+ Author: Vinyl Koneko (Emily)
+ Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters.
+ see part 1 for warnings, notes

Takara + Part 2

Duo had problems sleeping that night, having spent his entire life on dry land. The tossing of the boat on the waves made him feel a little ill, although he wasn't going to admit it to anyone on the ship. Duo just hoped he didn't look as green around the gills as he felt.

The following morning had him in what passed as the crew's dining room, drinking what he hoped was tea but didn't dare ask. Duo found himself momentarily joined by several crewmembers he didn't recognize, and from the looks of them didn't want to, so he took his tea to go stand on deck.

Thoughts of what passed between him and the captain still lingered on his memory, and Duo would have been lying if he said he hadn't enjoyed it, but something about it disturbed him nonetheless. The longhaired man had never thought of himself as someone who could willingly belong to someone else, but when Heero said that he would make Duo his... 'Just a little too much excitement for one day, that's all,' he tried to reason, but deep down inside he could tell that there was something else. He just couldn't put his finger on it.

Duo pretended he didn't notice that when he left the mess hall a group of five pirates followed him outside. They were maybe a decade or so older, but in good shape. It seemed that Captain Yuy liked having a fit crew. 'But strength is useless without the right skills.' He smirked into his cup, tipping it back for another sip. In the reflection in the murky liquid he could see the man closest to him had a rapier drawn, the four behind him flanking two on each side. Duo took in his immediate surroundings before placing his cup down on the railing, turning to face the men.

"Can I help you?" he asked, trying to sound as irritated as possible, realizing the situation would be easier if he had been given weapons, as well as the change of clothing.

"Now that yeh menshun it," the man wielding the blade replied, "it gets awf'lly lonely at sea, and afta a while all yeh look for is a hot little mouth ta use."

Duo grinned wickedly. "You'll be lucky to have full use of your hand in a minute."

It seemed to take the older man a minute to figure out the meaning of what Duo had said, and when he did figure it out was when he made his first move, stabbing the rapier towards Duo's throat. Duo - having anticipated this move - dodged to the side, grabbing the man's arm and snapping it unnaturally back at the elbow, causing him to drop the rapier. The man dropped to the ground heavily, clutching at his now dislocated elbow.

Duo hadn't known the other four men were carrying their own weapons, and had to clench his jaw to keep from screaming out in pain as he felt the cool metal blade slice by his arm, leaving a line of blood and torn fabric in its path. Duo leapt onto the railing, grabbing the mast overhead and pulling himself to stand on it, ignoring the pain that jolted through his upper arm.

"Get tha little whelp!" the first man yelled from his position lying on the deck, and Duo carefully ran down the mast, glad that the ship was momentarily anchored so she wasn't at full sail.

Duo swung the rapier, jumping between available footholds to neatly slice through the ropes that held up a cargo net that allowed the pirates access to fold and unfold the sails. It successfully trapped three of the men, leaving one final pirate for Duo to deal with.

He jumped back down to the deck, landing in a crouch position and launching himself at the final man, rapier held in his bent arm, ready to strike. But the pirate counter-attacked, turning and shoving Duo with his shoulder, causing Duo to land on his side, the wind knocked out of him. 'Shit,' was all he could think when a meaty fist was raised over his head, ready to render him unconscious when the sound of footsteps on the wooden surface of the deck came to Duo's ears.

"What the *hell* is going on here?" Trowa Barton had just stepped out of the mess hall, looking at the four injured pirates, Duo and the blood staining the white sleeve of his shirt, and the fifth pirate with his hand raised up in the air. Duo let out a sigh relief as he saw Quatre and Wufei appear from behind the taller man. "Quatre, take Duo back to your quarters and see that he gets medical attention. Wufei, bring these men to the gallows. I will go talk to Captain Yuy."

Duo allowed Quatre to help him up, watching Wufei draw his sword and hold it against the other men, motioning for them to head below decks. They send the longhaired man nasty looks before begrudgingly being led away to an unknown fate.

