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 6
It's All Been Done

Wufei dug around in Nataku's various compartments, checking to see if there was anything else he should take with him. There was a surprising amount of storage space in a Gundam; most was taken up with ammunition and spare parts, but there was still a lot available for the pilot's use.

I don't need any of the camping gear... certainly none of the espionage equipment! I left some clothes with Naiya, but I'd better bring the rest... there's my sword... hm? What's this? He pulled out a small padded cube with a shoulder strap. This is one of Duo's CD bags! What's it doing in here?

Unzipping the top, he found a stack of jewel cases and a short note.

Oi, Wu-man! Can you play some of these during the next battle? Shenlong's external speakers are better than my 'Scythe's at the moment.

"That's because you keep using them to blast out 'Ride of the Valkyries' at fifty decibels over the intended maximum volume," Wufei muttered, shaking his head. Flicking through the CDs, he raised an eyebrow. "Metallica... Black Sabbath... Offspring... where does he find all this old stuff? What the-- Barenaked Ladies?! Oh yes, I remember that one. They Might Be Giants-- hm. I guess either he had a spare, or Heero didn't 'lose' it as well as he thought. Oh, how nice... he's given me a copy of 'Ride of the Valkyries'. The '1812 Overture'..." He flicked to the last few. "Oh, this is scary. 'Duo's Compilation CDs 1 to 6'. Don't tell me he owns a CD burner!" He looked for a playlist, but found only plain labels with notes like 'Funky' 'Depressing' and 'Random junk' written on them. "Do I even want to know? Not right now, that's for sure." Moving to close the bag, he glimpsed another label and blinked in surprise, eyebrows climbing towards his hairline. "'Dance Music'? Duo thought I might want dance music? In a Gundam?! Now I'm really frightened..." He shoved the CDs back into the compartment and closed it firmly.

Dropping to the ground and slipping out from behind the camouflage sheet he'd dropped over Nataku, he nodded to Terrin. "Go now?"

Terrin nodded, glancing apprehensively back as they left the cave. The sooty gray-black night camouflage blended perfectly with the shadows, making Nataku invisible even if someone did find the cave; you had to approach within a few feet before you could be sure the looming bulk wasn't just the entrance into another chamber. He'd seen and touched the thin, light material, even helped tuck it around the huge demon, but it made him even more nervous than riding in Nataku's hand had -- or anything else Nataku had done that day.

As they started down the rocky slope towards the path, Wufei shifted the strap of his duffel bag irritably. It was rubbing against one of his 'phantom' injuries, and that felt... weird.

The various 'wounds' no longer hurt, now that he'd repaired or replaced all of Nataku's damaged components, but the spots were still unnaturally sensitive. Even when he knew they were covered by his clothes, they felt like every passing breeze was tickling its way across exposed nerve endings; it was almost as if he was missing a couple of layers of skin.

I suppose it makes a strange kind of sense, he thought grumpily, finally facing a topic he hadn't let himself approach for a while. If I accept that I have developed some kind of connection to Nataku... if I accept that I am feeling damage to Nataku as if it happened to my own body, and not going insane... the armour in those areas is still breached; I can't fix it. So my senses are telling me that those areas are vulnerable.

I wish it didn't tickle.

Apart from the damned tickles, though, I'm remarkably healthy. All of my real injuries healed ludicrously fast -- even that stab in my thigh. Is my link to Nataku responsible for that, too, or is it something separate? He sighed. Without more information, I can't do more than guess; and I don't see any way to get more information quickly. I suppose I could injure myself in various ways and see what happens, but that's not an attractive idea!

Swinging onto the trail behind Terrin, Wufei shook his head. Perhaps later I'll find someone who can explain all this... once I know enough of the language to understand them. The villagers certainly weren't surprised that someone would be sacrificing women in strange ceremonies -- outraged, but not surprised -- and that robed man wasn't surprised that it worked. Something I don't understand is in regular use here, whatever you end up calling it; psionics, metaphysics... magic... He snorted softly, drawing a questioning look from Terrin. Magic. Ha! I never thought I'd seriously consider something so illogical; but what else am I going to call it?

Duo should be here. He'd love this...

Thoughts turned in another direction, he began singing softly.

