gone? We shouldn't be long, this mission's just a quick infiltration and
data retrieval job."
Quatre looked thoughtful, his
hand relaxing its grip slightly; then he looked up seriously into Trowa's
eyes. "So... Duo's best friend is missing, possibly dead, and now
Heero's done something that makes him feel completely worthless and unwanted.
That about it?"
Trowa nodded. "He feels
guilty about not warning Wufei in time, too. Damn it, Quatre, this is
at least partly my fault and I don't know what to do!"
Quatre flattened his hand against
Trowa's chest and rubbed gently, comforting. "Well, Heero's broken
him, and somebody's got to fix it." He looked away from Trowa's
eyes, seemingly fascinated by his own hand drawing slow circles. "If
Heero won't... Wufei could have helped, he was closest to Duo and might
have..." He blushed slightly. "If Heero keeps on being an asshole,
we may have to do something to, uh, show Duo that someone cares... someone
does want him. Um... are you okay with that?"
Trowa smiled in relief, reaching
out to cup Quatre's cheek gently. "Yeah. We can do that."