"You shouldn't be walking around unaccompanied," Quatre scolded, unlocking the door to their shared room and having Duo sit on the bottom bunk. He rummaged through a bureau before pulling out a strip of gauze. Quatre then came over to kneel beside the braided man, using a small dagger to cut off the sleeve of his shirt. "You should be careful not to ruin every shirt I give you or you might end up wearing that dress until we berth somewhere and can get you a new one."

"Sorry," Duo mumbled. He watched Quatre as washed and started to wrap the wound. "You said no one would lay a finger on me."

"Well now they definitely won't," Quatre tried to joke, but Duo clearly wasn't in the mood. "Just stay with Heero, Trowa, Wufei, or me and no one will bother you. You aren't an official member of the crew, so to the rest of the men and woman you're vulnerable."

"Chang doesn't seem to be an official member, either," Duo said, tapping the rim of his ear. "I didn't see the earring, and that's the Black Wing's mark, isn't it?"

"Wufei's an honorary member. His clan comes first so he can't be on the crew full-time. There's a tattoo on his arm - a black winged dragon, the dragon for his clan and the color for the ship."

"And what if I decide not to join?"

Quatre hesitated, Duo arching an eyebrow questioningly. "I don't think I should be the one to tell you this," he moved to stand, but Duo was faster, blocking Quatre's way to the door. 'I need some answers and I need them *now*!'

"Who else am I supposed to ask? Captain Yuy? Quatre, who the hell am I going to tell if you told me what I need to know?" Duo pouted his lip dramatically, batting his eyelashes in a way that he had used his entire life begging money off of people. "It could help me decide if I stay or not..."

The blond man gave Duo a look that seemed to say okay-fine-you-win. "Just don't let anyone know I told you...especially *not* Heero because you are not supposed to know this." Quatre took in a deep breath before continuing. "My full name is Quatre Raberba Winner; my line is an old one, and because of this we still have knowledge of things that people these days just tell stories about."

"Such as?" Duo asked, waving his hand in a circular motion to try and draw out what, precisely, Quatre was talking about.

"Such as magic. I can't turn people into frogs or disappear in thin air, but I *can* dream about the future. That's my use to Heero and the ship - he likes to know what his enemies are planning even before they do." Quatre stopped again, making sure Duo was still paying attention. "About a year ago..." he began slowly, "I had a dream about a man who Heero would love, and this man would either love Heero in return or kill him."

Duo felt his mouth go dry. "Wait a minute... How do you know that this man you're talking about is me?"

Quatre's aquamarine gaze met his, daring Duo to call him a liar. "The man in my dream had violet eyes - an extremely rare trait for one to have. We've also been watching you for a while, Duo. If you were the wrong person, I would have been able to tell. It was no accident that you ended up in that carriage with Wufei yesterday."

Duo suddenly felt overwhelmed, fighting between belief and disbelief. 'But Quatre doesn't seem like the type to lie, and I think I'd be able to tell if he was.' "I..."

"...need to rest," Quatre interrupted. "You probably didn't sleep well last night, and you've been through a lot all ready. I'll bring in some food and water should you wake up needing them. Heero did request that you come have dinner with him, but only if you want to. I'll come get you when the time comes. He might still be busy dealing with this...incident of yours. I will let you know."

"...Okay," Duo replied, still confused by the whole thing. He couldn't imagine wanting to kill the pirate captain, but he wasn't seeing himself loving the man anytime soon, either. Quatre's little confession of the dream actually terrified Duo. Quatre nodded a quick goodbye before heading out the door, shutting it quietly behind him.

Duo sat back down on the bunk, listening to Quatre outside, who seemed to be talking to either Chang or Barton, but the braided man couldn't tell through the wood of the door. He felt rather tired all of a sudden, lying down and being mindful of his injured arm. He somehow managed to forget about what he had gotten himself into long enough to doze off, catching up on his missed sleep from the passed evening.

*

Quatre came back as he said he would, waking up Duo to let the braided man know it was nearly dinnertime. Duo blinked wearily at the blond man, wishing to go back to sleep. He hardly ever felt the motions of the ship on the water anymore, and he mentioned this to Quatre, who just laughed and said he should wait for a storm.