"I-- met you-- before the fall of Rome; and I-- begged you-- to let me take you home; You were wrong, I was right; You said goodbye, I said goodnight-- It's all been done... It's all been done... It's all been done... before--"

* * * * *

Trowa settled back in his seat, shifting gently with Heavyarms' motion. He and Heero hadn't had any problems on the mission; OZ's forces were in complete disarray after Treize's suicide and Lady Une's surrender. Many had deserted, and the rest weren't in any state of mind to check IDs and maintain proper security. The two pilots had simply hidden their Gundams nearby, dressed in stolen OZ uniforms, and walked into the supposedly 'top secret, high security' base.

I think Heero was actually disappointed, Trowa mused. Having to kill our way in would certainly have been a good distraction from his problems.

They had found and downloaded the required information, transmitted it to the doctors, and were on the way back.

And Heero's said even less than he usually does on a mission... and not a word about Duo. He's doing a pretty poor job of pretending nothing's wrong; let's see what a gentle prod or two will do. He opened a com channel to Wing, and Heero's stony face flicked onto the screen.

<<What?>>

"One of our more successful missions, don't you think? Duo would have hated it... he prefers blowing things up."

A confused series of emotions flickered across Heero's face; Trowa thought he saw guilt, grief and sorrow in the instant before it settled into anger.

<<It's a good thing the baka wasn't along,>> Heero snarled. <<He'd have found some way to screw things up!>>

Trowa's eyes narrowed as fury swelled within him. "As if he's ever--" he began hotly, then controlled himself with an effort. Fuck it. To hell with the 'gentle prod' idea. I'm telling him exactly what I think!

----------

<<All right, shithead, shut up and listen.>>

Heero could hardly believe what he was seeing. The normally unreadable Trowa was glaring out of the screen at him, rage and disgust clearly displayed on his features. His one visible eye was narrowed and cold, his top lip curled in a snarl; Heero almost expected him to start growling.

<<We're sick to death of the way you treat Duo. It was bad enough when you just ignored him; you seemed to be getting better for a while, but now you're taking every opportunity to hurt him, and there's no way Quatre and I are going to just sit back and watch. Quatre thinks you do care about Duo, somewhere in that frozen soul of yours, so you get one more chance before we do something about this.>>

"What the hell do you think--"

<<Shut the fuck up and listen, Yui, I'm talking here. You're damn lucky Wufei isn't around to see the way you're acting. If he was, either you'd already be dead or he would've taken Duo so far away you'd never have found him.>> Trowa paused for a moment, studying Heero's expression, and his lip curled further in contempt. <<Surprised? Didn't you ever wonder why Wufei always had a spare bed in his room when we stayed at one of Quatre's properties? He asked for it. Never said why, but we knew it was in case Duo got tired of waiting for you. He's had a thing for Duo all along, just never made a move because we all knew Duo was in love with you; unlike you, he's honourable.>>

Part of Heero winced at that; the rest of him was too busy with staring open-mouthed.

<<You know, for a trained assassin, infiltrator and espionage expert, you really suck at reading the people around you. You never noticed how Duo and Wufei felt, did you? You seem to do just fine out on missions, with people you don't know, so I guess it's a case of 'familiarity breeds contempt'. You certainly treat Duo with contempt. Do you have any idea how many times Wufei's nearly attacked you for treating him like an idiot or brushing him off? Of course you don't. Duo's hung on through it all, hoping that some day you'd open your eyes and see what was right in front of you, but too afraid to tell you how he felt in case you hated him for it... and now you've finally broken him. I hope you're proud of yourself.>>

Trowa eyed Heero coldly, and continued in a slightly calmer voice.

<<You'd better make up your mind pretty damn quick how you feel about Duo, because Quatre and I aren't going to wait around for you to hurt him again. We would be more than happy to take him away from you and treat him the way he deserves.>>

Something snapped within Heero. "Duo's MINE!" he snarled, lunging against his safety harness.

<<Start acting like you believe it, then.>> *click!*

Heero was left staring at the darkened screen, slowly sinking back into his chair as he absorbed what he'd just said.

I said it. I admitted it.

I do... care...

A little voice he hadn't heard for a couple of days spoke up quietly in the back of his mind.

'Well. That took you long enough. Now what are you going to do? You have to get Duo to forgive you... if that's possible.'

Heero scowled, hands flying over the controls as he increased Wing's speed.

"Ninmu ryoukai."

----------

Trowa slumped back in his seat, breathing hard.

Whew. Didn't expect that. Never mind prodding Heero to find out what I could stir up; he stirred me up!

I guess I care about Duo even more than I thought.

