Author: May Chang
see prologue for warnings. disclaimers

The Path Between + Chapter 13

"Noin, Zechs, Quatre, Wufei, take the corners," I snapped, tucking Deathscythe's blade away. I was going to be fighting against Dekim, and I didn't want to risk harming Trieze's body. The four of them blinked at me; hey, they're much more used to my cheerfulness, so I don't blame them. "Heero, Trowa, go and guard Une and Relena. Dorothy, take your men and make sure that no one enters the room."

Heero and Trowa exchanged looks before they moved to Relena and Une. Trowa took over the shielding, allowing Une to breath a sigh of relief as she slid down to the ground. Dorothy nodded and motioned the Peacemillion guards to follow her. The door closed with a bang.

"This will be quite a duel," Trieze sneered at me. I wanted to bash in his teeth at this point. "It's quite an honor to face against the great order-master Balinese[1] himself!"

I heard Noin gasp in surprise, as well as feeling everybody else's eyes widen. I smirked at him.

"I'm just known as Balinese to chaos-masters," I replied blandly. Then I smiled cheerfully. "But I am still the same Duo Maxwell that we all know and love."

"That can't be," Relena murmured, eyes wide. "Balinese has been dead for over two centuries!"

"Uh-uh!" I disagreed, grinning. "He's right here, in the flesh, and about to kick some chaos-master ass."

Trieze snarled and hurled a chaos blast at me. It reflected off my shield. I grinned as I watched him tossing more chaos blasts at me.

I was faced with a problem now. From my probing, Trieze is perfectly fine and Dekim's soul is super corrupted. Yet, amazingly enough, Dekim's soul hasn't made Trieze's body go into aging mode yet. The problem was I needed to knock Dekim hard, hard enough to loose some of his grip from Trieze's body. As I pondered and deflected chaos blasts, Trieze suddenly pulled out a bronze sword and vanished. I swore; damn, he's figured out how to pull the invisibility move. .....then again, he has been around for at least two centuries....

Fate was looking out for me today. It was either Relena's scream of "Look out, Duo!" or the fact that I felt the heat waves coming off from Trieze's poor production of invisibility that made me throw myself at Heero and Trowa. The blade came down mere seconds after that, cutting a bit of my cloak away.

"Duo! Are you alright?" Relena asked, helping me up. Heero and Une were looking rather irritated at the queen. How did she manage to squeeze out from Heero and Une's eyes? I opened my mouth to respond when I saw her bracelet.

Her heavily infused in order black oak bracelet.

I looked at it thoughtfully. She looked back me, a bit confused.

"Hey, queenie, mind lending your bracelet really quick?" I asked. I glanced back at Trieze, who was standing there, looking irritated at me.

Relena glanced over at Trieze, smiled cheerfully and looked back at me. Quickly, she slid the bracelet off and handed it to me. I quickly slid it on.

"Are we done yet?" Trieze whined. I flicked him off as I turned to face him. I shifted slightly, ready to charge at him as he threw a few more chaos blast at me. I then ran straight for him, shield up. He moved back, his sword out, as I swung Deathscythe at him.

~clang~

~thunk~

I backhanded the chaos-master hard with the bracelet. Trieze actually screamed on contact, hitting the floor hard. I looked at the unconscious man, then at the bracelet. Then I looked at Relena.

"Damn! This thing packs a wallop!" I commented as I slid the bracelet off and handed it back to her. She smiled brightly. I then turned my attention back to Trieze, thinning my lips. It's time to show the reason why I think of myself as a gray wizard, not a black one. I took a deep breath and plunged into his soul.

+

Before I go on about how I finally destroyed Dekim and brought back Trieze, I have a little something to tell you. It's true that I've been alive for over two centuries. In fact, I've been wandering around for around for four centuries. It'll be my fifth century on the earth in a couple of weeks, but I digress.

I was about five when I was separated from my family. I still remember my mother crying, although I don't remember her face anymore. I was raised by the masters from then on, but gradually, I began to wonder who my family was, who my mother and father were, what they did and if they missed me. Eventually, the masters thought that my not paying attention to them was - how should I say - chaotic, and decided that I was ready to become a dangergelder. For crying out loud, I was only 16! You wonder why I'm bitter at the masters and Recluce? This is actually part of the reason.

The day I stopped considering myself as a black wizard was the day that Hilde died. She was a blademaster that was traveling with me about 50 years later. By then, I was a hell of an order-master, going about and making sure that there would be a good crop or good livestock. We were facing off against a couple of chaos-masters, and Hilde died saving me.

This is where Deathscythe comes in. I had found the blade shortly after her death, found the two white bastards and killed them. There was a rule to be an order-master and I had broken it -- an order- master was not allowed to take a life.

From then on, with Deathscythe in hand, and always a horse named Shinigami, I became Balinese, the chaos hunter. Mind you, I didn't become chaotic myself; I still went around, filling a bit of order in this corner and helping out in that place.

I decided to return to being Duo Maxwell once again two centuries later. I was tired of all the fighting, tired of the blood, and fucking tired of being alone. I will always fight against the chaos, but I don't want to do it alone.

And that leads me to Trieze.

+

Here I am again, destroying a life to save another. But as I cut the strings that held Treize's soul captive, I touched each of his lives and discovered that, in a way, this was better.

Trieze had a caring soul, one that refuses to take lives, one that wants others to live a good life. In other words, he's rather optimistic. And sane.

Another of Dekim's soul string floated away as I continued to bring back Trieze. With each string cut away, I made sure to bring back old memories, so that Trieze would never face the pain that he had caused. I owed it to Une who had helped us save Relena. I owed it to Zechs, because Trieze was his friend.

The last of Dekim's soul strings floated away, wailing into the darkness as I finally brought back Trieze's final memory. I accidentally brushed up against it and was startled to see Une's face, as well as a little girl. I paused; looks like I owe it to another one, a little girl who made Trieze's life lighter. I finally returned to the physical world, turned to smile at Heero and Trowa. They just stared at me in shock. I tried to stand up when the world went black.

+

[1] Balinese came from Weiss Kreuz's Yohji Kuduo (I think I spelled it right....) The reasons that I used it is because I already used Shinigami and Deathscythe, and the fact that I think of Duo as a playboy. Just like Yohji! ^_^
DUO: Gee. Thanks.

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