"Were the men punished?" Duo asked, trying to play down the morbid curiosity he felt on the subject. 'I hope they were made to walk the plank after their arms were cut off to attract sharks...'

"I believe Wufei's ruling was justifiable for their actions." At Duo's raised eyebrow, Quatre elaborated further. "They took one of the rowboats - the one that we suspected had termites, but they don't know that - and had them set off with a day's supply of food and water for one person. No compass, but a pistol with four shots."

The longhaired man blinked, confused. "So there was no, 'Aargh, matey, down to the depths of Davey Jones's locker, ya scurvy curs'? Instead they get a boat, food, water, and even a damn gun."

Quatre waved his finger as if Duo was missing the point. "Really, where do you mainlanders get these ideas about pirates? And think about it, Duo. They're boat isn't going to last to long. There are five people dividing a day's supplies for one. They don't have a compass, so it'll be a miracle if they find land, and then the pistol has four shots. It's a race against time, how long their supplies hold out, and how long their patience lasts."

"Oh," Duo replied, eyes narrowing slightly as he thought. "I guess that seems...justifiable." He intentionally repeated the word Quatre had used earlier. "Does Captain Yuy still want me to dine with him?"

The blond man smiled. "You make it sound like such a burden. We've been friends as long as I can remember. If he was a bad guy, I would have told you."

"Yeah but...that thing you said before - the thing you weren't supposed to tell me... I don't want to feel obligated to anything, you know? This whole thing is confusing enough for me as it is, and then you tell me that some greater power told you that Heero would love me and his life rests in my hands."

Quatre sighed deeply. "And this is exactly why I didn't want to tell you." He frowned slightly. "Can't you just forget about it? You're a professional con artist, Duo; I doubt playing along with a bunch of thieves would be hard for you."

Duo scowled. "This would be *much* easier if I didn't find him so damned attractive," he grumbled, which drew a smile out of the blond man.

"Heero has that sort of air about him and he hates it. Even the Princess found herself drawn to him... She's still saying that if he returns to follow through with their arranged marriage she'll forget all of his and the crew's crimes."

"Has he ever thought about going back?"

"No," Quatre replied, "but even the captain of a pirate ship feels lonely, and that's why you are here."

Duo felt himself blushing. "You didn't have to remind me."

"Sorry," Quatre said, a smug expression gracing his fair features. "You should head up to his dining room, now. It's on the upper deck and hard to miss - the door has stained glass on it."

Duo pulled himself off the bed, grabbing a shirt - one *without* his blood on it - out of a trunk and tugged it over his head, patting his braid self-consciously to make sure it seemed to be in some sort of order. He left the room without another word, heading up the wooden staircases and rounding a curve of the ship to see an ornately carved door with a scattering of stained glass decorating the window. Duo hesitated upon reaching it, unsure if he was supposed to knock or just let himself in. Heero must have seen his shadow through the window because a deep voice bid him to enter, which he did immediately.

The room was the most beautiful and exquisitely decorated he had ever seen. All the surfaces were wood, still, but the obvious level of workmanship was what made it so unique. The stained glass on the door had a reoccurring theme in the portholes, which were larger, more like windows, and still held the scattering of color, causing the sun to cast multicolored bits of light across the room. Heero was seated in a straight-backed chair that looked like it had been stolen from the dining hall of any of the lord's houses Duo had seen, but Heero seemed oblivious to the glamour around him, his gaze fixed solely on Duo - who was still standing in the doorway, gaping.

"You may shut that," Heero said, voice a silken purr. Duo closed the door behind him, and Heero smirked. "I meant your mouth."

"Sorry," Duo managed to mumble, clearly embarrassed as he sat at the only other chair at the table, next to Heero. He had never seen such a display of wealth in this small of a space before, and it made his fingers twitch with the thought of how many crowns just *one* of the pieces could bring in. His attention was then drawn to the spread on the table. It seemed to be some sort of fish in a rich, lemony sauce - the scent alone causing him to salivate. Heero then procured a bottle of wine, and Duo watched him uncork it warily.