He sat quietly for a few minutes, thinking back over what he'd said; then a small smirk curved his mouth up.

Heh. Maybe I exaggerated Wufei's feelings for Duo... a little... but the rest of it's true enough. And if Heero doesn't do something after that lecture, he doesn't deserve to get Duo back!

* * * * *

As soon as they got back to the village, Wufei nodded curtly to Terrin and stalked off towards Cord's house, ignoring the several children who were calling greetings and questions. Terrin chuckled as he slowly lowered himself onto the bench in front of the tavern, then stretched his feet out in front of him with a hiss of mingled pain and relief.

"What's up with you?" his twin Derrin asked, sitting beside him. "Don't tell me you're footsore!"

"I won't then," he said agreeably, "but that lad's nearly walked the feet off my legs. And look at him! I swear he's not even sweating!"

"Now don't tell us he made you run along behind his big friend," Royce put in, coming over with a couple of tankards, "for I won't believe it." The rest of the usual evening gathering clustered round.

"And he didn't," Terrin nodded, pausing for a long drink. "Ahh, that's good... No, Nataku carried me all the way there -- and I tell you, if anyone can follow him to the cave, they're using magic."

"Oh? Wufei's that good at covering trails?"

"No," Terrin grinned. "There wasn't a trail to cover."

Royce quirked an eyebrow at him. "Oh?" he drawled. "And how did that come to be? I can't see that great lump fairy-footing it over the ground without leaving prints. Out with it, man, it's clear you're itching to say it!"

He prolonged the moment by taking another mouthful of beer, then set it aside. "Nataku leaves prints all right; great big 'uns, and deep. They don't show so badly here in the village, where the ground's packed, and I see the lads have done a good job of hiding them; but out on the trails they're clear.

"I'll tell you what those two did.

"We went a ways out from the village, and Nataku wandered around and muddied up his own tracks from when he arrived, 'til it looked like he prowled all 'round the village but never came in. We'll have a fine story to tell the lords when they come, eh? Then he carried me along the Spinewall trail, until we got to the right spot, and I pointed out the cave; he nodded, but didn't stop. He went on a good way before he put me down and nudged me off the trail behind a rock; then he said--"

"Hold up a moment, man!" Cord rumbled. "Are ye saying Nataku spoke?"

"As to that, I'm not sure," Terrin shrugged. "It sounded like Wufei's voice, only deeper and louder than I've ever heard from him. There was... more to it, somehow; he spoke soft, but it rumbled."

There was a pause as the gathered villagers thought about this; then he continued.

"Anyway, whether it was Nataku or Wufei, he said. 'Stay. Loud. Not run, yes? Not hurt.' And that's when he did it. That's where the trail ends." He smirked.

"Nataku... can fly."

*blink*blink*

Terrin grinned around at the wide-eyed faces, well pleased with the reaction he'd got, and took another drink.

Eventually, Manten found his voice. "But... he don't have wings!"

"Didn't stop him," Terrin said cheerfully.

Royce opened his mouth, but Cord beat him to it. "All right, man, it's all very well to be drawing your story out like a real bard and all... but you've had your fun. Now spit it out!"

"All right, all right!" Terrin laughed, then sobered and spoke seriously. "There was a strange noise; it started as a whine, but got louder and deeper until it was a roar. It was loud all right! I had my hands over my ears and they didn't do hardly a thing to block it out. And there was a hot wind with the noise; it blew out and down from Nataku and built until it would've blown me away if I hadn't been behind that rock. It blew everything else away; dust, stones, grass, leaves and branches off the trees... I peeked up over the boulder, and Nataku was just... floating there." He paused, squinting down at his hands, then looked up. "There are these slots on his back and sides, and they were glowing like the inside of Cord's forge on a busy day. I think that's where the wind came from; and I think maybe Nataku flies by... I don't know... balancing on the wind?" He shook his head, and continued. "However he does it, it's impressive! He sort of drifted upwards until he was above the trees and scrub that lie between the trail and the Spinewall; then he just leaned over and kicked out, kind of like pushing off from a rock when you're swimming, and swooped off. He was at the cave in no time at all, and dropped down at the mouth of it easy as a cat jumping off a wall. By the time I got there, he was well settled. And the traces he'd left behind..." He chuckled. "I'd like to be there when they try to work 'em out! There's that last set of footprints, and everything around them for forty or fifty feet is blown out like the spokes of a wheel!"

[cont]