"Relax, Duo, if I wanted to poison you I would have done it much earlier under different pretenses," Heero poured the blood red liquid into a glass in front of Duo's plate before pouring some into his own. "Have you made a decision on my offer?"

"I haven't decided yet," Duo said, grabbing the stem of the glass gingerly before taking a sip. The rate things were going so far, he'd have an easier time dealing with the situation completely drunk. "Certain members of your crew haven't done a very good job at trying to make me feel at home."

"They've been dealt with - I thought Quatre would have told you."

"Oh, he did," Duo said, reaching out with his fork for a piece of the fish. He had suddenly remembered that it had been a while since he had eaten, and Duo wasn't one to let an opportunity such as this go to waste. "But it could happen again." The braided man decided to switch gears. "Why didn't you want to marry the princess?"

Heero seemed to reel from the question, as if he didn't believe that Duo would ask something so direct. "Do you believe in fate?" he tried, answering the question with a question.

"Not particularly," was Duo's response, secretly hoping the statement hurt the captain, because if Quatre *had* been telling the truth, a matter of fate was the reason Duo was on the Black Wing to begin with. "Did you think it wasn't 'meant to be'? Every other man in your position would have jumped at the opportunity."

"Would you have?" Heero asked pointedly, once again avoiding the answer with another question.

"In no way could I have ended up in that position. Poor street brats don't usually end up anywhere *near* the royal castle. And even if they did it wouldn't be much higher than a stable boy." Duo looked up from his plate and over at the other man. "So why didn't you?"

"She wasn't a good person."

Duo arched an eyebrow, his expression full of doubt at the captain's response. "She wasn't a good person, so you run away and join up with *pirates*. Did you think you'd find good people there?"

Heero smiled at Duo, as if realizing the paradox of his actions, and the longhaired man found himself having to tear his gaze away from the pirate captain's. 'Damn it...his eyes are so captivating... Quatre was right when he said Heero had a way to draw people.' Duo blushed again when he realized the pirate was still scrutinizing him.

"How come you aren't a pirate already?"

Duo looked up, startled. He honestly hadn't been expecting that question. "I..." he floundered, trying to come up with a good excuse. He didn't really have any besides the fact that a life at sea never really struck his fancy. "I just can't imagine a life off of land. Could never really afford a sword... All those stories they tell people about how pirates are cannibals and they drink the blood of virgins just never appealed to me."

"Is your blood at risk for being drunk?" Heero asked, a roguish grin spreading across his face.

Duo gasped, not believing that Captain Yuy was asking if he was a virgin or not. "I think that's too bold of a question."

"You asked why I didn't want to marry Relena."

"That's different. This has nothing to do with you!"

Heero quirked an eyebrow. "So are you saying my not marrying Relena has to do with you because you asked and I answered?"

Duo's mouth gaped open. He was rendered speechless by Heero's logic. 'My wits are normally better than this... What is it about this man that sets me off so much?'

"Was it a man? Or a woman? Or maybe even both?" Heero was tormenting him, seeming to enjoy the other man's current state.

The longhaired man scowled. 'If he wants to play this game, I can play it right back.' "Is that what this is all about? Did you fuck your little princess, and then you got sick of her so you joined a ship where you got fucked by your captain? And then you got bored with that, so you got your *own* ship and now it's been so long that you can't sleep at night so you set me up just to *fuck* me too? That's what this is about, isn't it, *Captain*?"

Duo didn't even see Heero move. One minute he was taunting the pirate - which, in retrospect, was a really bad idea - and the next he was kneeling on the floor, clutching the side of his face with a bleeding lip. Heero's hand was raised about him as if he were about to strike again. The other man was glaring down at him, and Duo was returning the gaze just as darkly. Heero schooled his expression into one of indifference, slowly lowering his hand back to his side.

"Get out," he said, voice full of ice, and Duo stood slowly, trying to keep his pride together as he strode out of the room, childishly slamming the door shut behind him and hoping he caused something to fall and shatter on the floor.

Duo never noticed Trowa Barton watching him from the shadows.

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